Cable-news networks CNN and MSNBC declined to show images of the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed on Tuesday, citing fear of offending Muslims and concerns over staff safety.
The defiant cartoon, which will grace 3 million Charlie Hebdo covers published in 16 different languages, shows Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the French caption “all is forgiven”:
Hosts on both networks described the cover, but did not show it. NBC contributor Mike Barnicle explained on Morning Joe that the network won’t display the cartoons because “they are deemed to be offensive.”
Hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough both agreed with the network’s decision. “There are certain cartoons that are offensive — that have vulgar tinges to them — and I don’t see the need to show them to anybody,” Brezezinski said. “I really don’t.”
“I guess my question is why,” agreed Scarborough. “If showing a cartoon offends well over a billion Muslims — who are not violent, but who are just as offended by that as I would be offended by seeing a picture of a crucifix in a jar of urine — why, I guess, do it? Just tell people they can find it online.”
CNN did the same, describing the cover without actually showing the image. “This is part of a long-standing practice,” media reporter Brian Stelter said. “Images of Mohammed — depictions, cartoons of the prophet Mohammed — are highly offensive to some Muslims. They are a taboo within Islam . . . Not only would [showing the cartoon] be offensive to the audience, but it could also be a safety risk for staffs, for crews that are in the field.”
In a break with their cable-news rivals, Fox News broadcast an image of the cover during their own reporting on the new Charlie Hebdo issue.