Media Mostly Ignore Autopsy Bolstering Police in Stephon Clark Shooting

May 4th, 2018 3:25 PM

At the end of March, after a private autopsy on police shooting victim Stephon Clark was conducted at his family's request which alleged that the police mostly shot him in the back and lied about him charging at them, the dominant media pounced on the story, with all three broadcast networks opening their March 30 newscasts with full reports on the development.

But, since the Sacramento county autopsy was released this week which suggests Clark was, in fact, charging at the police with half the bullets hitting him in the side, and contradicting the family autopsy, the same networks have shown little interest in updating viewers with a development that defends the cops. Ironically, even the left-wing Mother Jones has suggested that the county's autopsy has a better chance of being more accurate because it was conducted first.



After Sacramento police officers chased Clark into his grandmother's yard as a suspect in a string of car break-ins, and then shot him because they thought the cell phone he was holding was a gun, the dominant media gave the story a substantial amount of coverage spread out over two weeks. But little time has been devoted to the county autopsy that corroborates the police account of the shooting.

On Wednesday, CBS This Morning reported it first as Bianna Golodryga read a 40-second brief and informed viewers that the county's result "contradicted" the family's autopsy report, and suggested that "Clark was most likely shot as he approached police." She also noted that the toxicology report concluded he was intoxicated at the time.

A couple of hour later, CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow devoted 32 seconds to the development, and otherwise the Cable News Network has not mentioned it since.

Surprisingly, even FNC barely touched the story as host Dana Perino gave it 27 seconds on her Daily Briefing show, but only vaguely informed viewers that the official autopsy "contradicted" the family autopsy without giving details. So far, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and PBS have not mentioned the city's autopsy report at all.

By contrast, as previously documented by NewsBusters, after the Clark shooting broke on March 22, over the next two weeks, CNN gave the story over 272 minutes, MSNBC devoted over 235 minutes, and FNC gave it almost 70 minutes. ABC, CBS, and NBC covered the story almost every day from March 22 until April 1. PBS NewsHour covered it on five different shows between March 23 and March 31.

And when the family's private autopsy was released on March 30 which challenging the police, the networks eagerly jumped on it.



And it's not as if the networks have not found time for other police-related stories in the last few days. Between Wednesday and Thursday, all the networks informed viewers that the two black men who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks have reached a settlement with the city and with Starbucks, including both morning and evening newscasts on the broadcast networks. ABC gave it a total of seven minutes and 50 seconds, which included an interview with the two men on Good Morning America. NBC gave it a total of three minutes, 39 seconds; and CBS gave it 42 seconds.

CNN's Early Start gave the Starbucks settlement a total of two minutes, in addition to CNN Newsroom giving it a little over a minute. MSNBC's First Look devoted just over a minute, PBS Newshour aired a 28-second brief, and FNC's The Five gave it 35 seconds.

Additionally, ABC is moving on to the next case of a police officer under fire for excessive violence as World News Tonight on Thursday devoted more than a minute to a cop in Miami who was caught on video indefensibly kicking a man in the head after he had already given up, and Good Morning America on Friday followed up with a two-minute full report