We explored some of the issues around this theme back in January, but one element not discussed was the role of the media. Fox tells us that the mainstream media are “left-wing,” but to them anything right of Sean Hannity is socialism. Let’s take a look at the media coverage of Baltimore:
In this interview, media scholar Mark Crispin Miller cites the correlation he found between “how much news people watch and how frightened they were of the city.” He says of the media that “every time the cities have exploded they’ve done the same thing… sensationalized the violence and presented it as an irrational explosion of savagery by de-historicizing it.” (Baltimore’s history here) He blames “the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, and the deregulation of station ownership,” along with the overriding goal of making money and selling advertising, for creating “a right-wing media system that explicitly plays on racist and nativist sentiment.”
This focus on images of “thugs” and violent protest, while ignoring the complex history of racism and inequality and downplaying the legitimate complaints of the black community, leaves most of us saying “Good, send in the troops and restore order!” Miller adds that this “invites a tolerance for a style of policing that’s not only brutal in those disadvantaged neighborhood, but threatening to everybody’s civil liberties.”
For those interested in media accountability and reform, FAIR is an invaluable resource. Here are a few pieces it’s done on Baltimore:
NYT goes to Baltimore, finds only police worth talking to
Why so much anger? If you don’t know Washington Post won’t tell you
USA Today makes leap to pin rap on ‘protester’
If you are looking for real answers to the question, “Why do they burn down their own neighborhood?” rather than turn to the media, you might start here.