The tabloid’s decision to lump in National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre with a group of convicted and accused mass murderers had the predictable effect of riling up the Second Amendment crowd on social media.
But the paper also got a chorus of "amens" (perhaps the wrong metaphor for the "prayer-shaming" publication?) from gun control advocates.
Lost in the mix of boos and applause is a real conversation about how the media applies the "terrorist" label. The Post’s Paul Farhi waded in thoughtfully last year, after a white couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, went on a shooting spree in Las Vegas.
Few media accounts have described the Millers as terrorists or their actions as terrorism.
The Washington Post avoided both terms in a news story on Monday. The Los Angeles Times wrote that the couple died "shouting messages of antigovernment revolution” but made no mention of terrorism. The Associated Press, the most widely distributed news service in the world, hadn’t used either term in multiple stories through Tuesday afternoon.
And that has prompted suggestions of a double standard.
“Without a doubt, if these individuals had been Muslim, it not only would be called ‘terrorism’ but it would have made national and international headlines for weeks,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based group. “It was an act of terror, but when it’s not associated with Muslims it’s just a day story that comes and goes.”
It appears that the Daily News was going for a similar commentary. But its provocative presentation has pitted readers against each other in a digital shouting match, instead of a meaningful debate.