Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2003 / 4 Adar I, 5763

Jerry Della Femina

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Consumer Reports

Media empowering terrorism? | On Saturday within a few minutes, everybody had heard the sad news.

A friend called. "Turn on the news, the shuttle just blew up, it's awful."

I turned on my television set and watched the pale, yellow-tipped white streak going across the bright-blue Texas morning sky. "Those poor people," I said to the empty room. I remembered when Challenger blew up on take-off. I was surrounded by people in a studio in Los Angeles editing a commercial when the news was flashed. One minute we were all laughing, the next we were all crying. On Saturday, as I watched the television screen alone in my bedroom, I hardly heard the newscaster for the first five minutes.

Then I heard words that I couldn't believe. The announcer -- he doesn't deserve to be called a newsman -- said, "Naturally, since one of the crew of the shuttle is Israeli, the question of the possibility that this was an act of terrorism will be raised."

Terrorism? Terrorism? Thirty miles above the earth? What an idiot, I thought. I switched channels and within a few minutes another announcer questioned whether this was an act of terrorism. From channel to channel every few minutes the word terrorism was used. Then one of the announcers reported that within minutes of the tragedy a New York radio station had a reporter on the street asking people if they thought this was an act of terrorism.

What a disgrace. How could any sane person cloud the death of these seven heroes by even using the word terrorism?

It didn't stop there. The first statement issued by the White House actually had the words, "There is no indication that this was linked to terrorism."

What does all this idiocy do? It empowers terrorism. To even speculate that these savages, whose idea of sophisticated weaponry is limited to a box cutter used to cut the throats of innocent flight attendants . . . These barbarian butchers whose agent, Richard Reid, wasn't smart enough to be able to ignite a bomb he had put into his shoes . . . These sneaky bastards whose idea of a great triumph is to set off a car bomb that kills innocent children . . . To even mention their murderous business in connection with the events of this past Saturday was to give them confidence that they have spooked this nation.

Say Osama bin Laden, hidden in some slimy cave, sent a tape to that towel-head television station that broadcasts his filth, and said, "Yes, in answer to CNN and NBC and CBS, we did it. We were able to reach into the sky, into space, and bring down this spaceship flying faster than the speed of light and sound just as you speculated. Yes, we know our space program consists of throwing rocks into the air to see how far they can go. We know that we haven't any culture, music, literature, or science but for a few hours on Saturday February 1, 2003, the American press bought our act hook, line, and sinker."

Naturally, the next day the press would have spent the day laughing at how mad Osama was and how ridiculous the thought was that terrorism was involved. And yet for a few hours that tragic morning they helped feed the thought that terrorism was omnipotent.

On a day that should have been reserved for prayer and mourning, thanks to our dopey press, we flinched.

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JWR contributor Jerry Della Femina was recently named by Advertising Age as one of the 100 Most Influential Advertising People of the Century. He's perhaps the most sought-after advertising expert in the country, there is no network, no publication and no organization on which, in which, or before which Mr. Della Femina has not appeared. He is also the author of two books, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor (a best-seller), and An Italian Grows in Brooklyn (a non-seller). Comment by clicking here.


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01/24/03: Fresh ink
01/10/03: Will his political career go up in smoke?
11/07/02: Here's a dirty little secret: Most Italians sort of like the Mafia
10/17/02: Bloomberg for Honorary Italian of the Year

© 2002, Jerry Della Femina