I’m not going to mention his name because the only reason, I believe, this guy put together a new documentary on the Michael Brown shooting is to get attention. He is most probably, in my opinion, a bottomless pit of festering narcissism.
The point he is trying to make apparently is that Michael Brown traded marijuana for cigarillos with a nightshift clerk. He left the cigarillos in the store and then came back in the daytime for them. The dayshift clerk unaware of the transaction tried to stop him and that’s why Brown shoved him. Thus, it was not a strong-arm robbery on the famous video, but rather a drug deal and an assault. This to him changes everything about the incident between Brown and Officer Wilson.
Which of course, it doesn’t.
The owner of the store and the prosecutor, who called this would-be filmmaker’s claims “stupid,” both have said that the news programs footage of the events described were “poorly edited” and presented totally out of context.
These realities however, didn’t stop everyone with a pulpit—from FOX News to CNN to the New York Times—from interviewing this clueless screaming activist. In the end, not only did he get the attention he so craves, but he probably will end up making a bunch of money on the deal to boot.
So what? Who cares? Right? Wrong.
These stunts, and the platforms they are given, have real consequences. Negative consequences that will garner hardly a peep in the mainstream media.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the day after these supposed revelations: “About 100 people gathered to protest outside the market (where the Michael Brown incident took place) Sunday night. Several gunshots were fired nearby shortly before midnight. A Bellefontaine Neighbors man was charged Monday with trying to light a St. Louis County police car on fire during the protest. And a woman was charged with punching a Ferguson police officer in the face, breaking his nose.”
More outrage and more destruction—for what?
This seems to be the constant. The internet colludes with 24/7 news channels in a fight for eyeballs. A cynical race to the bottom: appealing to a sense of righteous victimhood that pits American against American.
How do you define success as a journalist or publisher in America, 2017? By the ability to reflect complex realities from multiple perspectives that will inform an electorate and enhance a vibrant democracy? Of course not!
Here’s how: You invite a screaming knucklehead on during primetime and you let him screech over people and make up facts. You descend upon a region struggling to recover from a violent and tragic epoch for just long enough to capture a few soundbites and some B-reel footage. Then you get on your airplane and fly home. Meanwhile, back where it matters, cars will be vandalized, fires set, maybe stores looted, citizens hurt, and cops injured.
It’s too easy to blame the unnamed egotist who made his film and then made the rounds at the networks. He’s just one. The real problem is a media that increasingly rewards outrage and ready-made narratives. I’m talking about not just the mainstream, but the partisan press, left and right, too.
According to Gallup in September 2016, law enforcement is one of the most respected professions in the country at 76%, behind only the military.
Meanwhile, according to the same poll, the confidence of people in this country for the media is at its lowest in recorded history! Many believe that Donald Trump won the presidency because of the public’s mistrust in the media. And none of this seems to make a difference to those who hide beneath the mantle of ‘journalist.’ Get views, amass clicks, appeal to our most base natures …
See, it comes down to money: For the media, of course, and for the so-called journalists, who in some cases will actually be paid bonuses if and when their stories go viral.
Here at Calibre we’ve dealt with plenty of journalists over the years. Some of them have been incredibly ethical: bring objectivity to the story, weighing various viewpoints, sifting through data, and so forth. I really enjoy interacting with true journalists and hold them in high esteem. But most have been openly and patently unethical: slanted, corrupt, pushing agendas, spurning any evidence that doesn’t validate the dogmas they bring to the topic.
I was being interviewed by a responsible journalist recently who surmised that the biggest media outlets and the most read and viewed journalists must have skipped ethics classes in journalism school.
“I’ve read at least three articles about your company that used the same quote but gave no mention that you didn’t give it directly to them,” he told me. “That’s as unethical as it is plagiaristic.”
The interesting thing about the quotes he referenced was that the original one was wrong when it was used by the only journalist I did talk to. The real quote didn’t fit her predetermined viewpoint so—she altered it. In my line of work that’s called planting evidence. But for her I’m sure it’s par for the course.
The problem is that there are real consequences when you have reckless media rampantly pushing agendas motivated by money. Towns are decimated. Property damaged. Homeowners displaced. Cops injured. Trust within the community—a fragile bond that must be cultivated carefully and over time—is obliterated. People, quite literally, die.
Which, of course, results in more clicks for the people who don’t live there and never would.