MEDIA WATCH: Media sees terrorist attack as a declaration of waragainst US

There is already talk that like December 7, 1941, the date

September 11, 2001, will be "a day that will live in infamy." But the

recent terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has

proved far deadlier than Pearl Harbor, as USA Today (September 12)


The Los Angeles Times (September 13) observed that this month's attack

was also worse than the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War, which

had stood for nearly 140 years as the bloodiest single day in American

history. Now with combined figures of missing persons and those who have

died surpassing the 5,000 mark, September 11, 2001 may have even more

historical significance than Antietam.

In measuring editorial support for a formal declaration of war in the

wake of the attack, Carma found that dozens of newspaper editorials

wrote that America was already at war. The media was not waiting for the

US government to make any formal declarations.

Newspapers also recognized that the difficulty in initially identifying

the enemy makes this battle unlike any previous war America has


In New York, Newsday (September 12) published an editorial with the

headline: "It's war, but against whom?" The media noted that this would

not be a conventional war among nation-states. With no one claiming

responsibility for the September 11 attacks, the media, if not the

government, was unsure of the foe.

Commentators urged Americans not to react blindly in their anger. With

fingers most often pointed at Saudi-born Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan,

there was frequent caution that Americans should not infringe upon the

civil liberties of Arab-Americans, as happened to Japanese-Americans

during World War II.

A number of editorials also focused on how the coordinated attack could

have happened, lamenting the fact that US intelligence and security

personnel were caught flat-footed. USA Today (September 12) wondered,

"Why was our intelligence so lacking?"

In covering President Bush's statement that the US will not distinguish

between those who commit acts of terrorism and those who harbor them -

the media urged America to build a coalition of allies. These reports

looked approvingly on the fact that NATO had deemed the attack on the US

to be an attack on each of its members. An editorial in The New York

Times (September 13) read, "Terrorism operates internationally. The war

against it must be organized internationally as well."

A number of editorials identified the September 11 attack as a pivotal

event in US history and argued that America will never be the same


There had previously been a perception that terrorists would never be

successful in attacking American soil. However, the inconveniences of

increased security, and the demands of war will erase any kind of

innocence, according to the media.

Although editorial coverage addressed additional topics such as acts of

heroism in the face of this tragedy and the need for grieving, there was

also an unshakable belief that a united America should and must pull

together to defend itself against attack.

Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found


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