CREDO Action & Dana Liebelson / The Huffington Post & The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence & Timothy Johnson / Media Matters – 2018-03-31 22:55:07
Tell The New York Times:
Stop Humanizing Violent White Extremists
The petition to The New York Times reads:
“Stop humanizing violent white extremists, defaming Black people murdered by police and perpetuating anti-Muslim bias.”
(March 31, 2018) — Mark Anthony Condit killed two Black men, injured four other people and terrorized Austin, Texas for 19 days. The New York Times called him a quiet, kind loner and devout Christian. (1)
White extremist violence has been on the rise since Donald Trump took office, and his racist administration is refusing to do anything about it. (2) By humanizing white killers, The New York Times is using its platform and credibility to reinforce the racism that is both driving this crisis and sweeping it under the rug. This needs to stop now.
This is not the first time The New York Times has sanitized and sanctioned violent white extremism. It described Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas, as a shy man who led a “highly unconventional life” and “dabbled in real estate.” (3) It also called white nationalist Dylann Roof, who brutally gunned down nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina, a “silent young man” from a “broken home.” (4)
In contrast, The New York Times has helped perpetuate the collective criminalization of Black people by defaming and dehumanizing Black men and children killed by police. It called Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager murdered by a racist in Florida, a “gangster” with “questionable character.” (5)
It included Alton Sterling’s criminal record in its coverage of his murder, which had nothing to do with why two police officers in Louisiana shot him to death at a convenience store where he was selling CDs. (6) In its coverage of the Missouri police murder of Mike Brown, The New York Times described him as “no angel.” (7)
The Times has even gone so far as to publish stories about the “hidden grieving process” of police who murder Black people, further diminishing these crimes and sanctioning police violence against communities of color. (8)
The New York Times is also guilty of contributing to the media’s anti-Muslim bias. A recent report found that when a perpetrator is Muslim, traditional media outlets will give the story 4.5 times more media coverage than when a perpetrator is not Muslim. (9)
A non-Muslim perpetrator would need to kill at least 7 more people to get the same amount of media attention. (10) This bias in reporting means that the public is bombarded with stories perpetuating the myth that Muslims are dangerous.
Meanwhile, when traditional media outlets like The New York Times cover stories about white violence, they do not vilify these murderers. They humanize white people who terrorize and kill people of color. The New York Times can do better, but it won’t unless we demand it.
Recently, a Louisiana court decided not to charge the two police officers who killed Alton Sterling even though their heinous crime was captured on video. (11) A
s long as major media outlets like The New York Times continue to stoke the public’s empathy for white murderers while dehumanizing Black victims and perpetuating anti-Muslim bias, we can expect more verdicts like this one and the crisis of violent white extremism to get worse.
The New York Times knows that it has a problem but doesn’t seem prepared to act. It recently published a piece acknowledging that it wrongly painted the Austin bomber as a victim and degraded Black people killed by police in the past. (12) But it stopped short of committing to changing the way it covers these stories, which is why we must keep pushing.
ACTION: Tell The New York Times: Stop humanizing violent white extremists. Click this link to sign the petition.
Thanks for speaking out,
Nicole Regalado, Campaign Manager, CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Elham Khatami, “The double standard on how the media is talking about the Austin bomber,” ThinkProgress, March 22, 2018.
2. Jennifer Williams, “White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners,” Vox, Oct. 2, 2017.
3. Jose A. Del Real and Jonah Engel Bromwich, “Stephen Paddock, Las Vegas Suspect, Was a Gambler Who Drew Little Attention,” The New York Times, Oct. 2, 2017.
4. Frances Robles and Nikita Stewart, “Dylann Roof’s Past Reveals Trouble at Home and School,” The New York Times, July 16, 2015.
5. Lizette Alvarez, “Defense in Trayvon Martin Case Raises Questions About the Victim’s Character,” The New York Times, May 23, 2013.
6. Richard Fausset, Richard Perez-Pena and Campbell Robertson, “Alton Sterling Shooting in Baton Rouge Prompts Justice Dept. Investigation,” The New York Times, July 6, 2016.
7. Margaret Sullivan, “An Ill-Chosen Phrase, ‘No Angel,’ Brings a Storm of Protest,” The New York Times, Aug. 25, 2014.
8. Mitch Smith and Serge F. Kovaleski, “For Officers in Fatal Shootings, an Unseen ‘Grieving Process,'” The New York Times, June 6, 2018.
9. Erin M. Kearns, Allison Betus and Anthony Lemieux, “Yes, the media do underreport some terrorist attacks. Just not the ones most people think of.” The Washington Post, March 13, 2017.
10. Tara Boyle et al., “When Is It ‘Terrorism’? How The Media Cover Attacks By Muslim Perpetrators,” NPR, June 19, 2017.
11. Mark Berman and Wesley Lowery, “Baton Rouge police officers won’t be charged in fatal shooting of Alton Sterling,” The Washington Post, March 27, 2018.
12. Marc Lacey, “‘He Is Not a Victim’: Our Austin Bomber Coverage Explained,” The New York Times, March 28, 2018.
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