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Birmingham News Drops the Ball on Black-on-white Crime

by: selwyn duke | published: 04 15, 2012

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This past Tuesday I reported on the stabbing of white truck driver Nick Stokes by members of a black motorcycle gang called the Outcasts of Alabama. It’s not merely a scary story but also an unusual one, mostly because of the behavior of law enforcement. The Adamsville, AL police department not only failed to question or detain any of the gangsters, but, outrageously, also told Stokes that they “don’t mess” with the Outcasts.

What isn’t at all unusual about the story is the mainstream media’s reluctance to cover a case of black-on-white crime.  In particular, I cited the Birmingham News (BN), whose crime-beat reporter, Carol Robinson, had brusquely dismissed the incident as not newsworthy. After my article was published in American Thinker, however, she finally treated it – no doubt as a result of pressure – but in a manner so incomplete that it reflects a grudging attitude. More on that in a moment.

The BN’s dereliction of duty didn’t escape its readers, some of whom savaged the paper in the comments section under Robinson’s piece. One wrote, “Wow.  Birmingham News finally prints this story. Only after being shamed into it by the American Thinker….” Another quipped, “Hey Birmingham news, if you don’t watch out someone is gonna start a newspaper around here.” We can only hope.

In an effort at damage control, managing editor Chuck Clark posted a response, saying that they had not purposely ignored the story and that they reported on it “[a]s soon this was brought to our attention today.” This is simply not true.

This isn’t synonymous with saying that Clark is lying. I believe the paper reported on the story as soon as it was brought to his attention, but the fact is that Robinson was tipped off a full week before. She obviously, however, disagreed with her managing editor, who also wrote under her piece, “A road rage incident that results in a stabbing is a news story.”

I confirmed this information this past Tuesday in an interview with the man who apprised Robinson of the Stokes affair, Scott Boyd of the Macon Beacon. Boyd, owner and editor of the paper, was the first to report on the crime and told me that he approached Robinson on Tuesday, April 3rd, only to be rebuffed. Not only did he find her wholly uninterested, she was completely ignorant of, and unsympathetic about, the situation. About the biker gang she said, “I have been covering crime in Birmingham for 25 years, and I’ve never heard of them.” The icing on the cake was when Boyd said he was amazed at the police’s dereliction of duty, and she brushed him off with, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”

It appears Robinson doesn’t want to do much, given the nature of her reportage. Consider that while she provides the basic details of the attack on Stokes, she omits the most newsworthy part of the story: the police’s admission that they “don’t mess” with a local band of criminals.   

Instead, she is one-sided. She quotes Adamsville Police Chief Bob Carter and writes, “‘It [the crime] was never viewed lightly by the Adamsville Police Department. All I can tell you is in any investigation, there is a search for the truth,’ the chief said. ‘We’re trying to get to the bottom of it, and prosecute whoever is guilty of wrongdoing.’” This is fine and dandy, but it’s also damage-control boilerplate. What is striking about the story is Stokes’ claim that a police officer told him, “We don’t mess with those Outcast guys.”  They also advised him to let the matter go because the gang could come after him. And I tend to doubt he’s lying. 

Now, how can Robinson consider herself an honest reporter when omitting the most newsworthy aspect of the story? Stokes’ claims should have been juxtaposed with the police chief’s. But it seems to me that the reportage just reflects the police investigation: both may be examples of going through the motions, of not wanting to “mess with” something politically incorrect and perhaps dangerous.

As to this dangerousness, Boyd tells me that the one biker who was injured and found at the scene, Laddarious Clay of Birmingham, was sporting a holster on each hip and told the police that he had given the pistols to the other bikers. I guess that was enough to scare the Adamsville Keystone Kops.

Getting back to the BN, I’m sure Robinson didn’t tell managing editor Clark that she was ignoring a newsworthy story, so I take his claims at face value. But it’s also clear that she was less than forthcoming with him, and I informed him about this via email. The question is, will he do anything about it?

If the mainstream media’s history is any guide, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting. NBC got burned recently because it had an editor who misrepresented George Zimmerman’s 911 phone conversation so as to inflame passions. Dan Rather got burned because he had underlings who peddled forged documents.   The New York Times got burned because it coddled affirmative-action hire and plagiarist Jayson Blair. And now the Birmingham News is getting burned, albeit less severely, because it retains a reporter who seems to filter news through a politically correct prism. Sure, none of these media organs prescribed this malpractice, but where does the buck stop? When you lie down with dogs or hire liberals, you get fleas.

You also get lower circulation, dropping stock prices and lost credibility. 

Contact Selwyn Duke     

(Note: I want to issue two corrections on my initial article. “We don’t mess with those Outcast guys.” is the exact police quotation as related to me by Boyd; the one I used on Tuesday was, apparently, a grapevine-altered version. Second, I was mistaken in my first piece in reporting that Boyd had heard the police utter the comment as well; he tells me that only Stokes did.)  

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