Did Media Bury A "Mass Shooting" Because Of Shooter's Race?

AP Photo/LM Otero

Last week, I wrote about the shooting in Arlington, TX. When I wrote about it, I really expected to be talking a lot more about the incident than we did. After all, it met the media’s preferred definition of a mass shooting, and we know how they love milking those for views.

Instead, though, we got relative silence despite there being plenty to talk about.

Yet some think they have a reason why the media has been relatively silent on the matter.

What happens when two of the things you argue against the most happen in a way that makes it difficult to decry one without seemingly perpetuating the other? This is what happened last week, when identity journalism and gun control collided in the news coverage—or rather, lack thereof—of a school shooting in Arlington, Texas.

Last Wednesday, news broke in the morning of a school shooting. A teenage boy fired several shots inside Timberview High School, injuring four people and fleeing the scene. You might have expected the news coverage to follow a familiar pattern after a school mass shooting, starting with the non-stop coverage of the events as they unfold, the ubiquitous cries that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” followed by a demand by every anti-gun politician who can get him or herself on the airwaves for more stringent gun control. Finally, the president himself would be asked to comment.

But this shooting did not follow the script. Fox News carried the coverage live, but by and large, the other 24-hour news channels did not, despite the active shooter being on the run and a manhunt underway for his capture.

Of course, I can’t know for sure why the news channels abdicated their usual hysterical, wall-to-wall coverage of mass shootings in this instance. But I can tell you what my immediate suspicion was at the absence of coverage: The shooter is going to turn out to be black.

By now, though, we all know that yes, the shooter was black.

“Oh, that writer is racist for thinking that,” someone might quip. However, the author is Charles Love, a black man. Since I’ve been told that black people can’t be racist, try again.

Love may well be right, though.

Obviously, there are other factors that may play something of a factor. For example, no one was killed. You know what they say, if it bleeds, it leads. Yet this still met the definition for a mass shooting used by Gun Violence Archive, which the media is more than happy to quote rather uncritically at every opportunity.

It was a shooting in gun-loving Texas, even, and we know they don’t give up an opportunity to bash Texas’ gun laws. Especially since they’re now a constitutional carry state.

Still, we saw relative silence. Much like how the media was silent when the shooter bonded out of jail or when his family threw him a party when he got home.

There was remarkably little media coverage for that.

Honestly, it seems like race may well have played a factor in this one, and it shouldn’t have. No factor should lead the media to treat Arlington as any different than any other such shooting.

Yet, if race played a factor, it makes you wonder just how many other so-called mass shootings they ignored because the shooter or shooters were black?

Treat people equally, folks. That includes in coverage of their crimes.