Brian Stetler self-flagellates on the media’s behalf in the New York Times today over it being maybe entirely the media’s fault that pastor Terry Jones got any attention for his obvious plea for attention and also that Jones was allowed to be called a “pastor” in the first place (since “hatemonger” and “fraud” now seem more apt). What? We added flame to the fire? Nope, don’t think so. Doesn’t sound like us. In a concession to the theme of contrition, Jones’s name isn’t in the headline, and the accompanying photograph shows Jones, but only from far away and surrounded by cameras. This article is about the media, see. In no way do we want to benefit from the page views associated with this, wait, what’s his name again? We don’t even remember! That is how very sorry we are. Stelter makes the excellent point that part of the fodder for the Jones frenzy was the fact that it dovetailed so nicely with that mosque thing that both the public and the media have reacted to in such measured tones.
The Koran-burning stunt was actually the final move after a year’s worth of hateful stunts in Gainesville that started when Jones posted a sign outside his church that read “Islam is of the devil.” The Gainesville Sun, which is owned by the New York Times Company, struggled over how to responsibly cover the incident, following it up with an investigation that showed abusive financial practices like running an eBay furniture business on church property.
The one media persona who managed to keep his nose clean during this entire episode is Rush Limbaugh, who chose not to mention that he and Jones graduated from the same high school in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, when he talked about how the ACLU should defend Jones on air.