Shame on You TMZ!

April 19th, 2013

(Photos from left: Courtesy of TMZ, AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation)

By Gee King

The Boston Marathon bombing has revealed a lot about the nature of American media. Misinformation, racial profiling and sensationalism are all things we’ve come to expect from the institutions sworn to deliver truth to the American people. But the most disturbing trend of the fallout, a trend that will only grow as more details emerge about the young men that are reportedly responsible for the attack, is the mainstream media’s eagerness to connect the bombers’ motives to any subculture or minority group that can be identified as traditionally un-American.

After rumors of the suspects’ skin color (dark), attire (hooded) and ethnicity (Arab) proved false, the media began searching for anything that could explain Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s motive for terror. TMZ, not surprisingly, stooped lowest, publishing a story highlighting Tamerlan’s affinity for hip hop. In addition to generalizing the culture as “notoriously violent and often degrading to women,” the story speculates that he and his brother’s actions can somehow be explained by their musical interests. Their only source for this interest was his membership to obscure online forum

Much like conservative pundits who tried to blame Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings, TMZ is preying on the fears of culturally ignorant consumers and feeding stereotypes that will only lead to further misunderstanding and hate. The hip hop community did not take the slight sitting down as leaders from throughout the genre’s journalism ranks stood up to the gossip blog who just a month ago falsely reported the death of rap star Lil Wayne. ”Ya’ll surprised at TMZ still?,” tweeted Nile “Low Key” Ivey of “TMZ put that story up knowing y’all would react. Smh.”’s Elliot Wilson was less diplomatic, frankly tweeting, “F–k TMZ and the editor.”

Whether you take TMZ’s journalistic integrity seriously or not, the simple fact that they could and would inform millions of such an inane fact should alarm any culturally conscious American. Pinning the blame on music or drugs distracts from the big picture issues of terrorism and America’s role in it and keeps citizens ignorant and more easily led into acts of fear like war or civil rights revocations.

With the highly controversial CISPA bill before congress, it’s crucial that Americans wake up to media tricks and inform themselves on the bigger issues affecting the world. An update of last year’s SOPA act, CISPA would grant the government access to the personal information of citizens without their knowledge, among other digital rights violations. Sadly, with the fear-based journalism that’s dominating airwaves, most Americans will remain completely unaware as the atrocities that the US government inflicts upon the world and it’s own citizens continue to create more terroristic ideals across the world. For the sake of the nation’s future, patriotism shouldn’t overrule the media’s duty to inform citizens of the truth. Even if that truth is revealed to be much scarier than hip hop-listening, marijuana-smoking college students.

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