“The publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry,” wrote Bari Weiss on her way out the door at the New York Times. On the other coast, caving to the mob is also in fashion. Consider, for example, a recent proclamation by Sacramento Bee editor and president Lauren Gustus.
”The Bee has taken several recent steps to work against long-standing stereotypes. We have largely banned the use of the word “looting” – a term rooted in racism – and have sought to elevate the voices of emerging writers from communities we have long underserved.” Ryan Lillis, author of the July 9 piece, provides further enlightenment.
The Bee “will limit the publication of police booking photos, surveillance photos and videos of alleged crimes, and composite sketches of suspects provided by law enforcement agencies. Publishing these photographs and videos disproportionately harms people of color and those with mental illness, while also perpetuating stereotypes about who commits crime in our community.”
Exceptions to the policy include, “booking photos of public figures; photos of suspected serial killers; cases in which there is an immediate and widespread threat to public safety; and those suspected of hate crimes.” The Bee will continue to publish footage of police officer use of force as “one way to hold those in positions of power accountable.”
The changes flow from a July 3 story that “included surveillance photographs of people suspected of vandalizing stores in downtown Sacramento following a night of protests against police brutality. Members of the community asked that the story – and the photographs – be removed from our website the next day and we did so. We apologize for the harm that publishing those photos may have caused.” For any harm the suspected vandals may have caused, locals must turn to the California Globe.
“Many are not aware that downtown businesses are still boarded up from the Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in June,” Globe editor Katy Grimes wrote on July 16. “Following violence, anarchy, mass property damage, theft, robbery and vandalism during the ongoing Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots, many Sacramento businesses were destroyed. Owners boarded up windows following the rampage.” The Bee failed to cover the story and Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg looked the other way.
The mayor talked up police “reforms,” supported the toppling of statues, and called for repeal of the city’s practice of standing and saluting during the national anthem. That was “particularly offensive given the recent proud actions of athletes and others taking a knee when the anthem is played,” adding, “principled protest is the epitome of patriotism.” As it happens, the genuflecting Steinberg and the Sacramento Bee form a team of sorts.
The Bee is the flagship of the McClatchy Newspaper chain, now mired in bankruptcy proceedings. When the news hit, Steinberg proclaimed, “We’re not going down without a fight on behalf of the community.” The Sacramento Democrat showed no curiosity about the role of partisanship and fake news in the chain’s downfall.
The Bee has been a purveyor of fake news through the columns of Diana Griego Erwin, many of them pure fiction. Editor Rick Rodriguez looked the other way at hundreds of biased, unprofessional stories about illegal aliens, who never do wrong. The current opinion editor of the Bee is Gil Duran, former press secretary for California Gov. Jerry Brown and communications director for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Democrat. As state Senate boss, Darrell Steinberg also showed sensitivity to media matters.
In 2012, California four ballot measures on taxes and spending were due for a committee hearing covered by the California Channel, the state version of C-SPAN. Steinberg killed the live broadcast, depriving voters statewide a chance to hear the testimony. Confronted with the blatant censorship, Steinberg told reporters, “I pride myself on being open and transparent.”
Last October, state Democrats shut down the California Channel entirely.
Steinberg is one of 15 mayors to sign a letter demanding that the Trump administration not send federal agents to U.S. cities. “The majority of the protests have been peaceful and aimed at improving our communities,” the letter states. “Where this is not the case, it still does not justify the use of federal forces. Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values. . . We urge you to take immediate action to withdraw your forces and agree to no further unilateral deployment to U.S. cities.”
The signers include Democrat mayors Libby Schaff of Oakland, Sam Liccardo of San Jose, and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. In that city, the Los Angeles Times has also banned the term looting.
“Looting is a crime that occurs only during a state of emergency,” the style guide explains. “Do not use it as a broad label or term for protest, burglary, theft or chaos. Because of the racial connotation and history of the word, use terms like ‘looting’ or ‘looters’ only in the context of criminal proceedings. Unless a story is specifically about looting or those charged with the crime, ‘looting’ or its derivations (‘looted,’ ‘looters’) should not be used in the story.”
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