In the span of one month, there were two mass shootings. Both took place in New York. Both were racially motivated. Both shooters were violent extremists. But the media tied only one of them to a mainstream political party. Can you guess why?
Immediately after the identity of the alleged Buffalo shooter – initially charged with one murder and suspected of killing 10 – became known, the chattering class was insisting that he was not a “lone wolf” and pinned the blame for the massacre on “right-wing extremists” who “control the Republican party.”
The Rolling Stone called the 18-year-old Payton Gendron “a mainstream Republican.”
“There’s no such thing as a lone wolf,” it said. “There are only those people who, fed a steady diet of violent propaganda and stochastic terror, take annihilatory rhetoric to its logical conclusion.”
A Los Angeles Times op-ed declared that “The Buffalo gunman emerged from a far-right ecosystem that’s gone mainstream.”
New York Times weighed in with an article headlined: “Replacement Theory, a Fringe Belief Fueled Online, Is Refashioned by G.O.P.”
Former Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart immediately shot out a tweet: “More blood on the hands of @tuckercarlson and @foxnews this killer used their racist talking points to justify killing 10 people.”
We could go on, and on, and on.
Never mind that aside from being a racist, the alleged shooter’s views were all over the map. In his “manifesto,” he says things such as “you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn’t disagree with you.”
PJ Media’s Matt Margolis read Gendron’s manifesto and points out that he “repeatedly attacks capitalists, and rejected the conservative label because, he wrote, ‘conservativism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it.’” He specifically attacks Fox News.
Mostly, his views are “full of nonsense and garbage that is at times inconsistent.” In other words, they are the rantings of a deranged 18-year-old.
Margolis is absolutely right to say “the people who were quick to exploit the situation to attack Fox News and conservatives were wrong and should be ashamed of themselves.”
Of course, the media aren’t always so exploitative in the wake of mass shootings. Often, they are very careful to wait for the facts and never speculate about motives.
Case in point: Just one month before the Buffalo shooting, a gunman threw smoke grenades in a New York City subway car filled with commuters and then opened fire, unloading 33 rounds before fleeing the scene.
Ten suffered gunshot wounds – the same number authorities say the Buffalo shooter killed – and 19 more had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Mercifully, none died. But all of them could have.
That alleged shooter – 62-year-old Frank James – was a radical just as incendiary as Gendron. The difference was that James was a black nationalist.
“The social media rants of the 62-year-old suspect reveal a man consumed with hatred of white people and convinced of a looming race war,” wrote Miranda Divine in the New York Post. “‘O black Jesus, please kill all the whiteys,’ was one meme he posted.”
He also lamented that new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson married a white man.
“She married the devil,” said the man who was on the FBI’s terrorist radar.
And as it turns out, James was also a fan of CNN, and “in many of his videos appeared in front of a large TV tuned to the left-wing cable channel,” Divine wrote.
Yet the press took pains to describe this would-be mass murderer as the very lone wolf they now say doesn’t exist. They ignored his rantings and never made the connection between these views and those of many prominent Democrats. They didn’t blame CNN for its inflammatory coverage of racial issues.
For its part, CNN ignored the shooter’s political views entirely and instead fixated on how his attack “refocused America’s attention on the acute mental health crisis that is gripping this country.”
Then, as quickly as possible, the press buried the story.
This gross disparity is hardly a new phenomenon.
After Jared Lee Loughner shot Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011, the press rushed – without a shred of evidence – to blame Sarah Palin because of a website that used the image of a target to indicate congressional races Republicans were targeting. Palin sued the New York Times for repeating the slur years later in an editorial.
But when a Bernie Sanders acolyte targeted Republicans gathered to play baseball for assassination and very nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise, the press largely ignored his political leanings and his stated goal in the shooting. Even though he once said it was “time to destroy Trump & Co” and was on a Facebook group named “Terminate the Republican Party.”
Instead, the press acted as though James Hodgkinson’s motives were unclear. Two years after the shooting, the New York Times could only bring itself to call the shooter “an apparently politically motivated gunman.”
No one dared claim that he represented “mainstream Democrats” or that the left’s overheated and violent rhetoric about President Donald Trump was to blame.
So, the media’s differing reaction to the two recent mass shootings is laughably predictable. What’s unique is that these two tragic events happened so close together that they showcase how vacuous, logically challenged, and politically biased today’s media elites are.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board