Many sponsors of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, including Coca-Cola, AT&T, and The Yankees, have pulled out or lessened support due to the parade’s apparent involvement with a “terrorist”, as many articles have called him.
National Puerto Rican Day Parade representative have come out to say that this year’s parade will be honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been in prison for the last 35 years because of robberies, conspiracy, and explosives. He is one of the influential members of the F.A.L.N., a Marxist-Lenin militant group responsible for many bombings on U.S. soil from 1974 to 1983.
This involvement sparked immediate controversy as Lopez Rivera has been labeled as a terrorist. Breitbart claims he is a “terrorist freed by Obama” in their headline on the incident. The President commuted Lopez Rivera’s long sentence, potentially agreeing with the idea that he was a “political prisoner” rather than a terrorist. Breitbart points out Lopez Rivera’s title as a terrorist that was pardoned by the liberal President, effectively arguing their mission of exposing liberal bias.
The New York Times more objectively portrays the polarity of Lopez Rivera. Instead of the strong word “terrorist,” the word nationalist is used in its place. The article focuses more on the history of Lopez Rivera’s involvement in the militant group and how he views himself. He does not view himself as a terrorist, according to the article. As well, the Parade does not view him as a terrorist, as they named him a National Freedom Hero.
“Terrorist” is a hot word in media currently, especially with the recent bombings in Manchester that took over news outlets on Monday and Tuesday. Journalism’s responsibly is to fairly and accurately portray a story, especially in the case of hot and offensive topics. If a news outlet claims someone a terrorist and another claims they are a freedom fighter, the outlet should ensure both sides of the story are told, similar to the NYT article.