THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
April 23, 1995
The Wisdom Fund

Oklahoma City Bombing: Media Coverage Biased

When asked, "Have you heard of the Michigan Militia?" no one responded. The question was asked at the Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, January 12, 1995.

The question was the opening to Mr. Enver Masud's remarks at the Catholic-Muslim Dialogue sponsored by the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. last January. Masud, President, The Wisdom Fund, was speaking on bias in the media's coverage of Islam and Muslims.

The bias is so evident Masud said, "Don't take my word for it. Just examine stories in which Muslims are involved, and those in which Christians or Jews are involved. In the former you will see the person's faith noted, in the latter you won't."

"Media coverage of Islam and Muslims would fail Journalism 101," said Masud. Journalists are trained to report the who, what, when, where, how, and why of stories. The "who" in stories of Christians and Jews is a specific person, often described by friends, family, teachers, neighbors if relevant to the story. Very seldom is their religion mentioned. In the case of Muslims, religion is invariably mentioned, and is about the only thing mentioned. In the case of Christians and Jews there is usually much discussion of "why" the person did what he or she did. In the case of Muslims, all the reader is told that the person was a militant, or extremist, or fundamentalist; as if that were sufficient explanation.

The media appear to have excruciating difficulty writing about Muslims without mentioning their religion. In "Through the Minefield Of Political Islam," The Washington Post, March 31, 1995, Stephen S. Rosenfeld describes his difficulties in writing about Islam and Muslims. He has no such difficulty in writing about other faiths. Why not write about Muslims and Islam, the same way in which one writes about Christians and Christianity?

Following the capture of an alleged Oklahoma City bomber, The Washington Post, April 22, 1995, carried a story titled "Muslim's Burden of Blame Lifts" by Laurie Goodstein and Marylou Tousignant. If the burden has been lifted from Muslims, on whom does it fall? On Christians? Of course not. The point is the burden should never have been placed on Muslims. While the story itself is fair, the need for such a story should never have arisen.

Will the media behave more responsibly in the future? Will Muslims, to paraphrase the lead in the movie Network, wake up and say, "We're mad as hell, we're not going to take it anymore," and take the media to task? Only time will tell.



Jon Dougherty, "Witnesses heard multiple explosions: Experts say Murrah Building damage not done by truck blast alone," WorldNetDaily.com, May 18, 2001

Pat Shannan, "OKC Bombshell Implicates Feds In Murrah Blast: After nearly a decade, shocking, suppressed evidence emerges," AmericanFreePress.net, January 7, 2004

[Unsurprisingly, one important question has not been asked since Imus' downward spiral: what if those "nappy headed hos" were Arab or Muslim?

Bias against Arabs and Islam-and bashing them as a monolithic entity-is accepted across the news media, whether it is in reporting or punditry. . . . The only question left is how big of a gaffe is necessary for Americans to come to the defense of Arabs and Muslims?--Remi Kanazi, "Bill Maher's 'Towel Headed Hos'," Middle East Online, April 21, 2007]

[Federal officials insist that the Oklahoma City bombing case was solved a decade ago. But a Salt Lake City lawyer in search of his brother's killers has dug up some remarkable clues—on cross-dressing bank robbers, the FBI, and the mysterious third man.--James Ridgeway, "In Search of John Doe No. 2: The Story the Feds Never Told About the Oklahoma City Bombing," motherjones.com, July/August 2007]


A Noble Lie (2011) -- "Explosive Evidence" at 1:03:10

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