In the latest proof that diversity is sorely lacking at major media companies, the second-biggest newspaper in Texas has enthusiastically thrown its support behind Election Day efforts of one county’s first Black district attorney who has been accused of mishandling last month’s police shooting that killed an innocent Black man while he was inside his own apartment. Faith Johnson has “done an excellent job” as Dallas County district attorney, according to the Dallas Morning News, whose editorial board published its resounding [and tone-deaf] endorsement Friday morning.
The editorial came just about a month after now-former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger illegally entered the home of Botham Jean and shot him to death, implausibly telling officials that she mistook his apartment third-floor for her fourth-floor unit and feared she was being robbed. Local law enforcement then promptly played a game of jurisdictional hot potato over which office would investigate the shooting, prompting strong criticism of Johnson’s handling of the case.
Johnson was “screwing this up,” city Councilman Philip Kingston told CBS Dallas on Wednesday about the Botham Jean shooting case. “I think the investigation is over and I think we need to start being transparent with the information these decision makers are looking at because they’ve all said we want transparency, we want transparency, we want transparency, but they’re actions are 180 degrees from that.”
Apparently, the Dallas Morning News editorial board begged to differ, arguing in part that, “We believe Johnson has demonstrated the managerial touch the job requires and has shown exceptional public leadership.”
Amazingly, the endorsement also came nearly two weeks after a case unsuccessfully prosecuted by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office ended in a mistrial and allowed a police officer to go free after he who shot an unarmed man in the back while his hands were up. Activists said that ruling my foreshadow what to expect from the Botham Jean case.
“There have been many times that Faith Johnson has refused to answer the call for justice and we are calling on her to do what’s right in those instances too we cannot allow her to hang her hat on doing what’s right when the world is watching,” said Clarise McCants of Color of Change, an advocacy group.
Even when it appeared that Johnson’s office had a big win — such as securing the murder conviction of a white cop who shot a Black teenager in the head — happiness would be short-lived when it was reported the officer could be out of prison in just seven short years.
In retrospect, the ringing endorsement from the Dallas Morning News shouldn’t really be a surprise. Its editorial board has eight members, only two of which are Black. The other six are white. No other ethnicity was represented on the board. That was in spite of it being ranked second only to the Houston Chronicle for newspaper circulation in Texas.
Johnson was appointed in 2016 by then-Gov. Greg Abbott to succeed Susan Hawk, who resigned. Next month will be the first opportunity for Dallas County voters to cast ballots for her, or not.