A story at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting shows why the official story offered by any government—local, state, national—must always be questioned, whether it’s 9/11 or something like this. The headline of the FAIR story says it all: “Media Were Already Running With Police Fantasy When Video Exploded It.” That is, the media were reporting as undisputed fact that officer Michael Slager was perfectly justified in shooting and killing the unarmed, fleeing Walter Scott.
The reason the official story must always, without exception, be questioned is that the government has every reason to lie or at least mislead—what they might call “perception management” or “necessary illusions.” The government must be seen as always legitimate, and always essentially rightly-guided for it to maintain its power. So it is always in the interest of the government—in this case (and many others), embodied by the police—to make some horrible event somehow seem okay or justified (otherwise, the government’s power will eventually be threatened when people get sick of too many such horrible events, as is already happening here and abroad). This benefit of the doubt that the media give to the government must be revoked by us, the people. Don’t believe what they tell you anymore because there’s a good chance that the complete opposite is true.
From the FAIR story:
Before this shocking video surfaced, however, most of the local press coverage, per usual, followed the police’s official narrative and amplified a storyline that, in retrospect, was entirely made up.
There was someone being shot in the back eight times while trying to run away. The report would go on to mix up police assertion with fact again, seemingly inventing witnesses who weren’t there:
Police and witnesses say Scott tried to run from Slager before turning to fight for the officer’s taser. It was during that scuffle that the officer fired his service weapon, fatally wounding Scott.
But what witnesses? I have asked the reporter, Greg Woods, to name the witnesses he documented; as of press time, he has not responded. Woods did not, in any of his reports, actually quote any witnesses saying they saw a “fight.” What appears to have happened is that Woods was told by police there were witnesses and he reported it, uncritically.
We now know this account was a categorically false, yet it’s presented in the report as a straight recounting of events. The unnamed reporter doesn’t even bother to run through the motions of quoting police or qualifying these various claims with “police say”; it just becomes, like so many local media accounts in the wake of police violence, a forum for authorities to uncritically provide their perfectly honed–if not at this point cliched–narratives.
“There was an altercation.” “They reached for a weapon.” “The officer feared for his life.” One can practically write the police reports before they do.
In short, don’t believe everything you read. Especially when it’s an official story. Let doubt be your guide. Call BS on things. Realize that the media and the government are the ones that, as in this case, actually engage in conspiracies to not report and/or cover-up the truth, then try to discredit anything that questions the falsehood by claiming it’s a conspiracy theory.