Fox News under fire for showing uncut ISIS video
The 22-minute video showed Moaz al-Kasasbeh standing inside a cage while being torched alive
U.S. television station Fox News has come under fire from terrorism experts and social media users for its controversial decision on Tuesday to show, in full, the graphic video footage of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh’s murder by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It also ran the video on its website and is thought to be the only U.S. news organization to show the video in full.
According to the Washington Post, a few - if any - followed Fox News' editorial decision whether in terms of posting still images of the pilot's killing or showing the video.
The graphic 22-minute ISIS propaganda video, “Healing the Believers’ Chests,” showed the captured pilot, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, apparently doused in fuel, standing inside in a cage while a trail of a flammable substance leading up to him was set alight by an ISIS militant.
By posting the video, Fox News was propagating “exactly what ISIS wants to propagate,” counter-terrorism and radicalism expert Malcolm Nance told The Guardian.
“The whole value of terror is using the media to spread terror,” said Nance, who is the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical ideology think tank.
But Fox News defended its decision to post the video.
Fox News Executive Vice President John Moody told the Huffington Post: “After careful consideration, we decided that giving readers of FoxNews.com the option to see for themselves the barbarity of ISIS outweighed legitimate concerns about the graphic nature of the video. Online users can choose to view or not view this disturbing content.”
Fox News also broadcast the video on “Special Report” on Tuesday evening. “Tonight, we are going to show you some of the images ISIS has put out,” said anchor Bret Bairer, warning his viewers before the pictures were broadcast.
"The images are brutal. They are graphic. They are upsetting. You may want to turn away. You may want to have the children leave the room right now," he said, adding that the network decided to air the images to “bring you the reality of Islamic terrorism.”
Showing the video would be a threat to other hostages’ lives, such as the 26-year-old American female aid worker currently held by ISIS, Nance added.
“[Fox News] are literally – literally – working for al-Qaeda and ISIS’ media arm,” Nance said. “They might as well start sending them royalty checks.”
“They’re a terror organization,” Rick Nelson, a senior associate in homeland security and terrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Guardian.
“They seek to strike terror in the hearts and minds of people globally, and by perpetuating these videos and putting them out there into the internet, it certainly expands the audience and potential effects.”
“These groups need a platform, and this gives them a platform,” Nelson added.
Twitter accounts, seemingly associated with ISIS, are reportedly sharing the video using links to Fox News’ website.
“Whoever is looking for the al-Furqan version [of the video], here it is and it cannot be deleted because it is on an American network,” The Guardian quoted an alleged ISIS-sympathizer tweeting. Al-Furqan is ISIS’ media outlet.
Fox News’ editorial decision was also condemned on social media, with users accusing the network of providing a "platform" for ISIS’ propaganda.
Well done #foxnews doing the work of the terrorist by showing the murder of the Jordanian pilot, burned to death. Call your self News?— Plastic Jesus (@plasticjesusart) February 5, 2015
Fox News has made the decision to post the ISIL propaganda video on the front page of their website, in its entirety. #disgusting— Andy Marquis (@amarquis32) February 4, 2015
How Fox News can feature the ISIS video of the pilot being burned alive is unbelievable. Giving terrorist propaganda a stage to spread fear.— Will (@CaptainFluke) February 4, 2015
Not all were opposed to the decision – with some taking the side of Fox News, arguing that the decision to broadcast the video was simply part of its role to report the news.
Many Western news outlets have chosen not to show any footage of recent ISIS executions, claiming that their decisions were based on respecting the sensitivities of grieving family and friends of those killed, and not to appear to help support the cause of the militants.
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