Conservative Media Coverage of Michael Brown’s Killing Is Embarrassing
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a considerable amount of attention paid to the events of August 9 in Ferguson Missouri. Unfortunately, the color of your skin or your political affiliation plays a big part in how you view the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, by Ferguson police offer Darren Wilson. If you are white or Republican, you are likely to think the racial component of the shooting of Michael Brown is getting far too much attention. If you are black or a Democrat, you are likely to feel the opposite is true. This divide suggests we don’t live in a post-racial America like many would have you believe. The problem is that the typical white person’s experience with law enforcement is completely different than the typical black person’s experience. As a result, each group has a drastically different view of the events in Ferguson. Compounding this issue is how the media covers such events. As Bill O’Reilly suggested, “Decent people step back and allow the facts to emerge.” While O’Reilly was directing his comments at the “liberal media,” if jumping to conclusions is an issue, O’Reilly might want to take a quick look at conservative media outlets first. Pat Roberts of the supposedly-Christian 700 Club suggested Michael Brown might have been on drugs. Is that an example of letting all the facts come out before drawing a conclusion? Pat Dollard wrote and article claiming Michael Brown was part of a violent gang. Is that an example of responsible reporting? Charles Johnson and others indicated that Michael Brown might have a criminal record. Is that an example of unbiased coverage? Even O’Reilly’s employer, Fox News, couldn’t help itself. After allowing any number of talking heads air time to chastise liberals for making a white cop killing a black teen a racial thing, they still managed to fall all over themselves to report the slightest modicum of evidence that supported the white guy’s story. Making the YouTube video statements of someone who hasn’t even been confirmed as a witness the headline of your 4 o’clock broadcast doesn’t suggest that conservatives are exhibiting the sort of reasoned impartiality they keep preaching for others to practice. These attacks by conservative media go beyond simple speculation. Rather than covering the facts surrounding the shooting of an unarmed teen, these organizations pivot quickly to assert a new narrative. Even though the front page of the Fox News website is inundated with stories related to Ferguson, and Fox has reporters on the ground, Fox’s talking heads still insist that liberal news outlets have turned white on black crime into a cottage industry to boost ratings. The old “liberal media” claim is just one of many slick tactics the conservative media uses to legitimize their viewers’ prejudices. Another thing you’ll notice, if watching, is the standard attack on Rev. Al Sharpton. It should be noted that by showing up, Sharpton is hoping to draw attention to the situation. If you think he doesn’t deserve the attention, commenting on his words and presence every time he finds himself in front of a microphone is an odd way to show it. Perhaps the worst narrative to come out of the conservative media recently was from Kimberly Guilfoyle, who offered this word of advice when discussing the events that occurred in Ferguson: “Don’t commit crimes.” This is possibly the biggest lie that supposedly government-skeptical conservatives tell themselves. The protests in Ferguson are not about defending those who have committed a crime, but rather how police tend to treat every black citizen as a criminal. So while everyone from President Barack Obama on down can urge the residents of Ferguson to refrain from looting and vandalizing because it doesn’t help the situation, few have set the same expectation level for those charged with keeping the peace. Does anyone think that a police office antagonizing protesters with the statement “Bring it! All you %@#king animals” helps? Does anyone think a St. Louis County police lieutenant urging his offices with the phrases like “Let’s have a black day,” and “Let’s make the jail cells more colorful” helps? Does anyone think that police threatening to shoot and mace reporters helps? Maybe instead of castigating the few bad apples masquerading as protesters, we should start by requiring the abusers, racists and bullies masquerading as police officers to be held accountable. In the end the reality is that the conservative media needs this to be about race far more than the “liberal media,” because in the conservative bubble racism against blacks doesn’t exist anymore. But if you’re one of those racist blacks or people with “white guilt” and can’t see the forest for the trees, feel free to check out any of the altruistic conservative media sites so you can get a thorough education in how the white guy is always justified in beating, mistreating and murdering the savage black criminal. If you’re not convinced then clearly you are the worst kind of racist — a racist against the poor oppressed white majority. Previously published in the Detroit News.