Terry Jones' Cunning Stunt

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 9 2010 10:02 AM

Terry Jones' Cunning Stunt

The most useful thing I've seen about Rev. Terry Jones' plan to get media attention by threatening to burn Qurans is Robert Mackey's attempt to figure out why people care about him now.

As the 236 viewers of   the Sept. 12, 2009, episode of [his YouTube] show may recall, Mr. Jones staged an anti-Islam protest on the lastanniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but the few reporters atthat event, also attended by about 30 members of his church, were fromlocal newspapers like The Gainesville Sun and The Independent Florida Alligator ... This year, thanks to the attention generated by the promise of amore televisual form of protest—the burning of about 200 copies ofIslam’s holy book—national and international news crews and theirsatellite trucks are lined up on the lawn of the church Mr. Jones callsthe Dove World Outreach Center.

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Yes: This is a media story, not a political story. I like some of what Fred Kaplan wrote on Tuesday, particularly how he pointed out that this is not our first media freak-out about One Man's Quest to Be Stupid, but I think he offered Republicans a bit too much if they would come out and condemn Jones. How hard is it to condemn Jones? Pretty damn easy, which is why every Republican who was asked about him by reporters took a look at that 1 mph softball and smacked it out of the park. It even worked like a stain-cleanser for their politicking on the Cordoba Muslim community center!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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