A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
The El Paso suspect said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He drove all the way across Texas to the Walmart a short distance from the border. So this was a mass shooting, yes. And this was a white nationalist terror attack. But it was also, a bit more specifically, a brutal example of an anti-Latino hate crime.
So on Monday I examined how news outlets, both in English and Spanish, are covering this angle. Are Latino voices being fully incorporated into news coverage? Are news reports acknowledging the long history of anti-Latino attacks and the climate of fear in many communities? Or is the coverage being whitewashed?
We need more of this:
CBS has been calling Saturday’s shooting “the worst attack on Latinos in modern American history.” On the “CBS Evening News,” correspondent David Begnaud visited a local Catholic church and interviewed residents. “We’re not all rapists and animals” the way “someone has depicted us,” Ruben Torres told Begnaud.
These two headlines from the Los Angeles Times also caught my attention: “For Latinos, El Paso is a devastating new low in a Trump era” and “’We were safe until he started talking’: El Paso residents respond to President Trump.” Both stories featured local voices through and through.
And CNN’s teams in El Paso have been interviewing residents at vigils across the city. Reporter Nicole Chavez, who calls El Paso home, also wrote about the Walmart and how it has “united Americans and Mexicans in El Paso for decades.” She captured the city beautifully…
→ In an email message on Monday night, Chavez pointed out to me that “this was not only an attack in El Paso. As with pretty much everything in this city, this attack is crossing borders. Hurting families on both sides of the border. Juarez and El Paso have always been one and this attack highlights that.” At least eight Mexican nationals were killed…
Univision’s prime time special
Univision preempted its usual 9 p.m. programming for a news special on Monday night. Jorge Ramos and Patricia Janiot hosted “Hispanos en la Mira,” or “Hispanics in the Crosshairs,” from El Paso.
That title says it all.
Not surprisingly, some of the guests on the special were very critical of President Trump. Former Congressman Luis Gutierrez said “we cannot believe this president. He now says that we have to fight racism, prejudice. If so, then we have to get rid of him because he’s the main promoter of hate in the US. He should condemn himself…”
Tanzina Vega, the host of “The Takeaway” radio program, has been calling out the media’s all-too-frequent failure to represent Latinos. On Monday she led a segment about the “dark history of anti-Latino violence in the U.S.” She said “historians estimate that between 1910 to 1920, around 5,000 people of Mexican descent were killed or vanished in the U.S.”
Irene Sanchez has a new CNN.com op-ed about this same subject…
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists put out guidance and resources on Monday. The group’s president Hugo Balta said it’s important “to be culturally sensitive and sensible in the portrayal of communities under attack.” Read on…
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– Timely: On Monday the Knight Foundation “made a $1.2 million investment in a new diversity, equity and inclusion transformation program at the Maynard Institute…” (Medium)
– NBC and Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart on MSNBC’s “Nation in Crisis” special Monday night: “We’re sick and tired of being labeled anything but patriotic Americans, people who are here to make this country better. We’re here so that this country can progress, that our children have a better life. That’s what we want to hear.”
– One-topic monologues are rare for Stephen Colbert, but that’s what he did on Monday, addressing the violence over the weekend… The video will be up on YouTube around midnight ET…
– I’ll be on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” in the 11pm hour talking about the similarities between the suspect’s manifesto and the messages conveyed by right-wing talk show hosts…
“Keep our hearts from breaking”
Chris Cuomo’s message to President Trump at the end of Monday’s “Cuomo Prime Time:”
“You are right to say we must come together. You and our leaders in Congress must start. Take us to a better place. Pass the laws to protect us from these white nationalist terrorists. Do what the people call for — make us safer from guns in the wrong hands. Come back. Do your job. Keep our hearts from breaking. Please.”
Two networks, two different realities
When I was channel-flipping during the 8 p.m. hour, I noticed this banner on Fox Business: “TRUMP CONDEMNS HATRED & RACISM.” And this one on MSNBC: “President Trump refuses to take responsibility for past comments after multiple mass shootings.” Both technically accurate, but which one told the bigger truth?
Treating Trump as a “normal” president?
Did you feel like some members of the media were straining to treat Trump as a “normal” president on Monday, after his ten-minute address about the mass murders? I heard from numerous Trump detractors who felt the coverage was ridiculous. This came to a head on Monday night when the first edition of the New York Times’ Tuesday morning front page came out. The main headline said “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM,” and it was savaged. Beto O’Rourke called the headline “unbelievable.” Olivia Nuzzi said “the president’s speech writers should not be dictating our headlines.” Former Obama aide Ben Rhodes tweeted that “this consistent framing on Trump’s terms / trying to cover him as a normal US President is hugely beneficial to him.”
The second edition had an updated main headline — “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS” — but it was also criticized right away. George Conway called it “strike two…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
– Also on Page One of Tuesday’s Times, there’s this a very smart story by Alex Burns: He said the gun violence debate that usually dominates after a mass shooting is “giving way to a reckoning on extremism…” (New York Times)
– The Toledo Blade’s headline from Monday morning’s presidential speech: “Trump refers to mass shooting in Toledo, not Dayton” (Blade)
– Since January, Trump 2020 has posted “more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word ‘invasion’ — part of a barrage of advertising focused on immigration, a dominant theme of his re-election messaging,” Thomas Kaplan reports… (New York Times)
– On Monday the Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked Trump to “commit to no longer using the language of ‘invasion’ to describe our Hispanic communities, immigrants, or any refugees to our nation…” (House.gov)
Two recommended reads
CNN’s Chris Boyette flagged these two columns…
“I’ve Seen the Limits of Journalism,” writes John Temple, the director of UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program, in this new piece for The Atlantic. Twenty years ago, he says he was convinced the shootings he covered at Columbine would change everything. But “I can’t say anymore that I believe we learn from terrible things. I can say that I’ve seen the limits of journalism—and of hope. And I’m struggling with what to do about it.”
Jon Marcus writing for Nieman Reports: “Journalists often withhold details of mass shooters and suicides to discourage copycats. Should that ‘strategic silence’ be extended to extremist speech, misinformation, and propaganda, too?”
Inside the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso
Megan Thomas emails: A pediatrician doing a hospital visit with newborns in El Paso got called into service on Saturday. He shared some of what he observed with The New Yorker.
“Usually there are one or two people at these kinds of centers who are ready to deal with escalating trauma, but this was unprecedented,” Jorge Sainz said. “There is civil trauma and then there is military trauma, the stuff that happens at war. Ninety per cent of them die at the scene; maybe ten per cent survive. This was getting close to military trauma. This guy wasn’t shooting a .22 or a little rifle. I was seeing scooped-out flesh. It kept coming. And coming.”
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
– Joe Biden’s first national interview since the shooting sprees was with Anderson Cooper… The sit-down aired on Monday night… (CNN)
– Acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan will be interviewed by Anthony Mason on Tuesday’s “CBS This Morning…”
– CNN has scheduled a Wednesday night town hall, titled “America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis,” to be hosted by Chris Cuomo… (CNN)
– Via Donie O’Sullivan, here’s the latest on 8chan and how it’s “struggling to stay online…” (CNN Business)
Dayton shooter had leftist Twitter feed
“A Twitter account that appears to belong to Dayton shooter Connor Betts re-tweeted extreme left-wing and anti-police posts as well as tweets supporting the violent protest group Antifa,” CNN’s Paul Murphy and Konstantin Toropin reported Monday night. On the day of the shooting, he retweeted someone else’s post that said “Millennials have a message for the Joe Biden generation: hurry up and die.” He also retweeted support for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Chilling detail: “In the hours before the Dayton shooting, the account ‘liked’ several tweets about the El Paso shooting including one supporting gun control and others that called the El Paso shooting suspect a ‘terrorist,’ and a ‘white supremacist.’ The account also re-tweeted posts against ICE agents, including one that said, ‘these people are monsters,’ as well as multiple posts condemning police, and supporting Antifa. There were also many tweets of selfies, photos with a friend and ordinary memes and non-political content.”
So far, authorities have not said that this attack was politically motivated in any way, nor have they described it as a domestic terrorism case. But I’m already seeing lots of Twitter arguments between people who are equating the El Paso and Dayton killers…
Tucker Carlson’s framing
“Nobody really believes this is about Donald Trump or assault weapons. If only. If only it were that simple,” Tucker Carlson said Monday night. Then he quoted from this essay by James Howard Kunstler: “This is exactly what you get in a culture where anything goes and nothing matters. Extract all the meaning and purpose from being here on earth, and erase as many boundaries as you can from custom and behavior, and watch what happens, especially among young men.” Kunstler called them “young men trained on video slaughter games,” but Carlson left out that last bit.
The problem, Carlson said, stems from young men who feel angry and alone. The graphic on screen said AMERICA’S REAL CRISIS. “We have a huge problem with young American men, and no one wants to deal with it,” Carlson said…
A deceptive talking point emerges in right-wing media
Oliver Darcy emails: A talking point bubbling up in right-wing media is that the suspected terrorist in El Paso was not actually a member of the right. To make this argument, some conservative personalities have pointed to the rhetoric in suspected killer’s essay in which he assails consumer culture, corporations, and the pollution of the environment. Some of these talking points have even made their way to those with loud microphones. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, told his audience on Monday that the suspect’s racist screed is “filled with Democratic talking points.” And the narrative even found its way to Fox News.
But for anyone who has studied the alt-right, none of this is the least bit surprising. It’s no secret that those who belong to the alt-right often assail free market principles, contending the commercialization of society is ruining culture, and that it’s more important to preserve culture than the free market. Suggesting the El Paso suspect is a leftist because he espoused such ideas just shows how naïve — or disingenuous — some of these pro-Trump personalities really are.