On July 15, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN, a black Muslim police officer shot and killed an unarmed white Australian woman. You would have a hard time learning about the ethnicity of the police officer from The New York Times.
On July 22, the NYT ran an article entitled “Minneapolis Police Chief Is Forced Out.” The article relayed a lot of personal background of key players in the story, including that the chief of police was the first woman to serve in that capacity and was openly gay. It spoke of a a civil rights lawyer that argued that the chief of police “needed to be fired” because the chief only decried the recent killing of the Australian woman only because she was white, while she had always defended the police in past shootings when the victims were black.
With all of that background, you would imagine that the Times would highlight that the police officer, Mohamed Noor, that killed the unarmed white woman was black.
And a Muslim.
And from the Somali community.
But the Times decided not to mention any of those points, even while it described particular details of others in the story, as well as protests from back in 2015 following the killing of an unarmed black man.
The Times would similarly not describe Officer Noor’s ethnicity in its July 21 article “Woman Shot by Minneapolis Officer ‘Didn’t Have to Die’ Police Chief Says,” or in the July 19 article called “Officer Said He Heard Loud Noise Before Partner Shot Minneapolis Woman.”
When the Times did cover the fact that the police officer was a black man from the Somali community (it never wrote that he was a Muslim), it did so from the perspective of the Somali Community.
The July 20 article heading “Police Shooting Rattles Somalis in Minneapolis” would make a person think that a Somali was the victim, rather than the killer. The article wrote that the Somali immigrant population in Minneapolis “sometimes expressed frustration with law enforcement.” It added that Somalis felt that police officers used excessive force with its community and that “many Somalis have expressed frustration with their portrayals in the news media, saying reporters have unfairly emphasized stories about terrorist recruitment and cultural differences.”
As if the issue was purely one of media bias.
As detailed in “Republican Scrutiny and Democratic Empowerment of Muslims in Minnesota,” the US House Committee on Homeland Security released a report in September 2015 flagging the problem of jihadists in Minnesota. Rep. John Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee said that “homegrown terrorism remains a serious issue in Minnesota.” Liberal politicians including Senator Al Franken and then presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton acknowledged the findings of the report, while they argued for increased cooperation between law enforcement and the Somali community to combat terrorism.
The Homeland Security report and acknowledgment by liberal politicians was not mentioned by the New York Times. Just that the Somali community felt vilified unfairly by the press, even as the Times called-out “President Trump’s travel ban.”
When a white police officer shoots an unarmed black man, the New York Times repeats the race of each party over-and-again for days. However, when the attacker is not just black, but a Muslim, the Times reorients the story for its readers.
Another edition of the New York Times #AlternativeFacts.
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