On Monday, I decided to invest my evenings flipping back-and-forth between Fox News and MSNBC because the two cable channels handled the dueling stories of the United States tiptoeing right into a third war in Iraq and the sudden appearance of what appeared to be a police state in a little town outside St Louis. From Monday to Friday, the Ferguson, Missouri story has gone from what bizarre and dangerous combat zone to one of a relief-filled carnival in the streets.
MSNBC dove headfirst into the
lida pink Ferguson, Missouri story. An unarmed
18-year-old Black named Michael Brown had been killed by an
unnamed police officer. Furious, unarmed African American
citizens were confronted by determined cops dressed in camouflage
battle fatigues, wearing helmets with plastic goggles,
brandishing automatic weapons and backed up by huge, armored-up
vehicles topped with officers pointing sniper rifles at them. It
had been a full-bore manifestation of the militarization of
community police equipped through the Pentagon with millions of
dollars worth of surplus Iraq and Afghanistan war weaponry. The
stated purpose of all of this military weaponry in our towns is
to fight world war 2 On Terror in the local level. It appeared to
aggravate an already terrible situation.
At Fox, the heavy focus was on Iraq and ISIS, the Islamic Condition of Iraq and Syria, or in another version, ISIL, the Islamic Condition of Iraq and also the Levant. (The Levant refers back to the eastern end from the Mediterranean, which of course includes Israel.) ISIS in western Iraq has declared itself The brand new Caliphate. Over and over, Fox showed excruciating video from the desperate Yazidi people trapped on a barren mountain on the edge of the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. US and Kurd forces dropped much needed supplies. A US military team was dropped into measure the situation. Sean Hannity fulminated at his most vigorous attempting to establish fundamentalist Islam as the living resurrection of the Nazis from World War Two. President barack obama caused the everything. George W. Bush never was mentioned. History was absent.
Al Sharpton hosts a nightly MSNBC show, but now he was a pumped up political activist on the floor in Ferguson. Fox hit him hard on this, virtually blaming Sharpton for stirring in the unrest, which did include several cases of looting and the burning of the gas station. The visuals out of this were similar to 1968, and Fox played on them and over. This despite Sharpton and also the dead boy's father, Michael Brown Sr., both eloquently begging the crowd to stop the looting and also the burning.
Fox introduced Jason Riley, a black editorial writer in the Wall Street Journal, who criticized Sharpton for failing to concentrate on black-on-black crime. So it opted for Fox hosts and guests overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Ferguson police department and its decision not to release the name or race from the officer who killed Brown and not to report the autopsy results about how many bullets had entered Brown's body.
MSNBC discounted the looting and burning (reportedly restricted to several incidents) and stressed the statistical good reputation for the city of 21,000 souls. In 1980, Ferguson was 85 % white and 14 percent black; while 3 decades later, it's 29 percent white and 69 percent black. The mayor and police chief are white; five from the six city counsel members are white; the school board is six white people and one Hispanic; the Ferguson Police Department has 50 white officers and three black officers, two female and something male. The shooter is presumed to be white. Eighty-six percent of traffic stops in Ferguson were for black people, and 93 percent from the arrests following those stops were for black people.
MSNBC featured a long interview using the killing's main witness, Brown's friend Dorian Johnson, a wiry, young Black male with dreadlocks. MSNBC interviewed him on camera together with his attorney, Freeman Bosley, Jr., an Black former mayor of St. Louis. Johnson said he'd yet to share his story with the police; he didn't feel the police were interested. He'd witnessed a cop shoot uncle many times, and that he did not trust the Ferguson Police Department. On a subsequent flip to Fox, they'd located a Ferguson police officer who said the department was very thinking about Johnson coupled with been trying to contact him. The suggestion was, Johnson was avoiding them.
This really is polarized America 2014. It is a little as an extreme Bach-like, radically-contrapuntal melody of alternating narratives. Or like Rashomon, jump-cuts backwards and forwards between two conflicting narratives. The Fox narrative was attempting to hold onto some kind of image of honorable police authority from the foggy past, as the MSNBC narrative was centered on the unfolding moment. Sensing the weight of their unfolding story, on Wednesday night, MSNBC went live with crude, greenish social media video until 2 AM. Traditional, remote transmitting trucks had been banned through the police.
The African American community and its sympathizers like MSNBC, Twitter and other social networking tools made the story go global. As the Ferguson Police Department and its friends like Fox marshaled its story too, aiming its information at police sympathizers round the nation. We saw this shaping of narrative in the Trayvon Martin homicide case in Florida, where the George Zimmerman's story distilled right down to whether, as the shooter, he felt afraid. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, seemingly unaware of the loaded good reputation for the term, blamed "outside agitators" for the disturbing scenes. Then several geared-up warrior cops harassed two reporters focusing on laptops inside a MacDonalds. Were these the "outside agitators"? A black Washington Post reporter who caught the exchange on cell phone videotape was bum-rushed out and, in the process, banged hard up against a soda machine. He was finally arrested, though, ultimately, no charges were filed there wasn't any record of the arrest.
Hearing eye-witness Johnson tell his story and hearing Chief Jackson relate the killer's version second-hand, you can parse out a plausible picture of what likely happened. The cop line is that Michael Brown actually got inside the police cruiser and it was struggling for the anonymous cop's gun; in this st nirvana circumstance, the cop had no choice but to shoot Brown. That Brown was ultimately shot numerous times fleeing from the patrol car is not disputed. Johnson's version would be that the boys were walking in the street and also the cruiser passed them, then stopped and backed up, winding up not far from the boys. Johnson says the cop opened his door also it hit Brown bodily. Brown apparently reacted by shoving the door back.