Did the news media underplay the Tennessee church shooting?
Certainly, some folks think so. But hold on a moment, and I'll explain why I don't necessarily agree.
Among the critics: The Blaze columnist Matt Walsh, who wrote a piece complaining that "a terrorist shot up a church but the media's too busy talking about NFL players kneeling."
A journalist friend sent me the link to Walsh's column. "Matt Walsh is tiresome and extremely wordy," my friend suggested. "But his point is valid."
A relevant chunk of what Walsh wrote:
A Sudanese immigrant named Emanuel Kidega Samson murdered someone in the parking lot and then walked into Burnette Chapel Church of Christ and started shooting indiscriminately. The victim who died was a 39-year-old woman and mother of two named Melanie Smith. According to her family members, she was a Godly and compassionate woman. She was killed for committing the crime of attending church on a Sunday morning.
Samson wounded six other people, including the pastor before an usher stopped him. The hero, 22-year-old Caleb Engle, was pistol-whipped in the face during the confrontation. He struggled with Samson until the terrorist, by the grace of God, accidentally shot himself. Engle then went out to his car to grab his own firearm, and stood guard over the wounded shooter until police arrived.
Perhaps I’m giving you details you already know. Maybe you read about this story on page 14 of the newspaper. I’m not exaggerating, either. The New York Times put this mass shooting on page 14. The front page was dominated by athletes kneeling. Or perhaps you heard it mentioned in a 12-second blurb at the end of a cable newscast last night. I flipped through a few different channels and didn’t hear it even mentioned one time, but maybe they got around to it. Of course, in a 60-minute broadcast they had to allot at least 59 minutes to cataloging the posture of NFL players. If you managed to sit through all of that, you may have heard the “P.S. There was a mass shooting at a church today okay that’s all goodnight” at the end. I don’t know.
Elsewhere, this was the headline on a post by The Federalist Papers Project:
REVEALED: Why Sunday Church Attack Is The First Mass Shooting the Media’s NOT Interested In
You can read that entire post and draw your own conclusions. But here's how another journalist friend of mine — Alan Cochrum, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram copy editor — responded on Facebook:
So here's the degree to which the media are "NOT interested" in the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ shooting: If you do a Google News search for those last six words, you get (as of noonish 9/27) about 118,000 hits. Yes, that is definitely a lack of journalistic interest.
I sense some sarcasm there.
Earlier today, I noticed this tweet by a reader complaining about the level of media interest in the shooting:
Given that the Twitter user linked to a story from The Tennessean, I couldn't help but reply:
Seriously, have you ever noticed how often people complain about a lack of news coverage by linking to an, um, news article?
On the one hand, I agree with those tired of hearing about Donald Trump's latest tweets about the National Football League ... or any of Trump's tweets, for that matter. On the other hand, I think the real reason the Tennessee church shooting hasn't received more coverage (and as pointed out, it's received A LOT) is because of the death toll.
Sadly, in America in 2017, a mass shooting in which one person dies is not going to dominate the news cycle for long. Such tragedies have become too common. Even then, I noticed a national Associated Press piece just today on houses of worship addressing security in the wake of the Tennessee shooting.
Thankfully, most of those who were shot at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ survived. If they had died, the level and intensity of news media interest would have been higher. Much higher.