Boston Marathon Explosion: Media Cautious Not to Say “Islamic Attack”

Boston Marathon Explosion: Media Cautious Not to Say “Islamic Attack”


As Americans are learning about a series of bombs detonated at the finish line of the Boston marathon today, they are turning to traditional media which recently took a beating over its coverage of the Gosnell trial. Now it is mindful again of its reporting in this incident.

In the time between the 9/11 attack and today we may be noticing more tepid and cautious language being used to describe the incident as details slowly unfold.  The FBI has officially declared today’s bombing a terrorist attack.  In years past, many in the public and media alike would assume the culprits must be from an Islamic terrorist group.  It’s not like what we saw after the 2004 New York Stock exchange attack, the underwear bomber incident or the Sears Tower incident by al qaeda sympathizers don’t contribute to a rush to judgement.

However, we also recognize that we have seen several incidents of domestic terror in the form of mass shootings.  Even though the traditional media has been hesitant to label a lone person killing a large amount of people a “domestic terrorist,” at least these incidents are signaling that the enemy is not always across the ocean. It’s not a stretch to think some rogue group or person could have pulled this off for whatever twisted reason. But it’s too soon to tell and there should be no fingerpointing and blame, especially since 3 people were killed and over 150 injured.

Today, we hear and listen to deliberate wordsmithing and careful attempts not to demagogue one group or another.  Still in the wide world of social media, the left is pointing out that today is Patriot day in Massachusetts,  a day commemorating the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War, April 19, 1775.  The right is reminding them how wrong they were to label the Arizona shooter, Jared  Loughner, as a right wing gun extremist before it was determined he wasn’t.

Speaking of which, what a major distraction this horrific disaster is to the recent developments in gun legislation, huh? Not only Congress is impacted by this tragic interruption — the White House too.

Deciding what and when to call an attack an act of terrorism was recently at issue following the U.S. Embassy in Libya assaults. It was even brought into the debate during the last presidential election cycle after Mitt Romney claimed White Officials waited too long to declare the event an act of terrorism. And again, today, President Obama purposefully avoided the word terror though a statement released after his evening address did call the act terrorism.

So far, reports indicate that the bombs were not as powerful as they could have been, perhaps indication that whoever carried out this attack perhaps did not have access to more potent explosives.  But it also creates the opportunity to see if the media will also be mindful of whether the type of descriptors are used to characterize the culprits depends on their nationality and religion.