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CNN’s Baltimore coverage analysis

Some very interesting nuggets are highlighted below from a Slate piece about CNN’s coverage Monday night of the Baltimore protests/riots:

For a man who has reported from actual war zones and disaster sites, Wolf Blitzer is easily spooked by a bunch of dudes stealing stuff from an urban pharmacy. As CNN aired wide-angle footage Monday of nonchalant looters entering and exiting the chain drugstore near North and Pennsylvania avenues in Baltimore, Blitzer described the scene like it was the fall of Rome: “This is a picture of a CVS pharmacy, and casually people are just going in there—they’re not even running—they’re going in there, stealing whatever the hell they want to steal in there, and then they’re leaving, and they’re … I don’t see any police there. Where are the police?”

Illustration by Slate

Illustration by Slate


But what it is seemed particularly out of place in Baltimore on Monday night, especially given these riots’ thematic similarity to the protests and unrest that followed the police-assisted deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island. “It’s hard to believe this is going on in a major American city right now,” Blitzer said of the looting and riots in Baltimore. Well, no, it wasn’t hard, actually. If “this” means unrest over the unnecessary death of a young black man as an illustration of perceived systemic police brutality, then “this” has dominated cable news for much of the past year. America’s underclasses are not on particularly good terms with their local police departments these days, and if any news outlet should be aware of this, it’s CNN, given the network’s omnivorous coverage of the Brown and Garner stories.

Of CNN’s bodyguards:

Ericson reported on the CNN encampment, and the fact that the network had engaged its own security guards, “five beefy white guys … hired to protect the national reporters from the neighbors of West Baltimore.” That’s Ericson’s observation, and I don’t mean to imply that CNN’s correspondents, producers, and crew have not taken risks in pursuit of their stories. But the security-guard anecdote illustrates a larger point: that no matter how neutral it tries to be, CNN cannot help but operate from a standpoint of us and them. In case you can’t tell from its roster of celebrity contributors, its anchors who appear on Celebrity Jeopardy!, and its political talk shows that aren’t deferential so much as they’re knowing, CNN is and always will be us.

You can read the full piece on Slate.


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