Three Shootings in Ten Days That Derail All the Media Narratives on Gun Incidents

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Most of us are familiar with the media narratives when it comes to reporting on mass shootings. The familiar beats of coverage are so rote as to basically qualify as tropes. 


Conversely, we see by now that whenever there is a deviation from the expected characteristics of a shooter the coverage is notably different. In fact, it has become a cliched punchline that if the featured individual is found to be a member from one of the protected minority classes then the response becomes, “...And that’s when the story disappeared from the front page.”

That secondary reality has loomed large this month. So much so that we have now seen that Mad Libs media narrative exposed in all its shame, as there have been a string of these gun-related incidents in just a matter of days and it has led to a blaring amount of silence from the press. The sham of the contrived outrage from our media superiors is how there has been little in the way of outrage this week.

Beginning in Texas, where there was a shooting in Joel Osteen’s church. This proved to be a stark miscalculation on the part of the gunperson, given that after brandishing a weapon they were encountered quickly by gun-toting parishioners. Yet the opportunity for journalists to heap scorn and condemn the gun-crazy state of Texas was hobbled when it was first learned that a Hispanic woman was the shooter. Quickly, the proper woke officials stepped in to cast a murky clarification on things.


Not only did they want to dodge any reference to the shooter being an immigrant, but that string of names at the bottom is a result of the person self-identifying as a male. As seen with the Tennessee Christian school murders, when you have a possible non-binary or trans individual on the cold side of the gun sights, the press will run away faster than a toddler that just snatched a Nutter Butter. The good news was that this attacker was taken down before any other deaths occurred, so once their pronouns became Was/Were the story disappeared from the news.

Then there was the shooting that took place at the celebratory parade for the Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. At first we saw the expected script trotted out in the press, with the NRA made culpable and the pedantic calls for new gun laws. Then came the facts. Four arrests were made, and two of the shooters were underage, meaning they were illegally in possession of the weapons. (Funny how the call for tougher murder laws is never invoked, as that would expose many of the foibles of this tired gun argument.)

Later the other two adults were charged and named. But something was notable in the deviation from usual press reactions. The news outlets appeared hesitant to bring forth the names of the adult shooters, and they slow-rolled the release of the mugshots, something that is itself usually an excuse to run another story on the violence and extend the anti-gun narrative. The Kansas City Star waffled on producing the mugshot of one culprit, Lyndell Mays, because, as an Editor’s Note explained, they reserve running mugshots for those big important acts of violence.


"We took the time to carefully consider whether to use booking mugs in the absence of other images of the adult suspects; The Star policy is to use booking mugs only in the highest profile of crimes," they wrote.

Yeah, only 22 people were injured, including 12 children, and there was one fatality - at the nationally televised SUPER BOWL PARADE!!!! You know what, you better hold back on that report – something big might end up taking place that afternoon!

It feels like I need to remind people of yet another incident from February 18 where three authorities lost their lives. The recall of this one is only partially blamed on the weekend news vacuum. To explain why this major gun event received so little attention let us first look over a list of what are probably the four most-used gun narratives we are treated to.

  • Guns/Legislation – The availability is an issue as is the laws needed to allegedly control this behavior.

  • Race - Whites are always responsible and it is worse if the victims are another race. 

  • Police - The systemic racism with law enforcement is always an issue. So much so, in fact, that when Tyre Nichols was brought down by five black officers, ingrained white supremacy was said to be the cause.

  • Social Motivations - The shooter’s social media is usually combed over and the person’s writings and influences on these platforms are said to have informed them with a call to violence.

Now we move to Burnsville, just outside of Minneapolis. In the case of Shannon Cortez Gooden we have a violation of all four of these familiar media gun tropes. 


Gun Laws: Gooden was a convicted felon forbidden from owning a firearm. 

Race: Gooden was a black male, with an avowed intolerance towards whites. 

Police: Gooden was the one to kill two officers as well as a paramedic.

Social: Gooden was posting social media of himself with guns, frequently invoking white people as his preferred targets.

Note how in all three of these gun stories we do not see the usual prolonged commentary from the news outlets. No blanket coverage across the various sources, no extended days of revisiting the crimes, no multiple displays on a broadcast schedule through news hours and primetime pundit programming. Then, almost as if CNN wanted to prove this point, the network managed to prove this point.

In the midst of these stories being downplayed, Anderson Cooper covered the case of a missing girl in Texas whose body turned up in a waterway. The suspect had been tabbed and arrested. And there was CNN, boldly displaying the image of the alleged white killer. 


What we have seen from the press these past two weeks is the wanton display of their approach to shooting stories being dictated by the character component of those involved. The outrage at racism, the drive for citing negative influences, and the concern over gun safety is all predicated on who is involved. If the guilty party is from a category of protected classes then all of the claimed dire components are dispatched.

This exposes how all we have seen is a grievance of convenience. If a shooting cannot be used to drive one of the preferred narratives then the shooting is of little news value.


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