Michelle Malkin, CNS News, July 1, 2015
America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated “epidemic” of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried “a series of mysterious fires at African-American churches across the South” in the wake of the Charleston murders. The newspaper cited a “pattern” of attacks, including what it claimed was an “uptick in attacks on 37 black churches in the South” in the 1990s that “prompted President Bill Clinton to set up a church-arson investigative task force.”
The Sun neglected to mention that Clinton had falsely claimed at the time that he had “vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child” — an assertion immediately debunked by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Sun also neglected to mention that the manufactured media coverage that launched the 1990s black church arson juggernaut, fueled by former USA Today reporter Gary Fields’ 61 fear-mongering stories, fell apart under scrutiny. Fields’ own employer was forced to admit that “analysis of the 64 fires since 1995 shows only four can be conclusively shown to be racially motivated.”
Reminder: Several of the hyped hate crimes against black churches had been committed by black suspects; a significant number of the black churches were, in fact, white churches; and the complex motives behind the crimes included mental illness, vandalism and concealment of theft.
Buried beneath the sensationalized social media avalanche of panic: the more judicious and careful observations of Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce that the feds have made no official determinations that any hate crimes have taken place and that “it’s unclear whether any of the fires are linked.”
It was observed that “one of the half-dozen church crimes was most likely “accidental” and had “no element of criminal intent.”
Another “was likely touched off by an electrical short” after a tree limb fell on the property, yanking the electrical service line with it.
And yet another alleged “black church arson” actually involved a white church “struck by lightning.”
NBC News trumpeted: “Spate of Fires at Black Churches Raise Concerns of Rise in Hate Crimes.”