Media Fail to Report on 'Liberal' Targets of 'Anthrax Killer'

BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 8/1/2008 3:25PM

Media Fail to Report on 'Liberal' Targets of 'Anthrax Killer'
Brother of Now Deceased Top Suspect Tells The BRAD BLOG 'Not One' Reporter Had Asked Him About His Brother's Political Leanings Until We Did

ALSO: ABC News Continues to Protect 'Sources' Who Lied About Iraq Connection to Anthrax...
-- Brad Friedman

With the mainstream corporate media reports today on the apparent suicide of Bruce E. Ivins of the U.S. Government's bio weapons lab at Ft. Detrick, MD, who was reportedly about to be charged with the Anthrax murders of late 2001, it's curious --- if hardly surprising --- that none of the major outlets reporting the news bothered to note that the attacks were all made on perceived "liberals".

Letters, seeming to appear as if they were from Muslim extremists, declaring "Death to America...Death to Israel...Allah is Great," were sent to then Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle, powerful Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and then NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw

Given the recent coverage (or, extraordinary lack thereof) that the church shootings earlier this week in Knoxville, TN were carried out by a gunman who was said to have blamed "liberal Democrats" for all of this country's woes, and the coinciding news that the Bush Administration's DoJ illegally screened out applicants for career posts based on perceived beliefs that they might support "liberal Democratic" causes, (a convergance that we noted, if few others did) it's all the more curious --- if still not surprising in the least --- that the supposed "Liberal Media" hasn't bothered to highlight who the actual targets of the anthrax attacks were and the reasons it seems that they were targeted.

Even a parade of reporters contacting Ivins family today, failed to bring up the topic.

We called Ivins oldest brother Thomas today, to ask if he had any idea of Bruce's political leanings, and he told us "No, I didn't. I didn't know what his affiliations where. And that's a good question."

He was surprised by the question and though he said he'd been speaking with reporters all day, "one after another," he told The BRAD BLOG, none of the other reporters, not one of them, had asked him about his brother's political affiliations, leanings or beliefs.

Apparently, it remains open hunting season on perceived "liberals". Today's remarkable MSM coverage of Ivins' death continues to underscore that point...

The Los Angeles Times' David Willman, who first broke the story on Ivins death today, noted that the anthrax attacks following on the heels of the 9/11 attacks "shut down a Senate office building" and included "letters addressed to two senators."

The senators aren't named.

AP's latest report, says only: "The letters contained [sic] anthrax powder were sent on the heels of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and turned up at congressional offices, newsrooms and elsewhere, leaving a deadly trail through post offices on way."

Later in the article, they go on to mislead readers by noting "The victims of the attacks had little in common." That may be true, if one separate the "victims" who died, from the targets to whom the attacks were clearly sent.

AP's video report noted that the anthrax killer "sent letters to a number of people." Later, the report adds: "Some of the letters were sent to members of Congress, and to the media."

Anybody in particular in either the Congress or the media? The AP, as in their written coverage, doesn't bother to tell us.

USA Today, in an article they describe as being culled "from staff and wire reports", tells us only that : "letters that were mailed to lawmakers' Capitol Hill offices, TV networks in New York, and tabloid newspaper offices in Florida."

The New York Times reported: "Letters containing anthrax powder was also sent to lawmakers’ offices on Capitol Hill, causing great alarm in the capital when it was still jittery from the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

While no clue is offered as to who those "lawmakers" were in their description above, buried on the second page of the article, in the final grafs of the story (which I don't recall having been there this morning when I was first canvassing coverage of the story) there is some cursory coverage of the specific targets and victims of the attacks.

In the third to final graf there's this: "The 2001 anthrax mailings were baffling in several ways, not least because the victims — whether they were chosen or were struck at random — seemed to have nothing in common."

The graf goes on to detail those who died --- "an editor at a tabloid newspaper based in Florida" and the others. All clearly because they inadvertently came in contact with the anthrax via post offices where the letter were routed in some fashion.

So, despite the NYTimes' language there, what's actually "baffling" is not the random folks who were killed along the way, but rather, that the Times (recalling AP's similar coverage) would even focus on the random victims as a reason for "bafflement".

The targets of the attack were quite clear, and not "baffling" in the least. They were all perceived by the rightwing, as powerful "liberals".

Finally, in the penultimate graf --- and one that we believe was later added, after the first story was posted --- the NYTimes identifies the "targets of the mailings" to have included "Tom Brokaw of NBC and two Democratic senators: Tom Daschle of South Dakota, then his party’s Senate leader, and Patrick J. Leahy, a leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee but arguably not an instantly recognizable figure outside Washington and his home state."

If Leahy was "not an instantly recognizable figure outside Washington and his home state," he was certainly recognizable to rightwing political junkies who had feared his recent takeover as chair of the Judiciary Committee might serve to be a roadblock to the Republican legislative agenda. Leahy had taken over the Senate Judiciary Committee after Sen. Jim Jeffords left the Republican party, handing a thin majority and the Senate committee chairs with it, to the Democrats.

On his radio program this morning, Thom Hartmann noted that Daschle and Leahy held the most important roles in Congress, as Majority Leader and Chair of Judiciary, respectively, in the possible blockage of the PATRIOT Act, which both men had indicated they might oppose originally.

The long time attacks on NBC News and other media outlets perceived to be "Liberal" is well known.

It should be noted that Anthrax letters were also sent to the Editor of the New York Post (a Rupert Murdoch owned paper), and the National Enquirer offices, whose political bent, if they have one, seems difficult to discern.

So why the lack of focus --- and in many cases, any mention at all --- of who the Anthrax Killer's targets were? And if the attacks had been against, say Tom Delay, Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly, do you suppose the media would have noted, in summarizing them upon Ivins' death, that the attacks were sent to "prominent conservatives"?

Of course they would have.

Attacking perceived "liberals" in the United States, illegally barring them from government jobs, shooting them in churches and sending them anthrax in the mail is, apparently, just fine in these United States of America these days.

At least that's what the supposed "Liberal Media" coverage of these recent events would seem to suggest.

By way of related addendum... Glen Greenwald's coverage at Salon today is an absolute must read. He notes the unbelievably irresponsible reporting of ABC News prior to the Iraq War, in which they breathlessly reported from "four well-placed and separate sources," that the anthrax used in the letter attacks were known to have been tied to Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

While ABC and Brian Ross' reports have since been discredited over and over again --- and certainly today's news would seem to put yet another nail in that already rotting coffin --- their report was used, big time, to help rally the country towards supporting a war against Iraq prior to Congress handing authorization to George W. Bush to do so.

In fact, ABC's false reports seem to have been the only actual tie between Iraq and the anthrax attacks that played such an effective role when Bush referred to "the Iraqi regime [having] plotted to develop anthrax," in his 2003 State of the Union Address, and the collective chill that ran down American spines when Colin Powell held up his infamous fake vial of anthrax in his presentation to the U.N. declaring little doubt that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction.

As Greenwald notes today [emphasis in original]:

ABC News never retracted its story (they merely noted, as they had done from the start, that the White House denied the reports). And thus, the linkage between Saddam and the anthrax attacks --- every bit as false as the linkage between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks --- persisted.
Surely the question of who generated those false Iraq-anthrax reports is one of the most significant and explosive stories of the last decade.
ABC News already knows the answers to these questions. They know who concocted the false bentonite story [which served to falsely connect Saddam to the anthrax attacks] and who passed it on to them with the specific intent of having them broadcast those false claims to the world, in order to link Saddam to the anthrax attacks and --- as importantly --- to conceal the real culprit(s) (apparently within the U.S. government) who were behind the attacks. And yet, unbelievably, they are keeping the story to themselves, refusing to disclose who did all of this. They're allegedly a news organization, in possession of one of the most significant news stories of the last decade, and they are concealing it from the public, even years later.
They're not protecting "sources." The people who fed them the bentonite story aren't "sources." They're fabricators and liars who purposely used ABC News to disseminate to the American public an extremely consequential and damaging falsehood. But by protecting the wrongdoers, ABC News has made itself complicit in this fraud perpetrated on the public, rather than a news organization uncovering such frauds.

So here we are today, almost seven years since ABC's October 2001 report. Here we are still waiting for either a retraction, or more importantly, the disclosure of who "concocted and fed," as Greenwald puts it, the false reports to ABC way back then, playing, what he argues, was perhaps the most crucial element in helping to lead the country into war. Here we are in August of 2008 and ABC is is protecting the liars even today.

And with a major break in the anthrax story, even now the mainstream corporate media fails to note the connection to the targeting of perceived "liberals".

Thomas Ivins, the brother of the government's now-deceased and apparent top suspect in the anthrax attacks, said that after speaking the entire day to one reporter after another --- who, he noted, had told him "a great deal" about the story which he hadn't known --- had no idea that the targets of the attacks were two high-ranking Democratic members of Congress.

"Really? I didn't know that," he told me when I bothered to bring inform him.

That part of the story, apparently, just isn't news for the mainstream corporate media. So, the open season on "liberals" continues, even as our years-long hunt for the great mythical "Liberal Media" continues as well.

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