Posted on May 17, 2005

The White Rodney King

Michael P. Tremoglie,, May 17

A suspect is assaulted by a police officer after a car chase in Philadelphia on April 28, 2005. A local TV news helicopter crew videotaped the incident.

Normally this is the type of thing becomes a mainstream media frenzy. Normally this is the lead report on every network national and local telecast. Rodney King was. So were the incidents in Inglewood and Cincinnati. This also proved true nearly five years ago, when a similar incident occurred just before the Republican convention in Philadelphia.

This time there is no saturation coverage in the national media.

Charles Baum, and a resident of the Kensington section of Philadelphia, had been paroled last August. He served four months less than the four—to eight-year sentence he received after being convicted of burglary, theft, criminal mischief and conspiracy in December 2000.

The video showed Officer Michael Collins, who is black, striking Baum eight times during the arrest—even after he had handcuffed his white charge. As is the standard procedure Collins was transferred to desk duty pending an investigation.

Police brutality stories are red meat to the mainstream media; this would seem to be perfect for them. If this were a white cop using excessive force to arrest a black suspect, it would be on television round-the-clock. That is always national news—especially if it is on videotape—and especially if the video is taken by the NBC network affiliate of a major city like Philadelphia. Yet the silence from the mainstream media has been deafening. Only the local Philadelphia media reported this in depth. The Washington Post gave the incident all of 177 words in their May 2 online edition.

Why was there no ad nauseum reporting by the national news network broadcast or front page New York Times, L.A. Times articles? Why no righteous indignation and outrage by columnists and editorials?

Because this incident did not involve a white cop and a black suspect. This time the cop was black and the suspect white—and that does not fit the template of the liberal mainstream media, just as the shootings of black suspects by black cops do not fit their “police brutality” mold.

A September 2, 2002, article, I wrote for Front Page magazine detailed the differences of reporting by the media regarding incidents where police shot a black person. One example I used was that of LaTanya Haggerty. Haggerty, who was a black woman, was shot and killed by Chicago Police Officer Serena Daniels, a black woman. The shooting took place after the police pursued a car in which Haggerty was a passenger.

Daniels ordered Haggerty to stop talking on her cell phone and exit the vehicle. She was shot after refusing the command. Daniels said she saw Haggerty grab a silver object. Thinking it was a gun, the officer fired.

A subsequent investigation could not locate a gun; instead, officers found a silver padlock.

This incident occurred in 1999. Yet, it is doubtful that one-in-ten people ever heard of this incident. Contrast this to the Amadou Diallo shooting, which also occurred in 1999 and was a staple of the mainsteam media for months.

There were no cartoons about the Haggerty shooting, though there were countless cartoons about the Diallo case. The Diallo cartoons contained illustrations such as one which said, “NYPD weapons training: Sawed off hankie, 38mm house key, semi-automatic lipstick, 45 caliber wallet.”

The reason for this disparity is the fact that many journalists believe their purpose is not to communicate information about events to people but to right society’s wrongs. The more righteous indignation they can provoke, the greater audience they can attract for their advertizers—which is their real purpose. It is an added benefit that they get to indulge their left-wing ideologies in the process. Naturally, this contrasts sharply with their self-portrayal as hard-working go-getters looking out for the public interest.

Somewhere during their journalism school education, they are taught they are unbiased, rational examiners, and moral arbiters of the human situation. They are taught that they are omniscient and sagacious—when actually they are ignorant and bigoted.

The bias of the mainstream media is never so apparent as it is when it comes to law enforcement. Their exploitation of race and law enforcement is unconscionable—so much so that I made it part of the plot of my soon to be published novel. I depict a journalist manipulating the events of a racially charged police shooting alongside a local civil rights leader whose career has waned.

Far-fetched? I would say not.

It is an issue that the mainstream media deny exists. Yet, the evidence of a racial double standard by the mainstream media concerning law enforcement issues is irrefutable. Just ask Charles Baum.