Surprise: 'Today' Covers Iranian Who Drove SUV Through UNC Crowd

Who would have thought it?: in the crucial first half-hour of their respective shows this morning, Fox & Friends Weekend didn't cover the incident at the University of North Carolina in which an Iranian drove an SUV through a crowd, injuring five people - but the Today show did.

Interviewed by Today co-host Lester Holt, one of the students who was injured stated: "I personally think it was definitely, definitely intentional, for sure."

As the injured student described the incident, involving an SUV driven by recent UNC grad Mohammed Reza Taheriazar of Iran:

"I look up and i see a car coming through in the middle of campus, which is pretty odd to begin with. I keep walking. He's going really slow. It doesn't seem like he has any malicious intent. All of a sudden I just hear the car's engine rev. I look up and the car is right there coming right at me, about five feet from me. I ended up on the hood and luckily rolled off without serious injuries."

For the record, the injured student said he was sore but "doing all right" this morning.

Today reported the FBI statement that Taheriazar "allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims." Today also displayed Taheriazar's photo twice during the segment.

An aside: Google the incident, and you'll find that virtually every headline is along the lines "SUV Plows Through Crowd", suggesting the culprit was the inanimate object [and a hated one at that in enviro circles] rather than its Iranian driver.

One notable exception is a column in the conservative publication 'Human Events' flatly entitled "Religious Terrorism Strikes Chapel Hill". The piece was written by Jillian Bandes, a former columnist for the UNC school newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. Bandes had been dismissed from her position as columnist "after writing in support of racial profiling of Arabs in airports around the anniversary of 9/11." Her column in turn links to a story by a local ABC affiliate providing additional details about Taheriazar and leaving little doubt that the act was both intentional and motivated by religious animus. Last month, Muslim students at UNC protested the publication in The Daily Tar Heel of an original cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.

In any case, if Today's segment was not a hard-hitting investigative piece on religious terrorism in the U.S., credit NBC nonetheless for running it at all.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.