Being a former journalist, I'm usually quite defensive about criticism of the media. But this – probably tongue-in-cheek – letter in Newsweek got me thinking. Why doesn't the press report in this spirit, even if not in these exact words? Here's the letter from Eileen McHenry from Brighton, Michigan (Newsweek, January 18, 2010):
Whenever an act of terrorism occurs, we respond just the way the terrorist wants: worried discussions about whether America is safe. When we respond with fear, we finish the job the terrorist started. A better way to cover the story would be with commentary like: "A fool would-be terrorist set his own keister on fire on a plane approaching Detroit Metro Airport. He was easily subdued by passengers and his rear end extinguished by a flight attendant. He is now being treated at taxpayer expense. America is laughing at Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab."
Brilliant reporting, Eileen. And I absolutely agree that we only play into the terrorists' hands when we react with fear to every stupid attempt at an attack.