Welcome to 2021, where everything is made up and the facts don’t matter – and the truth is so expendable that the media now even admit it out loud.
The verdict was being read declaring former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty for both murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd when another now-viral video was breaking out over Twitter – this time, showing a teenage black girl having been shot dead at the hands of police officers in Columbus, Ohio.
The girl turned out to be 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who police said was brandishing a knife at several other people before she was shot and killed. Police bodycam footage from the scene shows the young woman was, in fact, holding a knife and appeared to be threatening two other girls when police pulled up and the incident began to unfold - an incident that's still be investigated.
But while all the actual facts have yet to come out, the Court of Public Opinion held on social media was already demanding the officer’s head for “murdering” at 16-year-old (first reported as 15-year-old) girl, comparing her to Floyd and adding her to the list of black Americans - including armed and dangerous criminals - who've been shot and killed by police.
And the media were all too happy to fuel the hasty narrative with whatever reports they could get their hands on first – however admittedly erroneous.
In a disclaimer posted to the bottom of their running story about the shooting, which began with the sentence "A 16-year-old Black girl was fatally shot by an officer outside her home after she called the police for help on Tuesday afternoon, according to her family," and in which they quoted Bryant's mother as saying her daughter was "an honor roll student and a sweet child," NPR added that “some facts” they report “may later turn out to be wrong.”
“This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong,” the note reads. “We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.”
Here’s a follow-up note, this one to NPR: if the “facts” you report end up being “wrong,” then they aren’t “facts.” They’re falsehoods, and you’re complicit in peddling them for clicks and views at the expense of the truth.