Two murders, different planets

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Here’s a journalistic mystery: Why the difference between news coverage about the murders of abortion specialist George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, and Army recruiter Pvt. William Long of Conway, Arkansas?

Police in Kansas believe Tiller was killed by Scott Roeder, a longtime abortion-clinic protester and a member of the anti-government Freemen movement. Roeder also has a Jesus fish on the back of his vehicle, so let’s assume that he professes Christian faith.

A prosecutor in Arkansas believes Long and another soldier were shot by Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a convert to Islam, “because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.”

Where is the swarm-the-zone coverage of Pvt. Long’s murder? Where are the broad-brush mainstream commentaries on what this murder says about young converts to Islam? Is the murder of an Army recruiter less newsworthy than the murder of a physician who performs late-term abortions? Is the murder of an Army recruiter simply an inevitable aspect of American life in the 21st century?

Is the murder in Kansas a story about religion while the murder in Arkansas is not?

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic raised similar questions before I thought of writing this post. I did not read Goldberg’s post until I wrote my own argument.

Who can make sense of this conflicting coverage?

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  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Doug, I guess a lot of us who like to analyze the media and its “spins” frequently come to the same conclusions. Like you I had not read Jeffrey Goldberg’s comments, but at 6:i3, as a comment to tmatt’s article on Tiller-murder coverage, I made the same observation as you have made about the different way the media has handled each murder.
    However, your article had much more detail and explanation than I could provide. Good work!!!

  • http://bioethike.com Robert

    The MSM still desperately tries to cling to a dwindling readership through sensationalism. Tiller’s murder was bound to excite both pro-abortionists and pro-life supporters, the latter still smarting after the Notre Dame affair.

    At the end of the day, which story would make more money?

    Long’s murder is far more tragic, IMHO.

    Robert at bioethike.com

  • http://fallibilismandfaith.blogspot.com JD

    Ok, I’ll play devil’s advocate: If the treatment of Christians and Muslims is unequal in these types of situations, one could read it as holding Christians to a higher standard. In that case, perhaps, the Christians should feel complimented, and the Muslims pissed off. (Just to be clear: I believe that any whiff of unequal treatment is profoundly unwise, and bad journalism.)

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Thanks for a witty response, JD.

  • SF

    I agree with JD. We don’t expect a good Christian from America’s heartland to go on a rampage. The fact that a Muslim pulls off a murder in the name of God – is not that surprising – therefore not as newsworthy.

    I also agree with JD that the Muslim community is probably frustrated with the coverage of the AR tragedy similar to the way the rightwing of the Christian community over the KS event.

    American Muslims are probably saying to themselves:

    “Oh, great – brace for the backlash. The MSM is going to paint this as yet another Muslim terror attack. While that Christian guy in Kansas is being hailed as one of God’s warriors by the religious right and people in the religious left (or unreligious left) will hail the doctor as a martyr.”

    Sorry – but I don’t think anyone’s cracked the code on how to meld religion with completely objective journalism. And I don’t think that’s what readers want – or what they’d know what to do if presented with it.

  • http://www.ascendrecovery.com Drug Treatment

    I simply say, both should be condemned for their actions. As a Christian myself I do not condone the murder of anyone. As for the media coverage and the actual teachings of Islam, which says to kill an American or an Infidel is considered to be noble and should be praised, if another Islamic person kills someone in the name ala, it will not attract attention because it is seen everyday. Even if you are pro-choice, seeing that over 60,000 late-term abortions were performed last year, deep down you have some empathy for a man like Scott Roeder. Simply because we all know late-term abortions are murder. Just one man’s opinion.

  • Scott

    There’s no mystery … The news media doesn’t particularly lean left or right, religious or non-religious, etc. (individually, some do, but not as a group). They’re businesses — they lean towards readers … circulation … profit. They gravitate to stories that people want to read about and frame them to hold the reader’s interest. The media is a reflection of us, not the other way around. Why were we subjected to endless hours of television and column inches about Caylee Anthony? Why was her case more important than the hundreds or thousands of other children who go missing each year?

    As far as this specific comparison is concerned … there was substantial coverage about both. In my mind, the Muhammad case, while tragic, was less interesting because he comes across as a garden variety nut case. Roeder, on the other hand, seems to be more calculating, more premeditating, and therefore, perhaps, more evil. If not more evil, then at least more interesting. It also seems more likely that there are conspiracy aspects in the Tiller murder … more back story. Intrigue sells papers.

    Besides, if you want to talk about differing standards, how about the hue and cry when it became known that Justice had their eye on some domestic extremists. Do you think you’d hear that kind of outrage if only Muslim groups had been on the list? After the Tiller murder, maybe it seems a bit more reasonable to be keeping tabs on groups like the Freemen.

  • Dale

    Scott wrote:

    They’re businesses — they lean towards readers … circulation … profit. They gravitate to stories that people want to read about and frame them to hold the reader’s interest. The media is a reflection of us, not the other way around.

    Nope. The media is a reflection of the people it employs, not its readership. If a publication falls upon a topic that increases circulation, they may follow it; but long term, what the media choose to cover is what the writers and editors find interesting, or if they’re being mercenary, what they think someone else finds interesting. Either way, we get to see the world through their eyes. Which makes it disturbing when those writers and editors come from a relatively small number of schools and have remarkably homogeneous ideology.

    Why were we subjected to endless hours of television and column inches about Caylee Anthony? Why was her case more important than the hundreds or thousands of other children who go missing each year?

    Caylee Anthony has become such a story because of the histrionics of Nancy Grace. There’s plenty of equally salacious stories to be exploited, if that’s all the public wanted; there’s no reason to focus on the so-called “tot mom”.

    It also seems more likely that there are conspiracy aspects in the Tiller murder … more back story. Intrigue sells papers.

    Seems more likely to whom? That’s the whole problem. A young man goes to study Islam in Yemen (the home country of the largest group of 9/11 hijackers), comes home and shoots up a military recruitment office. If someone wants to hypothesize conspiracies, there’s at least as much material there. In addition, those Muslims who would justify such an attack have proven themselves to be fairly numerous, and have killed many, many more people than radical pro-life activists. So why is speculation about conspiracies more appropriate with pro-lifers? Why is Roeder more “evil” or “more interesting”? Because the editors and reporters decide to focus on him.

    I certainly wouldn’t want a media witch-hunt against all Muslims based upon the action of one man. Unfortunately, there’s all too many in the media who are ready, willing and eager to launch a witch-hunt against pro-life activists.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Stick to the journalism questions, folks, and don’t call other people names.

    Spiking away….

  • Chip Smith

    The biggest difference is that one victim was a public figure that has been the subject of controversy for years while the other victim was not a public figure. Public figures will always receive more attention. If Randall Terry had been murdered in an act of political violence, his murder would receive more attention than Pvt. Long’s murder.

    There is also no question that Tiller’s murder is part of a long pattern of political violence directed towards him personally as well as against other abortion doctors and clinics. Pvt. Long’s murder might or might not be part of a pattern.

    Another difference is the other events at the top of the news. These the two murders took place just days after a Democratic president made his first Supreme Court nomination. Anything abortion related is going to receive extra attention through the end of the confirmation hearings. For better or worse, foreign policy is on the back burner right now.

    I agree that Pvt. Long’s murder is something that should be covered accurately and that his murderer’s political and/or religious motivations should not be ignored. But there are plenty of non-ideological reasons that his murder does not receive that same amount of coverage as Tiller’s murder.

  • Jerry

    To expand on what Scott said: Witness the number of posts about abortion here, many full of deep emotion, as compared to other topics. That depth of interest is of course known in the media when decisions are made about how much coverage to give a story.

  • dalea

    Part of the lack of coverage of Pvt Long’s murder is that he was active duty military when he was shot. Which brings in the military police, who are much more tight lipped than local police. The media always seem to have sources within the local force, which feed information that fuels coverage. There also appears to be a jurisdiction issue, civilian or military court? There’s a lot here that needs to be sorted out before the case can be covered.

    Add to this, Obama’s trip to Egypt to engage with the Muslim world, and I can see a request to tone down the coverage until that trip is over.

    Everything that Chip Smith said, agree totally.

    This may sound dumb, but it is easier for the media to get to Wichita than to Little Rock. Witchita is less than 3 hours from a hub airport; Little Rock is over 5 hours away. Sometimes I feel that the MSM is driven by location; they can always get people to go to Florida to cover a missing white woman, not so with North Dakota.

  • http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com Timothy Fountain

    Hi, Doug, I blogged on this topic earlier on Tuesday morning:
    http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-different-standard.html

    The Arkansas shooter’s chosen middle name means “Holy Warrior”. So, who oversaw his conversion? Is there an Imam or mosque that needs a look in this coverage?

  • Lankester

    The abortion story is a Obama story, the terrorist story is a Bush story, too bad that two terrorists aren’t weighed with the same stroke of a pen. This is what happens when news agencies hire bloggers who just graduated from a university rather than a journalist who has been reporting for over 20+ years. All news is the National Inquirer now. Those journalists who may want to exploit the death of Tiller to stifle any criticism of Obama and his administration’s policies, but if they were truly compassionate about murderers, they would mention the 60,000+ fetuses that Tiller the Baby Killer murdered.

  • Dale

    Chip Smith wrote:

    There is also no question that Tiller’s murder is part of a long pattern of political violence directed towards him personally as well as against other abortion doctors and clinics. Pvt. Long’s murder might or might not be part of a pattern.

    Khobar Towers
    U.S.S Cole
    First attack on the world trade center
    9/11
    Madrid train bombings
    London subway bombings
    and on, and on. . . .

    Thousands dead.

    This might be part of a pattern? How much more evidence do you need?

    Compare to the violence associated with radical anti-abortion activists:

    With his death Sunday, George Tiller became the eighth person and the fourth doctor killed in abortion-related attacks.

    It was the first killing of an abortion provider in more than a decade.

    Do you really want to argue that an attack by a Muslim extremist isn’t at least as newsworthy as one attack by a radical anti-abortion activist? Where are the editorials condemning the violent rhetoric of the Qu’ran? Placing blame for the attack on all Muslims who describe the U.S. war in Iraq as murder?

    Again, I don’t want to see that done to Muslims; but I don’t understand why it’s appropriate to do that to the pro-life groups.

  • Chip Smith

    Dale wrote:

    Khobar Towers
    U.S.S Cole
    First attack on the world trade center
    9/11
    Madrid train bombings
    London subway bombings
    and on, and on… .

    Thousands dead.

    This might be part of a pattern? How much more evidence do you need?

    More than that. Pvt. Long’s murderer had ample opportunity to indiscriminately kill civilians in that parking lot and he could have engaged in a suicidal shootout with the police who arrested him. Instead he choose to only target military personnel. Perhaps that fits with the US Embassy or the USS Cole bombings, but it is significantly different from 9/11 or Madrid or London…

    As I said, perhaps this does fit a pattern, and reporting on that question is appropriate, but if so it is a very different pattern than the multiple times Tiller was the victim of violence.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    I’ll agree with your premise this far: There should be more coverage to find out what we really need to find out about *Tiller*’s murderer: Is Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad a lone nut or connected to some organization.

    But here’s a truth: Mark David Chapman got more media attention than any other murderer nabbed in Dec 1980 because he killed a famous man.

    My point being that these two recent cases are not, from a journalism perspective, as parallel as you painted them. Tiller was a famous man while William Long was not. That difference matters and has always mattered in such cases. Claiming that there’s an overriding religious explanation for the difference in coverage fails the test of Occam’s Razor.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Claiming that there’s an overriding religious explanation for the difference in coverage fails the test of Occam’s Razor.

    I made no such claim, Jeffrey. I asked a series of questions. I agree that Tiller’s being a public figure is a very important factor.

  • Dale

    Jeffrey Weiss wrote:

    Tiller was a famous man while William Long was not.

    I’m skeptical that the coverage of a murder would be much different if the victim was a previously unknown abortion provider.

  • http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com Timothy Fountain

    Anybody remember (no Googling) the name of the abortion provider killed by Paul Hill in Florida? He wasn’t well known (still isn’t) but the crime got plenty of media attention, as did Hill’s execution.

    What wasn’t covered all that well was the fact that Hill was removed from ordained Presbyterian ministry for espousing his views about using violence to stop abortion. He then joined a more conservative Presbyterian break-away group, and they rejected him.

    The media pretty much gave a pass to the fact that tradtional churches, both “liberal” and “conservative”, do not support the fringe. The MSM seems pretty uncritical of the claim that any critique of abortion is an exhortation to violence.

  • Dave

    Long’s murder was part of religious-tinged terrorism that is still in its shooting phases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Tiller’s murder was part of religious-tinged terrorism whose shooting phases were thought to be over. That’s more newsworthy by MSM standards.

  • http://jettboy.blogspot.com Jettboy

    I would like news reports about Tillman before proclaiming he was famous. I certainly never heard of him before the murder. In fact, name any abortion doctor that is currently in the national news that if killed today could be called famous. He might have been a local name, but he was never a national one.

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    It’s been shameful watching the 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage of the abortion doctor’s murder on CNN, while rarely hearing a peep about a real, live terrorist attack on an Army Recruiting Center on our own soil.

    Where’s the 14-hour long “national discussion” about how the radical Left have engaged in anti-military hate speech on campuses (esp. in California) and how public officials have voted to ban army recruiting stations in their communities, or at least heap public scorn on them?

    Where are the panel discussions? Where’s the analysis of the political and religious Left’s motives?

    I see absolutely no balance in the coverage, and no, this isn’t a case (as was suggested earlier here) of “corporate bias” and “ratings seeking” on the part of the MSM, it’s an extreme case of a biased mindset manifesting itself in coverage.

  • http://religion.beloblog.com/ Jeffrey Weiss

    1) Doug, that wasn’t aimed at you. But others — including commenters here — are making the claim.
    2) Um, Jetboy, try doing a bit of searching. Tiller has been in the news for literally decades.
    3) I do not disagree that there should be a deeper media examination of Muhammad. There should. But that takes time to do. Unless someone has left some easily traced public footprints — as did the fellow accused of murdering Tiller — there is no instant way to do that work. Stay tuned.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Thanks for your response, Jeffrey, and please forgive my jumping to the wrong conclusion.

  • http://chipsmith.blogspot.com/ Chip

    Doug wrote:

    Thanks for your response, Jeffrey, and please forgive my jumping to the wrong conclusion.

    What do you think about the reasons for the difference in coverage, Doug? You have had another day to think about it, and you have read the various reactions of the commenters here. It seems like an update to your post, or a follow-up post might be appropriate.

  • danr

    ABC News has an update on the investigation headlined at the top of its website. Props to them, at least.

    Excerpt: “The Arkansas man accused of killing an Army recruiter and wounding another had used the popular Google Maps application to investigate recruiting centers in at least five states, as well as Jewish institutions, a day-care center, a post office and a Baptist Church, according to a report issued Tuesday evening by the Department of Homeland Security”

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Thanks for asking, Chip.

    I think a lot of good theories have been discussed here, and I had not given adequate consideration to the point about George Tiller’s being a public figure.

    I remain troubled by commentary, such as that of three Kansas City Star columnists, that presumes to know the motivations or the private thoughts of pro-life activists based on the violence of a lone nut.

    I would be just as troubled if mainstream editorialists began drawing broad conclusions about Islam based on the violence of a lone nut in Arkansas.

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  • Jerry

    David Brooks, one of my favorite columnists, had some sage words on the two worlds:

    I have the impression that we’re in the middle of their weird battle of the murders. Liberal media outlets play up the murder of the abortion doctor by a pro-life extremist. Conservative outlets play up the murder of the Army recruiter by a Muslim extremist. Some people on both sides seem to feel that their view of the world has been affirmed by the atrocities of a certain set of extremists, and so seem to feel a sense of vindication from these crimes.

    Those are the activists. Most people of course don’t see even these issues through an ideological lens. They see social issues through a more fundamental prism. They are aware that they live their lives amid a web of relationships, which they treasure. They seek to preserve the sense of civic order that gives security to their lives — not some abstract thing called community, but the specific community they inhabit.

    http://theconversation.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/guns-gays-and-abortion/

  • Scott

    Dale says:

    Nope. The media is a reflection of the people it employs, not its readership. If a publication falls upon a topic that increases circulation, they may follow it; but long term, what the media choose to cover is what the writers and editors find interesting, or if they’re being mercenary, what they think someone else finds interesting. Either way, we get to see the world through their eyes. Which makes it disturbing when those writers and editors come from a relatively small number of schools and have remarkably homogeneous ideology.

    No. Perhaps that is true in some cases and perhaps it used to be more so, but we’re living in a world where media outlets target and carve out a specific demographic. They’re not being mercenary when they promote stories that someone else finds interesting, they’re being business men. Most people, but particularly those on the ideological fringes, don’t watch/read/listen to news to be informed, they do so to have their beliefs validated. When you look at the marked ideologues among the so-called “mainstream media” … the poster children for slanted journalism — MSNBC on the left and FoxNews on the right, you find cutthroat, for-a-profit businesses aimed at sewing up a demographic and milking it. Perhaps their methods are slightly different … MSNBC is known for hiring left-leaning journalists and letting them run while Fox micro manages a bit more with daily memos from the top (read Rupert Murdoch) detailing how to spin each important story … but regardless which flavor of kool-aid is they’re serving, the goal is to keep that big audience coming back. If nobody’s buying, nobody will be selling.

    Why do nearly all of the political talk radio shows come from the far right? Doesn’t anyone want to get rich selling far-left talk radio? Sure, and it’s been tried … no market. Apparently lefties aren’t into that format. The market drives the business.

    Why did Rupert Murdoch go after Dow Jones (the publishers of Wall Street Journal) so aggressively? Because he saw a demographic that he was missing. He had the right wing NASCAR and Bud Light crowd sewn up with FoxNews, but wasn’t getting the right wing Wimbledon and single malt scotch aficionados.

    I believe we’re best served by a journalistic corps that is fairly homogeneous. Ideally, they report objective reality. If they do that, they will appear to be very similar. While I can understand attacking the highly ideological “news” outlets, I believe that people who attack the broad scope of the media as slanted are those who are unhappy because their personal belief systems are not being validated by objective reality.

  • Bob

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am pro-life and believe life begins at conception. And, I served 26 years in the US Air Force.

    Unfortunately the media has swung to emotional reporting at the expense of fair/balanced/facts. I personally condemn both murders as we all should. Similarly I condemn abortions as murder, but understand that I have to voice that opinion via our American system of justice which has a different definition than I would prefer. It may seem contradictory to be in the military and to be against killing, but our view is not to fight first, but to defend.

    America was founded from a desire of independence, democracy, rule of law, etc. Tolerance of others and their opinions (emotional or otherwise) is central to our system of trying to do what’s best for all. And for all of our issues (as any diverse group of 300,000,000 will have) we seem to be losing trust in our system to do what’s right. Is that a reflection of the value systems of those in the highest positions in our government and/or the deliverers of information to the public (media outlets)?

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    As time has progressed, unless I have missed their comments in the media, neither the Attorney General nor the president has had anything to say about the killing of a young man serving his country in the U.S. Army by a Moslem extemist. Yet both pounced on the killing of Dr. Tiller to make twisted political points.
    Maybe I am being influenced by the fact my youngest son just finished a 4 year hitch in the Army, but I find it revolting, disgusting, totally rotten that our Commander-In-Chief and his Attorney General couldn’t be bothered to say one word about the gunning down of a young soldier in Little Rock, but immediately made strong prejudicial statements and sent out marshals to provide protection to the most heinous of late term abortionists. Aren’t the silence and inaction of these two leaders on the issue of a murder of one of our young soldiers in their own hometown a vicious dereliction of duty.
    And where is the corrupt media in calling out the president on this issue??? Our local Boston Globe AGAIN today ran a long story on the Tiller case, but NOTHING AT ALL on the murder of a U.S. soldier. It reminds me of a best-selling book of a few generations ago: “None Dare Call It Treason.”

  • Jay

    Recall the recent DHS memo (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/04/14/homeland-security-warns-rise-right-wing-extremism/) regarding potential right-wing extremism.

    The Tiller story plays right into how the liberals want to frame the debate. The only ‘terrorists’ in their minds are conservatives.

  • Dave

    Aren’t the silence and inaction of these two leaders on the issue of a murder of one of our young soldiers in their own hometown a vicious dereliction of duty.

    Our leaders don’t always tell us what they’re doing in response to mujahideen terrorism.

    (I’m not being partisan here; I made the same excuse for Bush.)

  • Dale

    Scott:

    You’re being inconsistent. First, you say that journalism is market driven, and that story choices are dictated by consumer demographics, not by the choices of reporters and editors. Demographic driven- journalism is the essence of subjectivity–”truth” is in the eye of the beholder/consumer.

    Then you say that homogeneity among journalists is good, because the journalists will be more objective (a highly questionable assertion, but I’ll let it pass for the moment).

    The two ideas don’t work together. You’ve got a muddle.

  • Scott

    Jay states:

    Recall the recent DHS memo (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/04/14/homeland-security-warns-rise-right-wing-extremism/) regarding potential right-wing extremism.

    The Tiller story plays right into how the liberals want to frame the debate. The only ‘terrorists’ in their minds are conservatives.

    Yes, I suppose it does. The story you quote seems to fit well with the discussion here. Even Fox notes that DHS had, earlier, issued a similar set of warnings about potential left-wing extremists. Why did that pass by quietly and the one about potential right-wing extremists create such a furor? I don’t want to see the government tramping on peoples civil liberties based on conjecture, but I do want them keeping an eye on things like this. The Tiller murder was a small (at least in terms of body count) example of right-wing terrorism. Oklahoma City … not so small. The point is that we have a history of domestic terrorism and it’s the responsibility of DHS to remain vigilant. It was irresponsible for the “media” to attack them for doing so.

  • Suzanne

    I would suggest that one reason for the difference in coverage is the vast difference in the reaction of people to the two events.

    I’ve read several of the local media reports of Pvt. Long’s death, all complete with pages of comments from readers. None, so far as I could find, rejoiced in his death. None suggested that he had it coming, or that it was understandable that the shooter might feel compelled to do something like this. None called him a murderer, let alone a mass murderer.

    Just for fun, I also lurked in the Democratic Underground site — hardly a mainstream media outlet, but often a surefire hunting ground for extreme leftist statements. No glee, no variation on “well, he shouldn’t have been shot, but he did have blood on his hands.”

    Every single story I’ve read about the Tiller murder (including this one) had at least one commenter trying to justify or diminish the horror of that shooting.

    The difference isn’t in the act itself, but in how many peopel out there could find a way to justify it.

  • Scott

    Dale,

    I don’t think I was inconsistent. I said that objective reporting — which could reasonably be expected to tend towards homogeneity — is good (oh, and saying “objectivity leads to homogeneity” is NOT logically equivalent to “homogeneity leads to objectivity” and NOT what I said). I also said that current journalistic practices are market-driven and often lack objectivity. I did not say that current journalistic practices are good.

  • Judy Harrow

    Well, I hate to rain on everybody’s parade, but Rachel Maddow — an unabashed voice of the Left — has done pieces on Pvt Long’s murder twice now. Tonight she examined whether the killer was a lone loose cannon or part of a conspiratorial network. If you want to check this out, her show is available as a podcast on the MSNBC web site.

  • dalea

    Tonight on Rachel Maddow’s show, she reported some additional information about the killing in Little Rock. The killer was on a suspect list compliled by the FBI. He had an arsenal of weapons including a machine gun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a sniper rifle and a number of guns. Rachel questioned how anyone on the FBI terrorist suspect list could have purchased all this without being noticed. He also had a list of addresses including synagogues, Jewish homes, military recruitment offices throughout the lower Missippi Valley.

    This raises the question of ‘did he act alone or are their others?’ which may be why the coverage seems so muted. It’s an ongoing investigation.

  • http://jettboy.blogspot.com Jettboy

    “Um, Jetboy, try doing a bit of searching. Tiller has been in the news for literally decades.”

    I HAVE to Google it. That is the point. If he was so famous I wouldn’t have to google him at all. At best he is famous to a sub-set of Americans.

  • lou bedor

    The difference in coverage can, in part, be explained by history. Dr Tiller was bombed in 1986;he was shot twice in 1993; he has been threatened with anthrax; his place was vandalized; he has frequently been targeted by those who espouse religious reasons; Bill O’Reilly repeatedly lied about Dr Tiller; he has been named Tiller the baby killer; …

    Private Long and his killer are unknowns with no history for the media.

    What is surprising to me is that you expect them to be covered in the same fashion – unless, of course, yours is a statement of political position instead of a journalistic question.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Such amazing insights into my actual motivation! Please tell the world, lou, what my political point is, since you apparently know me better than I know myself.

  • dalea

    Doug,

    Any more thoughts on the subject?

    One thing I noticed has been the outpouring of tributes to Dr Tiller. Andrew Sullivan has put up a number of tributes from people who used Dr Tiller’s late term abortion services. And reports himself as ‘shaken’ by them. AS even goes so far as to say he finds himself seeing that late term abortion, out of medical neccesity, is not as morally problematic as early term.

    The fact that Dr Tiller had so many supporters and admirers may explain some of the coverage.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    dalea,

    I have nothing to add. I’m grateful that my questions prompted so many thoughtful answers here.


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