Jon Stewart Slams Baltimore Media Coverage, & His Passionate Message Is So Right — VIDEO
This week, the majority of news outlets have been focused on Baltimore, which saw protests turn violent on Monday following Freddie Gray's funeral. The amount of coverage on the riots is natural since the social implications surrounding them are historical, but there are certain ways the media can spin the story to fit their own personal narrative. One person is not having any of it. Jon Stewart blasted the media's coverage of Baltimore for exaggerating the ferocity of the riots when white people have been rioting for centuries, sometimes over much more trivial matters, and for acting surprised by the unrest.
Stewart opened his segment with some clips of people rioting. Is it the Baltimore riots? Nope, "Those are Kentucky fans after losing," Stewart points out. Then he plays another clip of people running around in disorder. That must be Baltimore then. Wrong again. "That's Michigan State fans after winning." Then another clip shows people destroying street signs. "That's a pumpkin festival gone awry." What's Stewart's point here? These clips showed large mobs of white people rioting and wreaking havoc over relatively inconsequential matters, like pumpkins.
When it's white people rioting, Stewart says, it's "just kids blowing off steam with some good-natured arson." But when it's black people doing the same thing, then it's "worrisome ... urban violence." And that's exactly how the media has been portraying the latter, with descriptors like "chaos," "violence," and "lawlessness."
Stewart then points out that the combination of an impoverished inner-city neighborhood and the law enforcement that unfairly targets them is an easily combustible one that's sparked numerous similar riots in the past, like Watts and Detroit in the '60s, Georgia in the '70s, Miami in the 80s, L.A. in the '90s, and so on. They're "cyclical eruptions," as Stewart describes them.
So why was CNN's Wolf Blitzer so surprised by it all? He said on CNN that it's hard to believe that anything like this could happen in an American city: "I don't remember seeing anything like this in the United States of America in a long time."
Visibly perplexed, Stewart said:
Elvis leading a herd of Orthodox Jewish unicorns through a city street — that would be hard to believe. This shit happens all the time!
Stewart then pointed out that Ferguson was only a few months ago and Blitzer essentially said the same exact thing back then: "It's hard for me to believe in this day and age ... we're seeing National Guard troops on the street to prevent this kind of violence."
To that Stewart says:
I am worried about you. Do we need to get Sandler to go over to your house and just run shit by you every morning?
And regarding the state of emergency that Governor Larry Hogan called for the city, as far as Stewart is concerned, someone should have called that in the '70s. Many parts of Baltimore have long been poverty-stricken, with poverty rates at nearly double the national average, an unemployment rate among young African-American men at around 30 percent, a lack of access to labor markets, health care, and housing, and high crime rates. All of this has made it a ticking time bomb ready to go off.
You know your city's fucked up when its last, most successful employment program was casting extras for a television show about how fucked up your city is.
What's even more shocking is how much the city has had to pay in court settlements to victims of police brutality — $6 million since 2011, to be exact.
The police brutality lottery is now... $6 million. All you need is a broken tail light and a dream.
So, what's the real solution here that would actually prevent upheaval like this from occurring yet again (yes, it will happen again, Wolf, so write it down or something)? We have to tackle the issue at the source, the "systemically, historically disenfranchised" African-American communities.
Only paying attention to them when we fear their periodic fiery ball of anger threatens to enter our airspace, like some kind of "Alex Haley's comet," and once again breathing a blissful sigh of forgetful relief when it's another near-miss.
Images: Comedy Central