Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Spokane, they know that MLK Day bomb wasn't an 'isolated event'

-- by Dave

[H/t Heather]

Well, as Nancy Goldstein points out at The Nation, the national media were pretty reluctant at first to identify Monday's thwarted bombing of the MLK Day parade in Spokane as domestic terrorism -- but not only was I not fooled, neither were the folks in Spokane, particularly not the FBI agents who know the territory.

As the Spokesman Review story points out, Spokane has a long and unfortunate history -- being the largest city close to what used to be the Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho, 40 miles east -- of having to deal with domestic terrorism -- the kind committed by right-wing extremists who hate the government and hate nonwhites:

City Council President Joe Shogan praised the people who found the backpack and the officials who defused it. He noted the 1996 bombing of City Hall and said citizens must still be vigilant to prevent attacks.

“It would be nice to think that all this kind of activity was in the past, but obviously, it’s not,” Shogan said. “Too often, there’s that attitude that it can’t happen here. Well, it is happening.”

A pipe bomb packed with nails and screws exploded outside Spokane City Hall on April 29, 1996. There were no injuries, but the blast blew out a window in one of the doors and sent shrapnel flying into Riverfront Park.

Federal prosecutors later indicted white supremacists Chevie Kehoe, of Colville, and Danny Lee, of Yukon, Okla., for the bombing. Both also were later convicted for a 1996 triple murder in Arkansas. The two were accused of working to overthrow the government to set up a whites-only nation.

That was hardly the only time domestic terrorists have struck Spokane. Some of the earliest crimes committed by The Order in their 1984 crime spree occurred in Spokane -- mostly robberies. As it later turned out, the perpetrators were based in Metaline Falls, about an hour's drive north of the city.

Then there was the 1996 crime spree of the self-proclaimed "Phineas Priesthood" gang, which included a couple of bank robberies, the bombing of a Spokesman Review newspaper plant, and the bombing of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

This might be another "isolated incident" unconnected to any political agenda to the folks at Fox. But people in the Northwest know better.

Will Bunch raises the right question:

Has right-wing carping killed media coverage of major "domestic terrorism" case in Spokane?

An explosion and the potential for multiple murders that a shrapnel bomb could have caused to those celebrating Dr. King's legacy would have been a staggering blow to a nation that is still reeling and feeling the aftershocks of the first assassination attempt against a member of Congress in nearly 33 years. Even though the bomb didn't explode, the episode raises deeply troubling new questions about the extent of violent politically fueled anger in America in 2011, and why it seems that liberal targets like Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and now King Day marchers like the children pictured at top are the ones in the crosshairs, to use the controversial word of the day.

In other words, it's what Joe Biden might call a BFD. But you wouldn't know that if, for example, you visited the two websites that -- in my own 30 years of experience as a journalist, for better or worse -- do more than any other to set the agenda on national coverage in newsrooms across the country.

One of those (note I said "for better or worse") is The Drudge Report, which ultimate Beltway insider Mark Halperin has said "rules our world." In the 16 or so hours since the FBI went public with the "domestic terrorism" angle, Matt Drudge has spotlighted articles about things like a man arrested for taking photos at Miami airport, a blogger who may lose his firearms permit for a post related to the Tucson massacre, and laser incidents against airplanes -- but nothing about the thwarted Spokane bombing.

OK, so that's Matt Drudge -- but the silence of the leading mainstream news website -- that of the New York Times -- is a little harder to explain. I've checked their home page at least a half-dozen times since last night, and I have yet to see a featured story on the FBI investigating "domestic terrorism" in Washington State. The lack of Times coverage may explain while for the most part, the coverage of this story on cable TV -- the people who routinely hyped run of the mill car chases and blown-tire airplane landings -- has been very minimal. I say for the most part because there have been a couple of exceptions. "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC featured the Spokane story as major breaking news at the top of its broadcast last night, and for a time it was the lead story on the Huffington Post. Major news outlets -- but with a liberal orientation.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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