As I watch this nonsense in Ferguson, I’m simply reminded of the daily fare of poor television that reality shows bring us. That’s all Ferguson is. Give a promise of fame, indulge self-importance, ignore facts and film. That’s the formula. It’s “good TV” and the media has been as complicit as anyone in the result. In fact, they’ve egged it on. Remove the spotlight and the interest wanes.
Instead we’ve seen a steady drumbeat of coverage, almost a countdown to the Grand Jury findings and, as usual, a trial by media.
The facts don’t matter. The findings of the Grand Jury have to be racist because the court of public opinion, sans few if any concrete facts, has already found the officer guilty. Does anyone even pretend to believe that if that crowd last night had been able to find officer Wilson that he wouldn’t have later been found hanging from a lamp post?
This, as with the Trayvon Martin case, is a media event. You only have to look at all the disparate groups who’ve camped out in Ferguson since the Brown killing to gather that. The usual groups have gone through some incredible contortions to make Brown’s death relevant to their cause. And, of course, with the media lights on, the usual suspects among the race baiters are there as well, preening and goading.
Are there grievances? I’m sure there are. But burning out your neighborhood isn’t the way to settle them. I’m still trying to figure out what Panera Bread did to deserve to be torched other than be in the wrong location. This is beyond “civil disobedience”. This is criminal destruction. And yet, when this is all said and done, the denizens of the neighborhood are going to demand these businesses build again. I know what my answer would be – “you made a desert, now live in it”.
Anyway, the bottom line here is I don’t take reality shows seriously. Nor should you.
But not that much.
Because it is a re-run. In fact, it’s a re-run of a re-run. A re-make if you prefer. The same-old, same-old.
It is so predictable that you could set up a timeline and be pretty sure that you’d be 90% right.
It begins like this:
Incident occurs. In this case, black teenager, white cop (template says black/white with black the victim). Tensions build. Protests erupt and violence ensues.
Then the real problem occurs.
Before everything can be sorted out and calmed down, the media shows up.
Of course, as soon as the media grows enough to include national outlets, the professional race baiters are soon to follow. Right on their heels the other opportunists arrive – the anarchists, communists, community activists, agitators and looters. And soon the circus is in full swing.
Rumor is published as fact. Hate rages from both sides. Social media is inundated with trash talk, nonsense and stupidity aided and abetted by an agenda driven media. Death threats, threats of violence, racial hate and other garbage flows like a river. Anchors from the national outlets put on their safari jackets (or now I guess it’s their protective vests and helmets) and get cameo shots near the protests to certify their “bona fides” as brave news men and women. Irresponsibility and immaturity on all sides rules the day.
Former CNN anchor and Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz” host Howie Kurtz criticized some outlets for creating “almost a lynch mob mentality” in Ferguson, MO in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.
“Some liberal outlets [are] creating almost a lynch mob mentality around this, the Huffington Post today, screaming banner headline ‘Arrest Him.’ Now, the Huffington Post, nor you or I, knows exactly what happened” he said. And “when you cross that line into becoming an advocate and to demanding that somebody be prosecuted before the facts are in, while the investigation is going on, you’re grandstanding, you’re trying to keep the story alive and I really think it’s troubling.”
Kurtz also criticized CNN for showing the house of accused officer Darren Wilson, stating, “It defies my understanding how you could put his life or the life of his family in danger by even briefly showing the house or naming the street.”
When it all finally sorts itself out, we’ll likely find that the problem wasn’t necessarily about race, didn’t conform to any of the preconceived notions presented by the press (like, you know, “George Zimmerman” wasn’t white) and wasn’t any of the nonsense the “experts” opined endlessly about.
It was an unfortunate incident that needs to be addressed, but hasn’t had the chance to be addressed. And now the DoJ has decided the Civil Rights division needs to be involved along with 40 or so FBI agents. And the governor has sent in the National Guard.
Is there an injustice here? Possibly, but I don’t know yet. I’d go as far as to say probably, but again, I don’t know. I do know that it points to a growing trend of over-policing that I attribute to a seeming change in philosophy among police departments. Police, in many cases, seem to escalate a situation instead of defusing it. That needs to be reversed, in my opinion. But I certainly don’t know if this officer would have acted any differently if the teenager had been white. Nor do I yet know whether his actions were warranted or not (which is why we impanel juries and have evidence presented in cases like this). And neither does anyone else.
But in the street theater all of this has become, that’s likely to be lost in the shuffle.
In other words, this is the Trayvon Martin template redux with nightly violence added for variety.
Formulaic, predictable and disgusting. But that’s how we do it in America today.