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They Learned Nothing From Sandmann: CNN Smears a Police Force as Racist, Despite Its Own Report

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Ron Harris/AP Photo

In yet another example of the press being incapable of refraining from falling into its preordained tropes, CNN lapses into a blatant case of unfounded racism in a news report. Making this example risible is the simple fact that the story is intriguing enough on its own without a need for racial hysterics. Then taking it to an asinine level is the detail that CNN invalidates its own claim in its report.


The case revolves around the drama in the small town of Kenley, North Carolina. The population of only 1,500 has a police force of just six people. Make that, “had” a police force. Resignations were turned in this week of the 5 officers, the police chief, as well as two town clerks. All of the letters cited untenable working conditions and excessive disciplinary actions taken by the newly installed town clerk, Justine Jones.

Despite the references and the testimonies pointing at the stressful conditions they had been placed under with the arrival of Jones at the beginning of June, CNN sees fit to allude to an altogether different reason. The news outlet touts, without much merit, that the reason for the resignations may have had a racial component.

As proof of this being a default position for the news outlet, the lack of applied common sense is rather glaring. First, you have the fact that Jones had been initially selected for the position with full support of the town leaders. Upon her arrival the city announced she was chosen with a unanimous vote by the council; having two of its members quitting with the inference of racism defies common sense, since they had to have initially approved of her hiring.


In my daily column, Riffed From The Headlines, I provide a category entitled “Presentation Paradox”, where a news entry will have a disqualifying detail that undermines the premise of the piece. CNN – in order to sell the racial component as a cause – had to bypass the fact that Jones’ predecessor was himself a POC. Eventually, deep in the article, we receive the revealing detail about this city.

Others in the community say they believe there is not a racial component to the situation due to the fact the previous town manager was a Black man. Some residents also cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying they've always had a good relationship with the police department.

This means we have a town that had a black town manager, and followed that up by hiring the next town manager who was also black…yet we need to look at the department quitting as a group is the result of implied racism. 

Despite the history of this town in hiring POC individuals, and CNN giving us the detail that cancels out the implication of racism, the outlet still choose to frontload the storyline of racial intolerance, with a dose of possible sexism included. (Another passage seemed to hedge on a related aspect; Studies show people in organizations often think Black women are more likely to have angry personalities, with studies also suggesting that this negative perception is a unique occurrence for Black women, according to the Harvard Business Review.)


The resistance to looking at this as a case of an individual provoking these is quite evident. The racial and gender influences must be completely placed in the foreground, before looking into possible motivations behind a collective resignation. That is the only thing that makes sense to CNN.


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