Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not News?

Here's the basic story, substantially abridged...

A Galveston man calls the police, reporting that three white women that he thinks are prostitutes are soliciting a mixed-race group of men on the street near his home. Four police officers go to investigate. Two blocks away from the scene they were called to, they encounter a 12 year-old black girl, alone, walking around her home. Deciding that her shorts make her look like a hooker (no - I'm not kidding), three of the officers exit the unmarked van, and attempt to take the child into custody. She clings to a nearby bush for dear life, screaming for her father, who exits the home to find the officers beating his daughter, who needs to be hospitalized for her injuries. Some weeks later, officers show up at the child's school, and arrest her - for resisting arrest and assaulting the officers. After two mistrials on the charges against her, prosecutors decide not to try her a third time.
I'm not going to get into the he-said, she-said of just what exactly went down (did the officers properly identify themselves, et cetera) - I wasn't there, and it's really beside the point. The basic facts of the case aren't really in dispute. Galveston prosecutors placed a 12 year-old girl on trial twice for resisting arrest after she was beaten by police officers who were supposed to be looking for three grown women of a different ethnicity blocks away.

This has been all over the blogosphere - but you can't find hide nor hair of it in the mainstream media - I searched NPR, USAToday, ABC News, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, the Associated Press, Reuters, Newsweek, Fox News and CNN. Between them, I found NO news hits. Not one. Now, some of the sites mentioned also have a "search the Web" feature, and that turned up a bunch of hits, and of those, only a very few were actual news organizations, newspapers in the Galveston area. Now, according to the Houston Press' Hair Balls weblog, they sparked a blogosphere wildfire with their initial post on the matter, such that "big boys like CNN, Good Morning America and Inside Edition" were attempting to get the family's attorney on to talk about the case. They claim that Griffin completely ignored all requests for interviews, due to hurricane cleanup.

Let's assume for a moment, that the Houston Press has their facts absolutely correct, and that the family hired the most media-unsavvy lawyer in the history of ever. Not hearing back from a lawyer, who was engaged in cleaning up after a hurricane, prompted CNN and ABC to completely drop any attempt to cover the story? ABC couldn't have called their Houston affiliate, KTRK, and asked them for the scoop? (Not, it seems, that KTRK bothered to cover the story, either.) CNN couldn't have asked the Houston Press, or one of the local papers about the story? Really?

Now, I live near Seattle, and as I write this, in the "ap: top headlines" section of one of our local papers, is: "Investigators think missing Fla. girl was abducted." Yet another story about - you guessed it - a random missing 5 year-old in Florida. (With, bizarrely enough, a tie-in to the last overreported story of a Florida 5 year-old in peril.) But is this story any more newsworthy than what happened in Galveston? (And yes, I searched both of our local papers to see if had shown up here. You'd think that P-I would have run with a story like this. They produced an award-winning series about the Seattle Police Department using unnecessary force, and then obstruction charges to tarnish the credibility of people likely to complain. People in Seattle would likely be gratified to learn that this goes on elsewhere.) 12 year-olds being beaten by the police doesn't sound exactly routine. You could make the case that the news media is racist - but there must be a lot of white hoods hiding in news desks to enforce what seems like a complete media blackout on this.

Clearly, this story simply never managed to break into the public consciousness, for some reason or another. Part of it is likely race. (Although I wonder if a video would have helped.) The victim here isn't an attractive white woman or little girl that everyone wants to hear about day after day. Despite what happened to her, he case hasn't generated the sort of broad sympathy that prods the media to shine a light on what went down. Maybe we should wonder about that.

1 comment:

Catnapping said...

God. I cannot talk about this. I see red every time I read that.

God, I hate cops. I hate that they get away with this shit every fucking time.

Growing up, I personally witnessed this sort of shit all the time.

Excuse me while I go break something.