At the top of today’s edition of Fox News’s “Special Report,” anchor Bret Baier showed an image of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh as he stood in flames lit by his captors with the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS. Baier gave viewers an opportunity to turn away from the screen:
Tonight we are going to show you some of the images ISIS has put out from a long, slickly produced video. 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. But the reason we are showing you this is to bring you the reality of Islamic terrorism and to label it as such. We feel you need to see it, so we will put up one of these images on your screen right now.
That image depicted Kaseasbeh in a plume of flames up to his waist. Airing the photo represents a quick evolution at Fox News on this matter, as a network spokeswoman earlier told the Erik Wemple Blog that it hadn’t surfaced photos of the captive in flames.
As we wrote earlier, journalism hasn’t built up a set of best practices for an occasion in which a captive of terrorists gets thrown in a cage and killed. Somehow news organizations need to tell their audience what happened without glorifying the perpetrators or advancing their propaganda. Fox News ably accomplished this balancing act.
Other news outlets, including CNN, have declined to show this barbarism.