AP Ignores Minnesota Terror Suspect's Involvement With Airport De-Icing

December 25th, 2015 11:58 PM

In a year-end interview with National Public Radio, President Barack Obama largely blamed "a saturation of news" coming from a media which "is pursuing ratings" for growing concerns in America over the ability of ISIS and other terrorists to conduct attacks on U.S. soil, and indicated that "it's up to the media to make a determination about how they want to cover things."

It's reasonable to believe that Obama was telling the press corps, which already works furiously to prop him up, that they need to cut back on their reporting of domestic terrorist activities, arrests and court proceedings. It seems fair to say that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, quickly took that advice to heart in its selective coverage of the saga of Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, and that its selectivity has kept a noteworthy story very quiet.

Minneapolis CBS television affiliate WCCO reported the following on an FBI agent's court hearing testimony on Tuesday:

Here is most of the text of the story accompanying the video, which generally tracks the its content (bolds are mine):

FBI Agent: Terror Suspect Once Worked At MSP Airport

A Twin Cities terror suspect who once worked at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport told another suspect he had the ability to build rockets that could take down planes at 2,000 feet.

That testimony came from an FBI agent during a hearing on Tuesday for Abdirizak Warsame. It’s to determine whether he should remain in jail pending the outcome of his case.

Warsame was arrested earlier this month and is the 10th young Minnesotan to be charged in the last year with trying to join ISIS.

... Agent Higgins also testified Warsame worked as a baggage handler at MSP Airport from April to August of 2014. The agent said Warsame was at one point a leader, or Emir, of a group of friends who plotted for more than a year to leave the country to travel to Syria to join ISIS. The agent testified Warsame supplied members of the group with phone numbers of ISIS fighters, including one member of the group who ended up dying in Syria.

... Under questioning from the defense, the FBI agent testified there was no evidence that Warsame had rockets capable of shooting down planes. In the end, a Magistrate Becky Thorson ruled that Warsame posed a flight risk and is a danger to the community.

... Metropolitan Airports Commission Spokesperson Pat Hogan told us that Warsame actually worked at the Airport for a longer period. Hogan said Warsame had a security badge to work on de-icing from December 2013 to April 2014, and that from April 2014 through August 2014, he had a security badge to work for Swissport, a baggage and cargo handling company at the airport.

So the key takeaways are:

  1. Warsame bragged that  he could "build rockets that could take down planes at 2,000 feet."
  2. The FBI had no evidence that he had done so, or even could do so.
  3. In a fact known by the FBI, Warsame worked in baggage handling at MSP Airport.
  4. In a fact apparently not known by the FBI — or, perhaps, which the FBI had decided not to reveal to the court — Warsame "had a security badge to work on de-icing from December 2013 to April 2014" — a winter which was extraordinarily cold.

It's not difficult to make a case that Item 4 is at least as important as more important than the other three items listed.

Steve Karnowski's Tuesday evening coverage of the Warsame story at 7:27 p.m. Eastern Time at the Associated Press did not include Item 4. WCCO's story has a time-stamp of 6:39 p.m. Central Time, but would have been broadcast during its 6:00 p.m. local news broadcast at the latest, and likely even earlier in the 5-5:30 p.m (6:00-6:30 Eastern) time slot.

Even if Karnowski wasn't aware of Warsame's de-icing duties at 7:27 Eastern Time, he or someone else at AP should have long since updated the wire service's story or written up a new one to report Item 4.

On Thursday's Rush Limbaugh show, substitute host Mark Steyn questioned how such a story, particularly its subject's involvement with de-icing duties at a cold-weather airport during the winter, could have been so widely ignored by the establishment press: 

"Nobody's covering this story of Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport hiring ISIS supporters to deice the planes -- and if they did cover it, Obama would say, 'Oh, they're just trying to get ratings.' And Donald Trump is the crazy guy?"

I would argue that most of the answer lies in how the AP, which is for all practical purposes the nation's de facto news gatekeeper, chose to ignore that obviously newsworthy detail. A Google News search on Warsame's first and last name (not in quotes, sorted by date, including "very similar" items) returned over 90 results, most of which represented the Kornacki's AP coverage, often sliced down to three paragraphs. Adding the word "de-icing" and "de-ice" to the Google News search reduced the number of results to four and three, respectively.

I would also raise the possibility that in his NPR interview, President Obama was implying that news outlets which continue in his view to devote excessive coverage to domestic terror-related law enforcement activities and events might be on the receiving end of additional government scrutiny. Such comments by a Republican or conservative president would have been instantly interpreted that way by a hostile press corps.

As Greg Gutfeld at Fox News noted earlier this week, Obama's criticism of the press for supposedly overdoing its reporting on terrorism is a two-faced position, given how opportunistic the president has been in personally injecting himself into, and therefore hyping media coverage of, incidents involving non-terrorist killers who have used guns to kill large numbers of people:

I get it, ISIS are bogeymen aided by us to get ratings, which then helps ISIS recruit. Now this is the same logic that's wisely used to condemn the media saturation after mass shootings: Future attacks are fueled by all the infamy. But that media saturation, Obama doesn't mind because it serves his pet cause which is gun control. But when it comes to terror, he sings a different tune. Take a chill pill, he says. Guns kill more people than people with guns. And check out this headline from the New York Times digest, quote, "Nation's fears over shadow Obama's achievements." So that's terrors true evil: that Captain Precious doesn't get his due. But it's too late.

It's hard to argue with Gutfeld's assessment.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.