Have you been following all of the breathless media coverage of the riots, arson and looting in Milwaukee this week? Me neither. It’s not that I wouldn’t find the subject interesting and pertinent to the national discussion on police shootings and racial unrest. It’s simply a matter of there being almost no coverage on the cable news networks I watch during the day while working. You’d think this would be fairly major story with people being shot, officers being injured and properties burning to the ground.
So why the dearth of coverage? Jim Geraghty has a few ideas on the subject over at National Review and one of them is that the media is simply growing tired of getting repeatedly punched in the face if the desired narrative falls apart.
Last night’s “unrest” didn’t make the front page of the Boston Globe, Washington Post, or New York Times. Is it the Olympics? The presidential race? Everybody’s on vacation in August?
Perhaps the most optimistic interpretation of the muted coverage is that the media learned from its mistakes after the shooting and protests in Ferguson…
The shooting of Sylville K. Smith in Milwaukee doesn’t fit the familiar narrative at all. He was armed and refused to put down a weapon. The police chief and mayor say that the body-cam footage will confirm the officer’s account. (The officer was African-American.) Smith was far from a model citizen:
That certainly is the most “optimistic” possibility which comes to mind. Of course, another explanation is that this officer involved shooting and the riots which followed don’t fit The Narrative which Black Lives Matter wants to peddle. We don’t have the body cam footage of the incident yet, and for good reason. Until you’ve ruled out the possibility of other suspects and nailed down the case you plan to prosecute, you don’t give additional potential suspects more data which might prompt them to flee. And if you put the video out in public before you finish interviewing witnesses you risk poisoning the well. But some law enforcement officials have seen the video and what it’s expected to show is rather damning for defenders of the shooter.
The officer involved in the shooting was a black police officer, and he had his body camera on at the time of the shooting. The suspect, Sylville Smith, 23, was indeed black, but he wasn’t shot while just running away.
After reviewing the shooting footage, Milwaukee Chief Edward Flynn said, “The individual did turn toward the officer with a firearm in his hand.” Chief Flynn added that Smith was “raising up with” the gun at the time that he was shot by the officer.
Not only is this shaping up as a very different story than the one originally portrayed in terms of a guy pointing a stolen gun at the cops, the officer who shot Smith is black. Another strike against The Narrative. And the last point is the concept of “peaceful protesters” seeking change and reform in the system. Jim generously points to Larry’s recent column where some of the spokespeople for the protesters put that idea to rest.
As media benchmarks of the movement go, the story of the shooting of Sylville Smith is falling apart quickly. But far more to the point, the rioters who were burning down the city and looting businesses don’t exactly paint the perpetrators in a sympathetic light either.