The Campaign Spot

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations

Awful, predictable, and awfully predictable:

Shortly after 1:30 a.m., St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar spoke with reporters at a press conference after a night of looting and burned-out businesses after the grand jury announcement. He said he was grateful nobody was killed but disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area.

“What I’ve seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that’s truly unfortunate,” he said.

He said that there was basically “nothing left” along West Florissant between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road. “Frankly, I’m heartbroken about that,” he said.

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said, “We talked about peaceful protest, and that did not happen tonight. We definitely have done something here that’s going to impact our community for a long time . . . that’s not how we create change.”

Belmar said that officers did deploy tear gas near West Florissant and Chambers roads and a highway patrol lieutenant was hit by a glass bottle. He said as far as he knew police did not fire shots but there was plenty of gunfire in the area. He said he personally heard at least 150 shots.

Crazy thought here; next time you have a controversial announcement to make, do it at 7 a.m.; the hooligans are still sleeping.

For all of the people who see the events in Ferguson, Mo., as deeply symbolic, an example of giant, pressing national problems and deep-rooted injustices and discrimination against the African-American community, particularly in poorer communities . . . I cannot help but suspect that millions of Americans don’t find it symbolic of much of anything at all. Correction; if it symbolizes anything, it reflects the media’s appetite for a preconceived storyline involving a “gentle giant” and a villainous cop:

Teachers described Brown as a “gentle giant,” a student who loomed large and didn’t cause trouble. Friends describe him as a quiet person with a wicked sense of humor, one who loved music and had begun to rap. He fought an uphill battle to graduate.

Above: The “gentle giant” assaulting a convenience-store worker.

Liberals struggle with this as well; Daily Kos commenters turned on each other in discussing whether the convenience-store video revealed something meaningful about Brown. At issue is the inability to simultaneously rectify the notion that Brown wasn’t a “gentle giant” and was in fact a bully and a thief and the notion that whatever Brown did, it’s an awful tragedy for an 18-year-old to get shot and killed. Maybe the shooting was justified, but that doesn’t mean it was a good thing.


Greg Gutfeld mentioned a New York Times reporter who seemed to object to reporting that the coroner’s report that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of death, by asking, “Why does it matter that he had marijuana in his system?”

Gutfeld answered: It matters because it’s a fact.

He further noted that the media seemed very interested in a “clean narrative” — not accurate reporting, but a clean, Aesop’s Fable-like tight little narrative that proved a particular point in an ongoing Morality Play called “the news.”

He’s right: The “narrative-makers” of the media are interested in writing Aesop’s Fables with a political agenda item, and not so interested in reporting the facts of incidents and events, which are often messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson” — Because life itself is messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson.”

Life is complicated — when the New York Times reports on progressive agenda items, less so.

Reporting used to be about real life.

But it’s not about real life anymore. It’s about simplified, sharp-corners-sanded-down fables — like children’s stories.

The media is writing their reports like Children’s Stories because they conceive of their audience as essentially children, whom you must protect from jarring facts which might teach “the wrong lessons.”

People were willing to set strangers’ cars on fire because they were absolutely certain what happened, in a sequence of events they did not personally witness.


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