View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

We're Sure It Was the Quakers 

The AP report on this morning's British terror-bust in metro London had this to say, in the last paragraph of a 14-paragraph report:

Clarke gave no details of the religious affiliation of the suspects, but he told reporters: "As we have said on many occasions in the past, we in the police service know that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence. We have a responsibility to all communities to investigate suspected terrorist activity."

The story is accompanied by a picture of a Bobby outside one of the houses where the arrests were made. Have AP reporters only ears for government spokesmen? How hard would it have been to walk up to a neighbor's home and ask a few questions about those quiet fellows who used to live next door?

The AP also notes that ammonium nitrate can be used to make bombs, but waits until the 9th paragraph to remind us about Oklahoma City. The third paragraph reads:

The operation, with 700 officers raiding two dozen locations, resulted in the largest seizure of potential bomb-making material since the Irish Republican Army suspended its campaign in 1997.

The IRA has nothing whatsoever to do with this story. But they get the first comparison. It isn't until six paragraphs later that we get an image with which to measure to potential damage these bombs could have caused. And it isn't until the very end of the story that there's any speculation at all about who the culprits might be.

Any reasonable story would have led with the Oklahoma City comparison, and any halfway inquisitive reporter would have asked around, trying to find out who was living there, and followed with that.

Cross-Posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.

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