COMMENTS: Networks Stiffen Their Anti-Racist Spines

Yesterday the Tyndall Report expressed its disappointment at the network nightly newscasts for relying on euphemism rather than reporting on systemic racism forthrightly.

What a difference a day makes!

Last night, the mealy mouthed "powerful" was nowhere to be heard. Instead there were three unequivocal surveys of the toll systemic police racism takes on African-Americans:

-- ABC's Pierre Thomas filed an Investigation into the disparate arrest records by race across jurisdictions nationwide.

-- NBC's Stephanie Gosk introduced us to the term-of-art Testilying, whereby police officers perjure themselves to avoid prosecution for corrupt racist violence.

-- NBC's Morgan Radford's Inequality In America entry documented the toll on the mental and physical health of African-Americans from living with the daily dread of racist mistreatment at the hands of the police.

Furthermore, ABC's editorial judgment about what breaking news developments were worthy of coverage was unusually influenced attuned to racism-based events:

-- Marcus Moore brought us the harsh handcuffing of a black teenager for jaywalking down a sidewalkless street in Tulsa

-- Steve Osunsami followed up on the police killing of Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor in her own home after a no-knock search. The officers killed her with eight bullets yet filed a report that she suffered no physical injury.

-- Adrienne Bankert narrated video of a public health legislative hearing in Ohio, in which a state senator cast the aspersion that African-Americans might not wash their hands properly.

And even on the trendwatch -- away from breaking news -- the newscasts assigned cultural features on the abiding legacy of Jim Crow and white supremacism:

-- CBS' Chip Reid (whose report was not posted online) was assigned to cover the fate of Confederate statuary in Richmond: Jefferson Davis is a goner, but Robert E Lee may survive as a canvas for graffiti.

-- NBC's Geoff Bennett revisited the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 on the city's selection for a Donald Trump campaign rally to be held on Juneteenth, the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

-- NBC's Blayne Alexander continued her survey of the waning appeal of the cultural artifacts of the segregated South: yesterday she told us about HBO pulling Gone With The Wind until they could attach a suitable historical disclaimer; her follow-up covered Disneyland's Song of the South, the renaming of Lady Antebellum, and NASCAR's ban on the Stars & Bars.

-- CBS' Adriana Diaz examined the newfound anti-racism of corporate public relations departments and wondered whether it had any staying power.

It is legitimate to wonder, with Diaz, whether staying power will apply to the nightly newscasts too. We'll stay tuned.


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