#OneReportingStandard: Hypocrisy in Reporting about Race
by Leonard Benton
This first appeared in The Havok Journal December 22, 2014.
Five days before Christmas in New York, two police officers were executed by a man who is believed to have posted his intention prior to the act and also believed to have shot his girlfriend before he encountered police. But he did not encounter them directly. He walked up behind their parked patrol car and shot them in the head them without warning.
New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos were executed. There is no other word that conveys any more accurate description. The assailant, Ismaaiyl Brinsley determined himself to have the necessary authority to act out justice by his standards and he did so. The most interesting part of all of this is that no media outlet, even four hours after the shooting, has used the race of either the victims or the shooter. None. If you search the sites the only time the color black is used is in reference to Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. That’s it. And as for the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, he is identified by name and called Mr. Brinsley, but never given a racial description.
He is also listed in some sites as the ‘alleged’ shooter because obviously the information is still coming in. And yet, when a “White police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager,” race was all the media could report about.
Every story from every media outlet used “black teenager” and “unarmed black teenager” virtually to the exclusion of anything else and when the name of the individual was announced, they did not drop the descriptions, but simply added the name at the end, “unarmed black teenager Michael Brown”. I would use the word conspiracy here and while some might object let’s look at the facts. Understand clearly, this is not about race; it is about the reporting of situations in racial terms when the benefit is to gain the media more readers or viewers and to incite more violence to gain more stories.
The majority population in America is white. They make up the most viewership of any media source you care to name by simple arithmetic. The question from the media perspective is what is going to attract the most attention? If you intend to stir the racial pot how do you do it? You make the white people outraged and afraid.
In the most high profile stories of the day, we will pick three; Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, race and the appearance of race were the key reporting factors. George Zimmerman was declared white, though I am sure his mother found that surprising, and the case was tried in the media before it ever made it to court.
The picture of Trayvon Martin was of a young 12-year old, not the larger scowling teenager making gangster signs. Who chose that picture? They were all available and they could have picked any from his Facebook account or from his parents. Why did they use the picture of the innocent looking young teen? They chose the picture that was going to inflame opinion more, period. It went to court and the result was the ‘victim’ was the perpetrator.
In the Michael Brown case, the media continually pointed to the fact that he was black, that he was unarmed, and that he was a teenager. They flat out refused to recognize that he was considered an adult of age 18 and insisted on showing the most precocious picture they could find. Again, the intent was to inflame the situation. They want to focus on “Hands up” but forget to acknowledge that as the lie that it was. The case went before the Grand Jury and found that the officer was not at fault.
In Eric Gardner’s case, the illicit cigarette sales were the focus and his mediation of the neighborhood and the choke hold. “I Can’t Breathe” became the slogan but completely ignored the fact that by saying it, you can do it. I have been choked out. You cannot speak when you are being choked. All you do is wheeze. As for how he died, he had a heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He was not choked to death. And again the case went before the Grand Jury and found that the officer was not at fault.
Law Enforcement Officers cannot pick and choose which laws they intend to enforce. But here are three facts. Trayvon Martin closed the distance with George Zimmerman and began to beat him. Michael Brown assaulted Officer Darren Wilson and tried to take his gun. Eric Gardner refused to obey the instructions by police and actively resisted their attempts to take him into custody.
But the media did not focus on that. If they had focused solely on those three facts, there would not be an issue. Each case was tried in court and in every case the jury found that the ‘victim’ as announced by the media, was the perpetrator. The problem is that people believe that a conspiracy is at work but they are picking the wrong target.
It is not the police that are out to get people and trump up charges or abuse their authority. It is the media that trumps up stories and hypes the facts in order to get people riled up.
They used the most inflammatory pictures and verbiage that they could in order to get people watching, reading, and commenting. The media organizations are directly responsible not only for the riots that they instigated, but the deaths of these two officers who were murdered by someone seeking supposed vengeance.