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Squires: If America descends into the fire of open racial conflict, the corporate media will have stoked it
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Squires: If America descends into the fire of open racial conflict, the corporate media will have stoked it

If American society ever descends into open racial conflict, the corporate press will have played a large part in getting us there. President Trump was right: The media are the enemy of the people.

Journalists often leave the public less informed about important stories, especially when race is involved. One example is how the trial and acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse were so poorly reported that many public figures spoke as if he shot three black people.

The nation experienced something similar this week with several high-profile shooting incidents across the country that involved homeowners.

The first involved Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old in Kansas City, Missouri, who was shot after going to the wrong home to pick up his sibling. The shooter was Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old homeowner. Yarl, who survived the shooting, is black and Lester is white, so it goes without saying that the media immediately made this a case about racial bias and the ubiquitous, unrelenting threats to black life in this country. The Yarl family attorney, Lee Merritt, made that point crystal clear when he claimed, “Ralph Yarl was shot because he was armed with nothing but other than his Black skin.”

The media’s ability to claim incidents like this only occur because of race didn’t last long.

A 20-year-old woman named Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed while she sat in the passenger side of a car that turned into the wrong driveway in upstate New York. The homeowner, 65-year-old Kevin Monahan, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The case received coverage from the New York Times, but the racial dynamics – both the suspect and victim are white – were not a part of the reporting.

The race-crime dynamic really got complicated after reports emerged that a six-year-old and her parents in North Carolina were shot after her basketball rolled into the yard of a neighbor. Everyone survived, but the suspect – Robert Louis Singletary – was apprehended two days later in Florida. The media’s reporting on this case has been noteworthy considering the racial angle. The victims are white, and the suspect is black, but race has not been included in any of the headlines. In fact, a search of the shooter’s name on CNN returns one story.

“Suspect who allegedly shot 6-year-old neighbor and her parents in North Carolina has been apprehended in Florida.”

Compare that to how CNN has covered Ralph Yarl’s shooting:

  • “White homeowner accused of shooting Black teen who went to the wrong house in Kansas City will face 2 felony charges, officials announce”
  • “Recovery of Black teen allegedly shot by White homeowner after ringing wrong doorbell is a miracle, attorney says”
  • “The White homeowner accused of shooting a Black teen who rang his doorbell turns himself in and is released on bail”

The message here is crystal clear: Race only matters to the corporate press when it supports a certain color-coded worldview. For CNN, that typically translates into using racial descriptors when a suspect is white and his victims are not. But even people who claim to abhor race politics can find themselves entranced by the siren song of tribalism.

One of Tucker Carlson’s monologues earlier this week included a rebuke of the left’s assumption that Yarl’s shooting was racially motivated. The tendency to jump to conclusions about motive without evidence is common on CNN, on MSNBC, and at the New York Times. Then Carlson proceeded to do the exact same thing he criticized when he imputed racist intent to the violent assault of a white woman in Chicago over the past weekend. The woman appeared on a different Fox News show along with her boyfriend – who was there at the time – and stated the attack was random and not a targeted act of racial violence.

This is why journalists, politicians, and pundits need to resist the impulse to ascribe motive to violent crime based solely on the fact that the criminal and perpetrator have different skin tones. Acts of violence should be universally condemned, regardless of the color combinations of victim and suspect that are involved. But media crime reporting is always done through race-colored lenses.

Incidents in which both the suspects and victims are black expose the media’s dirty little secret. The progressive press – including “pro-black” platforms – only care about black lives when they are threatened by white people. That explains why the recent mass shooting in Alabama that ended with 20 people shot and four dead has not generated nearly as much coverage or outrage as what happened to Ralph Yarl.

When they do choose to cover these stories, what’s absent is any mention of “root causes” other than guns. Stories involving white shooters give them an opportunity to criticize “white supremacy” and racism. But incidents involving black shooters don’t come with the same type of analysis. There is no mention of racial self-hatred, fatherlessness and family structure, media and hip-hop culture, or any other factor that would speak to motive.

America is a nation of more than 330 million people spread across 3.5 million square miles. In other words, this is a big country with a large and diverse population that exists in a fallen world. If you can think of it, there is a good chance someone in this country has done it in the past, is doing it now, or will do it in the future. For example, a woman was recently arrested on allegations of bestiality. I did a Google search for “bestiality arrest” to find details and was shocked by how many different cases came back, including ones involving men, women, and couples.

The media can’t possibly cover every crime story. But what it can do is provide facts in an objective fashion on a consistent basis regardless of the identities involved. This doesn’t mean intent can’t be part of crime stories. It just means the media should resist the temptation to assign motives based on skin color, especially when they see the world through the lens of white “oppressors” and “oppressed” minorities.

Outlets like the Root that cater to a black audience should be leading the charge to turn down the racial rhetoric. A small minority group whose leaders advocate killing its future soldiers and disarming its current ones should be the last people stoking racial conflict.

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