Two plus Two Equals Five: Media Coverage of Terrorist Attacks

As the recent coverage of the Oklahoma beheading makes clear, the mainstream media forces its agenda and worldview on the American people regardless of the facts. The media goes to extreme lengths to fabricate allegations of Islamaphobia or tea party-related terrorism. At the same time, it distorts or ignores stories that do not portray Islam in a flattering light.

This troubling tendency was apparent early in the Obama administration. On May 31, 2009, Dr. George Tiller — one of a handful of “doctors” in the U.S. to perform late-term abortions — was shot and killed by a pro-life activist named Scott Roeder in Wichita, Kansas. That same day in Arkansas, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad — a recent Muslim convert — shot two U.S. Army soldiers who recently completed basic training, killing one and seriously injuring another. According to Muhammad, he targeted the soldiers “because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.” Muhammad had recently travelled to Yemen and authorities stated that the attack was motivated by disagreements with U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

The media’s attempt to indoctrinate Americans with its agenda and worldview was apparent in its disparate treatment of these two events. With respect to the Tiller incident, pundits warned of rising right-wing violence fueled by Fox News. Keith Olbermann blamed Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, a frequent Tiller critic, “for inciting the murder of Dr. George Tiller.” Writing for Salon, Gabriel Winant argued O’Reilly was “irresponsible” for putting Tiller “in the public eye.”  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow attempted to link the pro-life movement with terrorism. Maddow claimed “there’s an anti-abortion terrorist movement in the United States that operates relatively openly.”

Meanwhile, the media largely ignored terrorist violence committed by a Muslim convert against U.S. service-members in Arkansas. Maddow and Olbermann failed to mention the incident. On June 6, 2009, NBC’s Today mentioned the Arkansas incident in passing, but ignored that he “had just converted to Islam and was being investigated by the FBI for a trip to Yemen.” Unlike the Tiller coverage, there was no media discussion of a violent Islamist movement with a history of violence against the U.S. military and civilians.

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