FAIR Media Advisory: Media March to War

In the wake of the devastating attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many media
pundits focused on one theme: retaliation. For
some, it did not matter who bears the brunt of an
American attack.

In the wake of the devastating attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many media
pundits focused on one theme: retaliation. For
some, it did not matter who bears the brunt of an
American attack:

"There is only one way to begin to
deal with people like this, and that is you have
to kill some of them even if they are not
immediately directly involved in this thing."

–former Secretary of State Lawrence
Eagleburger (CNN, 9/11/01)

"The response to this unimaginable
21st-century Pearl Harbor should be as simple as
it is swift– kill the bastards. A gunshot between
the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if
you have to.  As for cities or countries that host
these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."

–Steve Dunleavy (New York Post,

"America roused to a righteous
anger has always been a force for good. States
that have been supporting if not Osama bin Laden,
people like him need to feel pain. If we flatten
part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes,
that is part of the solution."

–Rich Lowry, National Review editor, to Howard Kurtz
(Washington Post, 9/13/01)


–Caption to cartoon by Gary
Brookins (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/13/01)

"At a bare minimum, tactical
nuclear capabilites should be used against the bin
Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan. To do
less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds
that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice on
the part of the United States and the current
–Former Defense
Intelligence Agency officer Thomas Woodrow, "Time
to Use the Nuclear Option" (Washington
, 9/14/01)

Bill O’Reilly: "If the Taliban
government of Afghanistan does not cooperate, then
we will damage that government with air power,
probably. All right? We will blast them,

Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy:
"Who will you kill in the process?"

O’Reilly: "Doesn’t make any difference."

–(The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News
, 9/13/01)

"This is no time to be precious
about locating the exact individuals directly
involved in this particular terrorist attack….
We should invade their countries, kill their
leaders and convert them to Christianity. We
weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing
only Hitler and his top officers. We
carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians.
That’s war. And this is war."
columnist Ann Coulter (National Review
, 9/13/01)

"Real" Retribution

Many media commentators appeared to blame the
attacks on what they saw as America’s
unwillingness to act aggressively in recent years.

As conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer
(Washington Post, 9/12/01) wrote: "One of
the reasons there are enough terrorists out there
capable and deadly enough to carry out the
deadliest attack on the United States in its
history is that, while they have declared war on
us, we have in the past responded (with the
exception of a few useless cruise missile attacks
on empty tents in the desert) by issuing

The Washington Post‘s David Broder
(9/13/01), considered a moderate, issued his own
call for "new realism — and steel — in America’s
national security policy": "For far too long, we
have been queasy about responding to terrorism.
Two decades ago, when those with real or imagined
grievances against the United States began picking
off Americans overseas on military or diplomatic
assignments or on business, singly or in groups,
we delivered pinprick retaliations or none at

Why They Hate Us

As the media investigation focused on Osama bin
Laden, news outlets still provided little
information about what fuels his fanaticism.
Instead of a serious inquiry into anti-U.S.
sentiment in the Middle East and elsewhere, many
commentators media offered little more than
self-congratulatory rhetoric.

One exception was ABC‘s Jim Wooten
(World News Tonight, 9/12/01), who tried to
shed some light on what might motivate some
anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East, reporting
that "Arabs see the U.S. as an accomplice of
Israel, a partner in what they believe is the
ruthless repression of Palestinian aspirations for
land and independence." Wooten continued: "The
most provocative issues: Israel’s control over
Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem; the stationing of
U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia near some of Islam’s
holiest sites; and economic sanctions against
Iraq, which have been seen to deprive children
there of medicine and food."

Stories like Wooten’s, which examine the U.S.’s
highly contentious role in the Middle East and
illuminate some of the forces that can give rise
to violent extremism, contribute far more to
public security than do pundits calling for
indiscriminate revenge.

Author: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

News Service: FAIR – September 17, 2001

URL: http://www.fair.org/press-releases/wtc-war-punditry.html

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