Ethnic Profiling in Journalism

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Wednesday’s Times had an article on an arrest in a terror case that took pains to identify the suspect’s ethnicity:

Federal authorities in New York announced that a Swede of Lebanese
[my emphasis], wanted in connection with establishing a terrorist training
camp in Bly, Ore. in 1999, was extradited to the United States on

Officials said the defendant, Oussama Abdullah Kassir, was taken into custody in the Czech Republic by FBI agents…

Myself, I am very curious about the ethnic/religious background of people in the news. God knows I bring up the Jewishness of public figures all the time. At a news conference today, Nancy Pelosi was asked her opinion of some purportedly-offensive cultural event in California in light of her being a Catholic. I thought it was a good question. I’m just surprised by the fact that ethnic background is the very first thing the article says about the guy. Presumably because that explains his role in a terror connection. My friend Dan Swanson, who pointed it out to me, says there’s a double standard at work; do newspapers label Scooter Libby’s Jewishness? Would they ever do so in the first paragraph?

Speaking of which, I always wondered about Libby’s poetic email to Judy Miller that became evidence against him:

Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They
turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to
work—and life.

Which roots were those?



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