In his speech to the nation on Thursday night, President Biden looked back to excesses after 9/11: “I know many of you in the Muslim American community or the Arab American community, the Palestinian American community, and so many others are outraged and hurting, saying to yourselves, ‘Here we go again,’ with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.”
Then he added: “When I was in Israel yesterday, I said that when America experienced the hell of 9/11, we felt enraged as well. While we sought and got justice, we made mistakes. So, I cautioned the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage.”
But did the media coverage in the weeks after 9/11 only reflect blind American rage? No. After a few weeks of unity, the tone shifted back to questioning any “rage.” A look at our archives at the MRC shows the outbreak of moral equivalence with the terrorists and loathing of patriotism in our media. Within six days, Bill Maher suggested the terrorists on 9/11 showed more courage than American armies.
Phil Donahue compared it to Reagan bombing Libya in 1986 after terrorists set off explosions in a German dance hall frequented by American soldiers, killing one service member and injuring 50. He said that caused Libyans to blow up Pan Am flight 103 in 1988, killing all 270 people aboard over Lockerbie, Scotland. Geraldo Rivera blamed 9/11 on everyone who obsessed over Bill Clinton’s scandals, especially the Monica Lewinsky probe.
ABC News president David Westin shocked us by arguing: “The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that, and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now.” MRC’s Brent Baker came upon the outrage when it aired on C-SPAN and Westin was forced to retract his bizarre take.
Then-MSNBC president Erik Sorenson came after the conservative media critics (including us): “Any misstep and you can get into trouble with these guys and have the Patriotism Police hunt you down.” Nobody was “hunting down” journalists.
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