Yep, I said it. The mainstream media and the Obama administration dropped the ball on this one.
I don’t think the media, or the government, took Rev. Terry Jones very seriously, as evidenced by the trajectory of events and resulting news coverage in the runup to this weekend’s planned “International Burn a Koran Day” in Gainesville, Florida. Here’s why I feel this way.
First of all, the plans for this “International” event were in the works since July, possibly earlier than that. Jones applied to the City of Gainesville for a burn permit,which was denied. Now anyone who has applied for a permit of any kind knows that the application and review process for securing a permit could take weeks, if not months. As a project manager, I know that you have to build in adequate time in your schedule to account for these things. Bureaucratic red tape can be a nightmare to manage.
Where was the media? You mean to tell me that no one recognized that there might be something to a guy, a pastor of a church, who applied for a burn permit? This is the same guy who has been at the center of a swirl of controversy ranging from child pornography charges to being ousted from his former church because of allegations of embezzlement. No one saw the red flags?
Apparently not. According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, there was a nearly 30 day gap in national media coverage from the point that the Religious Service carried a report, to the day that the New York Times ran a report: “The first national report I found was carried by Religious News Service on July 21. On Aug. 26, the New York Times reported that Jones planned to hold a bonfire of Korans because, he said, it is “full of lies.” The story ran on Page 14. Not much happened.”
I’m sorry. Not much happened? Did our media, our government, anyone with any influence bother to connect the dots between Jones’ grand scheme and the brewing Islamophobia? Did they not think that somehow the mosque hate crimes, Park 51 controversy and anti-Muslim sentiment were all connected? Wouldn’t common sense tell you to start putting pressure on this guy well before now? Wasn’t any of this important? Critical? Urgent? Apparently not.
Kurtz continues, saying….“But the story continued to bubble.” Really? Bubble how? Bubble like flat beer? Indigestion? Maybe the media and Obama administration felt that this story was akin to a bad case of indigestion, or gastrointestinal upset. Maybe they figured that if they took a collective swig of Pepto-Bismol, the pain and discomfort would go away.
Here’s how I see it. When the powers that be realized that this guy wasn’t budging, they activated their plan way too late. Kurtz states, “On Monday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “World News” aired pieces on the controversy. On Tuesday, David Petraeus said in a statement the Gainesville stunt could endanger American troops. That lit the fuse. The story exploded, especially on cable.”
Yes, you read it right. Monday, September 6th, DURING LABOR DAY!!! When nobody was watching the news! When everyone was out and about, enjoying the last official day of summer.
Since then, Monday, so long ago…wow….now we’ve been bombarded constantly by news reports. It started Tuesday, continued yesterday and is now at a fevered pitch today.
I humbly submit that the media didn’t fan flames or light a fuse. They, along with the Obama administration and others, dropped the damn ball. I’m sorry. I can’t ignore the fact that 30 days were lost. Thirty valuable days that could have been used to try to do some serious damage control. My question is, what took everyone so damn long? Someone needs to explain this to me.
Now, the Islamic world has been watching and waiting. And Muslims around the world are pissed beyond the highest pissivity. And now we’re at the point of no return. It’s Thursday, September 9th. Tomorrow, there’s a planned interfaith forum to try to persuade Rev. Jones to change his mind. But damn! He’s had a month and a half to strap up and prepare to defend himself should things escalate on Saturday. Worse case scenario? If he proceeds with his plans to burn Qur’ans, and someone tries to forcibly stop him, what could that lead to?
Remember Jim Jones (no relation to Terry Jones)?
This is what happens when you procrastinate. I hate procrastinators. And these are our best and brightest? Bullshit!
And now, we get to sit back and watch the fireworks (no pun intended). Pass the popcorn.