Jan
20
2011

Terrorism and Spokane

Someone wanted to set off a bomb at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Washington. Luckily the suspicious bag holding the bomb was spotted,which likelysaved lives. As the Washington Post reported today:

"The device appeared to be operational, it appeared to be deadly, and it was intended to inflict multiple casualties," said Special Agent Frederick Gutt, a spokesman for the FBI's Seattle field office.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the device, which is being analyzed at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., said it had a remote detonator and was positioned so that any blast would have been directed at the crowd of marchers.

Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News wonders why the story hasn't received more media attention, particularly as a case of what would appear to be domestic terrorism. He writes:

When it emerged that alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner was an almost certainly mentally ill 22-year-old who seemed to follow some bizarre conspiracy theories but not the political rhetoric of Palin or the Tea Party, there was massive pushback from conservatives who accused the mainstream media of jumping to unfair conclusions. Most famously, Palin herself emerged to call this a "blood libel." The former GOP veep nominee was savaged for using that charged term, but you have to wonder now if the pushback from Palin is actually a case of "mission accomplished."

That's because with this new episode in Spokane, not only have the pillars of the mainstream media not raced to any conclusions, but they seem to be in a competition as to who can most ignore the story altogether. But there's no need to jump to unwarranted conclusions here; the actual facts have been laid out by the nation's preeminent law enforcement agency, the FBI — that we are dealing with a case of "domestic terrorism," that the sophisticated device along the King Day parade route was capable of causing mass casualties, and the target was American citizens celebrating an icon of the progressive movement, Dr. King.

Maybe the implications are just a little too frightening for the mainstream media to want to deal with.

There's a fairly well-documented history of media playing down domestic terror threats that don't involve Arab or Muslim conspirators. Those that do are treated differently; there are plenty of cases where law enforcement stepped in long before such plans were operational– and yet much of the media coverage would still refer to them as a form of terrorism. The attempted Times Square bombing might be the closest analogy, and that received widespread media coverage, much of which called it an attempted terrorist attack.

In this case, it doesn't seem like the media want to call it terrorism– or even news, for that matter. NBC Nightly News did a segment on the bomb plot yesterday, but anchor Brian Williamssaid thisat the end of the report:

All right, Pete Williams on what could have been a major news story out in Spokane. Pete, thanks.

Could have been?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.