Qur'an Burning Threat Leads Network News to Discover Wisdom of Palin and Pope
Published: 9/8/2010 10:45 PM ET
"Anti-Muslim bigotry is a problem, but it is only exacerbated by the media's tendency to exaggerate and sensationalize it," the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto observed Wednesday in looking at the media's focus on the threat, to burn Qur'ans, by one widely condemned Florida pastor with barely a few dozen followers. On Wednesday night, for the second night in a row, two of the three broadcast network evening news shows led with Terry Jones (ABC and CBS on Tuesday, CBS and NBC on Wednesday.)
But what I found amusing is how network journalists decided Sarah Palin, the Pope - and even Pat Robertson - are now sources of wisdom worth publicizing. Over aerial video of the Vatican (screen capture below), Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News: "Tonight, despite condemnation from the Vatican and a personal plea from Muslims, that Christian minister in Florida is going ahead with plans to burn copies of the Qur'an."
"This is the news," an excited Diane Sawyer announced on ABC, "not only is Billy Graham's son Franklin trying to reach out to him, so is Sarah Palin." Terry Moran relayed how "late today, Sarah Palin tweeted her opposition, writing: 'Please stand down.' And long-time televangelist Pat Robertson blasted Pastor Jones this morning."
In the second of two reports at the top of the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell touted how "the Florida pastor even got the Vatican's attention" and aired a clip of a Vatican spokesman declaring: "This act would only call for new hate and violence." Mitchell concluded by approvingly paraphrasing a political figure normally the object of journalistic scorn: "Sarah Palin has now tweeted that Pastor Jones should please stand down, that people have a right to burn a Qur'an but that it is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation that will feed the fire."