Media as Stenographers for Official Power

Glenn GreenwaldIn the Boston area yesterday, the FBI and Boston Police Department (BPD) shot and killed a 26-year-old black Muslim man, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, after they stopped him at a bus stop at 7:00 am in front of a CVS drug store in order to question him…

NBC Nightly News led its broadcast with this story, and the video featuring a hysterical Lester Holt and Pete Williams has to be seen to be believed. “Good evening,” said the anchor. “We start here tonight with a deadly confrontation outside Boston between law enforcement and a man they feared might be preparing to launch an ISIS-inspired attack.” Even after killing the “terror suspect,” Holt intoned that agents are “still on the move in the Boston area, trying to piece together what he may have been involved with, and whether others might be connected to it.”

The story then narrated by Williams is told from the perspective of the FBI and the BPD. We learn that unnamed officials told NBC News they “were concerned Rahim had become radicalized by ISIS-inspired social media, and was actively considering an attack on police officers in Boston within the next few days, in a city still traumatized by the terrorist bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon.” The agents approached him “fearing he was preparing to take action soon.” Police are now investigating others Rahim was “in touch with who might also have been radicalized by ISIS-inspired propaganda.” Officials, Williams announced at the end of his report, “believe they disrupted a potential terror plot, but now they’re detaining other people for questioning… to see whether anyone else was involved in his plot, or whether attacks are planned.”

So just like that, major American media outlets converted someone about whom they knew nothing into a dangerous terrorist in the middle of executing an ISIS-related terror plot. And the heroic law enforcement officials didn’t just kill an ISIS Terrorist on the loose in America, but likely disrupted a vicious sleeper cell. All of that was achieved without a shred of evidence or investigation: just mindlessly repeating the self-justifying claims of the police agents who had just killed him.

—Glenn Greenwald
In Boston, Media Again Trash a Police Shooting Victim by Uncritically “Reporting” Police Accusations

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