Our View: Media sensationalizes Syrian coverage

In the early morning hours on Friday, President Donald Trump sent 56 Tomahawk missiles to an airfield in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, to “send a message” to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The attacks came days after the southwestern Syrian town was gassed, killing 86 citizens.

It didn’t take long for images from both of these events to begin showing up on the global 24-hour news cycle. The images themselves were visceral.

First, it was the victims of the poison attack. Images and videos ranged from children choking and foaming at the mouth, to bodies lying lifeless in the street. Then it was the United States’ counterattack, as they released footage — provided by the Pentagon — of the missiles being fired from two U.S. Navy destroyers anchored in the Mediterranean Sea.

Brian Williams, MSNBC host of “The 11th Hour,” described the footage of the missiles while on the air: “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

It’s only fitting that Williams — who was suspended from his position as anchor of NBC Nightly News for sensationalizing his reporting in the Iraq War — has become the poster child for the widespread disease of sensationalism in the media.

Journalists on the ground in Syria have been churning out reports in hopes of showing the world what has been going on in the conflict. Those reports, however, have been used by both ends of the political and media spectrum to help forward their own goals.

The stories from Syria are heartbreaking and deserve to be told fairly, not in the matter they have and are being told now. While biased news reporting doesn’t always entail “fake news,” manipulating the public in times of crisis by using photographs and footage from overseas, walks a dangerous line of journalistic ethics.

The people deserve to be told what’s happening. Nothing should be censored or skewed to a certain viewpoint. It’s just the facts — simple as that.