On Sunday, CNN’s Brian Stelter of Reliable Sources hosted Ferguson activist DeRay McKesson to discuss media coverage of the motorcycle gang gun battle that broke out in Waco, Texas last week. McKesson promptly blamed white privilege for what he termed “nuance[d]” media coverage:
Nine people were dead, 18 people injured, and the media didn’t show any of that spectacle of blood. That context would not happen if those bodies were dark-skinned. Whiteness gets nuance in the media and blackness doesn’t. In Waco, it was ‘These are just bikers, it was a biker shootout.’ No, they killed nine people, shot in the presence of innocent bystanders… They are in gangs. This is organized crime.
McKesson’s repetition of the hoary meme that media coverage of Waco represented racism is utterly groundless: Waco got heavy national media play, leading the network news on all three major networks; there was no contemporaneous footage of the situation in Waco, as there was during the riots in Ferguson or Baltimore; there were no riots in Waco, as opposed to Ferguson and Baltimore; major outlets recognized that the biker gangs are organized criminal syndicates.
Waco’s gunbattle received significantly more media coverage than, for example, a “wild” gang shooting actually captured by a dashcam in Chicago on Saturday, or any of a series of gang-related shootings in Chicago over the last few weeks. And nobody of any color has claimed that the shootout in Waco represented a deep-seated ill inherent to American life requiring government rectification. No one blamed structural racism or income inequality. The President of the United States did not call for soul-searching or federal programs to fight the problem of biker gang shootouts.
But McKesson continued:
What you saw in Waco was this radical humanization of people who actually committed violent crimes, who really did violent crimes. You didn’t see that same humanization with people in Baltimore who were breaking curfew. They were treated in ways that criminalized them in really intense ways, in ways you didn’t see with actual criminals.
McKesson did not cite a single instance of a media outlet sympathizing with the shooters. In fact, the media did not bring out a single expert to do so. Compare that with the political and media coverage of Baltimore, featuring everyone from President Obama to the mayor of the city to the prosecutor expressing some level of sympathy for the frustration of looters and rioters. Yes, there certainly is an imbalance between media coverage of Waco and media coverage of Ferguson and Baltimore, but that imbalance skews heavily in favor of the lawbreakers in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.