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Racial Justice

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  • Fox and MSNBC give murder of EJ Bradford scant coverage compared to CNN

    CNN has aired 27 segments that discussed the police shooting of Bradford, while Fox has aired 15 and MSNBC has aired 7

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On Thanksgiving Day, a police officer shot and killed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as EJ, during a mall shooting in Alabama. The police initially claimed that Bradford was the gunman, but later admitted the officer had likely shot the wrong man. In the days after the revelation, CNN offered significant coverage of the murder and conducted multiple interviews with Bradford’s family. Fox News offered markedly less coverage, and most of it occurred before the police admitted Bradford was not the shooter. MSNBC has covered the shooting the least, but has spoken to Bradford’s family and has largely discussed it in the wake of the police’s admission.

    On Thursday, November 22, police responded to a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, AL, and fatally shot Bradford, a 21-year-old Black man, later pronouncing him the gunman. The next day, the Hoover Police Department admitted in a now-deleted tweet that “our initial media release was not totally accurate” and conceded that Bradford was likely not the gunman. Police maintain that Bradford was shot after he “brandished a gun,” but the department has not provided any evidence to the public to back up this claim; AL.com reported that the family’s lawyer, prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, "asserts that, according to witnesses, Bradford was trying to guide people away from the area where the initial shooting occurred, that his gun was tucked in his waistband, and that as Bradford lay dying on the Galleria mall floor, police did not allow a nurse who was nearby to attend to him.” Bradford was an "Army veteran with a permit to carry a weapon." His family is demanding that police release videos of the mall shooting.

    Bradford’s murder is the latest tragedy in an epidemic of police violence against people of color in America. The Washington Post’s database on police violence shows that 191 Black people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2018, and a recent Vox study found that Black people comprised 31 percent of those killed by police in 2012, despite being only 13 percent of the U.S. population.

    In the four days following the incident, between November 23-26, CNN ran at least 27 segments, with more than 20 focused on Bradford’s murder after it was revealed he was not the shooter. Bradford’s father and Crump appeared on air twice, and his mother was also present for one interview. By comparison, Fox aired more segments on the initial mall shooting, in which two people were also injured, than it did on Bradford’s murder, and did not once speak to his family or their lawyer. On November 23, the day after the incident, the network dedicated nine segments to coverage of the shooting in which it reported that police had killed the gunman responsible for the violence; Fox aired six segments on November 24 after the police admitted the gunman was not the victim, and has ceased covering the story since. While MSNBC has aired just seven segments discussing the shooting, all but one occurred after the police clarification; Politics Nation spent nearly 10 minutes on the shooting, including one of MSNBC's two interviews with Crump and Bradford’s mother. CNN and MSNBC's coverage appears to be ongoing.

    Fox’s unimpressive coverage should come as no surprise given the network’s history of apathy toward victims of police violence. Fox figures and guests often blame victims of police violence, or else rely on racist portrayals of minority communities to excuse officers’ actions. The network routinely demonizes Black Lives Matter, a group protesting police violence against people of color, and constantly fearmongers about awar on cops” to avoid discussing the impact and frequency of police violence.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream for mentions of “Bradford,” “Alabama,” “Birmingham,” “police,” “mall,” and any iteration of the word “shoot” on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on November 22 through the time of publication.

  • NRATV ignored the Kroger shooting in Kentucky after backing the store’s open-carry policy

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet, completely ignored news of an apparently racially motivated shooting at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky that debunked the already discredited “good guy with a gun” myth and left two dead.

    On October 24, 51-year-old Gregory Bush attempted to enter a predominantly Black church in Jeffersontown, KY, before heading to a Kroger grocery store where he shot two Black victims, the first in the store and the second in the parking lot. An armed bystander fired at Bush after he shot his second victim but missed him. Another witness said Bush told him he spared the witness’s life because “Whites don’t shoot whites.” The incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime. 

    The attempted action by an armed bystander further discredits the “good guy with a gun” myth,” a favorite of the NRA’s that has been debunked by both researchers and law enforcement. The “good guy” almost never stops an active shooter situation and actually can create further confusion for police officers arriving on scene.

    On October 25 and 26, none of NRATV’s supposed news shows covered the shooting or developments in the days that followed, instead choosing to spread conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan making its way toward the United States, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the recent pipe bomb spree, and promote athletic clothes with a holster in them.

    The shooting followed a 2014 campaign by the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, encouraging Kroger to “prohibit the open carry of guns in its stores.” NRATV aired multiple segments pushing back against the effort and claiming the campaign was “not about actually reducing violence; it’s about winning that press release victory.”

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch mentioned the shooting during the October 29 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, noting it “raised a lot of questions as to whether or not this killer’s motivations were racial.” A chyron on Loesch’s show also falsely hailed it as an example of a shooting “stopped by good guy with a gun.” While the gunman did exchange fire in the Kroger parking lot with a person with a concealed carry permit, no one was hit in the exchange. According to another witness, who was also armed, the gunman “nonchalantly” left the scene after reportedly telling the witness, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites,” a fact Loesch herself noted during the segment.

  • The March for Black Women: They stand up, they fight, and they vote, and it's time media took notice

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH WASKO & MILES LE

    During the 2018 March for Black Women, Black womxn and allies marched in Washington, D.C., to protest the systemic injustices they face and to disavow systemic over-policing, gender-based violence, sexual assault, wealth inequity, and lack of political response to securing Black womxn’s basic rights. Protesters also spoke about the media’s failure to adequately cover their causes.

    Black womxn have long been the leading forces in social justice movements. They stand up, they fight, and they vote. It’s about time media start highlighting their invaluable leadership and elevate their voices as they fight for social change.

  • Video: DeRay Mckesson calls out Fox News for painting Black communities as “violent people” to justify police violence

    In his new book, On The Other Side of Freedom, Mckesson wants to challenge audiences in thinking how to advance social and racial justice by “taking the truth with us everywhere we go,” while using hope as fuel

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    During a conversation with Media Matters, activist and author DeRay Mckesson touched upon the ways that local and national media coverage of police violence have improved in recent years, explaining that because of these changes, “now people generally have [the] language” to talk about these issues.

    Mckesson also addressed the role Fox News has played in pushing the false narrative that police violence against Black people is justifiable and the baseless claim that Black communities are violent, suggesting that progressives need to challenge these narratives and “attack the underlying idea” behind these falsehoods. His new book, On The Other Side of Freedom, provides data to combat myths that help perpetuate police violence against Black communities, tackles issues of identity, explores the role of social media, and suggests using hope to fuel the fight towards racial justice. Watch our conversation with Mckesson:

    Video by John Kerr and Miles Le