WASHINGTON — Security expert Daniel Cohen criticized the media for its decision to publish Islamic State propaganda in the wake of Fox News’ decision Tuesday to use a video depicting the grisly death of a captured Jordanian pilot.
Cohen, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, stressed the need for media outlets to control the publication of these videos. He said, “It won’t give me more knowledge as a civilian to see it.”
Cohen called the media “a symptom” of the Islamic State’s videos during his talk entitled “ISIS’ Influence in Social Media” at The Heritage Foundation.
Fox News is the only news outlet that has published the full 22-minute video showing Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh’s gruesome death. The final few minutes of the video shows al-Kaseasbeh standing in a cage as a line of fuel is lit and burns him alive.
John Moody, Fox News executive vice president and executive editor, issued a press release defending the organization’s decision to publish the video.
“After careful consideration, we decided that giving readers of FoxNews.com the option to see for themselves the barbarity of ISIS outweighed legitimate concerns about the graphic nature of the video. Online users can choose to view or not view this disturbing content,” he said.
Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank, said there is an ethical question every reporter and news organization must ask themselves before deciding to publish violent warfare content.
He said, “Ethical decision-making requires that the journalist considers all alternatives available before making this open to public scrutiny.”
Although the purpose of the video is to show the horrendous actions of the executioners, Clark cautions media outlets on the effects of publication.
“Let’s also remember that it is a real person here and not an actor who is being burned up before our eyes,” he said. “He has a life, he has a history, he has friends and loved ones, and their cares and concerns need to be balanced with this decision-making.”