Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the Oklahoma City Bombing

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The televised images from the September 11 attacks exemplified how terrorists exploit the news media to get attention, spread fear and anxiety, and expose the weaknesses of the American superpower. September 11 was the culmination of decades of anti-American terrorism that, until the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, had not been felt on American soil. This book examines the response of the U.S. media, public, and decision makers to major acts of anti-American terrorism during the period from 1979-1994. Focusing on events abroad, such as the Iranian hostage crisis and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103, Nacos describes how terrorists successfully manipulate the linkages between the news media, public opinion, and presidential decision making through the staging of violent spectaculars. A preface examines the dilemmas faced by the government and media in response to domestic terrorism perpetrated by Americans against Americans in 1995. Nacos argues that government acquiescence to mass-media pressure in the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing, as well as the media's agonizing decision to publish the Unabomber's 35,000-word manifesto, represented a victory for terrorism that could only encourage more terrorism.