Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Does American television cause terrorism?

I just read the top story at CNN, which asks whether a major explosion at at  Puerto Rico oil storage facility was "arson or accident?"    When I first heard about the explosion a couple days ago, the possibility of sabotage occurred to me.

The recent general strike in Puerto Rico was not widely reported in the mainstream media.    That strike -- which involved 150,000 - 200,000 people (5% of the island's population) -- did not receive much coverage. Nor, prior to the strike, did the MSM appear to have adequately reported either Puerto Rico's alarmingly high rate of unemployment (16 percent) or the governor's recent decision to lay of 17,000 civil servants.*   My awareness of these events came mainly from Global Voices, a website that tracks international blogs.    

Of course, we don't know if the explosion at the oil refinery was an act of arson or not.  Moreover, as far as I know there is absolutely no evidence linking the two events.   Nevertheless, when tens of thousands of people go on strike in an American territory, and the US news media fails to adequately cover the story, at some point angry people are going to ask themselves: to what lengths must we go to get attention?

As newspapers continue to decline in readership, and television news further degenerates into sensationalism and celebrity gossip, more groups -- both in the US and abroad -- may find themselves tempted to go to ever more extreme measures to get the attention of the American public and political leadership.
Related post: "How to interview terrorists."
* In the US territory, almost twice as many people depend on the government for jobs as the national average.
Update 1: As originally posted a paragraph got chopped off.
Update 2:  The LA Times reports Tuesday: "The average weekday circulation of nearly 400 dailies slid 10.6% from April to September, compared with a 7.1% decline during the previous six-month period."

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