What’s happened in Philadelphia over the last couple of nights has been nothing short of horrific.
Not long after the officer-involved shooting death of a knife-wielding Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday, riots broke out across the city. Police officers have been viciously assaulted, at least 11 people have been shot, and the looting and chaos that has taken over city streets is as bad if not worse than it was in Minneapolis in the immediate aftermath of the death of George Floyd, according to Townhall.com reporter Julia Rosas.
As big as this story of the Philly rioting and looting should be, however, many national media outlets have chosen to either give it minimal coverage or outright ignore it. Instead, their focus was elsewhere last night, like on how the coronavirus has impacted both the economy and President Trump’s reelection chances:
It keeps getting better and better. Top story on The NY Times page pic.twitter.com/L53ENUnRge
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) October 28, 2020
New York Times “investigative reporter” Eric Lipton stuck his foot in his mouth big time in a tweet he posted in response to complaints from conservatives about the lack of substantial reporting on the Philadelphia situation from national outlets like the NYT, the Washington Post, CNN, and others:
Watching my Twitter feed since last night very notable the intensity of tweets from conservative voices looking to amplify/draw attention to looting in Phila. Yes it happened. NYT covered it as well. Just remarkable how conservatives want to elevate it. https://t.co/cff3J8xoPs
— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) October 28, 2020
Imagine being the reporter who goes all “conservatives pounce” on a story about the burning down of a major American city instead of being the reporter who helps his employer provide the coverage readers are looking for on stories of national import like what’s happening in Philadelphia:
This is the state of modern journalism in America. Taking cheap shots at conservatives for wanting more attn being drawn to the burning down of a major U.S. city. They wonder why we don't trust them. This is why. "Just remarkable how conservatives want to elevate it" – SERIOUSLY? https://t.co/sIWMLCJljX
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) October 28, 2020
just incredible, the curiosity gap that exists in some of the largest and most powerful newsrooms.
the national guard were called into Philadelphia last night, and one key takeaway is that … conservative media seem interested in reporting on what is happening in that city? pic.twitter.com/OCLguqcguN
— tsar becket adams (@BecketAdams) October 28, 2020
So sorry that conservative media is actually putting in the work to report on mass looting and rioting in a major American city. https://t.co/mCTNjmHGFM
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 28, 2020
Sorry but @EricLiptonNYT doesn't think these incidences should be amplified…
Doesn't fit well with the narrative the publication he works for is trying to push https://t.co/HWmNQkXFs0
— Branson Taylor (@Btaylor74) October 28, 2020
There was also more rioting & looting in NYC last night. Are we “allowed” to talk about that? https://t.co/Cc7JVpNeRK
— Claire Mahoney (@TaggertGirl) October 28, 2020
Pray tell what the appropriate amount of coverage is for mass looting and rioting in an American city.
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) October 28, 2020
I think the answer to that question is clear. Basically what Lipton (unknowingly) did in his tweet was three things:
1) Confirmed that, at least in Media World, all it takes for a big-city newspaper to be able to claim they’ve “covered” a story is to do the bare minimum reporting and then move on. This is what I call “obligatory reporting”, which is what news organizations like CNN did regarding Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden earlier this year.
They are obligated to report it by the very nature of their profession, but they really don’t want to. So they put in a minimal, obligatory effort when gathering the information needed to be able to say they’ve “reported” on it.
2) Confirm that in the eyes of reporters at some national news outlets, minimal coverage of a disturbing story that could potentially be damaging to the campaign of that outlet’s preferred candidate is both acceptable and necessary (as we’ve also seen with the Bobulinksi story).
3) Reaffirm that legitimate concerns from conservatives about what the national media chooses and does not choose to thoroughly cover are irrelevant to many big-league journalists.
It’s becoming easier to draw such conclusions because smug media figures like Lipton have gotten more comfortable over the last few years with saying the quiet part out loud about the liberal biases in their straight-news reporting that in the past editors at major news outlets would strenuously deny.
Perhaps Lipton deserves a word or two of “thanks” for more or less confirming what media critics have been saying about the sorry state of the media for the few decades.