news media have suffered in recent years. Thanks to the Internet
and talk radio, millions of Americans have ceased relying on The
New York Times and CNN for their written and televised news.
But it is difficult
to recall a greater blow to the credibility of American news media
than their near-universal refusal to publish the Mohammed cartoons
originally published in a Danish newspaper that have brought about
worldwide Muslim protests.
This loss of credibility
owes to two factors: dishonesty and cowardice.
Everyone and his mother
knows why the networks and the print journals haven't shown the
cartoons -- they fear Muslims blowing up their buildings and stabbing
their editors to death. The only people who deny this are the
news media. They all claim that they won't show the cartoons because
of sensitivity to Muslim feelings.
Which brings us to
the other reason for the latest blow to the news media's credibility:
They are lying to us. If some politicians were telling lies as
blatantly as the news media are now, the media would be having
a field day exposing those politicians and calling for their removal
from office. But, alas, what TV news station will criticize another
TV news station? And what newspaper or magazine will criticize
another newspaper or magazine?
So, without anyone
in the media holding them accountable, the news media continue
to believe they can fool nearly all the people all the time when
they say they are not publishing the cartoons out of respect for
Why is this false?
First, major papers
in virtually every European country have published the cartoons.
It is inconceivable that European papers are less concerned with
Muslim sensibilities than American media are. If anything, in
Europe they are more pro-Muslim given their anti-Israel and anti-American
views and given that they live in countries with far greater numbers
of Muslims than live in America.
Second, the reason
to publish the cartoons is not to offend Muslims; it is to explain
the most significant current news event in the world. How can
anyone understand the Islamic riots without having seen the cartoons
that triggered them? If millions of Christians rioted after cartoons
were published in the Muslim world, does anyone doubt that the
Western press would publish them, or that it had the obligation
to do so?
The argument that
people can see the cartoons on the Internet is specious. Anyone
could see the photos of the abuse of Arab prisoners at Abu Ghraib
prison on the Internet, yet the news media presented these photos
day after day for weeks.
American press has routinely published cartoons and pictures that
insult Christians and Jews. The Los Angeles Times published
a cartoon depicting the stones of the Western Wall of the Jewish
Temple, the holiest site to Jews, as spelling out the word "HATE"
and showing a religious Jew bowing down before it. And what newspaper
did not publish a photo of "Piss Christ," the Andres
Serrano work of "art" depicting a crucifix in the artist's
"insult" every group whenever they feel like it, but
no one riots, burns and kills because of it.
Fourth, the ban on
depicting Mohammed applies to Muslims, not to non-Muslims. It
is remarkable that American newspapers, so frightened of any breakdown
between church and state, are suddenly guided by Muslim religious
Fifth, the argument
that publishing the images would inflame Muslims' passions is
another coverup for cowardice. No American newspaper or TV news
show exhibited the slightest concern with inflaming Muslim passions
when they endlessly published and depicted Abu Ghraib abuse photos.
If the liberal
news media in America -- conservative Fox News and The Weekly
Standard have shown the cartoons -- admitted they feared
being hurt if they showed the cartoons, one would have respect
for their honesty, if not their courage. But the liberal news
media's lack of courage coupled with their dishonest justifications
make for a devastating commentary on American news media.
not be surprised. A few years ago, New York Times foreign
affairs reporter John Burns reported -- to his great credit --
that some of the most prestigious American news organizations
had made a deal with Saddam Hussein not to report negatively about
his regime in exchange for being allowed to have a Baghdad news
When it comes to taking
on conservatives, Catholics, Evangelicals and the like, liberal
news media are Supermen. When it comes to confronting real evil,
however, the news media are Mickey Mouse.
2005 Creators Syndicate