Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News, in their East
coast feeds Thursday night, noted the Muslim religious beliefs of the
mass killer at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, but ABC anchor Charles Gibson wasn't cowed by political correctness
as he teased World News, "Fort Hood tragedy: An Army officer, a Muslim
convert, is the suspect in a shooting spree..." Introducing his first
story, Gibson referred to how Major Nidal Malik Hasan "an army officer,
a Muslim, opened fire with handguns..." (With a range of frequency,
during late afternoon/early evening coverage, CNN, FNC and MSNBC all
identified Hasan as a Muslim.)
Cryptically, ABC's senior foreign affairs correspondent, Martha Raddatz, concluded a story on reaction at Fort Hood: "As for the suspect, Nadal Hasan, as one officer's wife told me, 'I wish his name was Smith.'" So, a concern this will lead to groundless fear of Muslims?
The CBS Evening News avoided any mention of Islam or Muslim faith as Katie Couric provided this benign description: "Today, according to the Army, a soldier opened fire....He's identified tonight as Army Major Nadal Malik Hasan, a licensed psychiatrist and drug and rehab specialist from Bethesda, Maryland." NBC anchor Brian Williams: "The soldier, identified as the initial gunman here, is an Army psychiatrist, Nadal Malik Hasan. He's an officer, a Major, and he was apparently armed with two handguns."
NBC's Pete Williams insisted, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, "everything about his background is rock solid, and nothing extraordinary stands out about his background."
(At another moment on ABC, Gibson he pointed out there's "confusion" over whether Hasan was convert or was born a Muslim. Brian Ross then offered that he "attended Damascus University in Syria and may be Jordanian - likely not a convert if that's the case.")
From the latter part of the story narrated from Washington, DC by Raddatz on the Thursday, November 5 World News on ABC:
MARTHA RADDATZ: Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Division is currently deployed to Iraq, making this all the more tragic. This woman's husband is among the soldiers in Iraq.
WOMAN: He's really upset. He's freaking out. Yeah, it says [reading from PDA], "I'm freaking out here. I have no idea what's going on. The guys keep asking questions. Can someone please tell us something?" I don't believe for a second that a soldier could do this to another soldier at Fort Hood. I just, I don't believe it.
SECOND WOMAN: It's very, very stressful and we don't know what's going on.
RADDATZ: And on Capitol Hill late today, a moment of silence. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said the shooter was about to be deployed.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: The shooters were military people. And of course that's very troubling.
RADDATZ, ON SCREEN AT ANCHOR DESK: As for the suspect, Nadal Hasan, as one officer's wife told me, "I wish his name was Smith." Charlie.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center