President Obama gave the nation welcome advice not to rush to judgment about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. But it came nearly a week after the mainstream media did nothing but speculate.
The president said, “There’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions,” Obama said at a late Friday speech from the White House. “But when a tragedy like this happens … it’s important that we do this right.”
The president continued, “That’s why we have investigations … That’s why we have courts. And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.”
The mainstream media drug the national conversation through the gutter speculating that anti-government groups riled about Tax Day and Patriot’s Day might have carried out the terrible atrocity. This started a range war between New Media and paleomedia that was extremely productive. In the meantime, the reportage from the mainstream media was lackluster and sometimes misleading.
The advent of instant, accessible media means that we’re going to get messy coverage sometimes; but America is not going to stop having a vigorous press and a vigilant citizenry that scrutinize the government and the information that it puts out in press releases.
News stations should do their best to provide balance and context to reports. Being sensitive to certain groups doesn’t mean just to jihadists and Chechens. There are millions of Americans who ideologically disagree with big-government progressives who are not virulent racists or potential terrorists.
The White House seems to be preparing the terrain for disturbing evidence about these two bombing suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who are being investigated by the FBI for possibly being part of a terrorist sleeper cell of 12 people. The two suspects are almost certainly anti-American jihadists, based on the social media records the two left behind. Such an ether trail makes it difficult for authorities to control the narrative.
The aftermath of the sensational news story means that there will be plenty of New Media vigilantes looking to make a name for themselves with plausible but unfounded and unverified speculation.
For example, there are some premise problems with a report spreading across the web that the two bombing suspects may be double agents who turned against their American/Saudi handlers. The report alleges that the two highly educated, well-to-do, and successful American students of Chechnyan descent were recruited to penetrate North Caucuses terrorist groups.
This report — whose sourcing leaves much to be desired — would explain some of the travel by Dzhokhar overseas and a video being reported to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev making uncanny accents of several North Caucuses peoples, despite being a long-time U.S. resident. Terrorism analysts with access to classified information should be consulted about such news stories.
The FBI conducted an investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s background before the Boston bombing. The Washington Post reported:
FBI officials confirmed Friday that they questioned Tamerlan in 2011 at the request of the Russian government about possible connections to Chechen extremists. He was interviewed by the FBI in Boston, and the investigation found “no derogatory information.”
Tamerlan’s citizenship application was denied by the Department of Homeland Security due to his interview by the FBI in 2011, which was conducted at Russia’s request. President Obama recently thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance in the operation that successfully brought an end to a sweeping manhunt in the Watertown, Massachusetts area. The two bombers were responsible for killing three and injuring 180 people.
The Watertown police chief told the press that while Tamerlan was being handcuffed by authorities, he was run over and killed by his brother Dzhokhar. And in a new twist, after Dzhokhar was captured using infrared technology while hiding in a boat, he is now being reported to have sustained a gunshot wound to to the neck and can’t talk. Pictures of the actual wound could clarify where the entry wound and exit wounds are, since it is being reported that it was a suicide attempt.
If there’s ever been a week that shows New Media and alternative media outlets need not only supplement and critique but actually replace mainstream media in terms of developing reporting resources, the last week could be considered Exhibit A. The wild speculation from a bunch of rank amateurs acting more like activists than reporters was sickening and ridiculous.