Glenn Beck's Racial Trolling, and the Search for Bizarro Trayvon

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 23 2013 5:14 AM

Glenn Beck's Racial Trolling, and the Search for Bizarro Trayvon

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Glenn Beck and his comedian friends strike again.

Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

Still in the U.K., still a bit surprised by how little the non-Guardian newspapers here cover the Edward Snowden story, I notice that conservative media in the States are going through another round of "why won't Obama comment on THIS crime against a white person?" Tragically, an Australian man named Chris Lane is dead, and the suspects are three monstrous-sounding, nihilistic teenagers.

Lane was white. The suspects are not. Hmmmm. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that "there was no saturation cable TV coverage, no press conference featuring Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, and no statement from the Oval Office" about the Lane murder, even though the culture that produced these killers is "an issue of far greater consequence to the future of young black men than the acquittal of George Zimmerman." One of the accused killers was white, but you get the point. When Glenn Beck told the story, one of his zoo crew members asked sarcastically whether the president had said "if I had an illegitimate child with a white woman, he might have looked like Chris Lane." Ha, ha! We can only wonder why someone gifted with such sharpness of wit is confined to an Internet livestream. Media bias? Media bias.

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There's no real point to this stuff beyond accusing the president and the press of race-baiting, and I get that, but how hard is it to understand how the Martin/Zimmerman case became a sensation? It wasn't the only shooting of a black person by a nonblack person that year. Martin was shot on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman was taken in by police but released after five hours, and not charged. The first national media stories about the shooting came more than a week later, and it took until April 11 for Zimmerman to be charged. Compare that with the Lane tragedy: He was shot on Friday, and the suspects were charged four days later. And the second wave of Zimmerman/Martin news came after Zimmerman was acquitted. On Earth-2, where Zimmerman is charged on Feb. 27, does this story from Sanford, Fla., become a national "teaching moment"? I don't think it does.

Obviously the point of the WSJ/Beck et al. finger-wagging about Chris Lane is to chide the people turning the Zimmerman/Martin story into a reason to discuss gun laws. That's fine, and the supporters of gun laws are winning that argument anyway. But until some white teen is killed and the killer walks for 40-odd days before being charged, the search for a Bizarro Trayvon will be fruitless.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.