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By Qi Z.

Media response to the Charlottesville incident has shown its ignorance of racism. On Saturday, August 12th, 2017, Protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. Protesters started marching from the University of Virginia carrying torches and yelling “White Lives Matter” as their slogans on the day before. This “Unite the Right” rally was to protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E Lee. White supremacists encountered with the demonstrators, and a speeding car crashed into protesters, resulting in death and injuries. As one of the largest white supremacist events in recent US history, the incident was soon responded widely on the media, however, media’s report shows its reluctance and ignorance on the central issue of race (“Charlottesville” ).

After the incident, President Trump soon responded that people must unite to white supremacy, however, he later rephrased his words and said that there was "blame on both sides," including those anti-fascist protesters. His comments lead to many disagreements and criticism in the media. Nevertheless, the journalists are reluctant to call out white supremacy by name. Andrew Marantz, a contributing editor for The New Yorker, says that "Everyone heard that silence as an unwillingness to call out white supremacy and Nazism by name" (Jazeera). The US media is afraid of the threat of right-wing extremism, so it ignores the pulsing issue of race, and the mainstream media continues to be preoccupied with international issues, terrorism, climate change, etc. Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, states that "The US media is in denial when it comes to the threat of right-wing extremism and the violence that's there...fear of being attacked as biased, or fear of retaliation against them" (Jazeera).  It is almost impossible for the media to recognize the racism of the political parties publicly, and the white identity polices still have strong power and influence over the political parties and the people. It has been exhaustively documented by sociologists, political scientists, economists, historians, philosophers, journalists, and other researchers. It seems almost shocking that the Republican Party is a white identity organization, yet the mainstream American news media can only refuse to consider this abundant and readily available information to reveal racism.

The reason that the media seems to be reluctant to call people racist appears to be the idea that the nation is post-racial. The question remains in the conflict in racism. If white people called president Trump to be a white supremacist, then they would have to recognize that they share some ideas of being a racist too. Therefore, no media would open criticize president Trump that he is a white supremacist, and the dilemma in this problem forces the media to be political while criticizingpresidentTrump to be political. For instance, in the firestorm that President Trump did not specifically name the hate groups in Charlottesville, Don Lemon in CNN called it a “tragedy.” Eboni Williams in Fox News called it to be“cowardly.” Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC said it was a “low point in American history” (Wulfsohn). However, no journalist open criticize the action of President Trump to be a racist. The war of race is unanimously avoided by the media.

Besides white journalists ignoring the central issue, journalists of color are also left in a much more vulnerable position. They are hired into their positions to bring different perspectives into the media, however, they are punished for expressing their opinions. ESPN’s Jemele Hill is suspended from work because she called for fans to boycott the NFL and called President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. Vann R. Newkirk II, a staff writer for The Atlantic, responds that “You have a president who is doing lots of things that white supremacists openly cheer...that’s a lot of evidence for her to make that conclusion on. And also the converse...receiving intense blow-back for it, from people in power, from officials. That’s not a good sign for a free press, it’s not a good sign for the freedom of speech” (“The Atlantic”). Jemele Hill, as a journalist providing her conclusion in response to the facts she knows and stating her opinions publicly, was only doing her job, but she was punished, unfortunately. It appears that media cares more about bringing in different colors of faces rather than types of perspectives. Jemele even claims that she deserved the suspension, for she has put ESPN in a bad spot, even though she seems to be simply fulfilling her responsibilities.

 Charlottesville is an awakening alarm for lots of people who may think that the US is post-racist. Most media do ask their journalists to be more thoughtful leaders when reporting hard news. Journalists can and should be responsible for categorizing issues and ideas, even race. To promote the possibility of actual-reporting, journalism will soon develop a conscience and ethics about race to post-Charlottesville. That hope continues in nowadays media.

 

Citations:

Jazeera, Al. “Charlottesville, Trump and the Media.” USA | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 20 Aug. 2017,             www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/2017/08/charlottesville-trump-media-170819100521034.html.

“Charlottesville Attack: What, Where and Who?” News | Al Jazeera, 17 Aug. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/charlottesville-attack-170813081045115.html.

In Audio & Video, Past Events, Policy & Issues, Race & Gender. “The Atlantic's Vann R. Newkirk II on Race and Media in 2017.” Shorenstein Center, 5 Oct. 2017,                shorensteincenter.org/vann-newkirk-race-and-media-2017/.

Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Media Coverage of Charlottesville Tragedy Reveals a Multitude of Double Standards.” Mediaite, Mediaite, 19 Aug. 2017, www.mediaite.com/columnists/media-coverage-of-charlottesville-tragedy-reveals-a-multitude-of-double-standards/.

“Charlottesville Attack: What, Where and Who?” News | Al Jazeera, 17 Aug. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/charlottesville-attack-170813081045115.html.