Cable network CNN is under fire for victim shaming Freddie Gray in the wake of the first of six officers’ trials in accordance with the 25-year-old’s death.
CNN’s story, highlighting Baltimore police officer William G. Porter, described Gray’s mother in the second paragraph as “illiterate” and a “heroin addict.” After the huge social media backlash, the network quickly retracted the sentence and apologized, claiming their description was taken out of context.
Readers said the description placed blame on the deceased Gray. The Baltimore native died in police custody after he was arrested, shackled, and placed into a van without a seatbelt.
The Wrap reports CNN president Jeff Zucker referred to the description as a mistake during a meeting with staffers.
“This was a mistake,” Zucker said at a town hall event for staffers, according to a transcript the network provided to TheWrap. “The digital team removed it last night and inserted an editor’s note to be completely transparent. The editorial intent as the digital team has laid it out to me was to make clear he had a difficult upbringing. But clearly it did not come across that way when it was written and published. We recognize that. It did not work and we removed it. And were transparent about that. That was a mistake.”
A CNN spokesperson later informed The Wrap Zucker didn’t insinuate an apology or “any word that evokes apology,” sadly revealing more problems with the descriptions of Black victims in the media.
This was recently seen in the arrest of suspected Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert L. Dear. The alleged gunman has been labeled as a “loner” and “calm but crazy” for taking the lives of three people, including a police officer, last week outside of a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Co.
Outlets have also taken the medical route to analyze Dear’s behavior, but Black victims such as Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were labeled “bullies” and “thugs,” with breakdowns about race rather than mental health.
Meanwhile, Porter has pleaded not guilty on charges of second-degree assault, manslaughter, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams stated Porter’s case will run no later than Dec. 17. The remaining officers will appear in court in January.