Current events just handed us glaring proof of the vast difference between corporate media outlets' treatment of terrorist aspirations on the part of Islamist vs. right-wing extremists. A reader who appreciated my remarks on this In Other News... item about media suppression of far-right terrorism tipped me off to what amounts to a staggering case study in media disparity and prejudice.
Last month, as we noted earlier this week, a white supremacist named Demitrius Van Crocker was sentenced to 30 years in prison for trying to buy sarin nerve gas from what turned out to be federal agents. He said he wanted to set off a nerve-gas bomb in Washington while Congress was in session, and maybe kill lots of black people in Jackson, Tenn. to boot. The coverage of this was almost non-existent. There were some local stories, and an AP report got picked up a few places. There was virtually no discussion of Crocker's ideology, even though he apparently ranted extensively about his hatred of seemingly everything. Google News tells the story: just half a dozen hard-news pieces over a course of two days.
Today, a Muslim named Derrick "Talib Abu Salam Ibn" Shareef was charged with threatening to set off hand grenades at a shopping mall before Christmas, and already Google News reveals literally hundreds of stories constituting a frenzy of half-coverage, most of it extremely ill-informed, rushed to print or air just to make sure they're jumping on the Muslim psychopath early.
And remember, this is just on the accusation that he was going to commit an act that might have harmed no one (grenades are far more dangerous in the open than in mall trash cans, which tend to be double-layered). It appears he, too, was trying to obtain the means to carry out his plot -- also from federal agents -- when he was nabbed. Even his rhetoric is remarkably similar to Crocker's, albeit from a different twisted point of view. The media is already painstakingly quoting and analyzing Shareef's ideological ravings, and we'll see how detailed that gets in coming days.
I just logged on to Nexis and did a search for Demetrius Van Crocker across all US newspapers and wire services, for all time. Crocker has been mentioned in all of 35 stories, many of those being various versions of the same 473-word AP article about his conviction earlier this year (though Google couldn't find any public versions of the story that actually worked, so their cache will have to suffice).
Just today, Nexis shows countless versions (scores) of the AP's report about Shareef, as well as a UPI piece (they never published anything about Crocker, that I can find), and many more are on the Web but have yet to be indexed on Nexis.
I took a related look early last year, comparing coverge of Christian extremist Eric Rudolph and Muslim extremist Zacarias Moussaoui. But this case is even more parallel, and thus more instructive.