Opinion

NPR Issues Outlandish Disclaimer About the Columbus Shooting That Summarizes Contemporary Journalism

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Posted: Apr 27, 2021 12:01 AM
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NPR Issues Outlandish Disclaimer About the Columbus Shooting That Summarizes Contemporary Journalism

Source: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

The shooting by police of Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus Ohio as she was engaged in the act of attempted murder has brought out all of the worst in our media complex. False claims, narrative-pushing reports, misinformation, and emotional activism have all been prevalent. The miscarriage of journalistic ethics has been stark then, as it appeared the press had reached its nadir last week, in stepped National Public Radio to dig themselves in even deeper.

Bodycam footage shows Ma’Khia inches from sending a long-bladed knife into a potential victim just as she was shot, after refusing police orders. The mainstream media has been all over the map in their coverage of the shooting, with very few ever accurate. The Daily Beast did little in the way of investigating, relying solely on a family member of Bryant for details. MSNBC guest Ben Crump claimed that Bryant was unarmed when she was shot. Huffington Post gave a video synopsis that seems to indicate a knife mystically materializing near the fallen Bryant. 

Worse yet was The Washington Post, with its coverage of the event -- posted after the police video had been released the night prior. Police said at a late news conference on Tuesday that the girl had threatened two others with a knife before the shooting. Uh, no WaPo  -- police showed that she threatened the others. The knife is clear, in her hand, as she is lunging at another girl. Despite these obvious visuals the gaslighting continued, as the outlet also told the magical knife tale. Playing segments of body camera video that showed the victim lunging toward someone in a driveway before an officer fired four shots. A knife is visible in the driveway next to the girl as police perform CPR on her.

Enter NPR. In its lengthy coverage of the shooting they too provide little in the way of mentioning the brandished weapon, also choosing to pretend they cannot see the same video the rest of the country has watched. They report it as a claim made by the police --  (Police Chief)Woods said the video shows Bryant holding a knife as she pushes two girls. He said police believe she is attempting to stab both girls during the fight. It seems NPR cannot trust their own lying eyes, but they also seem aware of their flaw, because at the bottom of their report they offer up an astounding admission, in the form of a disclaimer.

  • This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.

 This is -- remarkable. There is quite a bit to untuck with this. Starting with the concept that ’’facts’’ which turn out to be wrong are, by definition, not factual. This then leads into the primary issue seen not just from NPR on this matter, but all other media outlets -- why are you reporting on items and details of which you are unsure?! It is your very job description to get the facts correct and then report those. Otherwise you are simply running speculation and hearsay, which is a rather galling admission tucked into this disclaimer. Stating you will update as things warrant is tipping the hand that you realize this is a case of running garbage content. 

This very practice also undermines their claim to be using ’’credible news outlets’’; any source resorting to this farcical application of journalism invalidates itself to be labeled as ’’credible’’.

Bear in mind, NPR is the same source that declared boldly last fall they would not run the Hunter Biden laptop news. In a piece from the organization's public editor, they established why “We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.’’ Cited were the claims of Russian disinformation being a factor -- all while admitting, “Even if Russia can’t be positively connected to this information.“ 

This, even though the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, had previously confirmed the story and stated it was not a factor of Russian intelligence. 

Now let us look at the polarity of the journalism on display at NPR, and the broader media industry. In these two stories we see them either running unsourced, unverified, and/or incorrect details on a breaking news item, or they are completely abdicating from any coverage whatsoever. In between these extremes you have what is the core of journalism; investigation, vetting, research, data collection, and interviews for testimonials. The press is instead declaring they mainly want to operate from one of the two poles -- shoddy work done on the fly for the sake of breaking news, or delivering commentary to justify not covering a story outright.

It is unacceptable enough that these outlets are engaged in this activity, but now we get them serving up disclaimers to somehow excuse their reports which are bereft of accurate details. Instead of striving to become better at their work the modern journalists are more interested in working on justifying their retrograde coverage.