CNN’s Stelter: “Low Number Of Deaths” Show Media “Overreacted” To Boston Bombing

Below is a segment on media coverage of the Boston Bombing from CNN’s Newsroom on Friday. Guests Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, and Brian Stelter of CNN discuss their views on how the media handled coverge of the Boston Marathon bombing. Stelter’s comments begin at about 2:55 of the clip.

Well partly, it is to seek out a variety of sources. I remember when I read about Glenn Beck’s comments, about that Saudi national, I was curious about him. So I was able to search other sources and you know it turned out a week and a month later. Places like Media Matters reminded us that Glenn Beck seemed to be wrong about that one.

You know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I wonder if the press overall in retrospect overreacted to the attacks in Boston. It was a very scary week. I was scared along with the rest of the country.

In retrospect I wonder if there was an overreaction in the press because considering the relatively low — low number of deaths and injuries. Now whether it was taken out of proportion, given all the other violence we see all the time. Because the word “terrorism” was applied, I think there may have been an overreaction for that reason.

(transcript via RCP)

Stelter seems to think that the “relatively low” number of deaths and injuries precludes the possibility of the bombing being considered terrorism and, therefore, the media’s reaction was out of proportion. This smacks of the tendency in the past few years to try and minimize domestic terrorism to simple criminal matters or, even more offensively, workplace violence, as with the Fort Hood shootings.

But aside from any political motivation, it’s preposterous on its face to say the bombings were covered out of proportion to “other violence that we see all the time.” There is a plain difference between, say, deaths in a bank robbery, and the bombing of a public event for the express purpose of not only causing harm, but causing fear. There is a word for such and act: terrorism. Any normal, average person will be more horrified by a bombing such as this than they would be even of a workplace shooting with more deaths. This should require no explanation.

Before Stelter has his turn, we heard from Eric Boehlert of fringe website “Media Matters” who was appalled that conservatives suspected Islamic terror in the bombings, despite the fact that that was precisely what it turned out to be. Boehlert, as is the favorite pastime of his site, points a finger at Glenn Beck for raising questions about an early person of interest in the case, as if that person was entirely inconsequential and of no interest and was insanely attacked by a rabid, foaming at the mouth Beck. Malzberg completely refutes Boehlert’s lame hackery by pointing out that the person was actively being sought by the FBI for questioning in the case, making his involvement a perfectly reasonable subject of speculation.

For a panel discussing media malpractice there sure seemed to be plenty to around in this segment. Premature assigning of blame after something like the Boston bombing is something that happens too often, and usually to embarrassing effect. But that is a far different thing from claiming, as Stelter does, that heavy coverage is overreaction, or that, as Boehlert claims, all speculation as to motive is bad on its face. The coverage was far from perfect and there are reasonable criticisms to be made, but “overreaction” and “right wing conspiracy” are not among them.



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