On Saturday's PoliticsNation show, MSNBC host Al Sharpton devoted a segment to fretting that the rebuilding of three black churches struck by arson in Louisiana have not received as much attention as the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in France. Sharpton began by denouncing Trump for not saying anything.
Then Sharpton's guest, black activist and journalist George Johnson, bizarrely claimed there was no national news coverage:
GEORGE JOHNSON: So when you get to a situation like this in our own backyard when you have someone who's the son of a deputy set fires to three churches, almost a month ago like you said, starting March 26, April 2, as well as April 4, it didn't even get national news coverage. It only got local news coverage. And Notre Dame's burning down is the only reason that the churches got any type of recognition.
He then suggested France's history of colonialism makes Americans more sympathetic to the European country as he continued:
So you have to look at the ideologies as well as the imperialism here when you think about a country like France that has done colonizing in the same way as the U.S. has done across many nations. And so, to watch someone like President Trump as well as Congress be so willing to offer support overseas is more of a nod to the white nationalism that we're seeing in the United States.
A bit later, Sharpton noted the larger amount of money raised for Notre Dame than for the Louisiana churches, and then seemed to accept his guest's claim that there was no national media coverage as he followed up: "Again, the coverage, the intensity happening right in our country, I think, is striking and needed to be highlighted in some fashion."
But here's the fun part. According to a Nexis search of transcripts, Sharpton himself did not cover it on his MSNBC show until Saturday, April 13, after failing to cover it the previous weekend, making his show ironically one of the last to begin reporting the story in spite of his complaints.
The national news media began coverage of the church burnings on Friday, April 5, when CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News ran stories. The next day, Fox News Channel's America's News Headquarters joined the story in the early afternoon followed soon by CNN Newsroom before ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News also gave it full stories.
Fox News beat Sharpton! It took until the next day, Sunday, April 7, for MSNBC to start noticing, but only giving it scant attention on the first day. Several other MSNBC shows caught up on Monday as morning and evening newscasts on all the networks gave it some level of attention.
After news broke of a suspect being arrested on Thursday, April 11, the morning news casts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FNC all gave it attention, and, on CNN, At This Hour with Kate Bolduan broke the story on her network later in the morning. In the evening, PBS Newshour also gave it a brief.
It is also noteworthy that, according to the Washington Post, church fires, including arson, are pretty commonplace, so the fact that the media waited for the arsonist to strike the same area three times is probably a typical reaction since it may take a while to discern a pattern, that a serial arsonist is at work.