BAYHAM: The Terrible Times Picayune’s Terrible Law Enforcement Libel

Eleven years ago this month, rapper Kanye West turned a nationally televised fundraising program for Katrina victims on its head when he nervously blurted out “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Bush declared that the broadcast of West’s slander was the worst moment of his presidency.

You have to wonder how the management of the Times-Picayune feels upon receiving the wrath of law enforcement and the locals, some longtime subscribers, some longtime former subscribers, and some future unsubscribers from their classless and unprofessional decision to post a political cartoon that had vilely libeled a battered law enforcement community, particularly local police who have borne the strain of rescuing people during the 2016 Louisiana flood.

The cartoon featured a fat white policeman holding a yellow sign with the words “Miranda Rights” with an arrow pointing “For White People” and that same cop holding a sign with the words “Last Rites” with an arrow pointing “For Black People”.

The “indictment” was drawn by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mike Luckovich and run in Monday’s paper.

The TP’s editor Mark Lorando wrote what barely passes for an explanation in the face of the social media and elected official furor it incited.

It was a reference to the Justice Department’s criticism of the Baltimore Police and a “powerful expression of outrage,” Mr. Lorando pleaded, with his great regret that the cartoonist didn’t add details indicating that it was a Baltimore cop and not one of the good guys.

Lorando then apologized for the paper’s “lapse” in judgment in light of the herculean service that law enforcement has provided with search and rescue operations in the inundated parts of the state.

Devoid from the editor’s coerced apology is any mention of the explicit threat to police painted on a Confederate monument, a story you would have read here on The Hayride but not in a publication that has declared war on century-old historic landmarks.

But what is even more unacceptable is the Times-Picayune’s amnesia about what has happened in Baton Rouge a few weeks ago when three policemen were murdered in a hail of bullets by black radical Gavin Long or what transpired in Dallas during the midst of a Black Lives Matter protest, where five members of that area’s law enforcement were cut down by another black radical, Micah Johnson.

Both murderers were infuriated by incidents where white policemen had fatally shot black men.  And there’s little doubt that the sensationalist coverage the media devoted to these incidents (as opposed to other fatal shootings around the country that happened at the time, particularly in the war zone that is Chicago) drove these two extremists to taking action.

So Mr. Lorando, what effect do you think a cartoon that portrays a white cop as applying two different sets of engagements, a legalist one for white perps and a fatal one for black perps, is going to have on the community at large and certain individuals in particular?

Do you believe you have made policemen any safer by running such a “powerfully” absurd image that reinforces a myth sowing greater seeds of distrust between law enforcement and a segment of the population that suffers a disproportionate rate of crime?

And I don’t think the most impressionable inclined towards violence would’ve bothered reading the fine print on the cop’s patch to see which particular department he is affiliated with before going on a shooting spree.

Their paranoia will be more than satisfied by the big picture on your already inflammatory Opinions page.

The false narrative of white cops big-game-hunting young black men has been advanced by the worst actors in social media and in the professional protest circuit and by (once) reputable established news entities.

The Times-Picayune can now count themselves in that loathsome number.

This is what happens when you phone in a newspaper from long distance with scab talent, as many of the Times-Picayune’s most experienced and brightest were let go as part of a scaled-down publication model that has since been abandoned due to media market competition.

I was not a fan of him, but I don’t think Ashton Phelps would have run that garbage.

The Times-Picayune needs to do more than issue a mea culpa for their latest display of bad taste and poor judgment.

They need to peel away from the leftist journalism lynch mob that has been smearing law enforcement and endangering their lives.

They need to resolve to cease engaging in bad journalism practices such as publishing sensationalist editorials that are intended to get a reaction from the public and thus drive up traffic on their website.

And finally, they need to quit letting their political agenda take precedent over reporting of news.  If reality does not square with their politics, then print the former and rethink the latter.

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