He became news because he fulfilled a need for the press. They had to have another side to the ground zero mosque story. Why? Because members of the press are total suckers for "both sidesism." There is nothing they like better in a news story than to present two conflicting views and to pronounce that "both sides" are guilty of provocation, mistrust, violence or bad faith. They are confident that truth nearly always lies between two extremes.Yeah I don't buy that, frankly. Partially because of this report from Salon, which indicates that this has been a much bigger story overseas.
. . . They had to turn over rocks in rural Florida to find the handlebar moustache-sporting Quran burner.
But attempting to present "both sides" as having their extremists, their provocateurs, is quite simply absurd in this case.
Lynch said that the first story in his files on the Quran burning is this July 28 report from the Saudi TV station al-Arabiya. That in turn "generated discussion on jihadist forums and other media outlets way back then," Lynch said.In other words, this was actually a story, not just something pulled out of thin air (or Florida air). This has been a story in the middle east and as such, I think Petraus needed to comment on it. And once he commented on it, well, it naturally became a much bigger story.
By that point in July, according to Howard Kurtz's timeline, the story had gotten some play in the U.S. but had not attracted much interest.
Meanwhile, the story was percolating through the media in Muslim-majority countries, where it was often framed as the latest and most egregious example of rising Islamophobia in the United States, according to Gregg Carlstrom, a journalist with Al-Jazeera English who is based in Doha, Qatar. And given the history of angry reaction to real or perceived vandalism of the Quran, there's no doubt the stakes were high. In Afghanistan and Indonesia there have since been protests of the Quran burning.
This was the context in which Petraeus was asked about -- and decided to comment on -- the Quran burning in an interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter on Sunday.