Hume Observes Reticence to Tie Sniper to Nation of Islam
3. Little Interest in Muhammad's Admiration of 9/11 Terrorists
4. Washington Post Catches Up with CyberAlert
5. Several Top Reporters Registered as Democrats
The exchange on the show produced at Washington, DC's CBS affiliate, WUSA-TV, and shown on PBS stations around the nation:
As Friday's CyberAlert pointed out, "the two sniper suspects were a Muslim tied to the Nation of Islam and an illegal alien, but not to the networks on Thursday night. Instead, the networks labeled John Allen Muhammad a 'Gulf War veteran' and only implied indirectly that John Lee Malvo was not a U.S. citizen. ABC's Peter Jennings dubbed Muhammad as 'an American. He was born in Louisiana' and noted only how John Lee Malvo is 'from Jamaica.' NBC's Tom Brokaw cited 'the arrest early this morning of a 41-year-old army veteran and a Jamaican teenager.' CNN's Aaron Brown asked: 'The question of who they are. The army veteran and the teenager.' Colleague Kathleen Koch identified Muhammad as 'a Gulf War army veteran.'" For a full rundown network by network, see the October 25 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021025.asp#1
Picking up on that theme, during the panel segment on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume observed: "You get a striking contrast between Timothy McVeigh and the way people rushed to identify him with the militia groups and the other groups that might have provided motivation for him. And you may recall we had this orgy of media coverage of militia groups and pretty soon we were down to the point where the press was taking a hard look at people who had criticized the government. Well, in this case the only thing we're hearing about this man is that he's a Gulf War veteran and, as the New York Times described this morning, he had, quote, 'a companion.'"
Moderator Tony Snow jumped in to point out how Friday's Washington Post had referred to how the "the two suspects are an apparent penniless army veteran of the Persian Gulf War and his teenage companion."
Hume then suggested: "It might also be worth noting that what you have here is a Nation of Islam member who is reported to have been a bodyguard for Louis Farrakhan, and his illegal alien friend. That's another way to characterize it."
(Snow noted that "Farrakhan now says he was not a bodyguard.")
(Symbolic of the national media's disinterest in Muhammad's Nation of Islam connection, it was never raised on Meet the Press on Sunday during two segments about the shootings which consumed over half of the hour-long show.)
A bit later on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol raised how the media and profilers insisted the snipers would turn out to be white guys when, in fact, they were two black guys. Kristol wondered about political correctness: "Can you imagine if a profiler had tried to get on, even Fox News, let alone the other networks, and said, 'you know what, I suspect it's a Nation of Islam member and an illegal alien who are doing this killing.' They never would have let them on TV."
Indeed, if they existed, they never were.
But even after the arrest the media didn't see John Muhammad's Nation of Islam membership or John Malvo's illegal alien status as relevant. For television network examples, see the October 25 CyberAlert for instances from Thursday night, which were continued on Friday morning, of referring to Muhammad's army record and Malvo as just his companion: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021025.asp#1
Newspapers took the same tack. As Snow noted above, a front page story in Friday's Washington Post offered this description of the murdering duo:
A sidebar piece profiling Muhammad did get to his link to the Nation of Islam, and similar secondary stories ran in many papers, but that was not what first occurred to the Post or other major newspapers. Below are examples from newspapers around the country of how they identified Muhammad and Malvo in their lead front page stories on Friday, October 25:
-- The New York Times: "The men arrested were John Allen Muhammad, 41, an Army veteran with an expert's rating in marksmanship, and John Lee Malvo, 17, a Jamaican citizen traveling as Mr. Muhammad's unofficial ward. The authorities would not speculate about the motive for the string of shootings."
-- Los Angeles Times: "The killing rampage that menaced suburban Washington with random death for three weeks was declared at an end Thursday by relieved officials who arrested a 41-year-old drifter, who was once an Army sharpshooter, and a 17-year-old Jamaican youth."
-- Boston Globe: "One of the most extraordinary manhunts in American history came to a peaceful conclusion yesterday with the predawn arrest of a former US Army soldier and a teenage companion as they slept in their car at a Maryland rest stop."
-- Miami Herald: "Police declared the serial sniper murders solved Thursday night. In custody: an 'all-American' veteran of the Gulf War, and a teenage companion implicated in a deadly robbery that ultimately led to their capture."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer: "Police declared the Washington-area sniper attacks solved yesterday. In custody were a veteran of the Persian Gulf war and a teenager accompanying him who authorities say has been implicated in a deadly robbery. Police said a rifle found in their car matched the murder weapon."
The second paragraph of the Inquirer story did note Muhammad's anti-American views: "Neither suspect had been charged in the killings last night, and their alleged motive remained unclear, although acquaintances said both suspects had expressed anti-American sentiments."
-- Baltimore Sun: "The trail of terror police say was undertaken by a Persian Gulf war veteran and his 17- year-old traveling companion has come to an end as investigators prepare to lodge murder charges in a string of sniper shootings carried out from the cover of woods, darkness and a car expressly outfitted for killing."
-- Chicago Tribune: "Three weeks of terror and intensive police work culminated in the morning darkness Thursday at a Maryland rest stop along I-70 when authorities arrested an Army veteran and his 17-year-old companion, believed responsible for killing 10 and striking fear in millions along a 100-mile swath."
-- Dallas Morning News: "A region terrorized by a sniper breathed a sigh of relief Thursday after authorities arrested an Army veteran and a teenager described as the perpetrators responsible for a spree that claimed 10 lives and maimed three other people."
On Friday morning the networks maintained the same approach as they had the night before. On NBC's Today, for instance. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noted how Joe Johns described the suspects: "The emerging picture of the sniper murder suspects: a volatile controlling 41-year old man, twice divorced father of three and a Jamaican-born teenager suspected of joining him on an interstate murder spree. Born John Allen Williams, changed his name to John Allen Muhammad. A Desert Storm veteran, spent ten years in the Army and seven years in the National Guard. Described as a below-average soldier by Army sources nevertheless becoming an expert marksman."
On ABC's Good Morning America an acquaintance of Muhammad's recounted Muhammad's sympathy with the terrorists and anger at U.S. foreign policy, but that night ABC's World News Tonight failed to use the soundbite and didn't even raise the subject. The same friend's recollection got a few seconds on Friday's CBS Evening News.
During a 7:30am half hour interview with Harjeet Singh, who had met Muhammad at a YMCA in Washington state, ABC's Diane Sawyer inquired: "You also heard them talk about politics and their anger with the government. What did John Muhammad say?"
Sounds like a terrorist to me, but not a word about it on World News Tonight 11 hour later.
Of the broadcast network evening shows on Friday, only the CBS Evening News broached Muhammad's anti-American views and interest in committing terrorism. In a piece by Vince Gonzales about Muhammad, Singh noted that Muhammad wanted to blow up fuel trucks and shoot cops, prompting Gonzales to observe: "Singh says Muhammad, a converted Muslim, never explained why but did sympathize with the 9/11 terrorists."
Meanwhile, only FNC seems much interested in the scandal of how an illegal alien like John Malvo, after being detained by the INS, was let go so he could be part of a murderous rampage. Fox & Friends, for example, discussed it on Friday morning and this morning they brought aboard Michelle Malkin to discuss her column about the fiasco. To read her column: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/mm20021025.shtml
-- Washington Post TV reporter Lisa de Moraes in Saturday's paper: "Ed Holiday, cousin of alleged sniper John Muhammad, appeared almost simultaneously on Connie Chung's CNN program and MSNBC's Phil Donahue show Thursday night. Both programs called their interviews 'exclusive.'"
A November Washingtonian magazine item about the lack of voting by some prominent political reporters revealed the Democratic Party registration of those living in the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Maryland, with only Montgomery Countians Charles Krauthammer and Williams Safire registered as Republicans. The story also noted that "Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Post political writer Dan Balz" are registered as independents.
An excerpt from the "Capital Comment" section item by Lindsay Gross in the November Washingtonian, a piece titled "Some Pundits Are Big Talk and No Votes."
....Maureen Dowd, who savages politicians in her New York Times columns, was AWOL from 9 of DC's 12 elections from 1994 through 2000. A registered DC Democrat, she voted in two general elections and missed every primary and local contest.
Another Dem, The Capital Gang's Margaret Carlson, also missed the eight DC primary and local elections during those years -- despite writing an ode to the ballot box recently in Slate, saying, "I love to vote."
CNN's Judy Woodruff, a registered Democrat and a moderator of presidential debates, skipped 7 of 12 DC elections in that period.
The Washington Post's Thomas Edsall, who's covered politics for more than 20 years, also missed 7 of 12 in DC. A registered Democrat, Edsall attributes his poor showing to a lack of interesting candidates....
Chris Matthews, who doesn't miss a chance to speak his mind on MSNBC's Hardball, voted in only three of the last ten Montgomery County and municipal elections. His wife, Channel 7 anchor Kathleen, pulled the lever six times. Both are registered Dems....
Who is Washington's ballot-box patriot? Diane Rehm, NPR talk-show host and registered Bethesda Democrat. She's 11 for 11 since 1994.
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To read the short item in full: http://www.washingtonian.com/thismonth/capcom.html#Anchor-Some-23240
This item reminded me of how Woodruff (D-CNN) recounted to the Washington Post a while ago how seeing Senator Robert Kennedy in a hallway in 1967 inspired her: "I thought, these people are making a difference. This is what's important, and this is what I want to do with my life." But because she didn't see opportunities in politics she ended up in journalism.
The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me a month ago to the "First Person Singular" item in the September 29 Washington Post Magazine in which Woodruff recounted how she got her first job. An excerpt:
I fell in love with politics my first year in college. I got a job as an intern in Washington. I remember delivering some package to the Senate and walking down the hall and seeing Senator Robert Kennedy. He was deep in conversation with one of his aides -- this was the summer of '67. I thought, these people are making a difference. This is what's important, and this is what I want to do with my life.
The second summer, I worked there with a number of women who frankly discouraged me. They said: Be careful coming back to Washington as a woman, because the opportunities for women are not as great as you may think they are. They completely shattered my image. So I thought, why don't I try television? That was right about the time I had gone to Atlanta to interview with some news directors.
There was no place for the news director to interview me in the newsroom, so he took me out into the lobby. I said, "I'll do whatever you need me to do." He said, "Why don't I hire you as the newsroom secretary?" I was thrilled. As I was walking away, he said -- literally as I was opening the door to walk out -- he said, "Besides, how can I not hire somebody with legs like yours?"...
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If she had stayed in Washington, DC and worked for a Kennedy they probably would have done more with her legs than just admire them. -- Brent Baker