Making Sense of the Media
4:41 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Is Terry Jones Exaggerating His Role in Muhammad Film?

Rev. Terry Jones has a knack for getting publicity, so it is no surprise he’s inserted himself into the latest controversy involving Islam.

The surprise for Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute is how the media lets Jones get away with it.

"The media apparently are biting on this without asking some critical questions,” she said.

“Specifically, how did Terry Jones have anything to do with the violence? And the answer is, he didn’t!”

The riots started after segments were shown on Egyptian television of a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. And they learned about it from a blog post by Coptic-American Morris Sadek.

As riots flared across Egypt and Libya, Jones told the media that he supported the controversial film. Later, media outlets reported that Jones “promoted” the film.

Soon, the national and international media were flocking to his tiny church in Gainesville.

It was a well-worn path they had trod two years earlier, when Jones set off riots by threatening to burn the Koran. He later followed through on the threat and posted the video to YouTube.

But McBride says there’s little evidence Jones had anything to do with the latest film, "Innocence of Muslims," which was posted to YouTube by someone named "Sam Bacile." It is unclear who actually financed the film.

The riots were going on long before Jones spoke out in favor of it.

“I think Jones is directly contributing to a distortion, and a lot of journalists are not calling him on it,” she said.

“A lot of journalists, it seems so plausible that he was part of this, they’re not slowing down and asking critical questions,” McBride said.

According to TBO.com:

The controversial film "Innocence of Muslims" was reportedly promoted in a blog by Coptic-American activist Morris Sadek that referred to Jones' "International Judge Muhammad Day," a mock 9/11 "trial" of the prophet.

Jones supported the film in an online statement Tuesday but reportedly wasn't aware of it until after the violence broke out. He then said he would show a trailer promoting the movie on his website, StandUpAmerica.org.