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The local news media has been complicit in White Supremacy by providing White Supremacist groups an uncritical platform to promote hate

October 10, 2020

All of the attention surrounding the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer, now has local news agencies scrambling to figure out how this happened…….or so we are led to believe.

The reality is that the local commercial news agencies have failed to public miserably when it comes to the rise of White Nationalists, White Supremacy and all of the hate groups that have been emboldened during the Trump administration’s own White Supremacist policies and rhetoric. In short, the local news agencies have been complicit in the harm perpetrated by systemic White Supremacy and the White Supremacist groups that have been very public since the COVID 19 crisis.

There are lots of reasons why this dynamic has occurred. One main reason is based on how the media functions, specifically around readership and ratings. Commercial news agencies rely on advertising dollars, so they want to attract viewers instead of providing information to the public, which is a necessary component of a vibrant democracy.

Look at what has happened since April in Michigan, when we began to see all of the anti-lockdown protests. The late April protest in Lansing is a good example. We wrote an article that deconstructed on the local news agencies reported on that demonstration, which you can read at this link. Our conclusion from the article stated:

Overall, the commercial news coverage tended to focus more on the spectacle of the protest, rather then offering any insight or analysis of what the protest was really about. In addition, the commercial news sources we looked at failed to mention that in all of the photos and video taken, it was essentially a sea of white people. Along with the whiteness of this protest, the news media also could have made a stronger connection to the message of those protesting, with that of the GOP legislators and the organizations who are essentially pushing for the same outcome……the opening up of Michigan’s economy, regardless of the health consequences. 

We wrote a piece looking at the organizers of the protest outside of Gov. Whitmer’s home in late April. The commercial news media provided these people with a platform without looking into who these people were and what sort of political ideology they embraced. One of the organizers had spent 30 days in jail for election fraud, something the commercial news agencies failed to report on. 

We then discovered a group named the American Patriot Council in early May. This group was the primary organizer of the April 30th rally with numerous heavily armed White Supremacists entering the capitol in Lansing. Ryan D. Kelley was the founder of the American Patriot Council and he and his associated celebrated the armed invasion in Lansing. Kelley had then announced a similar rally was being planned for Grand Rapids in mid-May, which we also wrote about, and made connections between various far right groups and Kelley’s relationship to high ranking Republican legislators. 

We wrote an initial article on the American Patriot Council rally in Grand Rapids discussing what happened, but also providing some background on the speakers.  We wrote a follow up story on May 25th, which took a closer look at some of the speakers and their political ideology, along with taking photos that featured some of the same White Supremacist groups that would be connected to the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. 

In early July we deconstructed a story from WOODD TV8 that essentially provide free airtime to a White Supremacist group known as the Michigan Liberty Militia, who had at least one of their members involved in the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. In that article we wrote: 

This story was a clear example of poor journalism. First, there is no evidence that the channel 8 reporter even bothered to ask substantive or obvious questions that any reasonable person would ask when inquiring about a group like the Michigan Liberty Militia. Secondly, the reporter did not bother to do any background checks on this group or the person they interviewed for the story, Phil Robinson. 

Four days later, WOOD TV8 used White Supremacist sources to discredit anti-racist organizers in Michigan, thus further demonstrating that the don’t investigate sources and that they enable White Supremacist values. 

In August, we began a new regular column called the West Michigan Far Right Watch, to further look at far right groups operating in West Michigan. In our September 10th West Michigan Far Right Watch, we wrote about the American Patriot Council and their plans for so-called Freedom Marches in October. We looked at lots of Ryan D. Kelley’s posts on FB and the American Patriot Council’s own blog posts, which was filled with lots of incendiary language and anti-government statements. 

Ryan D. Kelley has since deleted his FB, which suggests that he does not want to be connected to the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. We wrote on Thursday, that the American Patriot Council and Ryan D. Kelley have fostered a climate of hate and anti-government sentiment, which provides fertile ground for those who engage in acts of terrorism, like the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. 

However, the local news media is just now waking up to the seriousness of many of the groups that have been extremely visible over the past 6 months. Equally important is the fact that the same news agencies have been providing uncritical airtime and commentary to these White Supremacist groups, thus making them complicit in acts of hate and acts of terror. 

Last night, WOOD TV8 ran a pretty weak story about Ryan D. Kelley, who is also on the Allendale Charter Township Planning Commission. The channel 8 story was typical, in that they provided Kelley a platform to dismiss any involvement in wrong doing, instead of questioning and challenging his role in fostering hate and anti-government actions. 

We have to ask ourselves why commercial news agencies, which have tremendous resources, are unwilling to do serious investigative work to inform the public about groups like the American Patriot Council, the Michigan Liberty Militia. Not only have the local news agencies failed to serve the public interest, they have been directly complicit in fostering hate and White Supremacy by providing these groups a platform. 

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