A Fox News correspondent noting the Chechen background of the Boston bombings suspects described "a very, very brutal place and group of people," while CNN said the mens' ethnicity might be totally irrelevant.
The different approaches came after days of news organizations going too far in their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. The suspects' background was scrutinized because of what it might say about their motives. But that raised the possibility of widespread stereotyping, just as 9/11 spawned violence against American Muslims and people mistaken for Muslims.
The suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told reporters that all Chechens were being judged because of the actions of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who remains at large, and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died overnight.
"He put a shame on our family. He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity," Tsarni said of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. "Turn yourself in."
Tsarni said he wanted to "kneel" in front of the victims in the Boston bombings "seeking their forgiveness."
He spoke as countless news stories circulated Friday about the suspects and the history of violent rebellion in the region.
Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin generalized about Chechens soon after former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speculated that the brothers may have been part of a sleeper cell.
"Remember: Given their Chechen background, they hated Russia," Griffin said Friday morning. "You heard Ambassador Bolton outlining the terrorism that Chechens used to carry out against Russians. It is a breakaway republic, it is a Muslim republic. ... When I was working in Moscow we used to receive videotapes in the mail showing the most gruesome kidnapping tapes of Russian soldiers who were being held in Chechnya underground and being tortured. This is a very, very brutal place and group of people. But again, it's a little odd that they are carrying out their attack against the U.S. when for most Chechnyans, Russia is the enemy."
Fox News did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Griffin's remarks.
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CNN's Jim Walsh and Erin Burnett, meanwhile, stressed that the suspects' Chechen roots did not mean they had anything to do with Chechen separatists who have carried out past attacks in Russia. "It could just be two men inspired by something completely domestic," said Burnett.
CNN and Fox News were both among news organizations that had to pull back from initial reports of an arrest Wednesday after authorities denied it.
And the The New York Post on Thursday put two young men on its cover with the headline "Bag Men," saying they were being sought for questioning. But the tabloid later had to admit they had been completely cleared of any involvement in the bombing.
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