A local reporter takes a look at the web of deceit surrounding the case of the Jena 6, a case that has been frequently used to show how racist American society has become. What the reporter finds is that the media twisted the facts, failed to get the whole story, and let the narrative of racism influence how they reported on the events in Jena:
The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.
I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.
The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side’s statements – the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they’d read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.
The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It’s time to set the record straight.
This isn’t surprising. We saw the same dynamic play out with the Duke rape case, in which the media immediately accepted the narrative that the white lacrosse players were rapists and the black stripper was the victim. It plays directly into their preconceptions of a racist America. When the truth finally came out, there was no evidence of rape, the Duke players had been railroaded, and the media had misinformed the American public.
Is Jena the same way? If this reporter’s account is accurate, it certainly seems that way. The media once again came in with their preconceptions and molded their reporting around the story that they wanted to tell.
In a democracy, we cannot have a media that deliberately manipulates the facts to bring out only the story that they think is important. Such racial bias has already ruined the lives of several Duke lacrosse players, and now the same dynamic is playing out in Jena once again. Picking at the wounds of real racial animus doesn’t advance the cause of racial justice and equality in this country—and in the media’s zeal to try to shape events rather than report on them, they’ve abandoned their objectivity.