Blame the Messenger

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Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson joins Hillary Clinton and the chorus blaming the media for Rev. Terry Jones today, arguing that by covering the would-be Koran desecrator we enabled the creation of “something new, something that will be studied for generations: the propaganda of the idiotic gesture.”

On the contrary, the media have been accused of elevating the propaganda of dangerous idiots for a long time. See, for example, charges of our complicity in the promotion of Laurie Mylroie and her supporters who argued Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, the 2001 anthrax attacks and other nefarious deeds.

In the Jones case the global communication revolution has brought into direct conflict the American tradition of protecting abhorrent forms of speech with the potentially violent response of some Third World followers of Islam to the desecration of their holy book. That’s a hard, 21st century problem. But blaming it on the media is like blaming us for misrepresentations in Bush’s speeches.