What is “the narrative”?
The narrative is how some stories garner national media attention while others do not. It is how similar stories are covered differently depending on the possible political ramifications. Sometimes, it is simply comical as it was when the media reported that Mitt Romney once moved hauling his pet dog on top of his car in a crate. But, then when it was reported that Barrack Obama used to eat dogs, the media decided all this dog nonsense distracted from the real issues. There are numerous examples of the media covering Obama differently than they covered George W. Bush. However, those discussions are for a later time as this post is Part 3 on the Politics of Race and how the narrative comes into play.
So, what is “the narrative” when it comes to the politics of race and media coverage?
The most recent example is the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. I do not intend to get into the specifics of this case nor pursue a debate of guilt or innocence, but I will briefly touch upon the initial media coverage of the tragedy.
The story was first reported locally and was not picked up nationally until covered by CBS This Morning on March 8th. During the beginning of the coverage, they showed a more recent picture of Martin, but later showed the picture of Martin from when he was 12 years old. Later that day, the story was picked up by the Huffington Post where they reported George Zimmerman as a “white neighborhood watch captain”.
As the story gained momentum in the media, the main picture of Martin making the rounds was the one from when Martin was 12 years old. The picture being used of Zimmerman was from a previous mug shot. When it was established that Zimmerman was Hispanic, many within the media started using the term “white-Hispanic.”
The way the media covered this story reminded many of the Duke Lacrosse allegations from years ago. That was the case where the national media ran with a story where three white male Duke University lacrosse players allegedly raped a black girl. The media had tried and convicted the students in their coverage before the facts of the case were properly investigated. After a thorough investigation, the charges were dropped. The reason for the story being sensationalized by the media is it fit the narrative.
A few weeks ago, another story started to make it’s way in the media about two white men in Oklahoma going on a shooting spree randomly killing blacks. This fit the narrative of a story worthy of national media coverage. Until further details were discovered that one of the whites was a 19 year old whose dad was killed by a black two years prior. That portion of the story did not fit the narrative and the story was quickly dropped from the national radar.
The media is very eager to cover white on black crime. Perhaps the media covers blacks being killed by non-blacks because it is statistically rare with 93% of black homicide victims being killed by other blacks. It would explain the disproportionate coverage of crimes, but what of the other discrepancies?
Minority Republicans are often attacked in the media with all facets of their pasts investigated and simple allegations becoming major headlines with total disregard of the facts. Herman Cain had allegations of infidelity and sexual harassment touted all over the media, whereas Democrat candidate John Edwards’ affair was met with skepticism by the main stream media.
During the Tea Party rallies, one black man showed up at one to participate with an assault rifle strapped to his back. The gun fit the narrative, but the color of his skin did not. So what did MSNBC do? Well, cropped out the color of his skin, of course. Bill Whittle of PJTV and Declaration Entertainment does a brilliant must-see job of explaining how this story relates to the narrative and delves deep into what the narrative is: