Brent Bozell: When Racial Hoaxes Make News

By L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham | November 15, 2017 | 7:48am EST
President Trump discusses the violence in Charlottesville at an Aug. 15, 2017 news conference. (Screen capture/C-SPAN)

The liberal narrative on President Donald Trump assumes his election is evidence that America is returning to its racist roots. In the angst-ridden aftermath, the media found vindication by reporting all kinds of "hate crime" incidents, lurching so eagerly that they fell for a few that turned out to be hoaxes.

Any media outlet that leaps on a small incident of vandalism as a grand statement on Where America Stands ought to have the courage to make a public acknowledgment when the story is fraudulent. To do otherwise is to stoke racial fires with dishonesty.

And that's precisely what they're doing.

On Sept. 29, a shocking story came out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Five black cadets at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School found racist messages like "Go home, N-word" written outside their rooms. The head of the Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, had the entire student body stand while he demanded that the racist perpetrator(s) leave. It was humiliating. Put yourself in the shoes of the cadets forced to endure this tongue-lashing.

This turned into a national story. On CNN "Newsroom," Brooke Baldwin offered 11 minutes of airtime to a news report on the story and an interview with Silveria. And CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" added another seven minutes that included another Silveria interview. "CBS Evening News" offered two minutes and 45 seconds on it, and "NBC Nightly News" gave it about two minutes. PBS "NewsHour" offered a minute.

It confirmed a liberal narrative: The U.S military has a racism problem. But on Nov. 7, the academy reported that one of the black cadet "victims" had written the messages. It was a hoax, a vicious, ugly hoax. Some of the news outlets reported this. Baldwin offered three minutes, but not the Burnett program. PBS gave it 22 seconds. But CBS and NBC couldn't find the time. They were comfortable just leaving the fake news of racism uncorrected.

At Kansas State University, Dauntarius Williams reported that his car had been vandalized with graffiti that said "Go home N-word boy" and other messages. The Kansas City Star reported the story on Nov. 1, complete with a headline that said "students are fed up" and a quote from an outraged black student who complained the college campus doesn't have a multicultural center.

This story was another lie. On Nov. 6, the Riley County Police Department reported that Williams confessed to doing the graffiti himself and he would not be charged with filing a false report, since he "expressed sincere regret that his actions had resulted in the negative media attention." Williams said, "It was just a Halloween prank that got out of hand." He had called the Star after the incident and said he was a Kansas State student. He lied about that, too.

On Sept. 8, 19-year-old Yasmin Seweid pleaded guilty to lying to police last December when she claimed that she had been harassed by drunk white men on the New York City subway who yelled anti-Islam slurs and chanted "Donald Trump!" The CBS News website, New York Daily News and BuzzFeed all fell for it.

On Fox's "The Five," Greg Gutfeld blasted BuzzFeed for its response to the hoax. The headline was "Woman Arrested For Allegedly Making Up Story of NY Subway Attack by Trump Supporters." Now compare that to the original BuzzFeed headline of the incident: "Drunk Men Yelling 'Donald Trump' Attempt to Remove Woman's Hijab on NYC Subway." There was no "allegedly." According to BuzzFeed's headline, the hoax itself was "alleged" and might be real. Even today, while its stories admit the reality, the awful headlines keep lying.

And then the press wonders why America has more trust in used car salesmen.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog

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