Editorials: Bin Laden video poses no threat

Oct 22, 2001  •  Post A Comment

It seems silly in this age of high-tech communications to worry that Osama bin Laden might use his videotaped propaganda speeches to send coded messages to his U.S. operatives. Bin Laden surely has more direct means of contacting his network.
It’s even sillier to suggest, as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has done, that the TV networks refrain from airing such videotapes.
For one thing, the tapes-which come from Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, the rising star of Middle Eastern news channels-are readily available to anyone who subscribes to the DISH Network. Chances are bin Laden’s foot soldiers in America, if they’ve really been tipped off to watch for the “go” sign from their leader, are already shelling out the $29.99 a month for DISH’s Arabic-language package-which includes Al-Jazeera.
As for the rest of us, the major networks have chosen to cooperate with Ms. Rice and spare us the annoyance of regular appearances by bin Laden on the nightly news. No great loss, to be sure, but the industry and the government should be careful not to cross the line and compromise the principles of a free and objective press.
We’re all trying to work together here toward the common goal of defeating terrorism. But the news outlets have to keep in mind that their job in that fight is to report the news, even if-no, especially if-it makes us uncomfortable.