When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims
We’re currently witnessing a media firestorm as it relates to coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown, the subsequent protests and unrest. What we are also witnessing is a tradition by elements in the mainstream media that blames black male victims for their untimely deaths by those in authority. We witnessed it with Trayvon Martin; meaning that because he was suspended from school or “looked” a certain way on social media, his death was his responsibility because of his possible thuggeries.
Nick Wing of the Huffington Post wrote a revealing piece comparing how the media characterizing black male victims contrast to white male suspects and killers. Below is an excerpt.
News reports often headline claims from police or other officials that appear unsympathetic or dismissive of black victims. Other times, the headlines seem to suggest that black victims are to blame for their own deaths, engaging in what critics sometimes allege is a form of character assassination. When contrasted with media portrayal of white suspects and accused murderers, the differences are more striking. News outlets often choose to run headlines that exhibit an air of disbelief at an alleged white killer’s supposed actions. Sometimes, they appear to go out of their way to boost the suspect’s character, carrying quotes from relatives or acquaintances that often paint even alleged murderers in a positive light.
Here are a few examples:
That’s how the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal chose to present the story of Amy Bishop, a former college professor who eventually pleaded guilty to killing three colleagues and wounding three others at a faculty meeting in 2010.
And that’s the headline AL.com ran about the shooting death of a 25-year-old black man in Alabama earlier this year.
This is how the Staten Island Advance covered the case of Eric Bellucci, a mentally ill New York man who allegedly killed his parents.
Meanwhile, NBC News ran this headline during ongoing coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing.
This Fox News headline quoted friends shocked that 15-year-old Jared Michael Padgett had entered his high school heavily armed and killed a classmate, injured a teacher and took his own life.
But in Florida, this headline in the Ledger focused on a police account that made the death of a black 19-year-old seem somehow expected, or at least unsurprising.
In the wake of the mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California, earlier this year, the Whittier Daily News offered a headline showing one man’s disbelief that Elliot Rodger could have committed such a crime.
This was the headline given to an Associated Press story at Mlive.com about an Ohio teen who later pleaded guilty to a school shooting in which three students were killed and two were wounded.
But when an unarmed father of two was killed by a police officer while entering a vehicle that contained his own children, the Los Angeles Times served up this claim from officials.
In 2008, 18-year-old Ryan Schallenberger was accused of plotting to bomb his South Carolina high school. Ohio’s Chronicle Telegram wanted readers to know that he was a straight-A student, running an AP story with this headline.
And according to the Omaha World-Herald, this is what you needed to know about Julius B. Vaughn, a 19-year-old gunned down in Omaha last year:
Kerri Ann Heffernan was charged in 2012 in a string of bank robberies and stores. This headline at Wicked Local wonders how she’d come so far from her days as a smart high school student.
Of 22-year-old black man Deon Sanders’ killing in Ohio earlier this year, WKBN’s headline said “gang member,” and that apparently was enough.
You can read the full version of the post here.
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