How the Mainstream Media is Fueling A Race War

CNN”s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo. (Photo: CNN)

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Real Clear Politics with the title, “Selective Media Reporting Further Fuels Our Racial Divide.” It is being syndicated by GunsAmerica with the permission of its author, Dr. John Lott Jr.

On Saturday, a man drove his car onto a Seattle freeway that had been closed by a Black Lives Matter crowd. The driver killed one person and seriously injured another after going the wrong way up a ramp and then around a barricade. Reports noted that police “don’t believe impairment was a factor.” Over the weekend, news outlets replayed the brutal hit, but there’s one thing you won’t learn from their coverage: The driver was black and his victims were white.

NPR linked this attack to other car-ramming incidents by “right-wing extremists targeting Black Lives Matter protesters.” They quote a researcher about how these right-wingers were “trying to intimidate the most recent wave of BLM protesters, to stop their movement.”

The driver was a Seattle local named Dawit Kelete. But you’ll find scant mention of the driver’s ethnicity in mainstream media coverage. You might have more easily learned that Kelete was black by going to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. The American national media also doesn’t note that Kelete’s two victims were white. You can find that out over at the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Among the few U.S. outlets to mention the race of the driver is Heavy.com. The rest of the news media seemingly would rather just have people assume that a white driver attacked two black protesters. Acknowledging the driver’s and victims’ ethnicity wouldn’t advance their narrative of oppression, so it apparently isn’t newsworthy.

One case doesn’t prove a pattern. It could just be that while the American media knows almost everything about this killer, including his name, age, and where he lives, they couldn’t find information on his race. Possibly the foreign news outlets were just lucky to discover that information.

Of course, the media outlets might honestly not view race as essential to the story. But their selective reporting of it shows that they think race is important when it involves certain races. The problem is that it gives readers a biased perspective, inflaming prejudice and creating stereotypes. 

Research conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center, of which I am president, on all police shootings from 2013 to 2015 found that while local news coverage will often mention the race of the officer and the suspect, the national coverage is much more selective. While the evidence indicates that black officers are no less likely to shoot suspects than white officers, local news coverage of black officers shooting black suspects gets picked up by the national news in just 9% of cases. By contrast, 38% of the cases in which local news reported on a white officer shooting a black suspect get national coverage.

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The selective coverage creates the belief that white officers are the problem — they are the ones shooting blacks, presumably because white officers treat black suspects differently than white ones. Watching the news, you would never guess that the research found that black officers were just as likely as white officers to shoot an unarmed black suspect. 

The media’s selective coverage has done real harm. It has heightened racial divides and sown distrust of the police in the communities that need them most. Now, with police sidelined and facing “defunding,” gun violence is rising fast in major cities around the country. 

The media similarly seems intent on claiming that mass public shooters are disproportionately white and right-wing, when nothing could be further from the truth. While 58% of the mass public shooters from 1998 to 2019 were white (excluding people of Middle Eastern descent), about 75% of the total U.S. population was white. Middle Eastern Arabs made up just 1% of the population, but accounted for 8% of shooters. Of all the mass killers, 72%  have no known political affiliation or views – only 3% are known to be conservative or Republican.

Race and politics increasingly divide Americans, and selective media reporting is largely to blame. The media, not Trump, is fanning the flames of violence. The destruction and the long-term harm that is being done to heavily minority parts of our cities is their responsibility.  

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Stuart July 18, 2020, 10:11 pm

    Where did “Bones” go?

    Perhaps, mommy’s basement?

  • Abner Yokum July 17, 2020, 5:32 pm

    It ain’t Trump. Thank your buddies in the mainstream media. You know… the snippet kings?

  • sfvshooter July 17, 2020, 2:35 pm

    Does the media include Fox News, Breitbart, etc or only those that criticize Trump?

    Seems hypocritical, no?

    • Tad July 19, 2020, 3:07 pm

      Fox has not been shown to lie. Yes they favor Trump most of the time but they also give liberals equal time to spin their nonsense.

    • Big Al 45 July 21, 2020, 1:25 pm

      Wow, you mention hypocrisy while ignoring the incredibly hypocritical Left Wing MSM?!?!?!?!?
      You DO realize the hypocrisy in that, don’t you?
      Maybe not.
      That alone brings into question your ability to even understand hypocrisy.

  • Daddio7 July 17, 2020, 1:02 pm

    A few months ago in Jacksonville, Fl the police stop a suspected stolen car. Not violently hijacked, just stolen. Three black teens in the car sprint away. Police give chase and a 14 year-old tries to hide under a chicken coop. Fearing for his life an officer shots him in the back. Teen survives to tell the story.

    More fuel for BLM and defunding the police. As it is now running from the police gives them the freedom to use deadly force as they see fit. Black youth do commit more crimes then white youths. Black youth rightly fear contact with the police so they run. This means more black youth are shot. Question is, how do we break this cycle?

    • Mike July 18, 2020, 10:08 am

      Well, maybe this should be instilled at home….Police officer says stop, you stop. Stop doesn’t mean run away.

      Or just maybe, don’t break the law and take what isn’t yours?

      • Irish-7 July 27, 2020, 12:49 pm

        I concur. We seem to have switched who bears the responsibility and blame from the criminal to the cops.

  • Norm July 17, 2020, 12:16 pm

    Please provide the list. While you’re looking, Google Saul Alinsky “Eight Rules for Radicals” and see what you get. Then maybe you’ll understand the current problem and the current solution.

  • Damn Yankee July 17, 2020, 10:20 am

    The “MEDIA” needs to identify what is news and what is opinion. Disclaimers in bold letters running as a bottom ticker should be displayed on all opinionated programs and stories, while actual news media will be dictated to investigate/research the information for release as news.

    • Eric Schielmann July 17, 2020, 11:50 am

      One thing missing from this article is that the driver wasn’t just black, he was Ethiopian, and the attack on BLM is supposed to have been an act of terrorism connected to an Oromo Lives Matter movement in Ethiopia, that stands in solidarity with BLM, which is what is supposed to have motivated Dawit Kelete. This link was made by Buffalo_soldier on Twitter July 4

  • FAL Phil July 17, 2020, 8:28 am

    I think the author is wrong. I don’t think it will be a race war as much as an ideology war. The race thing is a mere by product due to the fact that the liberal globalist propensity for encouraging racial minorities in America to be dependent on government and the fact that many of the paper Americans and other aliens come from socialist origins and bring their life experience with them. Believe me, after 50 years of government school indoctrination with critical thinking skills thrown by the wayside, there are plenty of leftist-collectivist white people out there.

    The trend could be reversed, but it will take a leader with big brass ones who is willing to be ruthless and force the legislature and the courts to do their constitutional duty. I don’t see that happening. The best we can hope for is a peaceful separation. If I were a gambling man, I wouldn’t bet on that either. And even if it did happen, the problem is that leftist-collectivists need capitalist-entrepreneurial types for their work ethic and productive capabilities, while the capitalist-entrepreneurial types need leftist-collectivists for, well, nothing.

  • Bones July 17, 2020, 7:30 am

    Wow!!??? You could make this article 5x longer by listing all the sh*t trump has said the last 4 years that has fueled race wars… .. … anyone want me to remind everyone and start listing everything?

    • FAL Phil July 17, 2020, 8:17 am

      Butthurt much?

    • Er July 17, 2020, 8:38 am

      Yes, please provide that list of things that Trump has said that “fueled Race war’s”.
      I can’t think of one, so help me out.

    • BRENT BAIRD July 17, 2020, 8:41 am

      Why don’t you start with your own sins ,idiot

    • Rob July 17, 2020, 8:54 am

      You watch WAY too much cnn. Your TDS is beyond words.

    • John July 17, 2020, 8:57 am

      I’ve got time if you think you can come up with a real list of truth.

    • Lawrence July 17, 2020, 9:20 am

      You have been listening to the media and believing everything they say. CNN is just a another National Enquirer. Unless you witnessed, it the story you get is Someone else’s version.

    • deanbob July 17, 2020, 9:41 am

      Typical strawman argument. You don’t like what is said; and rather than rebut the matter being discussed, you TRY to refocus the subject to what you want.

      You mean what YOU THINK Trump meant. The left has a funny way of turning what is actually said into something different that matches their narrative.

    • Rex July 17, 2020, 9:43 am

      Wow!!?? What ridiculous and ignorant sophomoric hyperbole.

    • Ed July 17, 2020, 10:04 am

      Waiting for your list….

    • FlashGordo July 17, 2020, 10:54 am

      In all honesty, I would love to see that list. It would take a while to put together. But I would love to copy it and research it myself. … I would bet that a portion of it would be misquoted, out of context, or cherry picked. Just like the media uses to create division and hate, thus asserting the author’s original point. The next portion would be inflammatory and horrible. Trump has said some awful things that he shouldn’t have. Some of those sound bites and quotes he said a long time ago or not in official capacity as pres. And they are reprehensible but not disqualifying. And the last group of quotes would be bad twitter comments and comments well-intentioned but poorly executed that demonstrate the “speak before you think” principle. He pushes politics and he tries to run the country like a CEO. Move fast and break things. It is how corporate momentum, positions of leverage, and leadership opportunity are often created. He isn’t dumb. He isn’t racist. And he is just like you and I. There are attitudes and behaviors I have changed and created (worse and better) through the years. He has probably done the same.
      I would be willing to change my opinion of the man as the lesser pres pick of 2016 (and admit my mistake in voting) if you’re list definitely changes my mind, but I think you believe in the media created caricature of Trump. It is a trope, a straw man, a cherry-picked version of exaggerated sin and mistake. One that could easily be painted of us if we were in his shoes.

  • David W July 17, 2020, 5:42 am

    We obviously know that media is a large part of the problem, you would have to be living in a cave to not realize that, so while we are shutting things down or starting to again why not shut down the media and only allow them to report the weather and traffic for about 3 months and see what happens. I know they get those two things wrong alot as well but at least we can stop them from fanning the flames.

  • Bobs your uncle July 16, 2020, 12:09 pm

    They, the communists will use anyone they can until they are no longer useful. BLM? google unsolved murders in Missouri for starters, maybe a social worker can investigate these. The problem with the media is the facts don’t fit the narrative, the truth might make their side look bad.

    • deanbob July 17, 2020, 9:46 am

      BLM founders are self avowed Marxists. And from their own website we read that their intent is to destroy the nuclear family, in spite of how well black (and all other ethnic) nuclear families do over their lifetimes! So BLM really does not care about the black individual. They only care anarchy and chaos, and destroying what most of us love about our country.

      • Jake July 17, 2020, 12:07 pm

        BLM is a fraud. It is an offshoot of a communist group Thousand Currents. It has a convicted communist terrorist murderer on one of its boards. A woman named Rosenburg committed numerous bombings with the Weather Underground. She was pardoned by Bill Clinton on his last day in office after serving 16 years of a 58 year sentence. Their goal with BLM is to dupe Black people into supporting communism and communist revolution. They are professed Marxists and Jew haters.

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