The media make money off race riots. They gin them up; they promote them; then they react to them. Media reactions to the riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray have ranged from the egregious to the ridiculous.
Some of that can be chalked up to the demands of the 24-hour news cycle, but much of it must be laid at the feet of reporters and anchors desperate to demonstrate their racial bona fides, even if that means excusing looting, unjustifiably attacking law enforcement, or labeling the entire country a racist petri dish generating situations like Baltimore.
Here are some of the worst:
Chris Cuomo, CNN: As John Nolte pointed out earlier today, Cuomo warned protesters last night that the police were out to get them. When Cuomo spotted some protesters coming down the street, he accosted them: “They’re walking toward the cops. You know walking towards the cops in the middle of the street, they’re going to come at you.” When a protester said, “We’re going home,” Cuomo then added, “Just be careful, cuz you know how they are… if you seem like you’re being provocative towards them, you know how things can go.” Clearly, Cuomo knows the perils of the police, and he’s willing to reinforce those perils to people who already believe the police are the problem.
Of course, CNN more broadly has benefitted tremendously from the continued focus on Baltimore. As Mediaite points out, CNN’s new promos about Baltimore cram the most provocative Baltimore images into one 30-second spot and then conclude with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) stating, “Baltimore can happen anywhere.”
Brooke Baldwin, CNN: Baldwin felt the need to blame veterans for the situation in Baltimore on Tuesday, stating, “A lot of these young people, and I love our nation’s veterans, but some of them are coming back from war and they are ready to do battle.” Cummings agreed with Baldwin – the problems between cops and Baltimore residents could be laid at the feet of mistrained Rambo-like veterans looking to harm poor black folks. Baldwin later apologized – sort of.
Marc Lamont Hill, CNN: Lamont Hill, a professor at Morehouse College, appeared as the riots broke out on Monday night and proclaimed that the riots were an uprising. “There shouldn’t be calm tonight,” he stated. “Black people are dying in the streets. We’ve been dying in the streets for months, years, decades, centuries. I think there can be resistance to oppression.” He then explained, “I think we should be strategic in how we riot… I’m saying we can’t have too narrow a perception of what the destruction of black communities mean. It seems we have all of our outrage tonight and not the 364 days before tonight.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic: The national correspondent for The Atlantic called for violence against police, writing:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
Brittney Cooper of Salon.com, a guest on MSNBC, made the same argument:
I do respect black people as human beings, and part of what that means is understanding that rage is a legitimate and reasonable response to being mistreated repeatedly by those in power.
Stacey Patton, Washington Post: Patton, a senior enterprise reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education and adjunct professor at American University, wrote on Thursday about the case of Toya Graham, the single mother caught on tape slapping her son silly after finding him throwing rocks at police. She didn’t critique Graham for the slapping on its own merits; she didn’t wonder where Graham was for the 15 years prior to finding her son chucking blunt objects at law enforcement officers. Instead, she blamed white supremacy, and then suggested that Graham had “lynched” her own son publicly:
Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist white supremacy so he can live… While Graham did not literally lynch her son Michael, she metaphorically strung him up for the world to see — in hopes of keeping him alive.
Joy Reid, MSNBC: Tax-nonpayer Joy Reid told the MSNBC audience yesterday that the protesters in Baltimore were just like supposedly victimized teenagers in the Gaza Strip:
I talked to a young man today who said that when he hears people calling the young people in this community thugs, he’s offended by it, because he’s saying look around at what these young people are trying to work with. When they see their parents being roughed up by police on top of the issues of unemployment and poverty that are already piled on top of them, he essentially likened it almost to Gaza. You have young people acting out of the frustration that they’re taking in generationally from their families. So we have a lot of problems here that need to be dealt with. The policing aspect just compounds it.
Two leftist memes in one!
Alex Wagner, MSNBC: The folks at MSNBC have been Barack Obama’s greatest defenders, but some of the hosts have had enough: Obama’s use of the word “thugs” to describe the Baltimore rioters means that he has surrendered his racial status. Wagner was first to jump on this bandwagon. “Barack Obama is half-black, half-white,” she said, “but is identified as a black president and they’re using the word thug… the president seems, if we’re to believe the White House press secretary, defiantly sort of doubling down on this is how I describe looters and people who perpetrate violence.”
A real black president, the implication seems to be, would never have used the word “thug” or doubled down on it. Wagner ripped into CNN’s Erin Burnett, stating that she doesn’t “understand why [the word thug is] offensive,” and added that “some people are saying the ‘t’ word is the new ‘n’ word.” One of her guests, Ari Berman of The Nation, said that the real problem in Baltimore is “a 40-year disinvestment in these communities, because of how we’ve characterized these elements and – making everything seem dangerous and thuggish, instead of really trying to fix the problem.” Baltimore has been ruled by Democrats since 1967, has a completely Democratic City Council, a black mayor, a black police commissioner, and a majority non-white police force.
The media couldn’t be happier about the chaos in Baltimore. That’s why they continue to perpetuate the myth of a deeply racist America celebrating the deaths of young black men at the hands of a fictional evil police infrastructure. That myth leads to more deaths; those deaths lead to more riots; those riots lead to more coverage; that coverage leads to better ratings. And so the cycle continues.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.