Monday, December 2, 2013

The "Knockout Game" and the Myth of the "Liberal Media"

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Instead, I offer up the twice a year begging bowl. I am the worst fundraiser ever because I open my hands and ask that after you take care of home, friends, family, pets, and other commitments, that if you can find a dollar or two to throw into the Paypal collection, I would be in your debt. My online work is a blessing. It is also work and a labor of love. I appreciate all of you and the support you have given me over the years.
How do we reconcile the following observations?

According to conservatives, the news media has a "liberal bias": this is a foundational tenet of the Right-wings propaganda and disinformation campaign against the American people.

Black youth are running amok in mass and attacking white people across the country in a bacchanal of violence known as "the knockout game". 

But, if there is a "liberal media", why is the knockout game story being circulated by such "liberal" news outlets like MSNBC, CNN, The NY Times, USA Today, and others? Why would the liberal media legitimate the knockout game narrative instead of suppressing or covering it up?

The "liberal media" is a myth and a lie. There is no liberal media; there is only a corporate media. 

The knockout game is a moral panic wherein isolated incidents of random street crime are reframed as a nationwide plague upon innocent and vulnerable white people by deviant and naturally criminal blacks.

The sensational allure of the knockout game is drawn from the same racial and cultural imagination as D.W. Griffith's infamously racist film Birth of a Nation. The cultural trope of the black brute, rapist, and thug, are as central to American memory as is George Washington, apple pie, and the myth of rugged individualism and American exceptionalism.

Consequently, the allure of the knockout game for white conservatives and the Right-wing media (in an era where racism and conservatism are one in the same) is irresistible and instinctive.

The supposedly “liberal media” is influenced by similar forces.

Research in media studies, sociology, communications, and political science has repeatedly demonstrated that this supposedly "liberal" news media exaggerates and misrepresents the amount of crime in American society, emphasizes crimes committed by blacks against white people, underplays and does not report crimes committed by whites against black people (and or other white people), and actively reproduces white racist narratives that link African-Americans with crime and criminality.

Ultimately, the moral panic about the knockout game has little to do with crime and public safety. 

The knockout game meme is a byproduct of a white cultural obsession with black criminals, and a reflection of a political environment where insecurity about changing racial demographics, and the election of the United States' first black president, have combined to create cognitive and emotional upset for a good number of white Americans. These racial fears, resentments, and anxieties are catered to and nourished by a Right-wing media that birthed and rapaciously disseminated the knockout game narrative.

It is important to note that crime is at record lows in the United States. Most crime is intraracial. A person is more likely to be victimized by someone they know and who looks like them than by a stranger. 

Perhaps, the appeal of the knockout game narrative lies in its randomness? Maybe the knockout game is especially pernicious and salacious in that regard?

If that is the case, there are many other crimes in the United States that should be given at least the same amount of attention by the news media as has been received by the knockout game.

There is no equivalent moral panic about the mass shootings committed by white men, in which dozens, if not hundreds of people, have been killed and injured. Likewise, there is no mass hysteria about the record growth in the number of white hate groups and militias with the expressed intent of overthrowing the United States government and of waging a war on people of color. 

The moral panic, by design, exaggerates isolated incidents into a plague and epidemic that is a threat to all "good" people in "normal" society.

Applying that logic beyond the knockout game, why is there not a moral panic about white female teachers who have been repeatedly caught having sex with their underage students? 

There is an epidemic of drug use by white folks. Yet, there is no moral panic. 

There have been unconscionable crimes committed by white young people against blacks--such as the case in Joliet, Illinois where four white teenagers killed two African-American men, dismembered the bodies, and then had sex on top of the corpses. 

Blacks and other people of color are disproportionately the victims of white hate crimes, but there is relative silence by the mass media about that fact. White men are over represented among serial killers. They are also more likely to be child rapists, consume child pornography, commit treason, and participate in domestic terrorism. White men in the finance and banking industries committed criminal acts which destroyed the United States’ and worlds’ economies. 

Again, there is no moral panic.

White leaders are not called upon to denounce the criminals and thugs in their communities; by contrast, the demand by white folks, conservatives in particular, that black people apologize and "take responsibility" for "black crime", is a ritual of American civic and public life.

There is no discussion of “white crime” in the United States news media.

When white people commit crimes, they are not represented as a collective reflection of white people. White privilege demands that the ill deeds of white people are framed as individual acts that reveal nothing about white people in mass. Black people are almost uniquely identified with crime, and thus subjected to group stigma because of it. 

The link between black people and criminality in American society is so omnipresent that it has been the basis of political campaigns (see the infamous Willie Horton ad and the Republican Party's decades-long Southern Strategy) and influences racial attitudes on a subconscious level as measured by implicit bias tests, and public opinion as revealed by the impact of symbolic racism on white Americans' political values and beliefs.

Ironically, the knockout game is more proof that there is no "liberal media".

A liberal media would not--with those few exceptions of responsible reporting that exposed the knockout game epidemic as a moral panic and lie--circulate a narrative born from white supremacist websites, and other fringe, even by contemporary conservatism's low standards, sources such as WorldNetDaily and the American Thinker.

The phrase "if it bleeds it leads" has been used to describe how the news media frames its stories and coverage. I would suggest that the above language should be modified in the following way: "if it bleeds it leads, especially if the 'victims' are white and the 'perpetrators' are black". The "liberal media" and its Right-wing equivalent both abide by this mantra.

The moral panic around black young people and the knockout game is an object lesson in how the "liberal" and "conservative" media may be more alike than different when it comes to their shared obsession with "black crime".


KissedByTheSun said...

The media is "liberal" only if it doesn't overtly support white supremacy. Supporting the status quo inadvertently, due to deep brainwashing, is unacceptable to the white right. It must be deliberate or else it is seen as cowardice and a concession to people of color. It's the same way they treat President Obama even though he is the" scold in chief" as I've heard him called here.

Learning is Eternal... said...

The NFL, The NBA, non-athletic organizations, etc., have regulations to ensure the safety of their employees as well as the integrity of their company. it just doesn't seem that way in media.

I know there are penalties/discipline for plagiarism, slander, etc. that jeopardize journalistic integrity of such outlets but we tune in daily to the likes of faux news & the like, that violate the aforementioned daily.

When over 90% of audio & visuals are controlled by 6 corporations who sometimes own competing interest I doubt their telling one outlet stop reporting "he's from Kenya" if the opposite & truth (or something close to it) is being reported elsewhere. Just a loose example.

Maybe I'm speaking too soon, out of turn, before researching all developments and that's cool. Please correct me if I'm wrong, remember, learning (from mistakes) is eternal.

It can be overwhelming for those who don't seek the truth independently & rely on media for facts as most do.

This is a key reason I frequent WARN & the like because thoughts, information comes across freely as opposed to the filter of deadlines & bosses & advertising & investors & everything else that beat the game down.

chauncey devega said...

I think it is 3 companies now. The laws governing telecommunications have been systematically dismantled. In theory, one would think that there would be consequences for lying via the news. There are not. And, what if the public likes those lies?

Back to one of my favorite pearls of wisdom from Star Wars--great empires rot from within like a great old tree. We are seeing that now with the United States and the rise of inverted totalitarianism.

chauncey devega said...

Black and president--or even black and confident--is a threat to white supremacy. President Obama is being subjected to overt racism via macro and micro-aggressions by the Tea Party GOP. As I said a few years back if they can treat Obama this way, imagine the amount of hostility and disrespect the average person of color goes through.

Learning is Eternal said...

So on top of inverted totalitarianism and the media monopoly swiftly shrinking down to one (owner/corp.) do you think this nation will start to resemble a dictatorship or sovereign rule like the many nations we've slung venomous agitprop toward for not accepting our version of christia... **cough** democracy? My bad.
Can you imagine telecommunications/radio consisting of ONLY hitler-type speeches or Castro & Che propaganda (en route to overthrow Batista)?
This could be the end of free thinking and independent action? Yeah, that was a bit rancorous, my feeble attempt @sarcasm.
If so, this KO game will seem like a compliment in comparison to what has already been imagined and sensationalized.

Black Romulan said...

Is it possible that the US could end up looking a lot like Apartheid South Africa circa 1980s, closer to racialized illiberal democracy than full-blown dictatorship? It seems to me the two countries share a lot of the same racial ticks and have played off of each other's racial regimes in the past, so it might be if the US regresses politically that it would devolution would most model the state that modeled so much racially from it?

chauncey devega said...

What America has been for at least the last three or four decades will just drop the mask. America has never been a true democracy; the facade will just keep being revealed. As long as the proles have their cell phones, internet, and tv the system will sustain itself.

chauncey devega said...

I am going to do a post on some of your good yeoman's butt kicking of those trolls over at Alternet. Very efficient and appreciated. S. Africa, Israel, and the U.S. as well as Australia were founded as racial dictatorships and Racial States.

You may already know the work but check out Theo Goldberg and also Howard Winants book The World is a Ghetto.

Black Romulan said...

I do actually have Winants' World is a Ghetto (and love it), but I will check out Theo Goldberg; cheers for that!

Bryan Ortez said...

I always felt the 'liberal media' ploy was way off mark.

I do feel that major news outlets have become very polarized, perhaps trying to woo sets of viewers. When I had cable I watched CNN for the basic outline of current events, but I still didn't care for much of their story telling.

The concentration of power into private or even state sponsored media is a dangerous game. I thank history studies for providing me with enough context to cut through the hype.

Do you feel the Democrats do have some influence with some of the major networks? I feel they do try to manipulate info if they can... I strongly got the impression from Fox during Bush's years that any criticism of the president was just liberal blathering which they could take no part in.

I tell conservatives that they are actually liberals. They don't seem to like it... I came across this concept in studying Latin American politics, the left often refers to the state sponsored corporate charity as neoliberalism. I just like getting into the craw of some of these conservative folks. Their vision is so damn narrow. if it happened more than a few months ago it's ancient history, unless it somehow directly or indirectly effects them, either as an idea or actually touching their lives.

Bryan Ortez said...

that double murder in Joliet, Illinois is disgusting!

I tend to view this tendency toward crime, evil violence, apathetic treacherous sociopathy as a very American cultural phenomena. As it is, criminality among black Americans is viewed through the lens of a racial/cultural frame, while criminality among white Americans is an individual psycho/social pathology.

I think regardless of where they are from, inner Chicago or Baltimore, suburbs like Joliet or rural areas it is an American social phenomenon.

Gangsterism is an American underground institution. It is supported by nefarious American institutions in various ways. I am assured that the majority of the money made off the drug trade goes into the hands of probably mostly white intermediaries whohave had the advantage of travel and money to secure poppy fields and coca plantations, shipping and transport, storage, money laundering as well as chemical labs for pharmaceuticals and production of products..

Learning is Eternal said...

Confessions of an Economic Hitman much, the book and/or documentary?

I think of the film A Day w/o A Mexican. It makes satire out of cleaning 'this' nations mess. We rely heavily on crime (the most profitable kind). Dope is this nations main (side) hustle.

Bryan Ortez said...

I've never seen or read Confessions, nor the film A Day Without A Mexican...

I've heard of Confession.. I also thought there was another confessional from a Marine in the 1910's about securing political economies in Central America for American corporations. Wikipedia calls that time period the Banana Wars.

I wonder if at this same time when science is studying the coca plant for its analgesic effects and as a stimulant/intoxicant just who was involved in setting those farms up and maintaining them...

DeistPaladin said...

Anyone who thought there was a liberal bias in the media should have been disabused of this delusion during the W Bush administration. During these years, the media turned into the W's cheer-leading section for the run-up to the Iraq War. After the dust of the initial invasion settled, it became clear that all of W's fanciful reasons for the invasion, from the supposed WMD programs to the supposed links to Al Qaida, were not even remotely true. Yet, the media never sought to question the administration at that time to explain why. Neither was Bush ever questioned about why he decided to talk about his anguished decision to invade Iraq but that we had to because "we'd been attacked on 9/11" during his speech at the 2004 RNC, By that point, it was clear Saddam had absolutely nothing to do with either 9/11 or Al Qaida and linking the two in his address to the RNC is a lie by implication. Instead, they jumped on Kerry during the foreign policy presidential debate for suggesting that Bush had lied us into a war.

It wasn't until 2006 that a reporter in the White House briefing room finally had the temerity to question Bush on the real reason for invading Iraq. Bush gave the same "we'd been attacked on 9/11", repeating the same lie by implication. No follow up questions, such as "but Saddam had nothing to do with it" were allowed nor did any other reporter dare to try to pose it. This reporter, Helen Thomas, soon found herself the target of conservative shrieks of indignation and was soon removed from her choice seat in the White House briefing room. They made an example out of her.

Other examples of American media bias to the corporate agenda can be easily found since the year 2000. When Republicans win an election, even by the 51/49 margin of 2004, you hear the word "mandate" bandied around. When Democrats win an election, even by a landslide, you hear the words "voters clearly want biparisanship".

The "both sides are to blame" narrative, the Tu Quoque rationalization that gives cover to Republican abuse and incompetence, is the dominant message. A glitchy website is magically transformed into "Obama's Katrina". Afghanistan has strangely morphed into "Obama's War". A mistake about "keeping your healthcare plan" prompts shrieks of "he lied" and "how can the public ever trust him again?", yet anyone who would suggest Bush lied us into a war in Iraq was quickly pooh-poohed as being "shrill" (perhaps still is to this day, I haven't checked lately).

Keith Olbermann was fired. Glenn Beck still has a job. Baldwin was fired for an anti-gay profanity off air. Conservative commentators can call the president "a dick" on air and only serve 30 days in the penalty box. A hilarious gaffe in fact checking on 60 minutes regarding "Benghaizgate" requires only a brief apology. Dan Rather ran a true story with a faulty source on W Bush and was fired. Phil Donahue was fired for questioning the Iraq War run-up in 2003 (no apology has ever been extended to him since he was right all along). The Neo-cons that lied us into the war are still welcomed on air to offer their pearls of wisdom, never mind that many of them have never been right on anything.

But then again, reality doesn't matter to conservatives. They create their own reality and their own history.

Bryan Ortez said...

I saw O'Reilly once admit Iraq was a mistake.

He literally shrugged and said, Iraq was a mistake... nothing else. No remorse for the many innocent people killed. The debt, our own citizens' sacrifices.

If it was a mistake, it was a good mistake.

Nate said...

Don Lemon making that paper.....