Sunday, May 31, 2020

Journalists Beware

Following the arrest on Friday morning of CNN reporter Oscar Jiminez in Minnesota, Ben Smith of the New York Times was interviewed on Hill TV. At 2:30 of the video below, he can be seen noting "you know, there's a long tradition of cops mistreating journalists, particularly black journalists, during protests."

Forbes' Patricia Brownlee has remarked "CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was arrested arguably for 
doing nothing other than having the audacity to do his job while also being a person of color." She asked three questions, one of which was "How would this have played out differently if the person were white (male or female)?"

We're getting a pretty good idea of the answer now that

Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, activist and author, was shot in the left eye Friday while covering the street protests in Minneapolis.

Ms. Tirado is one of a number of journalists around the country who were attacked, arrested or otherwise harassed — sometimes by police and sometimes by protesters — during their coverage of the uprisings that have erupted nationwide after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

With trust in the news media lagging, journalists have found themselves targeted.

A television reporter in Louisville, Ky., was hit by a pepper ball on live television by an officer who appeared to be aiming at her, causing her to exclaim on the air: “I’m getting shot! I’m getting shot!”

Outside the White House, protesters attacked a Fox News correspondent and his crew, taking the journalist’s microphone and striking him with it.

The latter journalist, Leland Vittert, appears to be white. So do Kaitlin Rust, the unlucky journalist in Louisville, and Linda Tirado.

None of these journalists- unlike Jiminez- was identified by his or her ethnicity. That journalistic failure is as common as it is critical.

It's a huge problem because we're thereby missing a major story- or, depending upon interpretation- a major part of the entire story. Jiminez, an Afro-Latino, himself may have been targeted in part because he appears a "person of color," a/ka/a "colored person."  Some people have pointed out that Josh Campbell, a white CNN reporter a block away, was not detained at all.. However, we do not have hard evidence as to the reason for the arrest, other than the apparent comment by the arresting officer that he was "following orders."

Nonetheless, we do know that in one instance (Rust) the culprit was a police officer and that in one instance (Vittert) the culprit was a citizen mob.  The attacker of Leland- who is now blind in her left eye- probably was a law enforcement officer, but that has not been definitively determined. All three appear to be non-Hispanic whites. (Vittert's crew may or may not have been.)

The report of only one incident was honest and complete. In Jiminez' case, we were told, properly, that he was not a non-Hispanic white. The reports on the other cases unsurprisingly omitted mentioning the individuals' ethnicity. In America. In 2020. After the killing of George Floyd.

We're learning many things, among them that (as the left periodically complains) we don't talk enough about race and that the media is all too ready to accommodate that.  Further, we know the answer to Patricia Brownlee's question. It's not mandatory that journalists be black or Latino. It's mandatory that they be journalists.

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...