How Newspapers Lie

A front page story in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune is a good illustration of how corrupt today’s press has become. It would be insignificant, except for the fact that its dishonesty is replicated thousands of times every day, in newspapers across the country.

The Strib’s story is headlined, in the print edition, “Town Lashes Out at Floyd’s Uncle.” The story refers to a controversy that occurred several months ago in Gettysburg, South Dakota, population 1,162, where, coincidentally, George Floyd’s uncle Selwyn Jones lives. Strib reporter Chao Xiong describes the controversy this way: “Jones led the charge to remove Confederate flag-adorned patches from the uniforms of Gettysburg police.” At the outset, there are several problems with this story.

First, there is no news to report, unless you consider a handful of random Facebook posts to be news. Nothing has happened in Gettysburg in the last three months that deserves to be on a newspaper’s front page, or any page. It is a recycled story, at best.

Second, the story never explains what the Gettysburg controversy was about. If you didn’t know better, you would think that the little town of Gettysburg, which is named after the battle, is weirdly pro-Confederate, despite being located in the North and having been settled overwhelmingly by Union veterans. Actually, the flag patch simply showed a cannon and crossed Union and Confederate flags. Such crossed flags have been common pictorial symbols of the Civil War for over 150 years.

The Gettysburg police patch was in that tradition. The town is named after the battle. There were two sides in the battle, Union and Confederate. Hence the patch:

The Strib’s online story has an image of the police patch, but the print version does not. It does, however, include a photo of a Confederate flag, all by itself, and the reporter refers to the patch as a “Confederate flag logo.” Most readers probably would understand that the Gettysburg Police Department was making a racist statement by featuring only the Confederate flag on its uniforms.

Third, as the Strib article briefly acknowledges, the handful of leftists, led by Jones, who objected to the police force’s patch got their way. After they complained, it was immediately removed from officers’ uniforms. So what is the point?

The point is to reinforce BLM themes, starting with George Floyd:

But not long after his nephew, George Floyd, was killed by Minneapolis police in May….

That Floyd was killed by the police is reported as a fact. In reality, it is a controversial proposition that presumably will be hotly debated if any officers are actually tried.

Some people from town and across the state called out Floyd’s criminal history. Others noted that he had fentanyl in his system when he died.

Floyd didn’t just “have fentanyl in his system” along with other drugs, he had two to three times a lethal dose of fentanyl. And he was showing symptoms of a fentanyl overdose (i.e., inability to breathe) from the moment the first police officers arrived on the scene. But the officers will never get a fair trial because of thousands of “news” stories like this one.

The real target, of course, is President Trump. Every day, virtually every American newspaper runs stories like this one–no actual news, just a recycling of anti-Trump themes:

The turmoil in Gettysburg, about 350 miles west of the Twin Cities, is among many signs nationally of racially charged expression erupting more in public life, even becoming normalized. Many civic and political leaders are worried that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and lack of condemnation of white supremacy is emboldening those who hold such beliefs.

The reporter’s claim that President Trump hasn’t condemned white supremacy is a lie. Trump has done so numerous times. Note, too, the favorite trick of the dishonest reporter: attributing his own opinion to anonymous “civic and political leaders,” as though this makes it news. More:

The [Facebook] posts are emblematic of the country’s new “overt racial consciousness” that is divided between social justice efforts and resurging white nationalism, said Enid Logan, associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and associate chairwoman of the department.
“A lot of this … discourse has clearly been inflamed and encouraged by Donald Trump,” Logan said, adding that such beliefs gained “a new sort of legitimacy” under him.

This is what much “news” reporting is all about today. Reporters know that Joe Biden is a terrible presidential candidate, but they are determined to drag his feeble carcass across the finish line. The sad truth is that there is little point to reading newspapers these days. Any actual news they might contain is overwhelmed by sheer political propaganda.

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