In the wake of the Tucson shootings, it seems to me that the media has muzzled itself on the story of a bomb planted on a parade route in Spokane, WA on MLK day.
Coverage, while it is out there, is very light considering that the device has been called the worst ever seen in this country. “They haven’t seen anything like this in this country. This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.” (Anonomous FBI source)
This situation is a bit different than Tucson - there is no suspect in custody and no eyewitnesses to the scene (that we know of.) There is a lot of circumstantial evidence, however - the bomb was planted so as to direct the shrapnel into the street, which was on the route of a parade. The parade was in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Spokane is in the center (or close to it) of an area of white supremacist activity. Hayden, ID was the location of the Aryan Nations compound before it was sold off a decade or so ago. This is about 40 miles from Spokane.
My contention is that it is perfectly appropriate for the media to speculate on the identity and motivation of the attemted bomber. Media attention can generate leads for the police and FBI, and getting statements from parties that are associated with white supremacist organizations could yield useful information. I’m sure the police investigators are using speculation based on the circumstantial evidence to know where to look.
In my book, speculation by the media is perfectly appropriate in this case.
If you mean hard news outlets, I disagree. They should never speculate-- they should report facts. And the media doesn’t need to “muzzle” itself to report facts. I would rather think that the lack of reporting on this is that there is no suspect and the bomb didn’t actually go off. Having said that, the article you linked to, which is the local newspaper, seemed to be doing plenty of reporting and speculating.
So the media is only allowed to speculate that it’s a bunch of Spokane Nazis? What if they decide it was a fiendish plot by reptilian space aliens? Is that allowed? Maybe it was militant sheep - the public has a right to be misinformed - right?
Maybe some anarchist is sitting in a Spokane hostel right now, hitting himself on the forehead and muttering to himself, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Pick up your backpack when you get on the bus! Never. Leave. Your. Backpack. On. A. Bench!”
Media attention could also lead the public to look for exactly the wrong people, and in the process flood the police with ‘tips’ about shit that has nothing to do with the bomb. While I’m sure police investigators do use speculation and circumstantial evidence, the thing is they often have better speculation skills than the average public, certainly better than Fox News. They also usually have circumstantial evidence that the public does not have as well.
For an example of why this might be a problem. Lets pretend the person who did this is a leftover from the Black Panther overthrow whitie movement from the 60’s. This black man wants to start a race war, incite other blacks to rise up and kill the man. He figures bombing a parade to honor a highly respected black civil rights leader, who was peaceful, would piss off enough people to do that. Under this scenario, how would talking heads on TV blaming the KKK help catch the black panther wannabe? Hell, how would it do anything except actually assist with what the guy wants to do?
Note I don’t actually think this scenario is what happened. Most likely it is a racist white power pinhead. However, a black person manufacturing a hate crime isn’t unheard of. Remember the noose incident a few years ago? Admittedly, it was never proven she did it herself, but the simple fact it’s a good possibility is enough reason to not jump to conclusions on this sort of thing.
+1 to this; just ask Richard Jewell how his life’s been lately.
Naturally, that theory’s entirely plausible – but it’s still speculation. Occam’s Razor isn’t always correct – on the day the OK City bombing, the fact that it happened on the 2-year anniversary of Waco, Texas was initially dismissed as coincidence.