We are all painfully familiar with the journalistic genre portraying the suffering of favored groups. That would be groups favored by the journalists. The satirical headline that captures the genre gives us the New York Times’s take on the apocalypse: “World ends, women & minorities hardest hit.”
Credit is due to someone for the shaft of light cast by that parody headline. NewsBusters credits comedian Mort Sahl, still going strong at age 89. I saw Sahl perform many times including once in June 1968 at the hungry i in San Francisco just before it closed. I loved him; it sounds like something he would say.
Minnesota’s Somali community has given rise to a subgenre of the form that has become a Times specialty. With respect to the terrorism trial that just concluded with a raft of guilty verdicts agains three “Minnesota men” charged with seeking to join ISIS, the Los Angeles Times’s Matt Pearce parachuted in for a few days on the Prince beat at the opening of the trial and promptly delivered “I was just another reporter sent to cover radicalization in Minneapolis. Then 2 local Somalis took me on a tour.”
The Washington Post’s Abigail Hauslohner visited the trial for the first week (which included just three days of testimony). Hauslohner contributed to the subgenre in “Terror dragnet sweeps up Somali-American’s sons: ‘Now everything is broken.’” Hauslohner’s article should be an embarrassment to the Post. It is pathetic. (Has Hauslohner broken it to Post readers that the son on trial was found guilty? I don’t think so.)
With their “Somalis hardest hit” stories, Pearce and Hauslohner got a jump on the Star Tribune this time around. On Friday as the jury deliberated the Star Tribune published “ISIL case triggers fear in a community.” Not in the community that is hated by the terrorist wannabes, of course, but rather in the community that decries the efforts of law enforcement to protect us from them.
And that’s not all! After the guilty verdicts came in on Friday, the Star Tribune went back for more and came up with “For Somali-Americans, verdicts are discouraging.”
Once upon a time the charges against the “Minnesota men” made it to page one of the New York Times. Yesterday Jack Healy and Matt Furber reported on the verdicts inside the A section of the New York Times at page 9: “3 Somali-Americans found guilty of trying to join the Islamic State.” (Healy, incidentally, is the author of the excellent 2014 Times story “For jihad recruits, a pipeline from Minnesota to militancy.”)
I don’t think any New York Times reporter was around for even a single day of the trial. Healy and Furber would therefore have missed the scene of Judge Davis throwing community organizer Burhan Mohumed out of the courthouse for multiple violations of the protocol he enforced during the trial. Healy and Furber work a bit of the subgenre into their article on the verdicts by inserting a quote from Mohumed:
The verdict was not much of a surprise to Burhan Mohumed, 26, a friend of the defendants who had been banned from the courthouse by the judge. He called the process “purely political.”
“I left a little hope that they wouldn’t be convicted on a conspiracy to murder charge,” he said. “I didn’t think they had enough evidence to convict them on that. I think that was an overreach.”
Now this is almost funny. Having been expelled from the courthouse for a key part of the trial, Mohumed missed a lot of the evidence. He is a friend of the terrorist wannabes. He lacks any obvious qualification to opine on the the sufficiency of the evidence to support the guilty verdicts against his friends, yet the Times finds his comment worthy of a platform in the newspaper of record.
Here is a thought foreign to the subgenre under discussion. The evidence at trial and the articles above show that Minnesota has proved a welcoming host to a huge immigrant community with ambivalent feelings at best about those of us who have generously supported it with our tax dollars. How about going to one of us for a quote about our feelings?