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Boston Bombing News: The Role of the Mainstream Media

Carmen Ortiz has routinely used the media to make her case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One might think she would wait to do it in the courtroom, and wonder why she doesn’t. The defense is very concerned about these media leaks, especially those channeled by the Islamophobic journalist Michelle McPhee. Judge O’Toole gives lip service to these concerns, while doing nothing to stop the leaks.

Karin Friedemann sums it up nicely: “I don’t want to live in a country where the FBI can … accuse you of a bombing and then, instead of presenting evidence in a court of law, make up TV docudramas about you without even consulting you for your side of the story.”

Why is the media going along with this? Why do they speak as one in assuming the guilt of the Tsarnaev brothers? It’s as if there is an invisible wall in place, which deflects all uncomfortable questions.

I understand that Bostonians need to see justice done. A traumatized city wants and needs to trust that LE is telling them the truth. Americans in general also need reassurance. Are the real bombers still out there, ready to strike again? Is the FBI incapable of protecting us from terrorism? It’s much more comforting for most to believe that the Feds have got it right.

Reassurance is all very nice. But whatever happened to investigative journalism?

At first, this case superficially appeared to be “solved.” No investigative journalism necessary! We were told of a dramatic shootout, a capture, and a hospital-bed confession. What more could you ask for? But no MSM journalist asked the obvious question: “Why didn’t these guys have an escape plan?” Confessions can be coerced; and no videotape of Dzhokhar’s alleged confession exists. Will you hear that on TV? No way.

When we learned about the boat-note and the killing of Ibragim Todashev, a lot of people began to wonder if something funny might be going on here. Did the MSM wonder? Apparently not.  (Although ABC Online did later note that the “blood” on the boat-note looked like paint.)

In July, when Dzhokhar stood up in court and pleaded Not Guilty, did any journalist ask why he would do this, in the face of the supposedly “overwhelming evidence” against him? Nope. No curiosity about it whatsoever. Instead they reported his “smirking” and quoted someone who complained that “He showed absolutely no remorse.” Remorse for what? For being not guilty?

Print and Local Media do deserve some credit. Editorials have appeared in print and online, questioning the un-Mirandized interrogation of Dzhokhar, touting the importance of a fair trial, even calling for a change of venue.

And some investigative work has been done, within the limits imposed by the “invisible wall.” The Boston Globe and Rolling Stone wrote stories which dared to humanize the Tsarnaevs. The Globe, I assume, had honest intentions, and they came up with some interesting info about Tamerlan’s time in Russia. But RS, with its infamous cover highlighting Dzhokhar as a sexy rock star, seemed to be in it simply to increase their circulation numbers.

Recently the invisible wall may be developing a few cracks. The media has given some attention to Elena Teyer and Karin Friedemann, who have courageously made their voices heard at the Boston courthouse. Bruce Gellerman of WBUR is one journalist who actually listened to them.

pbszebra reports two tweets from Gellerman: “Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left note in boat he hid in, sources say – CBS News Who leaked to Miller??” Followed by: “Boston Marathon Bombing: A Primer – WhoWhatWhy Good Questions” (giving the link to this WWW article).

I wonder if the defense counsel even knows that Teyer and Friedemann are getting through to the Boston media? Sadly, the interference of the “fake bomb nuts” may have derailed this promising dialog.

TV News deserves no credit whatsoever. Do the broadcast media take their orders directly from Big Brother? I don’t know, but this chart of who owns the TV networks may be of interest.

I also think it’s interesting that TV news never, ever criticizes America’s wars against Muslim nations. Fox and MSNBC disagree about lots of things, but they both sing the same song when it comes to the “War on Terror.” Is this an agenda from “higher up”?

One thing is certain: the networks are more interested in their financial bottom line than in responsibly reporting the news. Their goal is to keep ‘em watching at all costs. Hire some “bubble-headed bleached blondes”, clothe them in peekaboo cocktail dresses, and set them loose to stir up maximum anger, fear, confusion, race conflict and xenophobic hatred. Could a dystopian sci-fi novel have come up with anything more insane?

On April 19, 2013, Russ Baker wrote an article about the ways that TV manipulated the BMB story. In “Worry, But Not Too Much,” fear alternated with reassurance, keeping us glued to the TV, and playing to our irrational side. In “Kumbaya,” heart-warming portraits of brave victims substituted for substantive news. In “Double Standard on Tragedy,” Baker notes that other important and even more horrific events were ignored that week, while we all focused on the BMB.

I do disagree with Baker’s dismissal of the “Scoop” reported by CNN’s John King. That may have been a real lead. It evaporated when a bogus bomb threat cancelled the apparent arrest of a man who placed a black bag at the Forum. Something weird happened on that Wednesday (and again on Thursday, when the heavy black bags described by the FBI morphed into a lightweight white one and a not-so-heavy dark gray one). We may never know what really happened, because King, instead of continuing to pursue investigative journalism, abjectly apologized for his “mistake.”

A new low was reached in April 2014. We were treated to a breathless 60 Minutes interview with FBI agents, and a lavish NatGeo docudrama. A docudrama before the end of the story? How crazy is that?

Not only have TV anchor-people assured us of Dzhokhar’s guilt, but one of them expressly instructed us to “have no sympathy for him.” Seriously? By what right do these nitwits tell me who to hate?

In covering Elena Teyer’s comments to the press on December 18, CNN’s resident anchor-blonde offered no empathy or respect for Elena as the bereaved mother-in-law of Ibragim Todashev. Instead, she said (a bit desperately): “Wasn’t the FBI totally cleared in the death of Todashev?”

An exception in TV news is Al Jazeera America. Their tone is calm, their female reporters wear reasonable business attire, and their agenda is global, not U.S.-centered. They defend Muslims and note that Israel has feet of clay. Although AJA has virtually ignored the Marathon bombing, they have recently aired two documentaries which may be back-handed attempts to address it. One, summarized here, examines the FBI’s suspicious role in the Lockerbie bombing investigation. Another addresses how Muslims are coerced into becoming FBI informants. How do they get away with all this? Well, they’re only available in premium packages, so they don’t have a large audience.

In the last year and a half, the cable news people have worked hard to poison the Tsarnaev jury pool. They have also: yanked on America’s chain by intimating that if ISIL doesn’t kill us all, Ebola will;  discredited rape victims by crowing over the Rolling Stone screw-up; helped Sony sell tickets to a lousy movie by hyping an alleged North Korean terror plot; and fomented a virtual race war by irresponsibly televising violent protests and Al Sharpton’s rants.

Good work, guys. Why, I wonder, should we take seriously anything you say?



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