When racial hoaxes make news

Manteca Bulletin - - Opinion - L. BRENT BOZELL III

The lib­eral nar­ra­tive on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as­sumes his elec­tion is ev­i­dence that Amer­ica is re­turn­ing to its racist roots. In the angst-rid­den af­ter­math, the me­dia found vindi­ca­tion by re­port­ing all kinds of “hate crime” in­ci­dents, lurch­ing so ea­gerly that they fell for a few that turned out to be hoaxes. Any me­dia out­let that leaps on a small in­ci­dent of van­dal­ism as a grand state­ment on Where Amer­ica Stands ought to have the courage to make a pub­lic ac­knowl­edg­ment when the story is fraud­u­lent. To do oth­er­wise is to stoke racial fires with dis­hon­esty.

And that’s pre­cisely what they’re do­ing.

On Sept. 29, a shock­ing story came out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Five black cadets at the Air Force Acad­emy Prepara­tory School found racist mes­sages like “Go home, N-word” writ­ten out­side their rooms. The head of the Air Force Acad­emy, Lt. Gen. Jay Sil­ve­ria, had the en­tire stu­dent body stand while he de­manded that the racist per­pe­tra­tor(s) leave. It was hu­mil­i­at­ing. Put your­self in the shoes of the cadets forced to en­dure this tongue-lash­ing.

This turned into a na­tional story. On CNN “Newsroom,” Brooke Bald­win of­fered 11 min­utes of air­time to a news re­port on the story and an in­ter­view with Sil­ve­ria. And CNN’s “Erin Bur­nett OutFront” added an­other seven min­utes that in­cluded an­other Sil­ve­ria in­ter­view. “CBS Evening News” of­fered two min­utes and 45 sec­onds on it, and “NBC Nightly News” gave it about two min­utes. PBS “NewsHour” of­fered a minute.

It con­firmed a lib­eral nar­ra­tive: The U.S mil­i­tary has a racism prob­lem. But on Nov. 7, the acad­emy re­ported that one of the black cadet “vic­tims” had writ­ten the mes­sages. It was a hoax, a vi­cious, ugly hoax. Some of the news out­lets re­ported this. Bald­win of­fered three min­utes, but not the Bur­nett pro­gram. PBS gave it 22 sec­onds. But CBS and NBC couldn’t find the time. They were com­fort­able just leav­ing the fake news of racism un­cor­rected.

At Kansas State Univer­sity, Daun­tar­ius Wil­liams re­ported that his car had been van­dal­ized with graf­fiti that said “Go home N-word boy” and other mes­sages. The Kansas City Star re­ported the story on Nov. 1, com­plete with a head­line that said “stu­dents are fed up” and a quote from an outraged black stu­dent who com­plained the col­lege cam­pus doesn’t have a mul­ti­cul­tural cen­ter.

This story was an­other lie. On Nov. 6, the Ri­ley County Po­lice De­part­ment re­ported that Wil­liams con­fessed to do­ing the graf­fiti him­self and he would not be charged with fil­ing a false re­port, since he “ex­pressed sin­cere re­gret that his ac­tions had re­sulted in the neg­a­tive me­dia at­ten­tion.” Wil­liams said, “It was just a Hal­loween prank that got out of hand.” He had called the Star af­ter the in­ci­dent and said he was a Kansas State stu­dent. He lied about that, too.

On Sept. 8, 19-year-old Yas­min Seweid pleaded guilty to ly­ing to po­lice last De­cem­ber when she claimed that she had been ha­rassed by drunk white men on the New York City sub­way who yelled anti-Is­lam slurs and chanted “Don­ald Trump!” The CBS News web­site, New York Daily News and Buz­zFeed all fell for it.

On Fox’s “The Five,” Greg Gut­feld blasted Buz­zFeed for its re­sponse to the hoax. The head­line was “Woman Ar­rested For Al­legedly Mak­ing Up Story of NY Sub­way At­tack by Trump Sup­port­ers.” Now com­pare that to the orig­i­nal Buz­zFeed head­line of the in­ci­dent: “Drunk Men Yelling ‘Don­ald Trump’ At­tempt to Re­move Woman’s Hi­jab on NYC Sub­way.” There was no “al­legedly.” Ac­cord­ing to Buz­zFeed’s head­line, the hoax it­self was “al­leged” and might be real. Even to­day, while its sto­ries ad­mit the real­ity, the aw­ful head­lines keep ly­ing.

And then the press won­ders why Amer­ica has more trust in used car sales­men.

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