Here’s How the Media Covered a Massacre: Links You Need to See


Today has been one of those days where the news is paralyzingly awful — where, indeed, you’re likely to want to use a word like “paralyzing” to describe the near-consistent sensation of despair the incessant terroristic affronts to the lives of America’s black population cause — but where there’s nothing more counterproductive than words like “paralysis.” As many have written today — after Dylann Storm Roof’s murder of nine black people during a prayer meeting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC — this is not the time to meet news with mental “paralysis” or an easy head-shake about “random acts of violence,” but with an actual attempt to comprehend and upend the hideous depths of the country’s rampant racial imbalances. These have once again been exposed (as they consistently are), not just by the massacre itself, but also from the aftermath, during which major news networks such as CNN and Fox were slow to report it (Fox, for example, kept running their interview with Donald Trump as news came out).

Fox then continued to set a paradigm, as they’re wont to do, for displaying the country’s unwillingness to confront its imbalances when they started trying to pinpoint the murders on anything other than race (Steve Doocy suggested it may be an attack against Christianity). Similarly, some presidential hopefuls have likewise insinuated that it was an assault on religious liberty — as Rick Santorum did — while others (Trump) tweeted vague condolences; Hillary Clinton suggested it was both racially motivated and catalyzed by America’s lax gun policies.

Obama gave a speech on the tragedy, emphasizing that this doesn’t happen in other developed countries. And the Washington Post suggested that he looked wearied, and recalled all of the mass shootings Obama has had to respond to during his presidency — this one being the particularly grotesque intersection of America’s profound race/gun violence problems.

Meanwhile, amid all the incessant talk about the murderer — which is only deserved insomuch as it proves anyone who doubted the racism behind the crime wholly mistaken — in order to comprehend the human toll (and not simply the political and social toll) of the tragedy, certain websites have focused long pieces on the victims, most of whom were women. Another piece in the Washington Post, meanwhile, investigates the racialized taxonomizing of mass murderers, questioning why this hasn’t been called an act of terrorism, and noting how white mass murderers are referred to, often, as “troubled.”