The media’s attempt to deny the discussion about hate being directed at black people jumped the shark today when a CNN anchor Chris Cuomo (who used to be co-anchor for ABC’s 20/20) tweeted that we can’t be sure the shooter and mass murderer is white. He could be in disguise.
This tweet begs the question and gives white people of a certain persuasion a lot of comfort:
This was deleted. CNN. pic.twitter.com/82v82zKuuO
— Matt Drance (@drance) June 18, 2015
This tweet was issued at 9:44 AM and was quickly deleted. Mr. Cuomo didn’t respond to my question about why he deleted the tweet. However earlier he responded to another person that he took it down because it was a distraction.
“@GerryGonzalo: agreed, call spade a spade. By addressing reality we can change society for the better” people fight it. that's why matters
— Chris Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) June 18, 2015
Even though this was tweeted prior to the subject’s arrest, what makes it bizarre is the way he begged the question. I’m pretty sure the survivors who sat in a prayer meeting for an hour before being shot at by this racist hate terrorist got a look at him to see what color his skin was. But also. The suspect’s name is Dylann Roof and he has been in custody before. I’m pretty sure the police and the FBI know what his skin color is.
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) June 18, 2015
This is not to say that Chris Cuomo is a bad guy. (Please do not send him a bunch of angry tweets. That isn’t the point.) The point is how the media discusses crime, the leeway given to white criminals, and the way in which this language and appeasement stops us from being honest about the problem. Mr. Cuomo’s deleted tweet is simply but one example of the broader problem.
A large part of this problem is Fox News’ hold on the mainstream media, as we have seen the media gather protectively around Fox to defend it as a “news” organization, when it is clearly not one. This has consequences, and one of them is that Fox has managed to mainstream racism and bigotry and are currently working on mainstreaming acceptance for white Christian child molesters. No one seems to have had enough yet. The media is still protecting their own.
Another factor at play is the media club to which all mostly white men in the media subscribe. This is not a world of inclusion or dimensional experiences. It is only natural for those in power to recognize their own tribe and protect it.
It’s natural, but it’s not right. I really can’t explain what would prompt a journalist to suggest that the police might be misleading everyone about the race of the shooter (which they identified quickly after the news broke), except that the truth is so painful.
The media needs to stop trying to appease Republican/conservative frothing racism. This appeasement is what got the warning report about white right wing terrorism being on the rise buried. That would have been helpful for police around the country. Looking back on it now, it could have saved lives. Instead, the media chose to appease the loudest voices, the whining wail of the far right as they clung to their right to hate.
They have the right to hate, and we have the right to shun, name and shame.
We all need to say no more. We need to demand that the media stop giving a platform to racists (hello, Fox News) as if it is a legitimate point of view instead of a fringe hatred that should be named, shamed and shunned by society.
Now that the subject has been arrested, it is undeniable. His father bought him the gun for his 21st birthday. Did the father buy the gun after his son was in trouble with the law? That’s going to be a question he will have to answer to authorities.
Another young white male on a mass shooting rampage motivated by hatred. Or, as Republicans call them, “lone wolves” and “bad apples”.
Do you wonder why white men get excused for mass shootings but a lone black teenager carrying Skittles is accused of being a thug who deserved being shot and killed? See above. Language matters. The way the media talks about these issues matters.
Let’s call a spade a spade:
There is a white male violence problem in this country.
There is a gun problem in this country.
There is a mainstream media outlet deliberately stoking racial animus and a political party dedicated to the same (see Southern Strategy).
In order to address these inexcusable inequities, we must talk about them honestly. We must all stop appeasing the racist terrorists. To do fail to take a stand, to remain silent in the face of such horrific violence and loss, is to be complicit.
Image: Suspect Dylann Roof
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.