Is CNN doing its level (or, more accurately, unlevel) best to pour gas on the Ferguson, Missouri story, and keep it as racially incendiary as possible?

Why do I ask this question?  One reason is the material CNN has been pumping out, day after day, which, it seems to me, does just that.

For example, here is a link to\’s current lead article, written by Ray Sanchez and titled “Why Ferguson touched a raw, national nerve”.  Please read it through (which might take two minutes of your time).

You will find that the article is nothing more than a compendium of complaints and attacks from the people who turned the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson incident into a racial firestorm.  It has no balance.  It has no presentation of both sides – only the one guaranteed to keep tensions as high as possible.

As a case in point, read this little swatch of Mr. Sanchez\’s analysis:

Afterthegrand jury completed its work, many around the United States haveinterpreted what happened in Ferguson squarely in the context of alarger, historic narrative about race and justice in America.

Tothem, Ferguson is just the latest reminder that the American criminaljustice system doesn\’t treat blacks and whites the same — and thatyoung black men in particular are often killed with impunity.

I agree that this is a point of view held by some people. But the fact that others disagree – or agree to the extent that Black people are not treated the same way but disagree that this particular incident is an example of it – go unmentioned.

Then there are these excerpts:

Thecase in Ferguson has reminded some people of unsavory episodes fromAmerica\’s past.

Wilsondescribed Brown to grand jurors and a national television audience,for example, in a way that offended some, buttressing their view ofhow too many white police officers see and treat black men.

Wilsontold the grand jury that Brown looked “like a demon.” Inan interview with ABC News, he described Brown as almostsuper-human.

“Ijust felt the immense power that he had,” said Wilson, who isabout 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. “It was like a 5-year-old holdingonto Hulk Hogan. That\’s just how big this man was.”

Brownwas about the same height as Wilson. He weighed nearly 300 pounds.

(Arizona State University\’s Matthew) Whitaker,the history professor, heard echoes of the past in the way Wilsondescribed Brown.

“That\’salways been one of the painful realities on the black community, isthe perception of black men,” Whitaker said. “We\’reregularly portrayed as being these gigantic, threatening, dangerous,oversexed individuals.”

Headded, “At the end of the day, Michael Brown was essentially akid, and if you can\’t see the humanity in a kid, even a recalcitrantkid, there\’s something wrong with that.”


Professor Whitaker:  Brown and Wilson may have been the same height.  But Brown outweighed Wilson by almost 100 pounds – and was high on marijuana.  It is a given that he looked very big and very dangerous to Wilson. Who would he NOT have looked very big and very dangerous to?   

If Officer Wilson\’s description was meant as a racial stereotype, why did he compare Michael Brown to Hulk Hogan, a White man?  Your claim falls apart right there.

And your attempt to downplay the 6\’ 4″, almost 300 lb, marijuana-impaired person who was fighting Wilson for his gun and eventually was shot while (according to at least some witnesses) charging at Wilson as “essentially a kid”, makes you look ridiculous altogether.

But, again, nothing I have just written was in Ray Sanchez\’s article; only Professor Whitaker\’s characterizations.

Let me end by reminding you that news venues do best when there is a hot story they can cover for days and months.  Is this a case of CNN trying everything it can to keep this a hot story – even if it means stoking the flames of racial violence?

I wish I could say the answer to that question is no.  But I can\’t find a reason to believe it.

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