The Corner

Journalistic Courage and Appeasement after the Charlie Hebdo Killings

Some media outlets in the United States and Europe today honored the Charlie Hebdo journalists killed or injured by radical-Islamist gunmen yesterday by publishing some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons satirizing the Prophet Mohammed that led to this vicious attack.

National Review Online, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the Weekly Standard, Bloomberg, the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Getty, and some other U.S. media outlets ran one or more of the cartoons today. 

In the U.K., the Guardian, the BBC, and the Times of London ran the cartoons. The Financial Times ran them on its website. Spain’s El Pais and Germany’s Berliner Zeitung also ran them.

Noticeably absent from this list are the New York Times, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and the Associated Press. These U.S. media outlets chose to self-censor their coverage of the Charlie Hebdo killings by not running the controversial cartoons of Mohammed because of intimidation by radical Islamists.

The New York Times said its decision not to run the Charlie Hebdo cartoons is because “Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.”

Give me a break. The New York Times never hesitates to run material offensive to Christians.  Moreover, as a former intelligence officer, I find it hypocritical that the Times eagerly runs stories revealing classified material causing serious harm to U.S. national security in the name of freedom of the press but refuses to run Charlie Hebdo cartoons that go to the heart of this freedom. 

When asked about his decision to run cartoons satirizing Islamists in light of death threats, Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier — who was killed in the attack yesterday — said, “I prefer to die standing than living on my knees.” National Review and some other media outlets stood with Charbonnier’s deep commitment to the freedom of the press today by running Charlie Hebdo cartoons. By choosing not to run them, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and the Associated Press are appeasing radical Islamists and telling the world that their decisions to run material that may offend certain groups is driven by political correctness and not principle. 

Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, is a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy.

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff.

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