Attacks: Does the Media Think We're Idiots?
October 16, 2001
When the first case of anthrax was discovered in Florida, pundits informed
us that it was likely just a coincidence that a short time after the World
Trade Center attacks, an American contracted this disease. Even though
this was the first anthrax case since the 1970's. And even though it
happened in an area where some of the September 11 hijackers lived.
The media explained to us
that the victim, who worked at a tabloid newspaper, had engaged in outdoor
activities where he could have contracted "natural" anthrax.
These denials of reality
sounded as ridiculous then as they do now.
Anthrax Attack: Not Terrorism, They
When the second Florida
anthrax case was discovered, the media said that it was "unlikely"
two such cases would pop up "naturally" like that. Gee,
But, we were assured, these
were probably not terrorist attacks, but the work of
"criminals." Well of course, as we all know, criminals often
use anthrax in their endeavors, especially mailing it to people.
Seeking to bolster their
claims, the media told us that prior incidents of biological/chemical
attacks had also been "criminal" in nature, like the time in 1984
when food in an Oregon town was deliberately contaminated with salmonella,
and the instance in 1992 where sarin gas was let loose in the Tokyo subway.
But of course, those acts,
while being in violation of the law and therefore "criminal," were
also terroristic. The Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult and the cult in
Oregon were trying to kill and terrorize the civilians in those areas for
political purposes, precisely the definition of terrorism.
When anthrax was discovered
in other locations -- the offices of NBC in New York and Senator Tom
Daschle's (D-SD) office in Washington, D.C. -- the media continued their
Alfred E. Neuman level of discourse by wondering out loud whether these and
the prior Florida instances were "related." No, there just
happen to be a bunch of unconnected individuals in all three areas who
possess anthrax and have personal grudges against the media and the U.S.
Anthrax Attack: No Osama bin Laden
Link, They Say
Finally, after all this,
government officials and the media seem to be acknowledging
these events for what they are: bioterrorism.
But their newest claim is to
have no direct evidence that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda group were the
responsible terrorists. Yup, there's some previously unknown group of
terrorists with the financial wherewithal and scientific acumen to acquire,
develop and spread anthrax.
A friend suggested that
perhaps the media and government officials were trying to downplay the
terrorism angle and bin Laden connection from the very beginning to minimize
fear and panic. Perhaps.
But I'd personally feel a lot
more secure if the media and government didn't try to deny reality for our
sake, because it means they think we're stupid enough to buy their feeble
denials. And if they think we're that stupid, what other kind of
dissembling will they think they can get away with?