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Why USA Today’s Coverage of Kareem Hunt is Trash and Reflects Racial Bias in Mass Media

USA Today is garbage and as a “major media outlet” they are not alone. As a Journalist and Creator of one of limited black owned media entities, I can attest to the imbalance and racial bias that is prevalent in media. From sports, to politics to everyday news. Reporting is skewed, agenda setting is obvious, propaganda is apparent and sensitivity or lack of is largely influenced by the race of the “victim” and “culprit.” In case you missed it, Kareem Hunt is the latest Black male athlete to be made an example of. In other words, don’t forget you’re Black young man, this shhh can all be taken away from you by the powers that be.

First let me start by making it clear that I am not by any means suggesting that a man hitting a woman is ever ok. However, I will say that no love is lost or consideration is given to a woman or man that is tough enough to utter derogatory racial remarks. In other words, sometime a person deserves to be slapped out of the realm of disrespect into the orbit of reality and respect. But then again I am not a public figure, and though I am Black, I am not financially wealthy. Yet.

Kareem Hunt is a 23 year old, former star running back for the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from making headlines for being an intricate part of his team’s success this year, instead the media is having more of a blast, demonizing him for an altercation that took place with him and a white young woman this past February. Last month, TMZ released video surveillance showing, Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel. Immediately following the video’s release, Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs and on November 30th he was placed on the NFL’s “Exempt List,” by the league’s commissioner, Roger Godell. The discipline now makes Hunt a “Free Agent,” exempt from being signed for his services by other NFL teams.

 

As a result Kareem finds himself as just another wealthy, Black man railroaded by women’s groups, biased media and people in denial of their double standard beliefs. Much like Ray Rice and Zeke Elliot and unlike Josh Brown he is being made the face of domestic violence in the NFL. In obvious smear campaign fashion, USA Today has consistently ran shit articles regarding Hunt. They published an opinion piece with obvious undertone by writer, Christine Brennan, that suggested that Hunt never plays in the NFL again. I’ve never read an article from her about why guys like Ben Roethlisburger remain gainfully employed after being charged with sexual assault. Though no criminal charges has been raised against Hunt, there were charges for Roethlisburger though I never recall reading such foolish coverage about his family. Either that’s ironic and happenstance or the agenda is clear.

As if that was not enough, USA Today took their smear coverage even further and sent a “Reporter” to North East Ohio, to “investigate” public records and interview various family members of Kareem Hunt. The reporter even went to Hunts’ mother’s residence if that was not the most outlandish and invasive thing to do. The article was written by Josh Peter and the headline reads,

“Family of former Kansas City Chiefs star Kareem Hunt has history of criminal behavior”

As a Journalist I know click bait from a mile away and I know an obvious negative agenda from even further away. The attempted “reporting” was inappropriate, unjustified and flat out racist to be short. I have no reservation in believing that if the junior Hunt was a white 23 year old male then such headline would not have been written, or no such “investigation” would have taken place. Why?  The agenda would have not been the same. What is the agenda? I suspect that mass media goes to extreme and obvious measures to discredit and attack Black people, especially rich Black men. While I have no ties or relations to the Hunts, still as a black reader, I was highly offended as I often am when realizing how grossly our stories are framed in the media. You know how the black kid gets killed and somehow the media makes it out like it was his fault that he was killed because he smoked marijuana before in life, maybe had a run in as a juvenile or wore a hoodie while going to pick up an Arizona soda?

It’s not right to hit women, and its also not right to use racial derogatory remarks. I will be thrilled and surprised when both issues matter. It can’t just be that women’s rights and gay rights matter. Much too frequently has racial justice been forced to take secondary position to another’s primary. Furthermore the trash “journalism” driven by racial undertones is tired and need to be called out more often. In a wake of alleged “Fake news,” this is exactly that. The media does a lot of framing and unfortunately the racial bias is present way more than what it should be.

“My story is a real story. Part of life’s journey is just being able to tell my story now. A lot of men think, it can’t happen to me. Well, I had a clean slate and it all came down to a terrible split-second decision.~ Ray Rice

Way too often writers that are often not black that write for historically white washed outlets, go out of their way to dictate the narrative and frame the story in ways that would be appealing to nonblack audiences and detrimental to the reputation and image of Blacks. This is something that has been going on since the beginning of time in this country and the harm is enormous to everyone’s subconscious and Black people’s overall safety and quality of life. As much as crap media outlets like Fox and USA Today attempt to paint Black people as the predator, many times Blacks are more so the prey, as the mere color of our skin is perceived as a threat. How do one unarm their skin?

The narrative and picture that USA Today was attempting to paint was clear and downright pathetic. I was not sure what any of us stood to gain knowing that Hunt Jr. had .38 worth of marijuana in his car as a juvenile or why we should care that he has family members that has experienced this country’s racially biased prison system. Rather if the overexposure of his family’s business was a ploy to portray him as the “big bad beast,” from violent lineage or if it was a play to reiterate why he should not be playing professional football, the article was tasteless, offensive and journalistically inconsistent. But then again, that is the USA TODAY. Not much has changed but the year that it is.

~TayJordan

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