Playing the Media For the Fools They Are

Jason Linkins has a terrific column at Huffington Post on that so-called pastor in Gainesville, Florida.  You know the one.  The one Mr. Linkins refers to as “the leader of a microscopic cult of idiots” who at the time were all fired up to burn the Koran on the 9th anniversary of 9/11.   One of many press conferences were conducted in which “a rapt media which decided that his moronic plans were the single most important thing going on in America.”   This leader of the “microscopic cult” – Terry Jones – had called the presser to announce the calling of the book burning fun-fest because “he had successfully reached a deal with the people behind the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan, in which they would move their facility away from the site of the World Trade Center.”

Of course – it was a lie.  Just as was much of what  came out of Jones’ mouth – lies – and, therein, lies the problem.

The story of how one lone idiot, pimping an 18th-century brand of community terrorism, held the media hostage and forced some of this nation’s most powerful people to their knees to fitfully beg an end to his wackdoodlery is an extraordinary one. It’s a modern media retelling of Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”, in which a gang of Islamaphobes, cast in the role of Addie Bundren, bamboozle the media into carrying their coffin full of malevolence on a journey of pure debasement. Let’s begin at the beginning.

And so Mr. Linkins does and it IS impressive. He calls the media out for clamoring to report this mess and contribute to the ever-widening, more worrisome and threatening hype.  As he so brazenly explains:

“Let’s remember that all of this paralysis was caused by 50 people who wanted to burn a book that’s available for free, on the Internet!”

Mr. Jones’ book burning crusade ended with the announcement that he & his “microscopic cult of idiots” weren’t ever going to be burning no Qurans, Korans .  Of course, thanks to the media – the world was on fire about it.

And then . . . .  I ran across this written by Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post’s 44 blog.  Seriously – read the title of the column:

Media to Terry Jones: You used us!

Hah!  They got played.  Played like the corporate media whores they are.  [I said as much on their blog; however, the comment never showed up.  Sometimes ‘screening’ comments is a good thing – really.]  These poor media folk had pushed this story all the way up the highest hill they could find to get the attention of everyone and when things began to get a little tight, how did they respond?  Because as you know, the world was on “standby for possible violent rioting over a proposed Koran-burning here.”  According to Boorstein, “the most fraught moment of the day Friday involved church representatives and a huge, sweaty, frustrated media corps.”   Huge, sweaty, frustrated media corps.

Reporters from around the world, some of whom had been waiting on the large open lawn of the Dove World Outreach Center in intense heat and humidity for days, began yelling at youth pastor Luke Jones and an evangelist who has been working with the church after the two men gave a series of unclear comments about what would or wouldn’t happen Saturday– “International Burn the Koran Day”.

Now pay attention here.  Mr. Jones’ church has an approximate membership of 50.  As pointed out by Ms Boorstein “nearly 100 journalists” were at that particular press conference.  That’s a 2:1 ratio.

“We’re not going to tell you what’s going on!” Jones finally yelled to a crowd of nearly 100 journalists and a few onlookers.

After having just had a similar, frustrating exchange with Paul, who had stood with Jones at the 1 p.m. news conference to issue the ultimatum, the hot and cranky media horde had had enough.

Are you just toying with us to get attention?” asked a sweaty woman in a suit, crouching to keep out of the shot of multiple cameras over her head.

The crowd groaned.

“Are you just toying with us to get attention?”  That’s laughable; it really is.

During Friday’s news conference on the economy President Obama was asked about the near collision of strident religious stupidity and whether HIS administration had contributed to ramping up the situation when Secretary of Defense Gates personally appealed to Mr. Jones’, thus “unnecessarily drawn attention to the pastor’s plans.”

I hardly think we’re the ones who elevated this story,” he said, responding to a question. “It is – in the age of the Internet – something that can cause us profound damage around the world, so we’ve got to take it seriously.”

I hardly think we’re the ones who elevated this story.” President Obama said.  No shit.

A few days ago or more news broke that Iran was going to release one of the three American hikers (Sarah Shourd)being held by the government, facing charges of being spies, (I mean – aren’t we all?) at the end of Ramadan as an expression of good will.  Imagine if the news media had latched on to that tidbit of news.  After all Mr. Jones’ news of his Quran burning began with a tweet in July.  And according to Jason Rezaian who writes the San Francisco Chronicle blog ‘Inside Iran’ – they’ve received texts regarding Sarah Shourd’s pending release as well as her subsequent continued imprisonment. It now appears it’s back on for Ms Shourd and hopefully she’ll be released quickly.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi says she could be released in the next two to three days, after bail is posted.  Speaking on Iranian state television, Dolatabadi said that because Shourd is ill, judges have agreed to convert her detention to $500,000 in bail.

As for the media and its role in the Terry Jones affair, I have only this to say – Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?

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