Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Inflammatory Journalism

I have an ongoing problem with CNN. It's one thing to report on valid news with whatever slant an agency has, be it to the left or right; it's quite another to attempt to "puff" a story and make it big news. ABC has a problem with that often. I turn on "Good Morning America" to see how things went overnight in Iraq, Washington, and anywhere else newsworthy. Too often I have to hear first who one on "Dancing with the Stars." That's artificial journalism, though not with malicious intent on the part of ABC -- Disney has always been known for its overzealous self-promotion -- but it sure messes up the priorities on what's important.

CNN, on the other hand, has been intentionally irresponsible. As if we didn't already have enough racially inflammatory events that have actually happened, they had to invent one. I'm genuinely sorry about the accident last week. It's always tragic when someone dies. Four teens were out well after midnight after leaving a party, and at a high rate of speed, lost control of a car. Alcohol was probably a factor as well. None of them had seat belts on. All were thrown from the car. One of the two surving teens made his way to the road and waved for help, and a motorist called 911. The police appeared immediately to offer aid to the two survivors. They told police of two other occupants, but in the dark of night, the police did not find them. At to this an incoherency of speech due to, at least, the excitement of the moment, and they assumed that the other two had possibly left the scene of the accident.

The incident poses questions to me immediately. Why was there alcohol available to minors at a late night party? How will we ever get young people to protect themselves if they don't even have the sense to "buckle up" when they drive? Why would parents not be concerned where their children were late at night?

Hours later, grieving parents went to the scene of the accident and, combing the wreckage, found the bodies that had been thrown from the car. The coroner has noted that the two probably died instantly from the high-speed impact. Sad, indeed, and regrettable. Lives and potential lost.

Now enter CNN. Give some understanding to grieving parents. They have made accusations, angry commentary, and asked for action. If I were in their shoes, I might have done the same thing, because I'd be hurting, looking for some reason in the midst of total loss. Any understanding parent would give them a pass and allow them to vent. They also need to be shown love from family, friends, and their minister.

But back to CNN. Their slant is one thing: Police negligence! It was the police's fault. In spite of the coroner's report, they believe that police inaction led to the boys' death (not speeding, alcohol, or lack of a seat belt). They readily quote the parents' call for the police commissioner's resignation; after all, he had to be the cause of this.

Let's be sure to play the race card. We have been inundated with the fact that the victims are all black; the parents are black. The police must have delayed their search because they didn't care if black people died; right? Interestingly, no one has mentioned the color of the police involved. I don't know whether they were black or white. I look forward to the day when the so-called egalitarian media can report a story without using race as a factor. It is time for us to follow Dr. King's "dream," and talk, not about the color of skin, but the content of character.

I wrote a letter to CNN on the day they headlined the inflammatory article. I got an auto-response, of course, which means, "No one of any import will ever read this, because we really don't care what you think." The next day, they were still riding the article, this time with a quote from one of the surviving kids, "If not for the police, they would still be alive." Now we're supposing the (white) police pushed these poor black kids into the ditch and left them to die there, kind of like "Mississippi Burning." I wrote another letter to CNN; same response.

Now, two days after the last story, they headlined it again, noting again how the father found the victims after the police refused to.

Is this a tragic event? Of course! Does our heart go out to those who are suffering through this? You'd better believe it! Has CNN showed responsible journalism? Yes, if you call Wal-Mart-waiting-line-tabloid-Elvis-is-Alive news articles "responsible." Otherwise, it is shameful. We don't need more inflammatory journalism. There were some wrongs here, but they were not with the police. I'm wanting to know who supplied alcohol to these minors. I'm wanting to know about the after-midnight party, and why they were there. I'm wanting to know why all these concerned parents weren't concerned about where their children were at 1 AM.

But CNN wants to widen the race gap, for reasons I don't understand. They want to accuse the people who work for half the salary of a news journalist, who stay out all night trying to prevent what happened in this terrible accident.

It's cheap journalism, and they don't have to answer to anyone about it. How long they can milk this story, I don't know. But if everyone is to share blame for the tragedy of this event, give a big portion of it to CNN. This is not journalism; it's childish irresponsibility.

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