In March of 2014, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza published a piece entitled, “Americans read headlines. And not much else.” Just over two years later, the Post ran another story on the propensity of Americans to derive their news only from headlines entitled, “6 in 10 of you will share this link without reading it.”
Suffice it to say that the Washington Post is well aware of the importance, significance, and power of headlines. They know that the vast majority of people who see a story they run are unlikely to read past those bold words atop the page. They fully understand that what they believe is the most essential thought, the most pressing lesson, the most critical takeaway of an event has to be transmitted to their readers in the headline.
That’s why on May 2, 2011, the top of the Washington Post blared the news:
“JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE: U.S. forces kill Osama bin Laden”
But something has apparently happened at the Post in the last 8 years. Because when U.S. forces conducted an equally daring raid to eliminate the butchering founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – a man responsible for extensive genocide, horrific rape orgies, beach beheadings of Christians and other infidels, sex slavery, grotesque executions of women, children, and the elderly, terror massacres of immense and devastating proportions – this now notoriously infamous headline is what the brain trust over at the Washington Post came up with:
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48”
It’s almost exclusively in moments like this where I become thankful for the social media pile-on site Twitter. Because if anything deserved to be mocked ceaselessly it was a billionaire-owned, politically-driven media corporation attempting to whitewash the legacy of a madman after his untimely demise. And the mockery was as spot-on as it was deserved:
Being brutally and deservingly fileted on social media for their foolishness, the Post trotted out their Vice President for Communications, Kristine Coratti Kelly to do damage control. And with an oblivious arrogance that has come to define the world of legacy media these days, Kristine let us know the problem was in how the headline was “read,” not in how it was written:
Ms. Kelly would have us believe that the Post’s sickening near-glorification of a crazed terrorist was merely a misunderstanding. But for those 4 in 10 Americans who actually did bother to read past the galling headline, it became quite clear that wasn’t the case. The Post may have been shamed into altering their title, but the gentle rebranding of a madman was woven throughout this bizarre “obituary”:
“From his teens, he was fascinated with Islamic history and the intricacies of Islamic law. Acquaintances would remember him as a shy, nearsighted youth who liked soccer but preferred to spend his free time at the local mosque.”
Yes, and he grew into a cruelty-obsessed, inhuman monster who delighted in decapitation of those who didn’t see the world like him. Who cares if he liked soccer? What kind of window dressing nonsense is this?
I’m not the first to notice, and hopefully I won’t be the last, that the Washington Post willfully granted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a gentler, less judgmental, and less accusatory coverage than they regularly do the sitting president of the United States.
Makes total sense, doesn’t it? Al-Baghdadi murdered people for sport. But President Trump is an obstacle to the Posts’ progressive agenda, and that’s apparently a far less forgivable offense. Call me crazy, but I’d suggest that it’s that type of myopic thinking in the so-called free press that causes democracy to “die in darkness.”