…the Bleacherman has entered the stadium…
Sometimes, as I night after night watch the newest American tragedy unfolding nightly in Ferguson, Missouri, I wonder what is the bigger malfeasance; the death of Michael Brown, the violent protests, police over-reaction or the blatant, careless and often unprofessional, self-serving demeanor of the press, politicians and political activists in rushing to pass judgment in order to get their point made and smiling faces on television.
The situation in Ferguson is a textbook case of too many people talking way too much. It is a textbook case of how the press can manipulate a story to fit its own agenda. It is an example of political activists and community leaders purposely massaging and manipulating facts to fit a highly polarized, very narrow minded agenda.
As this blogger has stated several times in prior posts, the death of Michael Brown is as much a travesty as it is a tragedy. In many instances, the actions of local politicians, news reporters, government officials and police command is a perfect story of stupidly, arrogance, racial prejudice ( white vs black and black vs white) and total and inexcusable incompetence.
There are now two opposing stories of what happened on the day Michael Brown was shot and killed. One, supported by the accounts of several witnesses, paints a picture of a cold-blooded killing where an officer draws his gun on a man standing in the street with his hands raised.
The rebuttal, offered by friends of the accused police officer and by unnamed witnesses, suggests that Michael Brown bull-rushed the officer and given the man’s size and girth the officer, fearing for his own safety and in an act of perceived self-defense, opened up and starting shooting.
So whose story do you believe? The news media, wanting to add fuel to the fire and profiting over extending the conflict as long as possible, tends to frame the issue in favor of the pro Michael Brown witnesses. Law enforcement is siding with one of its own.
So who is right and who is wrong?
When the preliminary autopsy report was revealed, the Michael Brown faction jumped on it saying that supported their contention that the facts clearly show that Mr. Brown was murdered in cold blood by the officer. They point to the fact that there was no trace of gunfire residue on the deceased’s body which, in their minds, absolutely confirms that the shooting was not at close quarters. There are entry/exit wounds on the arm that these same people say clearly shows that Michael Brown’s hands were raised above his shoulders in a surrender posture.
New anchors, so-called and self-labeled analysts and on the scene babbling brooks of senseless information known to us as reporters affirmed over and over again that the autopsy’s conclusions were affirmations of police misconduct.
Protesters held signs reflecting the same. Each were using (and in my opinion abusing) the findings of the autopsy to affirm the guilt of the police officer in question.
BUT THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. All the autopsy did was to suggest possibilities. The only thing that was unequivocally affirmed was that Mr. Brown was shot six times – four to the arm, two to the head. Period! The county’s autopsy suggests that there was marijuana in Mr. Brown’s system which really does little to establish anything relevant and add to the process of determining what happened that fateful day.
All the while, Michael Baden and Shawn Parcells – the two people hired by Brown’s family to conduct the independent autopsy – stated over and over again that it was too early to make any firm conclusions. Yet, Daryl Parks, the Brown family’s attorney, ran to the microphone and said the results clearly supported the contention of Brown’s family that their son was killed as he was trying to surrender and that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot their son should be immediately arrested for murder.
BUT THE INDEPENDENT FORENSIC AND PATHOLOGY EXPERTS DID NOT SAY THIS. Before any conclusions could be made, Baden and Parcells said that they needed to look at toxicology reports, Michael Browns clothing and x-rays before issuing a formal report.
Even Sunday night’s use of tear gas was a case of media and protesters jumping to conclusions. The likes of Chris Hayes lamented over the indiscriminate and unwarranted need to use tear gas yet, almost in a whisper, it was mentioned like an unread footnote that shots were fired and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the police. Another footnote, unmentioned by our unbiased press, was the fact that the police command post was on the verge of being overrun by a surge of protesters.
Everyone talks about justice but the justice they seek is the justice that fits in best with their own self-serving agendas. When it best serves the news media, facts and truth are sacrificed for a tendency to jump to conclusions in order to keep the fires of a tired story raging and advertising revenue pouring into network coffers.
The press cries because they believe their first amendment right to document and report on the Ferguson crisis is being impeded by the police. But the first amendment does not give them the right to become part of the story and that is what their zeal or recklessness is actually doing. Where is Walter Cronkite?
…the Bleacherman has left the building…