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Bias and Blindness in the Prestige Press

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Iraqi youth watch the news of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi death, in Najaf, Iraq October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

On the day after the bold and successful American raid that killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist, the Washington Post ran an instantly infamous headline: ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI, AUSTERE RELIGIOUS SCHOLAR AT HELM OF ISLAMIC STATE, DIES AT 48. The obituary featured a deceptively genial photo of the purported “religious scholar,” resembling a kindly Islamic Santa Claus, and the headline gave no hint that his death, like his life, had been unspeakably violent—pursued by American raiders, he exploded a suicide vest that also claimed three children.

The Post later changed the headline to read ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI, EXTREMIST LEADER OF ISLAMIC STATE, DIES AT 48, but the term “extremist” still fails to capture the hideous cruelty of prolonged torture, mass rape, enslavement and genocidal murder associated with this unlamented monster.

On occasion, significant slip-ups make the bias and blindness of the nation’s prestige press not just obvious, but undeniable.

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