October 28, 2004

IT’S REAL, SO RUN IT: The CIA has apparently authenticated the tape of a terrorist threatening new attacks, but ABC is holding off because of the political implications.

It’s no better to hold a story until after the election because of its political impact, than to hold one until right before the election because it will make a bigger bang. Nor would it be right to hold a tape telling Americans to elect Kerry, or else he’d kill them.

There are legitimate questions about whether news organisations should air tapes made by terrorists, because it raises questions of whether we are in some way becoming instruments of terror. But if ABC is planning to air this tape at all, it should air it now; there’s no excuse for waiting. ABC is a news organisation; the tape is news; and it’s been authenticated. ABC should run it tonight. The story’s going to get out anyway.

UPDATE: Howard Kurtz reports that ABC may not run it at all, saying they aren’t convinced it represents a real threat. Fair enough, but if it’s distributed by Al-Qaeda’s house cinemetography shop, as I’m reading it is, that would seem a good indicator.

FURTHER UPDATE: A source at a news organisation emails the following:

A CIA spokesperson whom I spoke to mere moments ago was very adamant in saying the ABC terror tape has “not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not yet been authenticated.” Thought you might like to know because, thanks to Drudge, a lot of people are getting this wrong.

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