Take that, Al Tompkins and your silly “guidelines.” But all jokes aside, it’s a great quote, because you rarely catch one of these mainstream journos admitting that they totally dismiss the notion of “one true set of guidelines.” Although most media observers know that mainstream journalists treat ethical guidelines as things to be invoked or jettisoned based on their whims, you rarely get them to come clean about it (and for the record, Rick, there are certain guidelines that should apply equally to every story…like “don”t rely on fabrications to make your article more interesting”).
There was one additional question that Newman steadfastly refused to answer: “In light of the mass shooting in Chattanooga: If the Muslim gunman is found to have read and liked something on an al Qaeda or ISIS website, do you, as a journalist, believe that this alone is enough to justify saying that the gunman and the murders are “al Qaeda linked” or “ISIS linked?”” With that, Newman’s chattiness vanished. Of course, we all kind of know the answer to that question. If a suspect in a mass act of violence is Muslim, the esteemed members of the “mainstream” media bend over backwards to not be sensationalistic. All “links” must be proved a dozen times over, and pro-jihadist sentiments need to be understood from a culturally sensitive perspective. If the suspect is white and Christian, anything goes, no guidelines. But Muslim? Now all of a sudden, Al Tompkins” “guidelines” matter.
You think that’s just a baseless accusation on my part? I”ll close with one more revealing admission, from one of the biggest names in “mainstream” reporting: Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Gettleman, East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times and a commentator for CNN, BBC, PBS, NPR, ABC, and the Charlie Rose show. Back in July 2002, when he was working for the Los Angeles Times, I asked Gettleman point-blank why Muslim hate criminals are treated with more circumspection and solemn contemplation than white hate criminals.
I”ll give the man credit”he was very honest in his reply:
It IS tricky covering a hate group whose views are so far outside mainstream moral norms. These people (white nationalists) readily admit they hate Jews because they are Jews and blacks because they are blacks. Should we treat such doctrine as intellectually equal to strong religious views? I don’t know. A journalist has to balance being objective but not missing the obvious. Should I seriously examine why (white nationalist) Chester Doles doesn’t like black people? Should I include his thots [sic] on blacks being genetically inferior and prone to violence when we know that’s not scientifically true and such beliefs are considered offensive?
And then, one final money shot, with Gettleman speaking not just for himself, but on behalf of his colleagues:
I think there is some consensus that white supremacist hate groups ARE less interesting intellectually than religious extremists.
And there you have it, laid bare. The mainstream media find Muslim hatemongers more “intellectually interesting” than dumb, plain old white racists. The double standard, copped to and explained. The press finds Muslim extremists “intellectually interesting,” and it shows in the respectful, cautious, and contemplative coverage those zealots receive. Remember Gettleman’s quote the next time anyone in the mainstream media claims they”re not taking sides in the hate-crime relay race.
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