The Conversation

Media herding made easy

In response to Journalistic Incompetence Has an Ideological Bias:

I happen to live in Florida, and can remember a very early report of the Zimmerman-Martin incident on morning news radio describing it as "a fatal altercation between a white man and a black youth."  That was the last time I heard any major media outlet portray it as a fight or "altercation," although of course George Zimmerman remained "white" for quite a while.

Speaking of which, have you heard of any more "white Hispanics" besides him?  Back when the media got busted for routinely identifying him as "white," and harrumphed their way to "white Hispanic," many of us grouchy skeptical types accused them of essentially inventing the latter classification to keep the racial fires burning in this particular case.  

"Oh, no, you've got it all wrong!" media apologists insisted.  "There have been tons of other white Hispanics over the years!  Well, okay, maybe the term was actually only used about four times in the last decade, but the media herd sure didn't conjure it up just for George Zimmerman!"

So... how many other "white Hispanics" have paraded through the media spotlight since then?  I can't say I've seen any.  The media herd almost universally called Zimmerman "white" until pictures of him leaked out; then they pivoted in unison and called him a "white Hispanic"; then they pivoted in unison again and abandoned the term.  

As you said, the media is incompetent and lazy... and they're also nasty pieces of work when they get backed into a corner.  They kept doubling down on the "racist white guy shot a black kid for no reason" narrative until they wound up doctoring video and audio to make reality fit the narrative.  Then they started plugging all their other dopey pet narratives into the fantasy they had created.  I remember some MSNBC host actually blaming the Republican presidential candidates for Trayvon Martin's death.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, there was never any reason for the cops to arrest Zimmerman; they were legally barred from doing so.  That doesn't mean no charges could be filed, but the "outrage" that brought Sanford to the edge of riots (and almost got innocent people who happened to be named "Zimmerman" killed, thanks to Spike Lee) never existed.  It was cooked up by pressure groups and served piping-hot to credulous reporters on a national scale, with hardly a man or woman among them expressing the tiniest shred of journalistic skepticism.  

Now charges have been filed, and after watching the opening arguments, I'm more dubious than ever that the prosecution will be able to make them stick.  They aimed far too high... because they were responding to riot conditions egged on by pressure groups and their army of media allies, combined with pressure from Washington ("If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon.")  The end result might be Zimmerman avoiding all legal penalties because of the media lynch mob that tried to string him up.


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