Sunday, September 12, 2010

Joan Walsh Explains to Ed Schultz How and Why the Media Dustup over Terry Jones Started.

Some people have been complaining that the US media should not have made such a big deal out of Terry Jones' plans to burn the Qur'an.

Here, Joan Walsh reminds Ed Schultz of just how this story came to prominence and why it had to be taken on with full force.

In this internet age it simply is no longer possible to ignore certain stories, especially as this story was setting off protests in Indonesia, Kabul, Cairo and many other places in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Palin, Gingrich and Boehner were the ones feeding an Islamophobic frenzy, and it was into this frenzy that Obama and Petraeus had to attempt to inject some sanity and a gentle reminder of just what is at stake here.

Here, Justin Elliot goes through the timeline:

When Gen. David Petraeus first spoke out against Pastor Terry Jones' planned Quran burning in a Wall Street Journal article published Monday, the story exploded in the U.S. media, going from a sideshow to the dominant national media controversy of the week. As Yahoo News reported, it was on the front page of more than 50 newspapers Thursday -- more than the total number of members of Jones' fringe Florida church.

Critics of the American media's coverage of the Quran-burning saga are loud and plentiful, and they have a strong case. In short, the U.S. media has given a global platform to a fringe pastor with a tiny flock, elevating him to a level of significance that would make most members of Congress jealous (whether or not he actually executes his plan). But those media critics are also missing the point.

To grasp the real story here, one has to understand the context in which Petraeus decided to weigh in: At that time, the Quran burning had already been treated as a major story in the media in the Muslim world for several weeks. In other words, since at least late July, when it started to get attention in some Muslim-majority countries, the story has been doing untold damage to America's reputation.


Lynch said that the first story in his files on the Quran burning is this July 28 report from the Saudi TV station al-Arabiya. That in turn "generated discussion on jihadist forums and other media outlets way back then," Lynch said.

By that point in July, according to Howard Kurtz's timeline, the story had gotten some play in the U.S. but had not attracted much interest.

Meanwhile, the story was percolating through the media in Muslim-majority countries, where it was often framed as the latest and most egregious example of rising Islamophobia in the United States, according to Gregg Carlstrom, a journalist with Al-Jazeera English who is based in Doha, Qatar. And given the history of angry reaction to real or perceived vandalism of the Quran, there's no doubt the stakes were high. In Afghanistan and Indonesia there have since been protests of the Quran burning.

Outside the US, this was already a huge story, and it was doing immense damage to the reputation of the United States. To think that ignoring it would have made it go away is simply fanciful.


Media Matters have a very good timeline of the anti-Muslim messages being pushed by many on the right.

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