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Boston Bombings: Speculation, Spin, and Shamelessness

Uninformed analysis from "straight news" outlets, eager as ever.

by
Tom Blumer

Bio

April 18, 2013 - 7:43 am

Monday afternoon, as the reports of bomb explosions near the Boston Marathon’s finish line and the related deaths, injuries, and reassuring heroism began pouring in, my first thoughts went to prayers for the victims and their families.

Then, accompanied by an especially cold shiver, I recalled that several times during a far more innocent era I was at the same finish line of that iconic event with friends and loved ones. Now — unlike then, at least in the U.S. — life-ending and life-altering acts of terror can occur anywhere, at any time, at any public event.

I then hoped that authorities would catch whoever did this quickly, so that the reality deniers and smear merchants wouldn’t have time to capitalize on the carnage to discredit those whom they despise.

Alas, as of when I submitted this column, that has not been the case — though investigators reportedly “had an image of a potential suspect whose name was not known to them and who had not been questioned.”

In the intervening period, the smears have been fast and furious. Wholly predictable and despicable speculation has come from the likes of former Congresswoman and now apparent full-time kook Cynthia McKinney, who thinks the cops are in on it; addition-challenged Michael Moore (“Tax Day. Patriots Day”); and Chris Matthews, supported by a host of others at MSNBC who also played up an alleged Tax Day connection. It didn’t matter that April 15 wasn’t “Tax Day” in Massachusetts, because Patriots’ Day is an official holiday.

Apart from irresponsibly assigning blame, the politicizing of the bombings began shortly after the smoke cleared. Nick Kristof at the New York Times got on his Twitter soapbox to take a shot at Republicans for not confirming President Obama’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; he later deleted his tweet, but he wouldn’t have without the blowback which ensued. Tuesday, former Congressman Barney Frank was telling the world that the heroism displayed by first responders and the medical community somehow proved that big and bloated government is a feature, and not a bug.

The litany of blame-gaming and politicization by the obviously agenda-driven, though truly offensive, is nowhere near as troubling to me as some of the mainstream “straight news” reports which inexplicably held back on unequivocally calling the Boston bombings what they are — terrorism — or veered into their own irresponsible speculation about the nature of the perpetrators.

The organizations involved always claim that they play it straight. Once again, their own coverage has proven them wrong.

At the Associated Press, reporter Jimmy Golen spent Tuesday morning refusing to concede the obvious, namely that the bombings, regardless of who carried them out, represented an act of terrorism. In a wee-hours dispatch, he wrote that they “raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.”

Later that morning he doubled down, claiming that “the blasts among the throngs of spectators raised fears of a terrorist attack.” Because it was awkwardly written, Golen left himself open to two interpretations — both damning. The first is that he still would not concede that a terrorist attack took place. The second, not supported by later context but still possible, is that he, while claiming that Monday’s bombings weren’t terrorist in nature, thought that they might lead to something he might be willing to call “terrorism.” Meanwhile, even occasionally terror-sympathetic CNN didn’t hesitate to call the bombings a “terrorist attack.”

Although it inexplicably took him about 20 hours to acknowledge it in his own words, President Barack Obama stated the obvious on Tuesday: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror.” Even with that, AP’s Wednesday morning “Big Story” by Jay Lindsay and Eileen Sullivan would only admit that Obama called it a terrorist attack, despite acknowledging that “[d]octors who treated the wounded corroborated reports that the bombs were packed with shrapnel intended to cause mayhem” — a defining characteristic of terrorism — and never described the bombings as “terrorism” themselves.

Over at the Christian Science Monitor,  Washington Editor Peter Grier went into speculative mode, and in an apparent effort to give equal time to the “domestic” possibility, wrote:

The fact that the target was an event of great significance to Boston but not particularly significant to the wider world could indicate that the bomber was a local or at least a native of the United States. The explosions occurred on April 15, tax day, which could be a further indication of a domestic connection.

Grier, who appears to have lived for a time in Greater Boston, somehow didn’t know that this year’s race, as is typically the case, had participants and spectators from virtually all U.S. states and territories as well as over 70 foreign countries, that most of the top ten male and female finishers were from outside the U.S., and that the race is one of six “World Marathon Majors” — the marathoning equivalent of horse racing’s Triple Crown and golf’s major tournaments.

Tuesday evening, we learned from Dylan Byers at Politico that the journalistic pack is upset that the investigation into the Boston bombings hasn’t resulted in any apprehensions — but not because that might bring some solace to victims, and not because the wheels of justice and punishment would starting turning on the monsters who did this. No, what really matters is that “[a] great deal of political, financial and emotional capital depends on the answer to that question.”

Someday, we may return to the time when straight news reporters knew that getting the who, what, where, when, why (in the story subjects’ own words), and how of a story right is very hard, that it should be all-consuming, and that it leaves no time or space for amateur “analysis” and irresponsible speculation.

Until they do, they will continue to betray what should be their true calling — and us — on a daily basis.

Along with having a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development, Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog, BizzyBlog.com, since 2005, and has been a PJM contributor since 2008.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Agenda Journalism is all about agenda and not much about journalism.

It doesn't need "facts" and it doesn't like witnesses. "Truthy-ness" is as good...no, better...than truth, because it doesn't rely on evidence. It only needs to conjure up it's bought and paid for agenda prostituted "experts".

It needs no logic, because it relies instead on all the fallacies of logic. Ad hominem attacks against the "usual suspects", false attribution, and existential fallacy among others.

Agenda journalism is now the new normal in our information stream. It sucks and so do its proponents.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Here's the truth: until you start making a case for what comprises bigoted hate-speech and defamation and insist it be marginalized no matter what the race, gender or political party doing it, you're spitting into the wind here.

We end up arguing particulars while Chris Matthews and Melissa Harris-Perry, all but members of the KKK in principle hiding behind identity, make astounding racial accusations with zero proof to back them up.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Traditional journalism and the newer 'blog' journalism is corupted from the top down. Sadest part is, that the socalled traditional journalists especially of radio and TV 'follow' the most corrupted -- the internet bloggers. Likewise, there is no shortage of the gullible in these times waiting on pins and needles for the next propaganda nugget that serves their purpose(s). When this nation lost its independent thinkers -- it lost its uniqueness and its way!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agenda Journalism is all about agenda and not much about journalism.

It doesn't need "facts" and it doesn't like witnesses. "Truthy-ness" is as good...no, better...than truth, because it doesn't rely on evidence. It only needs to conjure up it's bought and paid for agenda prostituted "experts".

It needs no logic, because it relies instead on all the fallacies of logic. Ad hominem attacks against the "usual suspects", false attribution, and existential fallacy among others.

Agenda journalism is now the new normal in our information stream. It sucks and so do its proponents.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The first thing that has struck me as a real clue is the use of pressure cookers. They are the best readily available container to build an IED using readily available chemicals because they confine the slower rate of explosion long enough to make it lethal. Pressure cookers are used in the third world to make IEDs - not just in Muslim countries. Source: Michael Yon. Begin speculation: The Times Square bomber was an incompetent bomb maker and it could well be that a Muslim who wanted to do freelance Jihad might have decided that pressure cooker IEDs with lots a nails and BBs were the way to go. The directions are on the net. This doesn't sound like these guys were sent in by Al Qaeda like Mohammed Atta Co, but are small time locals with some kind of ax to grind, perhaps Muslim, perhaps not. My point is that this attack LOOKS LIKE the next logical step in competence from pervious freelance jihadis or others with that indiscriminate level of motivation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And it could equally have been an American who picked pressure cookers for the same reasons. I have yet to see anything that really points to outside actors. Even the pictures being passed around aren't conclusive of anything except being two guys with backpacks/bags.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You know what points to "outside actors"?

That it was done. If you assume Islamism as the motivation for a terrorist attack on a public event in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, the odds you're correct are something like 90% of the time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I were an innocent face in the crowd and my likeness suddenly spread all over the world with suggestions that I might have been responsible or a participant, I'd be suing....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The New York Post has published the photos of what it claims are the two suspects (even though the authorities have requested this not to be done). With social media, instant pics/text, how are leaks to be stopped? It's now a lost cause.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Funny how the authorities have requested they not be published. It was them who gave the Post the pictures.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think the Post got the pics from the police -- it appears to come from a crowd shot that was uploaded onto the Internet. (And the Post simply zooms in and identifies two men as the alleged "suspects." If they have id'd the wrong persons, I think there could very well be a lawsuit.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who would you sue? It appears that those pictures hit the Web before the authorities had a chance to comment on them. Go over to the Daily Telegraph - tons of pictures, many more than CNN or any other American news outlet has shown. They include speculation about the two guys we've all seen now, plus another guy with shredded pants who's shown "fleeing the scene." All these pics came from the Web - from cell phones, video cameras, etc.

What we have here is almost an electronic hue and cry. Hard to say who started it. Hard to know who to sue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have hopes that eventually people will recognize the irresponsibility shown by the Main Stream Media (Liberal Propaganda Machine) and disregard their ravings more than they do now.

My cousin sent me this quote, I'm not sure if it's genuine but it certainly reflects the way I feel:

Quote Of The Year

"We Americans are so tired of being thought of as dumb-a**es by the rest of the world that we went to the polls last November and removed all doubt." --Clint Eastwood
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Three people die in Boston BIG TRAGEDY.

Ten Times that die in Texas, NO ONE CARES!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not as many journalists come from Texas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1. The Texas explosion is all over the front pages of all the news websites.

2. It's not discussed as much here because it's probably an accident and has no political implications.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Political implication: Why did the EPA, DHS, etc., or Texas equivalents, allow what could be alternatively labeled an explosives factory to be located in a neighborhood with institutions such as a nursing home close by?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why should the government be at fault? I thought 'conservatives' wanted the government to essentially go away. If they're so stupid over in Teaxs to build an essentially bomb factory in a residential and school area then sobeit -- the consequences too. The conservatives can't have it both ways and have any legitimacy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's just the usual BS. After any accident, people start asking how "the authorities" could have "allowed" it to happen and what they can do to prevent the next one.

Boston is different.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, people start asking how and whose fault and could the government have prevented this. We call the latter a political implication. You sound like Hillary: "What difference does it make?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Boston is the same; "The Authorities" wanted the venue to be
neat, clean and customer -ah, spectator- friendly, so they put
trash bins everywhere and allowed backpacks, making bomb
placement a no-brainer, and guess what ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The trash bins there are designed with possible bombs in mind; they're made to channel any explosion upwards, not outwards. They put them in post 9/11.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Be aware of all unattended packages. Basic Civil Defense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I remember being on the subway in London in the 1980's during the troubles when the IRA were doing their terror. Everywhere were signs warning about suspicious packages
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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