Aftermath of the Oscar Grant case – the media and the reality

By Michael Vass | July 13, 2010

You know what I hate? Hypocrits. People that abuse a situation for their benefit. People that jump on a bandwagon. When it comes to the media there is no lack of individuals that can be identified as being in one of those groups. But there is a huge number that right now are taking advantage of a dead man, and it really is galling me.

Long-term readers of my site are aware that I have followed the Oscar Grant case since Jan. 8, 2009. That’s 7 days after he was murdered in cold blood by then-officer Joannes Mehserle. I have followed the case at all the major steps, up to the conclusion (a verdict of involuntary manslaughter that is nearly incomprehensible if you saw any of the 6 Youtube videos of the event that are now removed from youtube oddly enough) on July 8, 2010. I was a part of a handful of people across the nation that believe cold blooded murder by police is national news, especially when there is multiple videos and eyewitnesses of the event.

Days after the news was out the major mainstream media continued to ignore the story. That’s everyone (MSNBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, ect). But what was covered were the riots in Oakland. Which I felt was incredible since the major media was discussing the riots and the damage, but failed to mention the cause of the riots. Which happened to be the murder of Oscar Grant, and the early efforts by police to cover-up the murder. Just search this site for Oscar Grant and you can read the multiple days of coverage that the najor media would not touch.

It was so bad that when Bill O’Reilly covered the issue his entire commentary can be summed up by this

“Bill O’Reilly was the first national news commentator to speak about this murder to my knowledge. This was an opportunity to convey the outrage that has occurred. To make a plea for justice, and for it to be enacted swiftly. Instead we got more of the national media ignorance. He spoke about the riots this murder has sparked.”

[I realize the youtube video is not available. Little of the video pertaining to Oscar Grant from a year and a half ago exists anymore]

That was as good as it got. By ANY national pundit or commentator on any news network, perhaps outside of the local Oakland news. It was a travesty.

“The killing of Grant was witnessed by at least a dozen witnesses. Grant was unarmed, on the ground face down, with an officer on his back, and was not resisting arrest. He was shot 1 time in the back at point blank range, killing him. The entire incident, some 4 minutes long, was caught on multiple cameras. It took 14 days for the officer firing the shot to be charged with a crime. The incident reached the national media 2x (an ABC news 30 second video clip and the opening memo on the O’Reilly Factor), both focused on the riots that occurred a week after the event.”

But a year and a half later, there are plenty of comments. My focus is on Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Not because FOX news is the devil, nor because of an irrational dislike of these men. But because they are now covering the Oscar Grant case, specifically because it plays into their (legitimate) gripes about actions in the DOJ, Eric Holder, and the Obama Administration.

Suddenly Bill O’Reilly wants to cover the Oscar Grant case and the new riots that were sparked on July 8th after the involuntary manslaugther verdict was given. How the DOJ action in this case compares to the inaction in the New Black Panther case. Covering it like he was aware of the story a year and a half ago. As if he too believed the proceeding was an outrage. But the fact is, he didn’t care then. I saw the coverage, it never hit his radar.

As bad as that was, Bill O’Reilly covered the segment in a decent manner. Though he never mentioned that his program did not think the case was worthy of coverage initially.

But what really set me off is how Glenn Beck had used the case. I accept that there may well have been organizations, radical groups, that organized elements in the crowds that gathered on July 8th for the verdict. I accept that those elements may have provoked the crowd into acts of violence, promoting an unrest that those groups may benefit from.

The thing that gets me is that Beck never bothered to mention that he never bothered with the case. That a year and a half ago he was as much a part of the major media blackout on this story as MSNBC, CNN, and everyone else. That he never so much as whispered the name of Oscar Grant, nor the Oakland riots.

It gets really infuriating when you consider that to this day, NOT ONE major media news organization will even hint at the thought that the murder of young unarmed Black men is rampant in the nation. Not one will connect dots that are in the news and simple to find. Not one will mention how year after year murders like that of Oscar Grant, Adolph Grimes, Sean Bell, and so many others happen every year.

Am I glad that the Oscar Grant case is getting some form of attention finally? Yes. I don’t think it’s adequate, nor do I think it addresses the real problem that created the circumstances for Grant to be murdered. it’s the kind of attention that pundits and politicians alike are using to their advantage. Which includes the Obama Administration.

2 hours after the verdict came down, the DOJ released a comment stating they were investigating the case. After a year and a half without comment about a murder that happened just before the Obama inauguration (not to mention the 2 other police incidents of shooting unarmed young Black men on that same night), suddenly the Obama Administration cares. Suddenly, just as mid-term elections are rolling up and Democrts are struggling with their base, the Obama Administration wades into the limelight.

Is it good this is happening? Is it positive that perhaps justice might occur? Oh yeah it is. And were all of this to lead to the obvious conclusion that a culture of overt violence against Blacks by police exists across the nation, I might have a heart attack.

Perhaps the one thing I would love to hear is for all of the johnny-come-latelys to admit how much they cared about Oscar Grant back in January of 2009. Or at any point right up to the riots AFTER the verdict on July 8th. That goes for the Conservatives (FOX), Liberals (MSNBC), and politicians (Obama Administration and DOJ).

Is the aftermath of the Oscar Grant case news? Indeed it is. But the fact that the major media didn’t have the balls to discuss this case for a year and a half is news as well. And at least I’m willing to mention it.

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