Three bored teens shot and killed in cold blood an Australian college student in Oklahoma recently, a senseless murder that has shocked two nations and caused what some might dub an international incident.
Yet, most mainstream media outlets have chosen to ignore the horrific tragedy.
While wall-to-wall coverage of the George Zimmerman trial preempted all other news for nearly two weeks in July, this incident – which prompted government officials from both the US and Australia to speak out over the pain and outrage it has caused – has not received its deserved equal coverage.
Zimmerman claimed he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Michael Jones, one of the three teens involved in the murder of Lane, told police they killed Lane because, “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do.”
It’s clear those making decisions at most mainstream news outlets don’t believe Chris Lane’s murder fits the narrative of national news they want to present – an alleged war on black people.
Thanks to the media, the American people didn’t believe Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. Many continue to believe Zimmerman confronted Martin after racially profiling him. This was in large part fueled by NBC’s doctoring of the audio tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call, framing Zimmerman to look like a racist.
In the edited tape, Zimmerman can be heard telling the dispatcher, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” In reality, Zimmerman didn’t reference Martin’s race until the dispatcher asked him if he was white, black or Hispanic. The tape helped spark a race controversy that never should have existed. Other than Zimmerman being a white-Hispanic and Martin being black, there was no evidence suggesting Zimmerman did what he did what he did out of racism.
Meanwhile, NBC decided to blindfold itself to race in Christopher Lane’s case. One of his killers, James Edwards, tweeted back in April, “90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM.”
There was nothing from NBC about the tweet. Literally. CBS News also remained silent. As a result, there was no outcry from the country about a “hate crime,” like there was for Trayvon Martin’s case.
Though Oklahoma City District Attorney Jason Hicks acknowledged there was insufficient evidence to prove race was a primary factor in the shooting, why isn’t the controversial tweet even being mentioned by some of the most prestigious mainstream media outlets?
With the race controversy surrounding George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, it is safe to say NBC would have had a field day using that piece of evidence to portray Zimmerman as a racist.
If Zimmerman is going to be criticized, it should be for being an overzealous, wannabe police officer, not for being a racist. Zimmerman had no business getting out of his car to follow Martin. As all neighborhood watch groups tell their members, their job is simply to report suspicious activity, and let law enforcement take over from there.
The media has a job to report the news, not to promote an agenda, which is exactly what it did with Trayvon Martin. By giving all the attention to “white on black killing,” while ignoring “black on white killing,” the media is painting an unfair picture. It is creating the mindset of a “war on black men,” despite no evidence of such a trend.
According to the United States Department of Justice, white people accounted for 45.3 percent of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, while blacks accounted for 52.5 percent. Although blacks have a higher victimization rate, the report noted that most of these homicides are intraracial, with over 90 percent of the offenders being black.
As far as interracial murders go, the FBI found that “black on white” homicides occur twice as much as “white on black killings.” In 2011 alone, there were 448 “black on white” murders compared to 193 “white on black” murders. This rate has held relatively consistent for decades.
As members of the media, we are not doing our job by creating a false perception of a war on black men. Two innocent young men tragically lost their lives in the most unfortunate of ways. Both cases unquestionably deserve national attention. However, to inject race into one while essentially ignoring the other is a disgrace.
Fix contributor Michael Cipriano is a student at American University.