Watch the nightly news on any mainstream television network and you will probably come away believing that the police are on an indiscriminate rampage to murder as many black men as possible. Media coverage of shootings by cops reflects what Valerie Richardson (The Washington Times, April 21, 2015) calls, “…a widespread view that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement while whites shot by police are a rarity. Outrage has surged in recent weeks over the high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police, notably 50-year-old Walter Scott of South Carolina, who was shot in the back and killed April 4 as he tried to run away from an officer after a traffic stop.” Then, of course, there is the case in Baltimore of Freddie Gray; a case that has the mainstream media wringing its hands because the mayor of Baltimore and the police commissioner are black as are most members of the city council and most of Baltimore’s citizens. Baltimore has really thrown a money-wrench into the bigoted-white-cops narrative favored by the mainstream media.
Before proceeding with this column a clarification is in order. Michael Slager, the police officer who shot Walter Scott in the back, appears to be a cold-blooded killer and the video of the shooting appears to validate this supposition. If the facts produced in his trial prove what the video appears to show, Michael Slager should get the death penalty. There is no question that there are bad cops. However, there is also no question that the overwhelming majority of police officers of all races are decent, honest, committed professionals who do their jobs with integrity. There is also no question that even good cops make mistakes—sometimes tragic mistakes. But the truth is that the mainstream media’s portrayal of these unfortunate events as bigoted white cops on a malicious rampage is a gross exaggeration that flies in the face of the facts; a narrative that stretches the limits of journalistic responsibility and ethics.
Here are just a few of the pertinent facts the mainstream media conveniently overlooks in its coverage of shootings by police officers:
- Police kill more whites than blacks every year. Approximately forty-nine percent of the suspects killed by police every year are white, 30 percent are black, 19 percent are Hispanic, and 2 percent or Asian. These figures hardly indicate a war on blacks by bigoted white police officers.
- Most young black men killed in America are killed by other young black men. If there is truly a war being waged on young black men it is apparently being waged by young black men.
- Police officers are six times more likely to be killed by a black person than to kill a black person. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray generated responses that included public outrage, demonstrations, looting, arson, and vandalism, not to mention hours upon hours of media coverage—most of it slanted to portray the police as the bad guys. But where was the outrage and where were the demonstrations when two police officers were brutally murdered by a black man while they sat in their police cruiser in New York?
Here are some additional facts that suggest anti-white/anti-police bias in the media’s coverage of shootings by police officers:
- It is not news when a white person is killed by a cop—regardless of the cop’s race. To get a feel for the double standard applied by the mainstream media when cops shoot a suspect, consider the case of Gilbert Collar. You’ve probably never heard of him since the mainstream media ignored his case. Collar was an 18 year-old college student at the University of South Alabama who was shot and killed while unarmed and under the influence of drugs. Sounds like the type of police brutality case the mainstream media would salivate over. Right? Wrong. Collar was shot and killed by a black police officer. The officer, Trevis Austin, was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury. Having not seen the evidence, I cannot comment on the fact that the officer escaped indictment. For all I know he acted properly and with appropriate discretion. But the important point concerning this shooting by a police officer is that there was very little media coverage, no public outrage, no demonstrations, no protestors carrying signs that read “white lives matter,” and no Al Sharpton doing his best to turn grieving relatives into aggrieved victims of a racist system. The deaths of white suspects—or Hispanic or Asian suspects for that matter—are not considered newsworthy by mainstreams journalists who are more committed to promulgating their fictitious narrative on race than they are to the truth.
- When white people are killed by cops or by blacks, their grieving loved ones are not portrayed as victims of a racially-biased system that is making war on white people. This in spite of the fact that police officers kill more white suspects every year than blacks. Whites have yet to turn out undisciplined mobs that rob, loot, and burn in response to a police officer shooting a white person, a fact ignored by the mainstream media. The same is true of Hispanics and Asians.
The anti-white/anti-police bias in the coverage of shootings by police is obvious. What is not obvious is the reasons behind the bias. For a number of years now mainstream print and television journalists have been accused—with good reason—of dramatizing, emotionalizing, and sensationalizing the news in an attempt to reverse the erosion of readership and viewership attributed to talk radio, cable television, and the Internet. In recent years, it has become widely accepted that the sins and missteps of mainstream journalism have been driven by desperation tied to the inherent sense of survival.
But the biases that now characterize mainstream journalism—and they extend well beyond just anti-white/anti-police bias—seem to grow out of something even more powerful than money. In fact, those who still attribute mainstream media bias to financial competition might want to ask why persistent ratings losers on CNN and MSNBC, for example, are still on the air. To continue sensationalizing the news, to continue creating controversies where no controversy exists, and to continue ignoring the facts in the face of evidence that suggests these nefarious practices are hurting rather than helping suggests a motivation that is even deeper and more powerful than money.
Observing the biased practices of the mainstream media, I am reminded of the mindless prejudice that was so pervasive in the bad old days of the Jim Crow South. The senseless prejudice of those who hid behind hoods and robes in those days was impossible to understand much less explain. Suffice it to say that the prejudice that created and perpetuated Jim Crow laws in the pre-Civil Rights South grew out of psychological factors so deeply embedded in the psyche of bigots that it could overpower their common sense, respect for the law, religious beliefs, and human decency. The bias of the mainstream media is like this. In fact, if the bigotry of Jim Crow is one side of an ugly coin, the other side is the blatant liberal biases of the mainstream media.
Even though I hold a graduate degree in Counseling/Psychology, the factors that drive the blatant biases of the mainstream media specifically and liberals in general are beyond my comprehension. In the long run, media bias will not help blacks, whites, police officers, or America. In fact, it won’t even help the media outlets that are guilty of practicing it. Whatever the factors may be that drive the bias of mainstream media mavens, they are powerful enough to drive journalists to suppress any sense of ethics or integrity they might once have had. Journalism should be a profession that seeks, uncovers, and reports the truth, not one that ignores the truth in favor of a preferred but fictional narrative. The truth is a powerful and persistent entity. Consequently, over the long haul the truth is ignored at one’s own peril.
No matter how deeply buried it might be by biased media outlets, the truth has a way of eventually finding its way to the surface. As this happens—and it is happening even as I write this column—journalists who ignore the truth will eventually suffer the consequences of doing so. Those consequences manifest themselves in a loss of credibility and believability and, as a result, a loss of trust. The number of people who trust the mainstream media for their news is already shrinking precipitously. In fact, mainstream media outlets are sowing the seeds of their own destruction by ignoring the truth in favor of a biased narrative promulgated for nefarious purposes. When we eventually see “Out-of-Business” signs hung on the doors of ABC, CBS, NBC, and other mainstream media outlets, their business obituaries will read: “Died of self-inflicted wounds.”