The media’s response to Boston

April 18, 2013

EVERYTHING NICOLE Colson says about Islamophobia, Inc.'s poisonous response to the Boston Marathon bombing is true ("Through the media's prejudiced lens"). For those of us who recall the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, it's all eerily familiar--even, and maybe especially, seeing the likes of professional bigot Steven Emerson circling like a vulture.

But she goes off the track in writing:

Amid the speculation about Arab or Muslim responsibility for the Boston bombings, almost no one in the media pointed out the long and gruesome history of terrorism carried about by racists and the far right. From the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City in 1995, to the bombing of Atlanta's Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympics, to arsons targeted against abortion clinics and mosques, the list of violent attacks and terror plots by the right goes on and on.

I haven't been following the mainstream media coverage of the bombing all that closely, but have watched CNN and CBS as the opportunity permits. And while doing so, I heard news people and interviewees refer to both the Murrah and Olympic bombings, as well as pointing out that Monday's atrocity coincided with two significant events of special significance for the "Take our country back!" crowd: Patriot's Day and the deadline for filing your IRS returns.

That Boston was the scene of the original Tea Party has also come up. At the same time, for every reference to "the al-Qaeda playbook" that I've heard, there have been at least two or three remarks about the need to avoid leaping to conclusions about who did it.

The extreme right has been in combat mode for most of 30 years now. It's effectively abolished abortion rights for much of the country by targeting doctors, and the Fox Network seems always just on the verge of calling for a lynch party.

And Islamophobia, Inc. is really efficient about getting its product into the mass media. But it's hardly got a monopoly, and plenty of folks in the media are conscious of what I like to call the Timothy McVeigh wing of the Republican Party.

We need to keep that in mind. In the struggle over how the mass media frame the news, the reactionaries haven't won. It just feels that way sometimes.
Scott McLemee, Washington, D.C.

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