May 09, 2014
“Da news!” yells a 70-year-old man at the bar around the corner from my office. Then he harrumphs and adds, “Yeah, I LOVE watching da news.” His friend the bartender nods in agreement and replies, “Fuck da fuckin” news. I like cartoons.” Jon Stewart would pause it here and put his head in his hands so all the upper-middle-class liberals could laugh at these uninformed plebes, but I wasn”t laughing. They”re right. The news is worse than a cartoon and it has less and less to do with informing people. It’s become a strange combination of sports and fashion where you follow trends and root for your team.
Last month, Ohio’s Peg and Jeffrey Schoebert were bludgeoned to death by a black teenager because they thought he”d be a terrible boyfriend. The story is very hard to find outside of local news sources but Britain noticed. I got the story through friends in Ohio who met Peggy’s sister. Apparently, the rich, white Schoeberts adopted an East Indian girl who later identified as black. She thought her upbringing was too square and wanted a “more ghetto experience” (the sister’s words), so the parents allowed her to leave private school and go to a public school in a bad area. She hooked up with Shawn Eric Ford, Jr. and soon after, found herself in a knife fight. Her parents decided that was enough ghetto experience for one lifetime and forbade her from seeing Eric. He retaliated by bashing in their skulls with a sledgehammer, and he wasn”t alone. Has anyone heard this story?
What about the white couple in Knoxville, Tennessee who were raped and murdered by five black people (including a woman) back in 2007? Christopher Newsom was shot in the back of the head after being raped with an object but his girlfriend Channon Christian was violated for much longer. Then they poured bleach down her throat and left her to suffocate in the garbage. These stories don”t make the major news outlets.
They finally seem to be paying attention to the 254 girls who were kidnapped by Islamists in Nigeria, but this is only after there are some hopeful signs America will intervene and save the day. Back when they were burning young boys alive, Boko Haram was too disturbing to cover.
All of these stories involve blacks committing unthinkable crimes, and it’s reasonable to assume we don”t hear about them because they don”t fit the narrative of the evil white man ruining the world”but the old men in the bar made me think there’s more to the story. It’s not that these stories are about blacks. It’s that they are unthinkable. Reverse racism is a factor but the real driving force is money and if news isn”t entertaining, it’s bad for business. The media only cares what stories are sexiest and in that sense, they”re sexy-ist. The reason black people’s atrocities are ignored is because they tend to be involved in the least sexy misery news”not just of the country”but of the world. That’s why I was so confused by the Kony 2012 campaign. Congratulations, you found a murderous despot in Africa. That’s like finding hay in a haystack.
I still think the biggest story of the year is that the IRS is blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on tax credit scams. That’s not being ignored because it’s black. It’s ignored because it involves graphs and numbers and other things that remind us of homework. There are countless other non-black stories that are ignored because of sexy-ism. Economics in general is written off as too dull to cover, and when the science of global warming approaches true evidence, it’s dropped. We want to see glum polar bears, not charts that go back 4.5 billion years.
A happy suburban family destroyed by murder like Scott and Laci Peterson is a good story. We want to hear about Jon Benet Ramsey if you promise to leave out the gruesome details. A missing plane can pay CNN’s bills for months, and juvenile accusations of sexism and racism are even more lucrative. Here in NYC, there is about a murder a day. If the paper showed each one in all its gruesome details, it would make you want to kill yourself.
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