Friday, October 29

ABC News: Alleged American Al Qaeda Warns of U.S. Attacks

Alleged American Al Qaeda Warns of U.S. Attacks.

Oh, now there's a piece of breaking news: "Bin Laden determined to attack within United States," as the August 2001 presidential intelligence briefing put it. We New Yorkers got the news about a month later. There's plenty of video of that event: Let's run that now and call it breaking news.

Shocking: Al-Qaeda makes videos containing threats! Hell, I've seen media kits on the Internet with al-Qaeda logos and other materials for DYI productions. I bet if I worked at it for a few days even I could gin something up along these lines. You can buy keffiyehs from street vendors in New York. And it's legal to own AK47 assault rifles again, isn't it?

The interesting thing here is that the tape is apparently produced in English, although ABC doesn't explicitly say so in the print introduction. It would be a fact worth emphasizing: Al-Qaeda propaganda has always been directed at Arabic-speaking audiences in the past, and designed to, as the election pundits here like to say, "rally the base." (The Arabic term al-Qaeda actually means "the base.") They don't make threats: They just say "We all need to attack America. Anybody interested in helping out, call Aiman at Kandahar 6-5000."

The guy's pronunciation of Arabic names doesn't sound especially authentic, either. My prime suspect: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

I love the way the segment segues into an ad for Hewlett-Packard showing the streets of New York.

ABC: Allegation Broadcasting Corporation. The other top headline on their site today: "Video Suggests Explosives Disappeared After U.S. Took Control." Let's just have a special edition of Nightline in which we gather together the Swift boat veterans, the Area 51 fanatics, the Nazi skinheads, and every other media-savvy group of kooks in the world who wants to get in the limelight before Tuesday. Surely what they have to say is more relevant than reviewing the platforms and records of the candidates and fact-checking their stump speeches.

This has been a pointless rant, we now return you to your normally scheduled grammar and usage blogging. I will promise this, as a humble news-gathering colleague of the big networks: I hereby pledge to approve no stories for the rest of the year with words like "alleged" and "suggests" in the headline. And I won't pay the "transportation costs" of my sources, either. I mean, I'll have to check with my boss, but I think he'll probably agree with me.

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