The information vacuum surrounding the Malaysian airliner disappearance has not deterred some from peddling an Islamophobic terrorism narrative. The day after the tragedy, Rupert Murdoch sent out a tweet: “777 crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China. Chance for US to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies.” The missive suits Murdoch’s purpose in a number of ways. He has enormous business interests in China and is eager to be on the regime’s right side. (He once banned BBC from his satellite service’s China transmission to placate the authorities.) It also fits in with the “fear the Muslims” line that many of his media outlets, especially Fox News, peddle to their audience. His underlings are all too eager to parrot this story. “Does your first thought go towards terrorism?” Sean Hannity asked the guests on his March 13 show. “I have—I am unapologetic in saying that's where my thoughts go to.” One of Hannity’s guests was Brigitte Gabriel, a hard-line Muslim basher who is active on the lecture circuit promoting her hate. “She presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion,” the New York Times has reported. Of course, Gabriel agreed wholeheartedly with Hannity. The problem is that there’s little evidence so far to back up such assertions. “While terrorism has not yet been ruled out as a factor, authorities say there have not yet been any credible claims of responsibility from terrorist groups,” reports Canada’s CTV News. “The head of Interpol says on March 11 that he did not believe the plane disappeared because of a terrorist incident.” The BBC has reported that “the head of Interpol, Ronald Kenneth Noble, said: ‘The more information we get, the more we're inclined to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident.’ ” The initial speculation about terrorism was set off by the presence aboard the plane with stolen passports of two passengers—and the fact that they were Iranian. It turned out to be a red herring. “Officials have now identified both individuals and say they are not believed to have any terror links,” states the BBC. “ ‘Quite a few people … do fly, especially in that part of the world, with improper identification or false identification,’ former head of the U.S. air security agency John Magaw said. When an Air India Express plane crashed in Mangalore in 2010 en route from Dubai, with the loss of 158 lives, as many as ten fraudulent or stolen passports were recovered.” But such clarifications have done little to dampen the speculation that terrorism is behind the downing of the plane, fueling fear of terrorism and Muslims. In a crass bid to pump up ratings—and to cash in on Islamophobia—a number of media entities are engaging in reckless speculation. That is not journalism. Photo: Shutterstock.com.