The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Stuff the NY Times Doesn’t Mention

Posted on | March 13, 2011 | Comments Off on Stuff the NY Times Doesn’t Mention

Who promotes racism today? The freaking media, that’s who.

It’s their tiptoe-around-unfortunate-facts attitude — this politically-correct worldview whose peculiar biases are never explicitly admitted, but which we must instead attempt to infer by occasional clues — that creates a distinct species of suspicion, because there’s this cone of silence surrounding things people know but can never say out loud. (The blessed exception being comedians, the best of whom can good-naturedly joke about ethnic stereotypes and make us laugh.) So then something happens, like 17 Mexican illegals getting killed or injured when a minivan wrecks in a high-speed chase on a highway in Texas or Arizona, which pops up as a tiny four-paragraph story out of Phoenix or Waco, and people say, “What the hell? Why isn’t the national media reporting this story in the context of our country being invaded to the tune a million illegals a year, huh?”

It’s like there’s a conspiracy, see?

An unfairness, a bias — call it what you will, but Regular Joe sees stuff like that and gets the sneaking feeling that all the Really Important Big Shots have made a secret deal behind closed doors: “Hey, let’s not report this stuff in a way that might make Regular Joe angry, because everybody knows those ignorant yahoos are just a bunch of racists looking for an excuse to do terrible things to brown people.”

Whatever you think about Regular Joe, however, he’s not so stupid that he doesn’t know the smell of bullshit when he gets downwind of a big fresh steaming pile of it.

Regular Joe may not have spent a lot of time studying political correctness and developing his own theory of media bias, but he clearly perceives that there is a funhouse-mirror distortion in the way things are reported in the media. This creates suspicion as I say and, unfortunately, this suspicion sometimes results in misplaced animosity or fear, so that the media’s tiptoeing around politically incorrect facts actually increases the kind of racism that the media’s PC attitude is intended to reduce or eliminate.

OK, so all of that was prelude to the forthcoming fugue.

The other day on Memeorandum, I noticed a headline that I didn’t have time to blog about because I was either too busy picking on Charlie Sheen, or else was focused obsessively on one of my rants about the evils of feminism. Nevertheless, the headline was an eye-catcher:

Gang Rape Story Lacked Balance

Not a headline you see every day, and I also noticed a Memeorandum thread about this:

The New York Times’ Rape-Friendly Reporting

Strong stuff there. As I said, however, I was zoned in on some other subject at the time and didn’t bother to actually click the story to see why it had drawn so much attention from the blogosphere. But I did notice it seemed to be getting a lot of attention from feminist bloggers, including Echidne of the Snakes and Feministing, where Chloe summarized the New York Times story thus:

[I]n Cleveland, TX, an 11-year-old girl was gang-raped by as many as 18 men. The story is gruesome – she was beaten, a cell-phone recording of the attack was passed around her school . . .

Chloe then pointed out that the story appeared to blame “the mother of the rape victim, the slutty, slutty 11-year-old who wore makeup and therefore deserves whatever she gets.”

Like I said, I was busy with other stuff at the time and so I never read either the New York Times story, nor the NYT ombudsman’s subsequent admission  that the story “lacked balance,” neither did I read Chloe’s post or anyone else’s commentary on the story. I just noticed the shocking headlines and the fact that this was drawing comment from feminists.

So fast-forward to Saturday evening when, after several hours of blogging about the crisis at the Japanese nuclear power plants, I decided to check out Ace of Spades HQ. Either they might have some angle of the story I’d missed, or maybe Ace would have one of his genius laugh-out-loud rants to put a smile on my face.

And scrolling down the page, what did I find? Ace blogging about that Texas gang-rape story from days earlier:

In case you’re wondering why the New York Times is attempting such a nuanced position on the relative culpability of a rape victim vis a vis her brutalizers, it’s due to a fact you can probably guess from the Times’ non-mention of it: the gang rapists are all black.
The victim is another race — Hispanic. Thus the assault is causing racial tensions, for obvious reasons; the New York Times omits that, of course.

Damn. Just damn.

You see — and I think certainly Echidne and Chloe would agree — that at the most basic level, the race of the accused rapists or their victim is utterly irrelevant to the crime. But the reality of the situation in Cleveland, Texas, is that this crime has kindled inter-ethnic resentments of a surprising nature: The New Black Panthers are rallying on behalf on the suspects, with their leader charging “selective prosecution” against blacks. You can click all the links and read all the stories and form your own opinion. But what immediately crossed my mind when I read Ace’s post was Duke lacrosse team.

Because, see, I remember very clearly how the New York Times played that story:

The incident on March 13, which occurred at an off-campus house owned by the university, has brought into sharp relief long-simmering tensions between the private university and the city. The woman is black, most of the team members are white and law-enforcement officials say they are investigating allegations that racial epithets were shouted at the woman.

That was in the second paragraph of the first front-page story they published about the Duke incident — the most incendiary element of Mike Nyfong’s (ultimately discredited) case splashed onto Page A1 of the nation’s most influential newspaper.

The New York Times pretty much convicted those Duke University students in print, and did not permit any doubt about their guilt until it became blatantly obvious that Crystal Mangum was a reckless criminal running a shakedown scam.

Now, contrast that with how the NYT played this Texas story, giving prominence to a quote from a woman bemoaning how the arrests of the suspects “just destroyed our community,” and telling readers that the 11-year-old victim “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.”

And not even a mention of the incendiary race angle, which has brought Quannell X and the Panthers to town!

Again, I repeat the accusation: This kind of bogus, deceitful, biased-to-the-point-of-outright-dishonest reporting actually causes racism.

It fosters suspicion and distorts perceptions, and incites fears and animosities that genuinely fair and truthful reporting about race relations might avert or ameliorate. People cannot fix problems that they are not permitted to talk about, and therefore journalism that emphasizes political correctness at the expense of impartial accuracy is a major obstacle to improving race relations in America.

It is a dangerous arrogance on the part of editors and reporters to presume, condescendingly, that readers cannot cope with the blunt and unvarnished facts. The New York Times has given a perfect example of that patronizing attitude — as if redneck lynch mobs might descend on Cleveland, Texas, were the racial element of this case reported — just as the same paper previously gave a perfectly obverse example when it leaped to the conclusion that those rich white boys at Duke had raped Crystal Mangum.

Regular Joe is not stupid, and will sooner or later discover the facts, and the only thing the media accomplish by attempting to deceive Regular Joe is to foreit their influence over him — and perhaps, unfortunately, to inspire in him the very kind of fear and resentment they think their political correctness is “curing.”


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