Friday Morning Edition 11/6/09

WISH HE WAS ‘SMITH’: We no longer expect news media to employ its traditional standards if the story involves a mass murderer named Nidal Malik Hasan, and at Fort Hood we were not disappointed.

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After going to extraordinary lengths yesterday to avoid any reference to Islam, by this morning — when evidence of the killer’s identification as a Muslim could no longer be completely ignored — anchors and guests were occasionally wishing his name was “Smith” …  about whom they could comfortably refer in stereotypical terms, referencing American heartland wackos and steering a politically correct course away from the contemplation of  jihad.

As Americans watched the tragic news of the Fort Hood massacre, and they learned that the killer’s name was Nidal Malik Hasan, are we to suppose that they did not want to know if the killer was a Muslim and his actions were influenced by radical Islam? Nah, I’m certain that no one was even curious, and anyway, his religion and politics is completely irrelevant to the story! We’re all certain of that, aren’t we?

We’re again reminded that a quest for information … for news … for truth … by each person is viewed by establishment media as an Orwellian sin. Maybe our heads are already buried in the sand.

Here’s a report on yesterday’s coverage, from NewsBusters:

Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News, in their East coast feeds Thursday night, noted the Muslim religious beliefs of the mass killer at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, but ABC anchor Charles Gibson wasn’t cowed by political correctness as he teased World News, “Fort Hood tragedy: An Army officer, a Muslim convert, is the suspect in a shooting spree…” Introducing his first story, Gibson referred to how Major Nidal Malik Hasan “an army officer, a Muslim, opened fire with handguns…” (With a range of frequency, during late afternoon/early evening coverage, CNN, FNC and MSNBC all identified Hasan as a Muslim.)

Cryptically, ABC’s senior foreign affairs correspondent, Martha Raddatz, concluded a story on reaction at Fort Hood: “As for the suspect, Nadal Hasan, as one officer’s wife told me, ‘I wish his name was Smith.’ ” So, a concern this will lead to groundless fear of Muslims?

The CBS Evening News avoided any mention of Islam or Muslim faith as Katie Couric provided this benign description: “Today, according to the Army, a soldier opened fire.… He’s identified tonight as Army Major Nadal Malik Hasan, a licensed psychiatrist and drug and rehab specialist from Bethesda, Maryland.”

NBC anchor Brian Williams: “The soldier, identified as the initial gunman here, is an Army psychiatrist, Nadal Malik Hasan. He’s an officer, a Major, and he was apparently armed with two handguns.” NBC’s Pete Williams insisted, the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth noticed, “everything about his background is rock solid, and nothing extraordinary stands out about his background.”

Last night, Fox scooped everyone — first with an interview with a Hasan relative who stressed the shooter’s patriotism and moderation, then with someone who recently worked with Hasan in the military and found the opposite to be true.

This post was revised at 10:06 am ET

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