Bozell Column: Fort Hood Justice, Delayed and Ignored

A federal judge has finally selected a trial date for accused Fort Hood mass-murderer Nidal Malik Hasan – July 9. We’ll see if it actually happens. If you’ve forgotten that mass shooting, then the media had scored a point for President Obama. The Pentagon dismissed the terrorist attack as “workplace violence,” the Obama media nodded in agreement and the massacre vanished from public memory.

Hasan went on his deadly rampage, killing 13 and wounding another 32, on November 5, 2009. By the beginning of 2010, the networks were already in “sleep” mode. On the one-year anniversary, only NBC filed a story (that completely avoided the word “Obama”), while CBS had a single anchor brief. Amazingly, ABC offered nothing.


In the 2012 re-election year, this was the totality of news coverage of Nidal Hasan up to the third anniversary: nothing on ABC, one brief on NBC, and one news story on CBS. Coverage of this brutal terrorism on our shores would upset the heroic Obama-beat-Osama narrative, so the “new” media “reported” virtually nothing.    

It’s not that there weren’t news events happening. At the end of January 2011, Hasan [pictured at right in mug shot] was judged by an Army board to be sane for trial by an Army board. He was formally arraigned on July 20, but did not enter a plea. The judge then set a trial date of March 5, 2012. Then Hasan switched lawyers, pushing that date back further to allow the lawyers to prepare some kind of defense. All of these developments qualified as stories; they generated seconds—if anything.

Then in July 2012, a judge held the “alleged” killer in contempt for refusing to shave his beard for alleged religious reasons. That legal mess went on until September, when it was ruled it was not a violation of Hasan’s religious freedom to be shaved. Then Hasan’s defense lawyers filed two appeals. In mid-October, an appeals court ruled Hasan could be shaved...and the defense lawyers filed an appeal to the appeals court! Thus they prevented any trial before Election Day.

Break out the “Mission Accomplished” banner. But journalists couldn’t find the time to ask, “How long does this mass-murderer get to delay his own trial?” It almost makes you wish the police had better aim during the crossfire.

The pattern continued. On December 4, another court vacated Hasan's contempt-of-court convictions and removed the judge, Col. Gregory Gross, claiming he had not shown the “requisite impartiality” toward the mass murderer. Then they named a new judge, Col. Tara Osborn. This entire morass went ignored by most of the major media, kept firmly secured in the national memory hole. (You follow the news. Do you know that narrative?)

The amnesia was so severe that when the Boston Marathon bombers killed three people in April, several journalists echoed Anna Palmer at Politico, who proclaimed "President Barack Obama no longer has an unblemished record in stopping domestic terrorism." One of the Washington Post's Boston stories carried this headline: "After a decade of plots foiled or botched, one success." NPR talk-show host Diane Rehm said the Boston bombing “has been described as the second most lethal event since 9/11.”

Two months before Boston, ABC broke from the mold by reporting a story on “World News” and “Nightline” that one of the heroic police officers Kimberly Munley, shot by Hasan, felt “used” and betrayed by President Obama. 

Brian Ross reported that Munley and other victims filed a lawsuit against the government for its decision to deny injured soldiers a Purple Heart, since this was deemed “workplace violence.” Ross added: “Recently retired Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning, who still has bullets lodged in his body, say that means lower priority veterans medical care and a loss of ten of thousands of dollars in benefits.” Good for ABC. Coverage on CBS or NBC? Zero.

In May, Scott Friedman of the Dallas NBC affiliate KXAS reported that while Hasan’s victims can’t get the additional pay and benefits from that Purple Heart designation, Hasan is still drawing his military paycheck. He’s been paid more than $278,000 since the shooting, when the Army could have suspended his pay after just seven days. NBC’s national staff couldn’t be bothered on that outrage. Neither could ABC or CBS. 

Military prosecutors argued that granting Purple Heart awards to the victims would prejudice jurors in Hasan’s trial because it might signal the government has recognized him as a terrorist and therefore already criminally culpable. Obama and his Pentagon appointees have faced almost zero public heat over this decision.

All of the delays and all of the media apathy to date suggest that the Hasan trial may get all of the broadcast TV attention that Kermit Gosnell’s abortion trial attracted: next to nothing.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center