Sunday, September 02, 2007

"Not News," Until at Last a Big Bomb Blast, Says Seattle's Post-Intelligencer

Seattle's Post-Intelligencer decided last week not to publish photographs of two men of interest to the FBI. Because the issue was the security of the Pacific Northwest's #1 terrorist target, the Washington Ferry system, competitive media and the blogger world heaped enormous disdain on the paper. It was reasonable to think the P-I would move on, avoid further comment and hope not to hear a loud "boom" across Elliott Bay.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

First, the paper's managing editor, under fire from all corners for his truly remarkable lack of judgment, responded with a defense that rocks the walls with its dismissive haughtiness. Said he

We get to decide what is news and what isn't, what is fair and what isn't.
As if that isn't strange enough, the paper then sent out one of its star local columnists to make its case. Robert Jamieson sees racists behind every tree, except his own:
IT'S OFFICIAL: We live in a republic of fear. And when fear runs rampant, our good sense escapes us.

Photos, which spread across the city and state last week, showed two Middle Eastern-looking men accused of seeming suspicious on state ferries.

A ferry crew member (who took the photos) and the FBI (which released them) didn't lose sleep over the guilt or innocence of the men in the snapshots.

And why should they? The authorities had fear as an ally. They blithely enlisted a fearful public to do their bidding -- to be dutiful patriots and report them.

The two men in question could have been innocents on vacation. Or they could have been mistaken for another pair of dark-complexioned guys seen wandering ferries.

But they happened to fit a very broad profile -- even though the FBI says they aren't suspects.
Three points:

First, the photos didn't "spread across the city and state" like an amoeba with a mind of its own. They were published and broadcast by media across the nation in an effort to assist the FBI in its inquiry of whether or not the two men represent a threat to the ferry system. As the P-I's larger local competitor editorialized
The inordinate interest by these two men in the workings of the vessel was unusual and suspicious. It would be unusual and suspicious done by any person of any nationality or descent.
The Seattle Times concluded
The behavior of the men, not their skin color or assumed nationality, led to the release of their pictures and the request for help. Anyone who has any information about their identity should report it immediately to the FBI.
Second, the first place, and for a week the only place, I heard or saw the two men described as middle-eastern was in the Post-Intelligencer as the paper attempted to make up with words what it chose to avoid with photos. I don't know if the men are middle-eastern or middle-earthers and neither does the P-I. It doesn't matter for the purpose of helping to protect my family and neighbors because I know what the men look like. By failing to publish the photos, and choosing a racial label to attach instead, the P-I has profiled the two men (who may very possibly be completely innocent of anything nefarious) and stigmatized those who are from the middle-east in a way that no other media has.

Third, no one, not the ferry system personnel who grew so concerned, not the FBI, and certainly not the responsible media, no one but the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has described the men in terms of fitting a profile, be it broad or narrow.

Jamieson continues
It is not a stretch to imagine the dangerous consequences when Uncle Sam deputizes the public. A citizen cowboy fueled by vigilantism could attempt to take the law into his own hands -- with horrific results.

Fear makes people irrational.
It's apparent that Mr. Jamieson has delegated his personal safety to… whom, exactly? Certainly not the agencies he's criticizing. Nor, apparently, to his community, friends and neighbors. To whom, then?

Finally, the gratuitous slam at the great unwashed public, his readers
Instead, the feds enlisted the public -- like Orwellian lackeys -- to be the eyes and ears of agents who have wrongly singled out people before.
So, for any of the Orwellian lackeys who missed the earlier message:

Here are two photos of two men with whom the FBI would like to speak. They are not suspects in a crime. I do not know their race, religion or nationality. But here is what they look like.

Their behavior was of concern. The FBI would like to know whether that concern is justified or not.

Simple. Straightforward. Commonsensical.

Except for the P-I.

By the way, if you should see the event depicted in the first photo–a Washington State Ferry exploding–no need to call the P-I.

They've decided it's not news.

H/T to DirectorBlue at Doug Ross@Journal for the ferry artwork, with a wish that we never see the real thing.

RELATED LINKS: There Are Only Three Reasons To Explain Why These Men Haven't Come Forward
MSM Refuses to Help FBI; Paper Refuses to Publish Photos of Two "Unusual" Ferry Passengers

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