Friday, October 29, 2004

Terror Tape

I find it extremely interesting that there isn't more coverage about this supposed terror tape, purportedly featuring an Al Qaeda member, threatening the US with an attack even larger than 9/11. Apparently, in his ideal world, blood will flow through the streets of America.

On one hand, it seems perfectly natural for this story to be buried. I mean, first it's exposed on Drudge, who is a well known Bush hack. He reported that ABC News was holding the tape, apparently until the election was over.Then, it turned out that ABC had actually handed it over to the CIA and FBI to authenticate. The outing of the tape is what smacked of politics, I suppose the idea being that if people only knew that al Qaeda was planning to strike, people would certainly vote for Bush. And then it was revealed that the Bush team is who leaked the fact that ABC News had the tape in the first place to Drudge, adding yet another layer of politics to the proceedings.

There's also, however, the fact that this really isn't news. Don't we already know that al Qaeda wants to kill us? In fact, the Bush campaign has told us so over and over again, even as they ousted a regime that had nothing to do with al Qaeda. Wouldn't it be interesting if the very fear mongering that they thought would usher them right into the White House for a second term, instead actually served to desensitize us to the idea; that the very repetition of the threat of another attack has actually lessened the reality of such an attack as a worthy news item? The irony is that their precious November surprise has been relegated to the 10th page as a result of their very own strategy of fear. Because, really, shouldn't we be freaked out by this? At least a little bit? Instead I find myself worrying more about the impact of the tape on the campaign than about the content of the tape -- the actual prospect of an attack. That's pretty messed up.

But there's another aspect to this. On the tape, the "terrorist" purportedly says that America has brought this on oursleves by electing George W. Bush, sort of simulatneously reiterating the Bush party line that the terrorists want Kerry to win and exposing the flaw in their argument: if the terrorists want Kerry to win, that means they don't like Bush, which means they're more likely to attack if Bush is president. This is something the Republicans would have no hesitation about exploiting if it were reversed, but that's why we're not Republicans. And it makes sense that the media wouldn't want to focus on this. That's a pretty outrageous charge to report about a sitting president.

I guess I'd say that I take the lack of interest in this story on the part of the media as a sign of their unwillingness to be a party to making this election a referendum on terror and fear. I applaud that, but part of me wonders if they're just protecting the president from a readership that, when confronted with the full story, would have no choice but to make the logical leap to this idea that re-electing Bush means the terrorists will attack again.


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