Networks Skirt Tying Russian Bombings to Islam

ABC, NBC, and CBS never mention ‘Islamic terrorists.’

Islamic terrorists were suspected in the terrorist bombings that just killed dozens in Russia.  But reporters at ABC, NBC and CBS went out of their way to avoid the obvious connection or even to call the suspects “terrorists,” preferring instead the squishy word “militant.”

Friday, Sunday and Monday, three separate suicide bombings left at least 37 people dead in the Volgograd and Pyatigorsk, Russia. In October, a female suicide bomber killed 5 people on a bus in Volgograd. U.S. officials and terrorism experts believe these attacks are related instances tied to an Islamic Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov, who threatened of attacks in the area last summer. Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is close to Sochi, the site for the upcoming Winter Olympics and a particular target for the attacks.

The initial reports on the evening news Dec. 29 glossed over the connection to radical Islamic terror, reporting on “militants,” “suicide attacks”, “suicide bombings” and “terror attacks” instead.  Not once did the networks mention “Islam” “Islamic” “Islamist” or “Muslim” in conjunction with “terrorists” in their reports.

All three networks seemed afraid to even mention the word, “terrorists” or “Islam.” NBC Nightly News graphic featured the words, “terror attack,” ABC World News graphic read, “Deadly bombings: What do attacks mean for Olympic security?” and CBS Evening News read simply, “Terror attacks.”

“ABC World News” reporters David Muir and Brian Ross got around mentioning this by using words like “terror,” “terrorism” and “suicide bombers.” Not once did they mention “terrorists” or “Islamic terrorists”. Reporter Brian Ross did spend 17 seconds mentioning that government officials believe this attack was caused by an “Islamist group” but snuck that in towards the end of the segment

“NBC Nightly News” mentioned Islam the most of all the three networks but never connected it to terror. “Islamic” or “Islamist militants” were mentioned three times and “Islamic insurgents” were mentioned once in their segment that ran for more than five minutes.

“CBS Evening News,” didn’t fare much better, with correspondent Elizabeth Palmer mentioning the suspects as “Islamic militants” just once. Like ABC, CBS focused the segment on safety for the Olympics, instead of discussing the likely perpetrators of these attacks.

Other news sources had no problem pointing out that these most recent attacks are strongly suspected to be by Muslim jihadists. Bloomberg, Fox News, and The Washington Times all mentioned the terms “Islam” or “Muslim.”

This isn’t the first time the broadcast networks have scrambled to cover up violent acts connected to Islam. In London last May, a British soldier was beheaded by Muslim jihadists while walking down the street and the three networks refused to mention that the attackers were Muslim in their initial report. In September, the Kenyan mall attacks were blamed on “militants” and “suicide bombers.” Nine of the ten top newspapers kept “Islam” out of their headlines on these stories, where at least 68 people were killed.

Most recently, the networks refused to mention the radical Islamic ties to Hezbollah, in their report on a car bombing attack that killed an outspoken critic of the Hezbollah Friday.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.