Jordan Candler / July 18, 2016

‘Gunman Targeted Whites’ — A Prejudiced Headline?

The grievance industry finds “racial injustice” in a factual headline.

According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the assassin who took the lives of five city police “said he was upset at white people” and that “he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” Under those circumstances it only makes sense that a headline would state “Gunman targeted whites,” as Memphis’s Commercial Appeal recently did, right? It is factual, after all.

Unfortunately, the grievance industry doesn’t take too kindly to some facts, particularly when those facts contradict the political narrative that incredulously and without question always points to “racial injustice.” After facing stiff pushback for the supposedly prejudiced headline, Commercial Appeal Editor Louis Graham asked forgiveness — not for the word “gunman,” which wrongly places the emphasis on the tool, but for racism. He wrote, “Simply put, we got it wrong.” Graham went on to explain that, although the “three big words in headline type stretched across Saturday’s front page … were true,” the title nevertheless “badly oversimplified a very complex, rapidly evolving story, and angered many of our readers and many more in the broader community.”

Graham then threw his staff under the bus: “In my view the headline was so lacking in context as to be tone deaf, particularly in a city with a 65 percent African American population. … The checks and balances in place to avoid just this type of disconnect didn’t work that night for a variety of reasons. Too few people looked at the front page before it rolled off our presses. We’ve taken steps to correct that. But the larger challenge is recruiting a diverse enough staff to better reflect the city we cover.” Ah, yes, the problem is clearly a lack of diversity. Oh how America longs for the days when most editors worried only about, well, facts.

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