"Non-News" is bad news for NPR's audience: bin Laden son story

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NPR's recent news report offers listeners "non-news" reportage.

NPR’s headline sounded newsworthy enough: “Bin Laden Son Reported Killed In Pakistan.”

Mary Louise Kelly writes in her lede: “U.S. officials believe Saad bin Laden — a son of Osama bin Laden — has been killed by an American missile in Pakistan.” Note the keyword “believe.” It is a beginning salvo of a downhill slide into “non-news” reporting courtesy of your tax dollars.

Kelly explains that Saad bin Laden, who they believe “to be in his late 20s,” “reportedly spent years under house arrest in Iran before traveling last year to Pakistan.”

Again, she writes, emphasis mine, “It’s believed he was killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a U.S. Predator drone sometime this year.”

Kelly bravely continues her non-news report with–you guessed it–more non-news. Apparently, not only does NPR not know if bin Laden’s son is dead, how old he is, or when this year he was killed (that is, if he was killed), but they also confirm they don’t have any evidence that he is dead.

Kelly writes: “A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official tells NPR that without a body to conduct DNA tests on, it’s hard to be completely sure.”

However, don’t worry. Kelly assures listeners that her anonymous source “characterized U.S. spy agencies as being ’80 to 85 percent ‘ certain that Saad bin Laden is dead.”

If all this were not bad enough, Kelly’s report ends with her informing us, through her unnamed official sources, that Saad bin Laden was “not a major player” and “wasn’t important enough to target personally.” Turns out his death was likely a side consequence of other anti- terrorism actions. Saad was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time”

Kelly quotes the official as concluding: “We make a big deal out of him because of his last name.”

Teresa B, a NPR listener had her own conclusion: “This piece was actually about nothing…when there is so much more happening in this campaign against the terrorists gaining strength in that part of the world.”

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‘Non-News’ is bad news for NPR’s audience: bin Laden son story

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