The TV news media spent much of last week decrying a conservative boycott against Target, warning of reported “threats” against store employees. But suddenly, when multiple Target locations received bomb threats by a supposed LGBT activist, the media fell quiet.
Since May 24, the liberal cable (CNN and MSNBC) and broadcast (ABC, CBS, and NBC) networks have spent just over 38 minutes on the conservative backlash against Target’s pride-themed children’s apparel. CNN was by far the most interested in the boycott, with a total of 31 minutes of airtime. MSNBC aired a more modest five minutes and 44 seconds, while NBC — the only broadcast network to mention the boycott — spent 112 seconds on it.
But none of those 38 minutes included even a mention of the spate of bomb threats made against Target by a purported LGBT activist. Even when the threats resulted in forced evacuations of several Target stores, the media remained tight-lipped.
Fortunately, law enforcement have since determined that none of the threats were credible, and that most if not all of them were likely hoaxes. Yet viewers of CNN and MSNBC are unlikely to be made aware of this development, because they were never told about the threats to begin with.
And what if the hoaxers turn out be conservative provocateurs? These networks would no doubt love to report on that sort of right-wing malfeasance — but in order to do so, they'd have to awkwardly tiptoe around the fact that they refused to report on a bunch of (at the time) potentially legitimate bomb threats.
That these threats against Target turned out not to be credible does not retroactively absolve the media of their refusal to cover such a story. And given their intense interest in Target before the bomb threats, their sudden silence speaks volumes.
More bluntly: except in the most extreme cases, the media will only report on domestic terrorism when they can portray the perpetrators as right-wing. They are deeply committed to a manufactured narrative in which the American right holds a monopoly on political violence, and they curate their reporting in order to fuel that narrative whenever possible.
Recall that these same outlets spent several days freaking out about Nicholas Sandmann back in 2019, when all they had to go off of was several seconds of video showing him smiling awkwardly at an American Indian man. If that was enough for liberal networks to assassinate the character of a high school kid, one would think they could’ve found the time to cover a rash of bomb threats — credible or not.