Media Mashup: December 3, 2015

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Two suspects were killed after a dramatic police shootout on a residential street in San Bernardino as police hunted the masked gunmen suspected of opening fire at a conference center.

Terror in San Bernadino: Call It What It Is

When a gunman blasted his way through a Planned Parenthood locale in Colorado, the media almost immediately branded the incident as the job of a right-wing nut job. The evidence? He reportedly said, “No more body parts!”

When Muslims gunned down 14 people in California, the media rated terrorism as “a possibility.”

Seriously? Islamist terrorism should be at the top of the list, but the media and President Obama focused instead on guns as the culprit.

What is known about the husband and wife who launched the attack? [Please note that I will not use any of the names because doing so adds to their notoriety. I have long advocated that mass murderers not be named in press reports].

News reports say the husband was born in Illinois of parents originally from Pakistan, a Muslim country. He was a “devout” Muslim. He had recently visited Saudi Arabia. He and his wife, also a Muslim, died in a shootout with police.

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The Los Angeles Times described the tragedy as part of “America’s seemingly never-ending string of mass shootings.” That certainly placed yesterday’s killings in the context of gun-related violence rather than in the context of the users of those weapons.

News reports described the killers as dressed in combat fatigues, using a variety of guns and pipe bombs. This just in: You cannot buy pipe bombs at your local gun store!

The Muslim shooters also attacked a Christmas party at the government agency where the husband worked. He left the party and came back with his wife to murder. Radical Islamists hate Christians and brutally kill them. Somehow police authorities are considering the attack as potential workplace violence.

Islamist extremists began celebrating the mass shooting  after the massacre, creating the hashtag #America_Burning, Vocativ, a website dealing with intelligence issues, discovered. The self-proclaimed Islamic State did not take responsibility for the shootings.

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It is not besmirching Islam to call what happened a potential incident of Islamist extremism. But President Obama and the media shy away from the description for fear that it might offend Muslims.

I spent nearly a decade in the Muslim world as a journalist and have been tracking terrorism since the late 1970s. I used to subscribe to the canard that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. That’s utter nonsense!

I think the American public understands what’s going on. I hope the president and the media start to catch up.

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to


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