In the London Sunday Times, Andrew Sullivan wonders why the "Islamo-bullies get a free ride from the West":
You'd think, wouldn't you, it might be helpful to view the actual cartoons so you can see what on earth this entire fuss is about. But the British and American media have decided that it is not their job to help you understand this story. In fact it is their job to prevent you from fully understanding this story. As of this writing no major newspaper in Britain has published the cartoons; the BBC has shown them only fleetingly and other networks have shied away. All have decided not to give you this critical information, without which no intelligent person can construct an informed and intelligent position on the matter. You're on your own. The reasons given are conventional enough: the press doesn't want to inflame matters further; the cartoons are indeed offensive, and no editor has to publish images that would appal readers; reprinting would merely play into the hands of extremists, and so on. The one argument you haven't heard is the one you hear off-camera. Many editors simply don't want to put their staffs at risk of physical danger. They have "offended" Muslims in the past and learnt to regret it. In New York the editors of a free alternative paper, the New York Press, decided they wanted to run the cartoons so their readers could have a grasp of what this huge story is about. The owner refused. The staff quit en masse. The editor claims the owner gave him a simple explanation: "I'm not putting lives in danger. We're not getting things blown up."And, according to an editorial in the Boston Phoenix, Sullivan is right. The Phoenix admits that one of the reasons they won't run the cartoons is "[o]ut of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do."
This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question. Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.In other words, after just a few days of rioting, the media has already bent over, surrendered, and accepted Sharia law as the arbiter of its editorial decisions. Our media has just taught a valuable lesson to the various interest groups of the world: if you want to control how your group is covered, be as threatening and violent as possible. Sullivan notes that online media--not the establishment media--is now the only source for full coverage of this story:
The fundamental job of journalists is to give you as much information as possible to make sense of the world around you. And in this story, where the entire controversy revolves around drawings, the press is suddenly coy. You can see Saddam Hussein in his underwear and members of the royal family in compromising positions. You can see Andres Serrano's famously blasphemous photograph of a crucifix in urine, called Piss Christ. But a political cartoon that deals with Islam? Not our job, guv. Move right along. Nothing to see here. [...] And so we have two media now in the world. We have the mainstream media whose job is increasingly not actually to disseminate information but to act as a moral steward for what is fit to print, to become an arbiter of sensitivity, good taste and political correctness. And we have web pages like Wikipedia or the blogosphere to disseminate actual facts, data, images and opinions that readers can judge with the benefit of all the facts, not just some of them.Take a look at the cartoons. Sure, they obviously offend some people, but they're not outrageous, certainly not in the context of a free society. Other groups have managed to bear similar offenses or worse without resorting to uncontained rampages of violence. And in those cases, the media didn't worry much about who might be offended. The fact that the cartoons are so mild is a huge part of the story. After all, if people are threatening death over these cartoons, what else will set them into a murderous rage? Wouldn't this information be helpful? Apparently not, in the view of our media. It is quite easy to stand up as a noble defender of press freedoms when the only people on the other side are finger-wagging octogenarian letter writers complaining about an errant nipple during a Superbowl half-time show. But the pitiful reaction of the press in this instance shows that they are nothing more than bloviating pushovers who will hand over their freedoms as readily as the French in 1940 the first minute they're faced with anything more dangerous than a pile of letters to the editor. But they're worse than just being cowards, because they've just reinforced the only lesson that radical Islamists seem to understand: the best way to achieve their goals is through mob violence. Will we ever see stories that are as critical of Islamofascism as they are of, say, the American government? I wouldn't hold my breath. Our media has just proven that fear will cause them to cover up anything that might "offend" the mobs of Islamic arsonists. (This isn't exactly new territory for the establishment media, either.) Who knew that the first major surrender in the War on Terror would come so easily? I didn't. But I can't say I'm surprised to see that it's our media selling us out.