CNN’s Stelter: Media May Have ‘Overreacted’ to Boston Bombing, Cites ‘Low Number of Deaths and Injuries’

December 29, 2013

By Tommy Christopher

 

During another of the incessant end-of-year recap segments on cable TV these days, CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter delivered what he felt would be “an unpopular opinion” to CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello Friday. In a discussion of the media’s coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombing, Stelter said “I wonder if there was an overreaction in the press, considering the relatively low number of deaths and injuries.”

The segment was pegged to partisan bias, with Newsmax‘s Steve Malzberg arguing that the media tried to downplay the involvement of radical Islam as motive, and Media MattersEric Boehlert reminding the panel of the rush to judgment that caused innocent people to be smeared in the press by the likes of the New York Post and Glenn Beck. Stelter, though, ventured far afield of the premise to offer what he acknowledged “might be an unpopular opinion.”

“I wonder if the press, overall, in retrospect, overreacted to the attacks in Boston,” Stelter said. “It was a very scary week. I was scared, along with the rest of the country. In retrospect, I wonder if there was an overreaction in the press, considering the relatively low number of deaths and injuries, whether it was taken out of proportion, given all the other violence we see all the time.”

He concluded, “Because the word ‘terrorism’ was applied, I think there may have been an overreaction.”

Where this segment, and media criticism in general, goes wrong is in focusing on the “bias” angle, instead of on the more serious problem of just plain bad reporting. In an act of pure generosity, none of the panelists brought up CNN’s own disastrous reporting of a “dark-skinned” suspect with “brown skin” who was definitely in custody, until he wasn’t.

Partisan bias is an interesting topic, but it shouldn’t eclipse the reason journalism is supposed to exist in the first place: to truthfully inform the public, in the public’s interest. The Boston Marathon Bombing, and this segment in particular, prove that the “view from nowhere” can be as toxic to the truth as anything else.

 

Mediaite.com: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-stelter-media-may-have-overreacted-to-boston-bombing-cites-low-number-of-deaths-and-injuries/

Mass. pair sues New York Post over Marathon bombing portrayal

A Massachusetts teenager and his 24-year-old friend filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Post Wednesday in Boston, accusing the tabloid of falsely portraying them as suspects in the deadly Marathon bombings by plastering their photograph on the front page under the headline, “Bag Men.”

The lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court said the photographs and articles published three days after the bombings made it appear that FBI agents were pursuing Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi, avid runners watching the Marathon. That evening, authorities released photographs of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In the complaint, lawyers for Barhoum, a 16-year-old Revere High School student, and Zaimi, a part-time college student from Malden who also works full time, accused the New York Post of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. They are seeking damages, including unspecified monetary compensation.

“The front page would lead a reasonable reader to believe that plaintiffs had bombs in their bags, that they were involved in causing the Boston Marathon bombing,” according to the court complaint. The lawsuit asserts the newspaper subjected the friends to “scorn, hatred, ridicule, or contempt in the minds of a considerable and respectable segment of the community.”

The Boston Bombings Have Nothing to Do With Immigration Reform

A day after the Boston Marathon bombings, the New York Post falsely reported that law enforcement suspected a Saudi national may have been responsible. Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa responded with predictable outrage. “If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background-check the 11 million to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?” he told the National Review. King, a leading opponent of efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws, was one of several conservatives—including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and talk show host Laura Ingraham—who are straining to draw a line from the Boston attack to the immigration bill.

Now the question is whether the Gang of Eight senators who authored the bill, and particularly the Republicans in the group, can wrest back the narrative from these doubters. On CNN’s State of the Union show Sunday, South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham argued that the bombings strengthen the case for reform. It’s better to improve the immigration system than to keep it as is, he said, so authorities have a better idea of who is coming and who isn’t. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator John McCain made similar statements this weekend.

House Democrats: NYPD should purge spy files, end monitoring of mosques, cafe conversations

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Thursday urged the New York Police Department to purge its intelligence databases of information gleaned from its clandestine spying on Muslim neighborhoods.

They also criticized the Obama administration for offering tepid responses to questions about whether it endorses such tactics.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress and one of the lawmakers who introduced the resolution, said he understood the political difficulties the White House faces in wading into a debate over racial profiling and national security.

“But transformational leadership is about standing up and doing the right thing,” he said.

Dozens of lawmakers have been asking the Justice Department for eight months to investigate the NYPD’s tactics and determine whether they are legal. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the top civil rights official at the department, has not answered questions about the matter. His spokeswoman has said attorneys are reviewing the requests to investigate.

Lawmakers introduced a resolution Thursday calling for an end to NYPD programs that infiltrated mosques and monitored even innocent conversations in cafes and bookstores. Muslim business owners were included in police files, even with no allegations of wrongdoing.

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin appeared on Fox & Friends on Monday where he blasted Congressional Democrats for “voting to defund the New York police department” due to what he describes as a persistent narrative that the NYPD has been targeting and profiling Muslim citizens without probable cause. He says that this move by Democrats in the House runs counter to the narrative that President Barack Obama is building up ahead of the November election, which is that Democrats are tough on terrorism at home and abroad.

Capitol Hill Honor for Muslim Hero

CAIRO – New York’s young Muslim hero who defended a group of Jewish subway passengers from a racist attack is being honored with an invitation to attend President George Bush’s State of the Union address at Capitol Hill. “He was as excited as we were in inviting him,” Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York told the New York Post on Thursday, January 24. “He immediately said, ‘Yes, I would love to be there.'” Bangladeshi-born Hassan Askari, 20, was thrust into the spot light in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Queens, last month after he saved four Jews from a racist attack aboard the Q train running between Manhattan and Brooklyn.