By Lee Williams
SAF Investigative Journalism Project
A large group of unsuspecting people was waiting at a bus stop in Brownsville, Texas around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, when a Land Rover suddenly blew through a red light and barreled straight into their midst at a high rate of speed.
The bus stop was located outside of the Ozoman Center, which provides care for the city’s burgeoning migrant community.
Eighteen people where hit, six were killed instantly and two died later. Police said the driver, 34-year-old George Alvarez, has an extensive criminal record. A police spokesman described him as “uncooperative,” adding that he tried to flee the scene and gave investigators several fake names. Alvarez is facing eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a weapon. More charges are likely. The carnage he allegedly caused was the worst some officers had ever seen.
The story is already disappearing from legacy media newscasts and websites. There were no protests, marches or calls to ban Range Rovers or other SUVs. No one filed suit against Land Rover or organized a boycott. No one from the White House went blood-dancing at the scene. The 24-7 coverage that normally follows a mass killing involving a firearm never materialized, because as horrific as it was, the Brownsville killings did not fit the legacy media’s mass-murder narrative, for several reasons.
There are several factors the legacy media considers before deciding how to cover a mass murder. Here are the main considerations.
Black lives do not matter to the legacy media, at least not as much. White victims always receive more media coverage than a killing spree where the victims are people of color. The race of the murderer matters, too. A white shooter will always generate more coverage than a Black, Asian or Hispanic shooter. Downplaying or ignoring killings in a minority community is racist, but this is the type of racism the media allows. No one gets cancelled for what they don’t cover. Unfortunately, this type of racism allows the killings to continue unabated, since without media pressure elected officials know they can simply ignore the problem and hope it somehow goes away.
If an AR or AK is used in a mass murder, the legacy media has prewritten stories ready and waiting to add to their coverage. These stories usually involve interviews with biased “experts” as well as anti-gun advocates. The media wants you to believe that “assault weapons” are responsible for most firearm murders, even though the data proves otherwise.
According to the FBI’s UCR crime reports, there were 10,258 firearm homicides in 2019, but only 364 involved rifles – all types of rifles. The FBI neither defines nor maintains a specific data set for “assault rifles.” The majority of the firearm homicides, 6,368, involved handguns. Knives or other cutting instruments were responsible for 1,476 homicides that year.
Today’s cable TV news actors love to speculate about a mass-murderer’s motive, as if someone who walks into a classroom or a shopping mall and starts shooting innocent people has a legitimate reason for their killings. Their actual motive is simple: they’re crazy. They’re deranged. They are extremely mentally ill. It doesn’t matter if mommy and daddy didn’t give them enough love and attention, or if they were bullied as a child. There is no justification for shooting innocent people. Nothing in their background can excuse such horrific acts, but this doesn’t stop the legacy media from endlessly speculating about the “real reason” behind the deaths.
I worked in five newsrooms during my 20 years as an investigative reporter and editor and met scores of journalists from other organizations. I don’t need all the fingers on one hand to count the conservatives, and only two of these were gun owners.
Today’s journalists may not be able to articulate the difference between a shotgun and a rifle, but they all have a firm grasp of politics – especially leftist politics. They would never violate the left’s unwritten rule: Guns are bad. They would never stray outside the accepted political narrative; much less write a story that a shooting was justified. There are thousands of justifiable defensive gun usages every year. How many have you seen covered by the legacy media?
When a mass-murderer is male, the media usually tries and convicts them in the court of public opinion – justifiably so, most of the time. Nowadays, when a shooter is female or their gender identity is unclear, the coverage is much less accusatory. Sometimes it’s even sympathetic.
After Audrey Hale killed six people in Nashville’s Covenant School and her gender identity became known, NBC News “pointed to an already combustible political environment in which transgender people have become a frequent target of right-wing lawmakers and pundits.” Keep in mind three of Hale’s victims were nine-year-olds.
CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and even the Washington Post now rely solely on mass-shooting data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) – an anti-gun nonprofit we debunked years ago. The reason is simple. The GVA inflates body counts, so its overblown numbers have become the data set of choice for the legacy media, which is constantly seeking more sensational headlines and news stories.
How does the GVA get its inflated numbers? They created their own definition of a mass shooting, of course. When most Americans hear the term, they picture a madman stalking the halls of a school or a shopping mall, coldly murdering innocent victims. What does not come to mind are rival drug crews shooting it out in Chicago, a deranged husband murdering his entire family, or a law-abiding gun owner acting in self-defense.
Yet for the GVA, and by extension the legacy media, anytime four or more people are killed or even slightly wounded with a firearm, it’s labeled a mass shooting. For example, according to the FBI and its more conservative definition, there were 30 mass shootings in 2019. The GVA claims there were 417.
If you still don’t believe the legacy media’s coverage of mass murders is flawed and extremely biased, just look at the never-ending carnage in Chicago or any other large metro historically controlled by Democrats.
In Chicago this year, 852 people have been shot and 172 have been killed – and it’s only May. Just last week, 60 Chicagoans were shot and six died as a result. That’s more than the equivalent of one mass-shooting every week, but where is the news coverage? Where is the White House spokeswoman? Why isn’t she denouncing these killings? Where are the interviews with Giffords, Brady or Demanding Moms? Why aren’t they claiming that the guns locked in our safes are somehow responsible for the Chicago deaths? Where are the so-called gun experts at the ATF? Why aren’t they blaming Chicago’s killings on bumpstocks, pistol braces, after-market triggers or some other innocuous plastic accessory in common use? Where are the elected officials? Why aren’t they leading demonstrations, protests or marches to bring awareness to the killings?
Bottom line, today’s legacy journalists are nothing but hypocrites. If a mass-murder fits their narrative, they will cover it ad nauseum for weeks or even months. If it doesn’t meet their specific criteria, they might mention it occurred, maybe, but only if no one is likely to become offended.
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