Romenesko has posted a memo from an Associated Press muckety-muck. It’s a heads-up to let everybody know that AP won’t be moving any pictures of Qurans being burned in Gainesville, Fla. The memo states:
“Should the event happen on Saturday, the AP will not distribute images or audio that specifically show Qurans being burned, and will not provide detailed text descriptions of the burning. …
AP policy is not to provide coverage of events that are gratuitously manufactured to provoke and offend….”
That last line was certainly worth a chuckle. HOW MANY THOUSAND STORIES has the Associated Press written about Fred Phelps? How many thousand photos of “God Hates Fags” signs has AP shipped to every corner of the globe?
How many photos has AP moved of U.S. flag burnings and Ku Klux Klan cross burnings? How many images did AP transmit of Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois?
AP, on a regular basis, covers events that are gratuitously manufactured to provoke and offend. And it’s done so for decades.
A more honest memo would have simply said: We’re afraid. We’re afraid innocent people are going to die if this Quran burning happens. We’re afraid we’ll be adding fuel to the fire by taking photos and disseminating them around the globe. We’re afraid radical Islamists will target and kill our employees and blow up our buildings.
AP’s decision is not, primarily, about having good manners or respecting diversity or promoting toleration. This is pure primal fear. And if I were an AP executive, I’d be scared, too.
This is dynamite we’re playing with.