Mark Meets World: #JusticeOrElse: Lopsided media coverage is a problem

Mark Feuerborn

This past Saturday, Oct. 10, a rally referred to as Justice Or Else was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, located at the National Mall. The rally was led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, who was also responsible for the Million Man March in 1995.

The Justice Or Else rally was one with a wider message than its predecessor, calling upon men and women of black, Native American, and Hispanic descent to protest the lack of justice for all marginalized Americans. It was a peaceful movement where Farrakhan called for all persons of color to stand together against oppression, one that honored the lives lost in police killings and other hate crimes towards people of color.

Some family members who had lost loved ones, including the mother of Trayvon Martin and the father of Michael Brown, stood on stage in front of the crowd while Farrakhan spoke. Other speakers spoke on similar topics, the main point being bringing justice to the issue of police brutality, and speaking in ways that at times could be considered controversial.

What is sad about this major event are not the issues discussed, but the way in which it was handled by the media. Fox News reported about the event with the headline “Speaker Chants ‘Down, Down USA’ at Million Man March Anniv Rally in DC.” The article that followed alluded to a video where the chant could be heard, and where speaker Nuri Muhammad referred to the police as the “Blue Klux Klan.”

While labeling the entire police force as racist is controversial, I personally could not hear any “Down USA,” chant, and the speaker Muhammad certainly wasn’t chanting anything like that. Instead of deriving anything positive from the coverage of the rally, Fox News has focused solely on the negatives and and lived up to its reputation for making wildly inaccurate claims.

MSNBC spoke more positively on the subject, with a more objective headline as well, but failed to provide descriptive coverage of any speaker other than Louis Farrakhan. In fact, all other coverage paraphrased without quotes, and thus no specific coverage on speakers such as Nuri Muhammad could be provided. While no inaccurate claims were made like Fox News, MSNBC could have been much more descriptive.

CNN seemed to provide the best coverage of the event. CNN’s article was very descriptive, providing several quotes from not only Farrakhan, but other speakers as well, such as Illinois Representative Danny Davis, who was present at the Million Man March and gave his thoughts on the new rally. The CNN article was notably longer than both the Fox News and MSNBC articles, and seemed to give arguably the most accurate account.

Overall, from all news sources I was left feeling somewhat incomplete. I didn’t believe I had a full understanding of the event until after having read as many various views on the event as I did. It’s important to remember that while it is advised, there are no laws that dictate that a news source must tell both sides of a story. There is always some bias, such as omitting sources or events, paraphrasing or even outright distortion and inaccuracy in some cases.

In coverage of the Justice Or Else rally, a definite bias was evident between the networks. After reviewing what I have found, I personally believe that the overall intentions of the rally were just, and I support the movement. My advice on trusting any new information, in the end, is to never trust any single source.