Gone, gone, going… How the media disappears the news


Three stories over the past few days should have been huge. Instead, two of them made just a passing blip on the radar and the third one is now on its way to obscurity. The media couldn’t possibly have their own agendas other than just reporting the news, could they?

1. Children’s jihad training camp –  Five people, including a son and two daughters of an imam who was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre were arrested in New Mexico at a remote compound where they allegedly trained children to become school shooters.  Eleven children, starving and neglected, were rescued by the authorities; the body of imam’s 3-year old grandson was found buried on the site. This story has got everything, from terrorism to family drama (according to imam Siraj Wahhaj, his son was not a “radical” and his daughters were “the sweetest kind of people”; yet somehow Wahhaj Sr didn’t realise they – a public speaker and a writer – and his son were living in squalid conditions on the other side of the country, apparently teaching children to shoot other children). There is also child abuse, potential school massacres, and cultish overtones. And yet it’s already largely off the media rotation.

CNN has somehow managed to cover the story without mentioning the terrorist angle, and their characterisation of of the imam reads: “The elder Siraj was the first Muslim to offer an opening prayer before the US House of Representatives, according to the Muslim Alliance in North America. He was also a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman.” Is that all? I have this strange feeling if the five arrested were Trump supporters and NRA members the story would be getting the sort of a non-stop coverage that Stormy Daniels got.

2. Senator Feinstein and her Chinese spy driver – As Marc Thiessen wrote: “Imagine if it emerged that the Republican chairman of the House or Senate intelligence committee had a Russian spy working on their staff. Think it would cause a political firestorm? Well, this month we learned that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had a Chinese spy on her staff who worked for her for about 20 years, was listed as an “office director” on payroll records and served as her driver when she was in San Francisco, all while reporting to China’s Ministry of State Security through China’s San Francisco Consulate. The reaction of the mainstream media? Barely a peep.”

Focused as they are on chasing every possible Russian angle in order to nail the President (we’re yet to see anything substantive after two years of non-stop coverage), the media has been largely absent in covering the Chinese threats to America’s domestic and international interests. By any objective indication, China is as antagonistic to the United States as Russia and just as active against, including through hacking, and military and industrial espionage.  I don’t believe there is any pro-China conspiracy in the media to hide the truth (though China is much better than Russia at using its soft power and buying good will and good publicity in the West) but simply the fact that China doesn’t figure in the Trump-Russia narrative and so simply doesn’t matter.

3. The Seattle skyjackingA suicidal Alaska Airlines’ ground staff officer takes off in a plane from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, performs aerial manoeuvres despite apparently having no flying experience, is chased by two Air Force fighter planes, and kills self crashing the plane into an island.  September 11 seems so long ago now, but for all the excruciating security measures that hundreds of millions of passengers have been subjected to over the following years, including getting felt up by TSA officers and having their nail clippers confiscated, someone can still somehow hijack a plane off the ground and fly off. It’s a sad story, but it could have been much worse if Richard Russell was a terrorist and instead of doing barrels over Seattle crashed the plane into the CBD. How could this have possibly happened? This story of the gravest breach of airline security in two decades, I would venture a guess, will largely fall off the screens by Monday, when the normal media program will resume.

To paraphrase “The Washington Post” masthead, democracy dies in the media blackout. Or at least media’s credibility does.