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A thought experiment reveals the depths of journalistic bias.
As the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it would investigate the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, killed by police gunfire in suburban St. Louis on Saturday night, Twitter users began to criticize mainstream media’s biased coverage of the story thus far.
Aside from shifting focus to the riots and looting that followed the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., readers said, journalists made Brown another victim of what the Root labeled “the Trayvon Martin effect,” running only the photos from his social media accounts that suggest a thuggish nature. This led to the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which minorities used to ponder how they would be portrayed if murdered by law enforcement (or the next George Zimmerman):
— BigBrotherAlmighty (@AfricanMalcolm) August 11, 2014
— Dev (@DevinDinero) August 11, 2014
— Rachel Michelé Green (@RachelMicheleG) August 11, 2014
— Pete Haviland-Eduah (@TheNotoriousPHE) August 11, 2014
— michael cera fanclub (@StealUrGirlBush) August 11, 2014
— Love, InshAllah (@LoveInshAllah) August 11, 2014
— Krash Bandicoot (@KeiffN) August 11, 2014
— PrimeTime (@_TanSuperman) August 11, 2014
— Someone actually (@imanilindsay) August 11, 2014
— JMTH (@JacobMTH) August 10, 2014
— Brandon U. Johnson (@brandonujohnson) August 11, 2014
— 20 Sept✨ (@DaMandemGlucose) August 11, 2014
— Delincy…BRUH (@DeliNeli) August 11, 2014
— LEFT (@LeftSentThis) August 10, 2014
— KJ (@JonnyProton) August 10, 2014
Rage over the apparently senseless killing is hardly limited to this corner of the Internet: The hacktivist collective Anonymous launched #OpFerguson, an attack that echoes the group’s involvement in exposing the municipal cover-up of a 2012 rape in Steubenville, Ohio.
Confirmed: Anonymous group hacked into the City of #Ferguson website last night. All city emails are down.
— KMOV (@KMOV) August 11, 2014
Ferguson police officials say Brown attempted to grab an officer’s gun before reportedly running from a patrole vehicle with his hands in the air. The officer who shot Brown is currently on paid administrative leave.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'