As the election draws nearer, the degree to which narrative-generating institutions like the mainstream media are playing a role in the loss of our representative democracy becomes harder and harder to miss.
In August, I noted how local journalists were shaping the narrative around summer protests and political rallies. One such journalist was the Providence Journal’s Madeline List. John DePetro noted at the time that it was difficult to tell whether List was covering the protest or participating in it. As her recent article about the latest protests in Providence shows, List is still displaying that ambiguity. Not only is the story told from the protesters’ perspective, as they march around, but List provides color to the events in a way that a protester would.
From the very start, List makes clear where she stands, saying it was “the fourth straight night of protests calling for justice for Jhamal Gonsalves.” It’s not “calling for what protesters claim would be justice.” List is affirming that justice has not been done.
So, when a man by his car on the side of the road is apparently supportive, List makes him human by getting his name and talking with him. (She also thereby makes it possible for left-wing organizers to put him in their system.) But when a similarly situated woman disagrees with the protesters, she is not humanized, but turned into an aggressor. In fact, List makes her an object of mockery.
Rather than “get in your car, Karen” as one of the protesters mocked, “instead, she rushed toward people in a crowd that far outnumbered her, pointing in faces, gesturing and seeming to push someone in the chest with a hand.” Police arrive on the scene, “but she continued jawing at the protesters.”
Jawing at the protesters. This is how one of the protesters would put it.
Journalism like this is not serving the community; it’s serving a political cause. The protests aren’t presented as events happening in the state that should be described objectively as if the reporter were just a bystander; they are presented as a cause that anybody worthy of having a name would support.