One year ago today, in the wake of a terrorist massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, that left 12 dead and another 11 injured, major media outlets in America declined to show a clear image of the infamous cartoon of Mohammed that led Islamic radicals to target the French publication. Rather, they blurred out the cartoon in their news reports, claiming religious sensitivity.
But today, those same media outlets had no qualms showing Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover commemorating the anniversary of the violent attack, featuring a blood-stained God figure with an assault rifle strapped to his back. The caption clarifies that the God-figure is meant to symbolize religious extremism. It reads in French, “One year later, the assassin is still at large.”
As Mediaite’s Alex Griswold recounts:
Most outlets failed the test. The Big Three networks, MSNBC, CNN, AP, and most newspapers chose the path of least resistance and blurred or refused to publish cartoons. The excuses given (when they bothered giving an excuse at all) were that they didn’t publish intentionally offensive images. At the same time, outlets were careful never to address the elephant in the room: that murderous religious fanatics believed publishing the cartoons deserved a death sentence.
Yet, as screenshots reveal, CNN, MSNBC, the AP, the New York Daily News, among others, reproduced the latest Hebdo cover in full in their news reports on the anniversary of the attacks, despite its imagery that is highly offensive to people of faith and its condemnation by the Vatican. The difference, of course, is that Pope Francis isn’t counseling Roman Catholics to take up arms and meat cleavers to defend the faith.
This media response reveals that there remains a very clear double-standard in how the media treats Islam compared to other religions—a bias that the Hebdo terrorists, and those who planned an attack on the Garland, Texas “Draw Mohammed” contest, hoped to reinforce with their violence.