Why the Media Downplay Police Killings of Whites

by John Spritzler

February 15, 2022

 

 

The mass media, as shown here, downplay killings of whites and emphasize police killings of non-whites. When the police kill a non-white it gets far more media coverage than when the police kill a white person. Here's why.

 

First, some background about the numbers.

 

The greatest factor that correlates with the risk of being killed by the police is poverty; not race, but poverty, as shown here

 

Fact #1: There are far fewer non-whites than whites in the general population.

 

Fact #2: Non-whites are disproportionately poor, in other words non-whites are on average poorer than whites.

 

The first fact is why there are more police killings of whites than non-whites. The second fact is the reason why non-whites are killed by the police disproportionately to their percentage of the general population, in other words why the risk of being killed by the police if one is non-white is greater than if one is white. Note, however, that more whites are killed by police than non-whites. In 2016 the police killed 266 blacks, 133 Latinos and 574 whites. 

 

If the media portrayed things accurately with respect to race, then working class people would see clearly that the oppression they all face from the police is oppression of working class people (regardless of race) and not oppression of only non-whites. White as well as non-white working class people would then be angered by the oppression they saw in the media; they would perceive it as oppression of themselves as working class people; they would not perceive it as oppression of "those other people who are not like me." Working class people would thus have greater solidarity, as a class, in challenging the power of the ruling class. But the mass media, not surprisingly, does not portray this oppression accurately with respect to race, because the ruling class does not want this solidarity to develop, obviously.

 

This biased media coverage doesn't affect only the reporting of police killings. The major forms of oppression of working class people are portrayed in the media as oppression mainly (if not exclusively) of non-whites. As Dr. Nayvin Gordon writes,

 

"Racist stereotypes and propaganda promoted in the corporate media create the false idea that government social safety net programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps mostly benefit minorities. The reality is:

 

"1) Medicaid is 43% White: 30 million White people and 12 million Black people.

 

"2) Food Stamp recipients are 36% White: 14 million White people and 10 million Black people.

 

"In one of the largest environmental disasters in US history the politicians deliberately diverted poisoned water into the drinking water system of Flint, Michigan in 2014. No one went to jail for the deaths, and disability of 100,000 adults and children. Flint Michigan has been labeled by the racist media as a “Black “city. Flint is 54% Black and 40% White. The reality is that there are 40,000 Whites in Flint who also suffered. This is how racism harms both Black and White working class families."

 

Because of this biased media coverage, when the ruling class cuts back on the social safety net or poisons our drinking water, etc., working class whites are led to perceive this as a problem only for "those non-whites." The ruling class uses its media to cover up the fact that the ruling class oppresses ALL working class people this way, not just the non-white ones. It covers up this fact hoping that many white working class people will not join the fight against this oppression because they will perceive it as not their own fight but rather somebody else's fight--that of non-whites whom they perceive in a negative light due to all sorts of racist stereotyping.

 

Even when the media report on the injustice of the oppression of non-whites (as they do sometimes), they are still--by downplaying the oppression of whites--undermining the working class solidarity that is required to actually stop the injustice.