Before American television networks ran edited versions of jihadi snuff films in primetime. Before they breathlessly reported as TRUTH things terrorists told them. Before all these barbaric acts there was one book that warned of such possible calamities.
That book is called Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism. It was co-written by Robert Kupperman and Jeff Kamen. This book came out in 1989, before Khobar Towers or the 1993 WTC attack. This was during the first year of President George H. W. Bush’s administration.
Back in 1987, such news anchor heavyweights as Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw realized there was something wrong in how their networks covered the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 that resulted in the murder of Robert Stethem, a US Navy diver at the hands of terrorists.
Tom Brokaw – “can’t get into a kind of hysterical competitive state, being by the terrorists to get on the air for whatever little contrived development there may be in the story. I thought 847 did develop into a feeding frenzy. I was over there. God, it was craziness! … An awful lot of manipulation was going on there. In a way, I think, that became part of the story that did not get adequate attention from the networks themselves.”
Peter Jennings – “Watching ourselves in action at that horrendous news conference [when the terrorists trotted out some of the hostages at gunpoint to be interviewed by the media] was a public embarrassment as it should have been. … We are forever making vows in our lives and not living up to them. But when the next incident came along – granted, they were different, in there was much less access for the media than in Flight 847 – there was a feeling in everybody’s mind that we shouldn’t rush as we had in the past.”
How pervasive is the reach of television and its impact upon those who make policy, those who carry it out, and those affected? I will let Col. Oliver North speak of it: “CNN runs ten minutes ahead of NSA.”
And what does such pervasive coverage do for the cause of terrorists? If we believe former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, this kind of media coverage is the oxygen of the terrorists. And Tom Brokaw acknowledges there is some truth in that statement and that it is a dilemma for them.
What becomes inescapable after reviewing these small snippets from Chapter 5 of this book is the media has not learned any lessons. Even after twenty years of more such atrocities and manipulations it has not sunk in. Which argues for a more serious charge to be levied, that the media is for the other side. Think about it.
As a postscript, Kupperman died in 2006 at the age of 71, he lived to see some of the things he and Kamen predicted come to pass. And if my memory serves me right, no one after 9/11 ever bothered to interview him on this book. As a friend pointed out as I wrote this, all those people probably did not want to hear 'I told you so.' Which is another damning indictment against not only the media, but the government.