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Covering Zarqawi

Just how left wing is the editorial page of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune? So left wing, in fact, that the editors decided to adapt a CNN interview with Michael Berg - the pacifist, Bush-hating father of Nick Berg who was beheaded by Zarqawi in May 2004 - to run as a piece of commentary on the op-ed page today. To be fair, the editors did manage to squeeze out an editorial admitting - albeit begrudgingly - that the "rough justice" delivered to Zarqawi yesterday was a good thing.

nypost_zarqawi.gif nydn_zarqawi.jpgAt the other end of the spectrum we have the New York Post and the New York Daily News, both of which carry full page color pictures of a dead Zarqawi on their covers, with the Post adding an extra, humorous, but politically incorrect touch with a speech bubble coming out of Zarqawi's mouth that says, "warm up the virgins."

The Post's headline story runs under the title "Evil Zarqawi Blown to Hell" and the Daily News carries a very similar front-pager under the headline "Zarq is Blown Right To Hell."

The Star-Tribune, however, pulls down a wire story from Newsday for its headline coverage ("Al-Zarqawi was betrayed") and devotes its own reporting manpower (in the person of James Rosen from the paper's Washington D.C. bureau) to producing a 742-word companion piece under the headline "But What About Osama?" As the title suggests, the tone and tenor of Rosen's piece is "yeah, but..."

For terrorism experts, though, Bin Laden is still Public Enemy No. 1.

"It's a good thing to have gotten Al-Zarqawi, but it doesn't end the insurgency in Iraq, and it certainly doesn't bring us any closer to finding Bin Laden," said Charles Pena, author of a new book on terrorism and an analyst with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy in Washington. [snip]

"In the Iraqi context, the raid against Zarqawi is important, but in terms of the global jihad, it doesn't matter. But Bin Laden's death would matter in the global jihad landscape. Bin Laden started the entire organization. He has been the symbolic figure for global jihad."

The inability of U.S. and Pakistani forces to capture Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, she said, "is very disconcerting to intelligence sources fighting the war on terrorism, and it also continues to provide inspiration" to their followers.

The Post and the Daily News may be over-the-top tabloids trying to sell papers at the heart of Ground Zero, but at least they seem generally happy about the fact that we just snuffed out one of the worst terrorists on the planet. The Star-Tribune, on the other hand, seems able to muster only a bare minimum of enthusiasm and unable to focus, even for a single day, on the hugely positive aspects of Zarqawi's death.