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July 16, 2013

USA Today Media Writer: Media Is To Blame For Simplistic, Hero/Villain Narrative of Zimmerman Affair

Well of course, and while I agree with much of this essay, the writer eventually loses the plot, and probably deliberately.

Here's the stuff that's obviously true:

The story of their tragic confrontation on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, was framed early on. Zimmerman, then 28, was the neighborhood watch captain/"wannabe cop" who racially profiled and ultimately killed Trayvon, an unarmed, hoodie-clad black teenager out on the streets of the gated community Retreat at Twin Lakes simply because he wanted some Skittles.

The storyline quickly took root, amplified by the nearly ubiquitous images of the two: a sweet-looking photo of a several-years-younger Trayvon released by his family, and a mug shot of Zimmerman from a previous arrest in which he looks puffy and downcast. The contrasting images powerfully reinforced the images of the menacing bully and the innocent victim.

He goes on to list the media sins of NBC (deceptively editing the call to police), ABC (claiming videotape showed no injuries to Zimmerman, and later having to admit that in fact video did show injuries), and everyone who tried to fit the half-Peruvian Zimmerman into the neat simple black/white duality by inventing a new category of racial description, the infamous "White Hispanic."

The writer says that's like calling Obama a "white black."

But then he does that thing that every single media critic does when he comes to the issue of media bias: He essentially dismisses it.

Conservatives see this episode as yet another manifestation of the pervasive bias of that dreaded liberal media. But there's something else at play. Journalists are addicted above all else to the good story. And the saga of the bigoted, frustrated would-be law enforcement officer gunning down the helpless child was too good to check. It's also another example of how groupthink can shape news coverage.

They always do this. Whenever the media gets something wrong -- and they get a lot of things wrong -- they offer up various reasons for having gotten it wrong but none of those reasons are ever "persistent, ubiquitous, and blatant bias to the leftist worldview and pro-Democratic partisan sympathies."

It's always the same things, according to the media: We got sloppy. We're not perfect. Sometimes a story is "just too good to resist," whether it's true or not.

But let's look at this "too good a story to resist." The writer successfully diagnoses the Zimmerman coverage as the media attempting to simplify a complicated story, in which the facts are simultaneously messy and unknowable, into a childishly unsophisticated White Hat/Black Hat Narrative.

Fine. But why does the media always choose the same predictable Designated Heroes for its simplistic Narrative, and the same Designated Villains?

This guy says this particular storyline was "too good to resist." But why that storyline? What about another storyline -- that a man was accused of murder by an overreaching, corrupt DA who was playing politics to the anger of the mob?

That's a pretty good storyline too. It has a Hero and a Villain. It's simple.

And yet, of course, you'd never see that "too good to resist" story in the media.

Yes, the media is stupid, sloppy, lazy, incapable of showing the necessary skepticism about storylines, and monstrously herd-like in its group think. All of these things are true.

But the media's errors always fall against one side of the political divide, and always in favor of one side of it. And that is not just due to stupidity, incompetence, laziness, and all the rest.

An unbiased incompetent would get a lot of things wrong, but he'd get things wrong randomly as regards political benefit to either side of the divide.

The media does not get things wrong in a random way. They always get it wrong the exact same way.

And that's because they're not merely liberals -- which is not a knock in and of itself -- but because they are relentless, blatant, shameless partisans for the liberal cause.

And the six bazillion "the media got it wrong but not because it's liberal" claims aren't going to change that fact.

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posted by Ace at 12:53 PM

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