Imagine a man – let’s call him Fredo – sees another man set a building on fire with people inside it. But instead of sounding the alarm, Fredo picks up and throws a nearby can of gasoline on the growing blaze and then calls the local Fire Department to report that there’s a fire, on the other side of town.
Then, being a Millenial, he proceeds to record ensuing events on his phone for YouTube and Instagram.
Even though Fredo didnt start it, he is just as much an arsonist, and possibly even more responsible for the lives lost, the injuries sustained and the property damaged in the fire as the man who did.
The media is Fredo. To be more exact, when it comes to anything having to do with race in America, the media plays the role of Fredo the Arsonist.
They may not start the fire, but they make sure they throw in more fuel and sabotage any effort to extinguish it for as long as possible.
Ask yourself; has there ever been any situation with a possible racial cast to it, in the last 20 years, in which mainstream journalism has actually urged calm and carried out a dispassionate examination of the facts before levelling the most incendiary charges?
Has there ever been an interracial altercation in which the media did not deliberately seek to exacerbate racial and ethnic tensions and pit Americans against each other?
The answer is no.
From the editing of George Zimmerman’s call with the police in the Trayvon tragedy to the false “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative in Ferguson, Missouri, to treating as legitimate Stacey Abrams’ claims of losing her election to “disenfranchisement”, the media takes every opportunity to drive a wedge between the races.
I will be honest; I used to wince whenever I heard Trump call the media the “enemy of the people.” Now, I believe he undersold the situation.
By refusing to call out and denounce the rioting and destruction on screen, and instead offering defenses for them and attacking people trying to restore order as was done on CNN, the media added fuel to the fire.
The twist in the tale that Derek Chauvin and George Floyd knew each other and butted heads came out days ago. But the media refused to explore the possibility that Chauvin’s actions were the result of a personal vendetta and his own depravity rather than racial animus – which could have tamped down the unrest.
The media could have referenced the gruesome recorded death of Tony Timpa, a white man killed in August 2019 when three Dallas police officers held him handcuffed on the ground for 13 minutes with a knee on his back. Like Floyd, Timpa pleaded for help multiple times before he succumbed.
Timpa’s death directly refutes “Charlamagne tha God’s” claim during his interview with Rush Limbaugh that what happened to George Floyd could never happen to a white man.
There are numerous other cases, including the utterly senseless killing of Daniel Shaver by a police officer in 2017.
These stories are not to justify what happened to George Floyd or to excuse Derek Chauvin’s actions, but to deflate the incendiary narrative that these losses of life, through negligence, cruelty, or just bad tactics, occur only when the suspect is black.
This might have provided a moment of calm.
Instead, not only did the most venerable names in journalism; ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc. throw gasoline on the fire, they slashed the fire engine’s tires and cut the hoses.
In a world where the media was actually motivated by a good faith desire to shed more light than heat, Americans would hear that there were just 9 unarmed black victims of fatal police shootings in 2019 versus 19 white unarmed victims in a country where 900 thousand law enforcement officers registered 375 million on-the-job interactions with civilians. This is not accounting for the fact that at least 5 of the unarmed men were attacking officers when they were shot.
A responsible non-arsonist media would challenge the Black Lives Matter notion that there is an “epidemic” of police killing unarmed black men in the United States.
Even if the 2019 number of unarmed black men were more than doubled to 20, the fact that there are more than 44 million black Americans means that the chances of an unarmed black person being shot dead by the police is 0.000045%. For an unarmed black man, it’s 0.000099%. For both armed and unarmed black men, that percentage is approximately 0.001%.
Assuming that 13% of the 375 million police interactions were with black Americans, the numbers remain only marginally different.
Whatever the case, the data shows that there is no such epidemic. That these occurrences are vanishingly rare. That black mothers need not fear that their sons’ encountering a police officer is going to end up with him in the morgue.
Something needs to be done. I just don’t know what.
The killing of George Floyd and the aftermath has revealed a particularly ugly truth about the media. After stoking the flames, scenes of widespread looting, vandalism and assaults were described as “mostly peaceful” even as thousands lost hard-won livelihoods and more than a dozen people have lost their lives.
Ali Velshi standing in front of burning building insisting that he was witnessing a “peaceful protest” is the most apt example of the media’s role as America’s Chief Racial Arsonists.