Opinion

Media gets blamed for rioters mugging for the cameras; ‘Helping propel the news’

Ferguson Ratings
Photo from screengrab.

It may be hard for liberals to fathom, but many free-thinking adults believe the media wanted to see riots in Ferguson, Mo., after a grand jury cleared Officer Darren Wilson of wrongdoing in killing black teen Michael Brown.

CNN’s “Reliable Sources” revealed some interesting data on its show Sunday that some believe make the point.

CNN went from 369,000 in the same Monday time slot a week before the grand jury announcement to 6.3 million viewers the day of the announcement. Fox News’ viewership rocketed from 2.2 million to 7.3 million, and MSNBC jumped from 692,000 to 2.2 million.

“These are some of the highest ratings since the 9/11 terror attacks,” “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter said. “Did the media proverbially fan the flames in Ferguson?”

Frank Sesno, director of the George Washington School of Media and Public Affairs, called the suggestion “very cynical.”

“People don’t sit around in editorial meetings at CNN or Fox or anywhere else saying, ‘We hope there’s violence so that it drives ratings up,’” Sesno said.

St. Louis Media History Director Frank Absher defended the media’s role in the grand jury coverage.

“While a lot of people are quick to criticize and say the media caused this by their very presence, at the same time, if the media had not covered it, they’d have been doing an extreme disservice,” Absher said.

But Sesno did admit the media could have indirectly fueled the fire because people tend to act out for cameras.

“The danger with cameras, always, always, is that you’re not just there tracking the news and recording the news, you may be helping to propel the news,” he said. “That’s where this gets to be very dangerous and very delicate.”

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Carmine Sabia

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