NPR and Fox News United in Battle for bin Laden Photo
NPR and Fox News finally agree on something.
It’s not often you get NPR and Fox News to agree with each other. After all, Fox News top dog Roger Ailes not so long ago called the NPR heads Nazis, and the network vociferously called for Congress to defund NPR altogether.
Furthermore, NPR famously fired “Talk of The Nation” host Juan Williams for his Fox News appearance in which he said he said he gets nervous when Muslims are on his flights. Such fear mongering, they said, was not consistent with the network’s ethic of tolerance. Williams ended up working full-time at Fox News, where his candor and style were better suited.
But yesterday, NPR joined Fox news in echoing Sarah Palin‘s call to stop “pussy-footing around” and release the bin Laden photo. The news organization filed a Freedom of Information Act request to receive access to the photo.
Despite a poll finding that nearly two thirds of Americans agree with President Obama’s decision not to leak the photo to the press, most of the media is incensed over the decision. Outlets ranging from Associated Press to Politico to The Atlantic all agree with Fox News in insisting the media must have the bin Laden death photo. Part of their motivation may stem from what may be the only thing more American than apple pie: money.
Raw Story reports that Dick Meyer, NPR’s executive editor wrote in a blog post: “Pictures of Osama bin Laden and other images from that mission would have compelling news value and public interest.” In withholding the photo, Obama is surely squelching what would like be one of the biggest news stories of the year—perhaps second only to the news of bin Laden’s death itself. Monumental news stories bring monumental web traffic and TV ratings, which is what allows news organizations to make money.
Pictures of a dead bin Laden would have “compelling news value” for the news organizations in addition to the public—these organizations are clearly motivated by their self interest in addition to the public interest.
“Do it for the economy, Mr. President,” they might as well say, “it’s the most American thing you can do.”
“I can foresee circumstances or arguments that would lead us to refrain from publishing the images if we were to get them,” Meyer said. Right. The chances of that happening are about as high as that of a Republican winning the White House in 2012—that is to say, zero.
Whether NPR’s FOIA request gets denied, the photos may ultimately end up in the press. Raw Story reports that the group Judicial Watch has stated they’re prepared to sue the White House for the pictures, and if they’re successful they’ll distribute them to the press. And then, whether Americans like it or not, they will all gawk over the photos, and the news media will all make money. Just like it was intended.