Media Self-Censorship and Islam
Cowardice, political correctness, or social constraints -- what lays behind the phenomena of self-censorship in the media these days?
Writing in The Weekly Standard this week, Tom Gross argues the New York Times' refusal to come clean on the targets of militant Islam is a congenital defect. Inconvenient facts simply do not appear in the Times' stories if they conflict with its worldview.
Commenting on the Gray Lady’s coverage of the terrorist attack in Copenhagen, Gross writes:
At the present time, over a dozen hours after other media (such as The Guardian) reported prominently on the specifically anti-Semitic nature of [the Feb. 14] attack in Copenhagen and on the fact there was a Bat Mitzvah going on in the synagogue while it was being attacked (with over 80 people including many children inside), the lengthy report on the New York Times website on the Copenhagen shootings doesn’t mention the word “anti-Semitism” once. Instead New York Times correspondent Steven Erlanger writes in his piece “anti-Muslim sentiment is rising in Europe.”
Nor does the New York Times mention the bat mitzvah. There are not so many Jews in Denmark and not many bat mitzvahs -- it seems the terrorist had done his research carefully. Yet the New York Times website home page says, at the time of writing, that the shooting was “near a synagogue”. It wasn’t near a synagogue. It was at a synagogue. The synagogue was the target. Which is why a Jew guarding the synagogue was shot dead. With the New York Times’ reporting one starts to understand how Obama and his spokespeople could say the kosher attack in Paris was “random” even though the perpetrator – interviewed live on French radio during the attack – proudly boasted that he had come all the way across Paris in order to kill Jews gathering before the sabbath.
(None of this is new, of course. Even during the Holocaust, the New York Times did all it could to avoid mentioning that those being deported to Auschwitz and other camps were being deported because they were Jews.)
For Gross, this is more than sloppy reporting. It is a choice driven by ideology. The New York Times chooses not to report on the victims of religious hatred when those victims are Jews.
Not all newspapers lack the self-awareness of the New York Times. Last Thursday, Jonas Nordling, Chairman of the Swedish Union of Journalists, told parliament that free speech was under threat in Sweden. The threat came not from the state but from fear of Muslim extremists and the potential of threats and harassment for reporting unwelcome news.
Commenting on Nordling’s testimony, the liberal daily Sydsvenskan warned that self-censorship was now the greater threat in the West to free speech.