San Bernardino, the Media, and Our National Shouting Match
Jon Stokes 12.03.15
Random things I learned and thought about the San Bernardino shooting:
- I saw the perp’s name mentioned in the right-wing press while the manhunt was still going on. It was picked up from a police scanner. It took mainstream outlets hours to release that name. For whatever mix of reasons, if you were following fringe and/or non-press outlets like ControversialTimes and SnapChat, you were getting better info than from CNN et al.
- The Twitter reaction was just deplorable. So many people immediately jumped out of the woodwork to declare “This confirms my political position on X!” before having even a shred of information. My feed being what it is, I saw a lot of “See there! White terrorists are real! Can we stop pretending that white people can’t be terrorists!” Clearly the people saying this were watching CNN, so they hadn’t heard the guy’s name yet. But plenty of people jumped to the other conclusion online, as well, before waiting for any facts to trickle in.
- Various NY media outlets already were promoting tomorrow’s cover on the story while the incident was still in progress! Today’s press is basically Twitter without the 140-character limit.
- Of course ISIS took credit for it. But unlike my Twitter feed, they seem to have waited to confirm the ethnicity of the shooter before jumping into the fray with their own twisted version of “this confirms my political position on X!” Given that they held back until it was clear that this guy was Muslim, I doubt they had anything to do with it.
- So it appears that there is a Saudi Arabia connection to yet another act of terror on American soil.
- I literally cannot believe that any news outlets are seriously still bringing up a workplace dispute at the party as a possible cause of this. They had freaking bombs made up and had stockpiled body armor and weapons. “Oh, I’m real mad at these people at my work Christmas party. Let me go home and whip up some pipe bombs real quick and grab the armaments that I had originally been stockpiling for totally peaceful purposes” said no one, ever.
- Above all, Hans George Gadamer’s insight that distance is productive of meaning has been profoundly confirmed. The closer the tweets and coverage were to the incident, the more worthless they were.
- I don’t even see the phrase “national conversation” thrown around anymore. Whenever tragedy strikes, we all just yell “I told you so!” at each other really loud on social medial.
- Gun sales will undoubtedly surge after this, again.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families as we actively work, each in our own way, toward a better world for our children.