Fox News has posted the video of radical Islamists burning to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, sparking a heated backlash and questions about its motives. Is it trying to inflame the public into sending U.S. troops?
The radical Islamist group IS released the video earlier this week to global condemnation and no other U.S. media outlet has chosen to show it.
But Fox News posted the video in its entirety on its Web site and showed images from the video last night (Feb. 5) on its television news show “Special Report.”
The network justified the move by claiming that it had a duty as a journalism outlet to show the snuff video.
“After careful consideration, we decided that giving readers of FoxNews.com the option to see for themselves the barbarity of ISIS outweighed legitimate concerns about the graphic nature of the video,” Fox News Executive Editor John Moody, said in a statement.
The reaction, however, has largely been revulsion.
The network is known for its right-leaning, hawkish slant to news coverage. Posting the video seemed calculated to inflame the American public, much like the reaction the 22-minute video is provoking in Jordan.
The nation’s king has vowed to exact a “terrible” revenge on IS in retaliation for the pilot’s death. Demonstrators have taken to the streets demanding action, and Jordan has stepped up airstrikes on the group in Syria.
Conservative lawmakers in Congress, right-wing pundits and some former U.S. military officers have been calling on President Obama to send U.S. troops back to the Middle East to battle the group.
So far, the president has limited U.S. support to an aerial bombing campaign, training Iraqi troops and aiding other elements like the Armenian peshmerga, which recently drove IS from Kobani after a weeks-long siege with the aid of airstrikes.
Apparently Fox wasn’t unified in its decision to post the video. Chief News Anchor Shepard Smith refused to show it, saying he sensed most viewers would not want to see it.
But Bret Baier, another Fox News anchor, aired graphic images on the network’s “Special Report” on Tuesday night (Feb. 3).
“We feel you need to see it,” he said, to grasp the full extent of IS’s extremism.
Glen Beck, who initially refused to post the video, changed course after it aired on Fox, calling it a “wake up” to the “enemy of all mankind.”
The sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor a century ago helped incite the nation to war against Spain, even though the war hysteria was a product of media sensationalism, in what became known as “yellow journalism.”
Fox is engaging in its own brand of yellow journalism now with it’s incendiary reporting.
President Obama is taking measured steps to help defeat IS. But it is clearly a regional problem that must be solved by those in the region, not U.S. troops.
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