The kidnap weapon; the media target

The kidnap weapon; the media target

: William Safire said today just what I said Saturday about examing our role and responsibility in media giving terrorists publicity for their atrocities. He also said that candidates and government leaders (read: Kerry) have an equal responsibility not to be manipulated by the enemy. I agree.

Nobody should order reporters and editors to “downplay” a gut-wrenching human interest story involving cruelty, violence and death. Nor should the media flinch from covering casualty counts or honoring the fallen. War involves sacrifice.

But responsible journalists should consider the wisdom of allowing media-savvy terrorists to play them like a violin….

Do we have to become conduits for this grisly, real-death kidnap choreography? We are obliged to report it, but we need not go along with the terrorist propagandists in milking the most horror out of it.

We know that the primary purpose of the kidnap weapon is to drive the coalition forces out of Iraq and to prevent a free election there.

We know, too, that the kidnap weapon is aimed at the U.S. election….

John Kerry, who has evidently decided to replace Howard Dean as the antiwar candidate, last weekend helped to magnify the terrorists’ kidnap weapon. In a scheduled commercial Kerry personally approved, just before charging that George Bush had no plan to get us out of Iraq, the Democratic campaign underscored the message Zarqawi has been sending: “Americans,” said Kerry’s announcer, “are being kidnapped, held hostage, even beheaded.”

Though undoubtedly accurate, that paid evocation of horror by a political candidate is a terrible blunder.

  • O’McSomething

    What the f*ck does Safire have to say about a VP who says that a vote for Kerry means we will probably get hit worse than we did on 9/11? What an incredibly stupid op-ed! His argument couldn’t be more circular. He is chasing his own tail as far as trying to make any sort of point. Let’s see……do you think the rate of kidnappings will rise as a result of Safire’s voicing his nutty opinion! Cut off your nose already, Safire, you delusional hack!

  • nick foresta

    Jeff,
    You write of Mr. Kerry…
    “Though undoubtedly accurate, that paid evocation of horror by a political candidate is a terrible blunder.”
    Can I be the only one who sees the irony here? The blunder isn’t getting us stuck in the mud by failing to foresee the obvious consequences of invading and occupying a place like Iraq. The blunder isn’t invading Iraq with insufficent troop levels. The blunder isn’t invading Iraq with a weak coalition of lesser states who cannot be counted on for additional troops or money. The blunder isn’t invading Iraq with no plan beyond an evengelical belief in their own wisdom, and no strategy for salvaging whatever policy goals might still be attainable. No, the blunder is pointing out the fact that people are getting killed because of it on a pretty regular basis. It’s funny except it really isn’t…

  • growler

    “We know that the primary purpose of the kidnap weapon is to drive the coalition forces out of Iraq and to prevent a free election there.
    “We know, too, that the kidnap weapon is aimed at the U.S. election.”
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
    These jihadi snuff films have been around for a long while. The infamous “Rushthroat” video, which shows a Russian soldier getting his throat slit. The Daniel Pearl murder was taped; that was long before any electioneering here. The “kidnap weapon” is aimed at recruitment. It’s like terrorist porn. They get off on it. They couldn’t care less if we leave Iraq or not. Sure, they might be happy, but then they’d move on to other demands.
    So, yes, the media should show these tapes. In their entirety. So the American public knows what kind of brutality we’re up against.

  • ChrisPer

    Wrong.
    The media have got a model here. Suicide reporting causes copycats, its called the contagion effect. Guidelines have been released that are reducing the impact, reducing the deaths caused unintentionally but directly by reportage.
    Now is the time to experiment with similar methods for terrorists and mass shooters.
    We have created and adopted responsible standards for suicide reporting so we can treat terrorism the same way. Even in third world media, high western standards can influence their reporting.