On Wednesday's New Day show, CNN host Alisyn Camerota took a tiny step toward admitting that there are problems with the way the media, including her own network, cover police violence, hurting the image of good police officers.
The moment of introspection came when CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey -- who headed police departments in Washington D.C. and then Philadelphia -- complained that the media needs to be more "balanced" to prevent good police officers from being "demonized" and having their morale hurt.
JIM SCIUTTO: You have a phenomenon now in a number of police departments and a number of communities when you have police officers who are resigning in numbers amidst this. And I'm wondering, if you were still commanding the police departments in Philadelphia or New York, how would you explain to your officers that this is not targeting police officers in general -- it is targeting certain bad behaviors that lead to bad and sometimes deadly outcomes. How would you get that message across?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, listen, obviously, you'd be visiting roll calls and so forth, but that's a hard sell because, unfortunately, there's really not a whole lot of balance that's taking place in terms of the reporting, in terms of the demonstrators -- and don't get me wrong -- we need demonstrations, I mean, there needs to be police reform.
But I think one of the consequences of what's going on right now -- police are being demonized to a large extent. That's the good cops that are looking at this saying, you know, "Why am I bothering? Why am I doing this?" So we need to find that balance and encourage the good police officers to continue doing what they do, but also help -- work to get rid of those officers that should not be police officers. So we need to find a little better balance because right now morale is really, you know, way down, and understandably so.
Camerota admitted there is a down side to the media coverage:
CAMEROTA: Chief, we hear you, and, I mean, that's an unfortunate biproduct of all of this. … I know that you're saying that you blame the reporting in part, and I hear you, I mean, you know, we report on the extremes. We report on the things that are outside the norm. We report on the deadly encounters. Not all -- I mean, on New Day, we also report on, at the end of our show, "The Good Stuff," and good things that police do all the time, but I understand why that's being eclipsed right now by these deadly encounters. And so what's the answer?
Ramsey's suggestion for balance was to highlight examples of cops arresting violent suspects without shooting them...and to note when policemen are shot on duty.
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, just wherever you can find balance, find balance. St. Cloud, Minnesota, the other day, a police officer shot by an 18-year-old black youth. The kid was not injured. In Philadelphia last August, five police shot by an individual who was taken into custody without injury. I mean, there's been a lot of examples out there where police have used a tremendous amount of restraint.
And all I'm saying is, if there's balance there, then maybe we can start to get that message across to the men and women because right now, every time you turn on the television, all you're seeing are the bad shootings, the use of force, and so forth -- not that that's not important. It is important, and it's flat-out wrong, but without balance, it does effect morale, and you're going to get some of these young cops who are going to say, "Listen, I can find some other line of work -- I don't need this," and that's unfortunate.
If the liberal news network took the time to include its more conservative contributors -- who have been noticeably absent recently -- it might have been pointed out that networks like CNN have a history of ignoring stories about cops being shot by suspects, even when there's video, thus making it more understandable why some perceive a deadly threat.
Additionally, if the media included more examples of shooting victims of different races who were killed by police, thus demonstrating for viewers that it hits all racial groups, viewers would not be left to believe only blacks are killed by cops.
The misleading racial breakdown makes it appear that law enforcement acts carelessly toward black suspects while trying to avoid harming whites -- which, if it were actually true, would very much be a legitimate complaint.
According to the Washington Post, so far in 2020, 11 whites, seven blacks, three Hispanics, and one Asian who were all unarmed have been killed in police shootings, but you wouldn't get any hint of that racial breakdown based on the slanted media coverage.
In all of 2019, the breakdown of unarmed fatal police shootings was 25 whites, 14 blacks, 11 Hispanics, four Asians and one Native American.
Noteworthy examples of questionable killings include Nicholas Bils in San Diego; Eliborio Rodriguez in Eugene, Oregon; Xi Li Wang in Chino, California; Rhogena Nicholas in Houston; Henry Rivera in Phoenix; and Margarita Brooks in Arlington, Texas.
Any of these cases might have been given attention by the media if they had fueled the flawed narrative that police violence is the result of racism.