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Join TSPR for a weekly conversation about media issues. News Director Rich Egger and expert panelists discuss what’s in the news about the news business.

The Semantics of Violence

On the website The Root, civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman, Jr. contends the violence at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas was covered much differently than the violence a few weeks earlier in Baltimore, Maryland -- and this provides an example of how racism works.

Coleman writes the violence in Waco was reported as being caused by “biker gangs” with ties to “organized crime,” whereas the violence in Baltimore was labeled a “riot” caused by “thugs.” 

The violence in Waco involved whites while the violence in Baltimore involved blacks.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Moreno said the term “thugs” seems to have become a euphemism associated with black rioters. He feels this is especially true on Fox. Moreno also believes “thugs” has been used in many ways in the past, but currently it has become a word that has a weight to it that means something more than it normally would.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton pointed out property was damaged in Baltimore but there were few if any deaths.  On the other hand, nine people were killed in Waco.  She said the biker gang members could easily have been labeled thugs – but they weren’t.

Panelist Rich Egger said the violence in Waco involved bikers slaughtering each other, while the riots in Baltimore were in response to a perceived injustice. He feels the reason behind the riots sometimes got lost in the rush to label everyone involved as a thug.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.