#1 Media spins horrific murder into a fight over a flag by ThirstyMan 21.06.2015 18:56



It took less than two days for the press to take a story about a white South Carolina man who shot and killed nine black churchgoers, and turn it into a story about the Confederate battle flag flying outside South Carolina's state house.

For media, the flag as a supposedly influential symbol of racial oppression and hate represented an issue that required immediate attention and hours of coverage. By Friday, the press' focus on the flag was intense.

"S.C. Confederate flag back in the spotlight after massacre," CNN noted, tracking the public furor over the state's choice to display the Civil War leftover.

The Huffington Post featured an op-ed titled simple "Take It Down."

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates echoed these sentiments in a separate article titled "Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now."

"The flag that Dylann Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, endorses the violence he committed," the article declared.

The alleged terrorist, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, claims he targeted nine parishioners who had gathered for a prayer meeting Wednesday evening at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because they were black. Pictures of Roof quickly circulated that showed him standing next to a car with a Confederate flag plate.

The image stuck, and controversy over the flag found its footing.

Newsday featured an op-ed, titled "A disingenuous defense of the Confederate flag," wherein the author argued simply that the flag must be taken down.

The Washington Post weighed in with a widely circulated article titled "How people convince themselves that the Confederate flag represents freedom, not slavery."

"When people say 'heritage not hate,' they are omitting the obvious, which is that that heritage is hate," the article read.

As Technica's Cyrus Farivar said in reference to the Post article, "The SC Conf. flag is 'affixed [to the capitol] and can't come down unless someone gets up there and pulls it down.' Your move, SC."

There was also some politically themed reporting on the flag controversy.

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein made an "impressively mealy mouthed" attempt to link 2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to support for the flag. Stein's linking of Rubio to the matter involved a high level of couching, including usages of "seen as" and "was described as."


President Obama's aides were even queried aboard Air Force One Friday by reporters keen to know where the commander in chief stood on the question of South Carolina's continued use of the Confederate battle flag. The White House reiterated the president's position that the flag belongs in a museum.

Not everyone in the press was aboard the we-must-discuss-the-Confederate-flag train, however, as Mediaite's Alex Griswold chided media Friday for trying to link the flag to the mass shooting.

"I don't like the Confederate flag, and I probably never will," Griswold wrote. "But to blame it for the evil in one man's twisted heart is cheap, illogical, and just an easy way to avoid addressing the real issues."


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