As the murder trial of Major Nidal Hasan gets underway, much of the American public is unaware of both the trial and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting spree that Hasan has admitted to carrying out. This obliviousness comes in spite of dedicated, non-stop coverage from the nation’s major news organizations.
Hasan, an army psychiatrist who had served for more than 20 years, admitted to the November 5, 2009 massacre in which he killed 13 people and wounded scores more. Despite the large number of American servicemen and women shot in the attack, as well as subsequent acts of bravery in returning fire on Major Hasan, the American public has other things to think about, apparently, such as Taco Bell’s new waffle taco, the upcoming release of “Kick-Ass 2,” and the conspiracy against A-Rod.
The tepid show of public interest in Hasan, his crime, or the victims comes amid devoted focus on Fort Hood from the nation’s largest media organizations. CNN has been broadcasting around-the-clock coverage and commentary about the trial. Host Fareed Zakaria has called the trial “of utter importance to all Americans, to know once and for all what was at the root of this psychopath’s motives, and to see that he is punished in full accordance with military law.”
The New York Times devoted its entire Wednesday front page to the trial, and the paper’s esteemed columnist Thomas Friedman implored the public for an outpouring of sympathy and prayers for the families of the unarmed soldiers who were gunned down by a violent nutcase in the middle of a normal workday.
Other shocking aspects to the trial — such as that Hasan has admitted guilt, is acting as his own attorney, or that he is putting victims in the terrifying position of having to face him during cross-examination — is not sufficiently interesting. As least, not as interesting as Reese Witherspoon getting pulled over by the police, or Kate and William’s royal baby.
“I would like to ask the nation to keep the Fort Hood victims and their families in your hearts,” Thomas Friedman wrote. “And may this wicked slaughterer of his fellow soldiers be condemned to the lowest circle of hell. Hello? America? Are you there?”
Rachel Maddow, host of the MSNBC’s eponymous news show, also devoted an entire program to the Fort Hood shooting and trial. She called the shooting “to date, the biggest act of homegrown terrorism inspired by jihadist ideology.” She also said that the shooting was a reminder of “what sort of sick thinking we are up against in the war of ideas.”
“Is anybody listening to me?” she added.
Some observers are speculating that Americans are, in fact, being receptive to the media’s loud appeal for solidarity, and that Americans truly do care — it’s just that they are busy, and they have problems thinking about two things at the same time, especially when there’s a rumor that Justin Bieber has a fake lizard tattoo.