Former Secretary of State John Kerry, along with others during the time of the Obama administration, used to propagate the ridiculous idea terror attacks encourages more terrorism. Now, such belief has found a supporter in the mainstream media. A New York Times reporter said on Tuesday that he was bothered by a “FOX NEWS ALERT” that “ISIS claims responsibility” for the hostage siege in Melbourne, Australia that “killed one person and injured three cops.”
The New York Times reporter, Jonathan Weisman posted a message on Twitter and said that such reporting is “giving the terrorists what they want”, and also raised a complaint that “No attack (is) to small or too far away for a big all-caps alert.”
The “offending” tweet of Fox & Friends said: “FOX NEWS ALERT: ISIS claims responsibility for hostage siege in Melbourne, Australia that killed 1 person and injured 3 cops.” Weisman’s whining tweet read: “Giving the terrorists what they want: no attack too small or too far away for a big all-caps alert.”
Weisman, however, played selective by singling out Fox News when in fact many other mainstream news organizations including Reuters also reported about ISIS’s claim of responsibility. Fox also may have good reason for tagging the said news as an “alert” given that most viewers were just about waking up in the U.S. when news of the Melbourne attack broke out.
There is also a serious flaw to the logic behind Weisman’s false notion that reporting on the terror attacks would be “giving terrorists what they want” as proven by current international press coverage on terror attacks. Majority of the attacks even don’t make it to the news, especially those that occurred in Islamic countries. The apparent lack of interest on Western media to report on such terror acts has done little or nothing to even discourage terror groups from carrying out similar attacks.
What Weisman is missing out on is the objective data that show what can truly discourage or limit terror groups’ vicious attacks: U.S. military action. There is a recorded reduction in worldwide Islamic attacks seen between 2007 and 2011 and 2014 (over 50 percent fewer deaths and nearly 40 percent fewer injuries), in correlation there was the 2008 U.S.-Iraqi victory over Al Qaeda in Iraq followed by three years of continued U.S. military involvement there.
There’s also another telling correlation. There is the increase in worldwide Islamic attacks seen between 2011 and 2014 (a more than tripling of the death toll, and injuries returning to the level seen in 2007) following the premature U.S. withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011. This created the power vacuum in the region which gave rise to ISIS.
More disturbing for the press and press freedom, however, is the fact that Weisman’s complaint represents a form of censorship. People are naturally interested with the information as to who is responsible for any attack, or who may have inspired the perpetrators. Deliberately suppressing such news would be tantamount to a convenient way also to minimize exposure, which in the end even help those who want to minimize terrorism’s potential as an existential threat to Western civilization.