Early Monday afternoon, news broke that a Cuyahoga County grand jury, at the behest of prosecutor Tim McGinty, had decided that there would be no indictments handed down in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The young black boy was shot dead in November 2014 by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann while playing with a toy gun. Loehmann shot Rice two seconds after his partner pulled his car up next to the child in a park.
While the cable news networks provided live coverage of McGinty’s press conference during the afternoon accompanied by some discussion, primetime was a whole other animal. See, the evening hours are for one Donald J. Trump, and both CNN and MSNBC made sure to oblige. While there was real news and tragedy going on in Cleveland, and a whole discussion on social and racial justice to be had, the Trumpster was having a campaign rally in New Hampshire that just needed to be covered live.
So, why was Trump’s latest speech worthy of being aired live on primetime TV? Well, apparently he got into a war of words with a newspaper publisher. Oh, and he said some shit about Hillary and Bill Clinton. Therefore, this is NEWS and it had to take precedence over piddly BS like a cop getting off scot-free for shooting a kid in cold blood.
Over on CNN’s OutFront, host Erin Burnett didn’t even mention the grand jury decision to not indict the two officers until 51 minutes into her hour-long program. Prior to giving a few minutes to the story, we were given live feeds of Trump rambling incoherently and Burnett and guests talking about his campaign. We also got discussions about a poll that shows voters feeling down about the War on Terror and a short segment on a Donald Trump coloring book (I shit you not).
Meanwhile, on MSNBC’s Hardball, guest Joy Reid didn’t wait as long as Burnett to talk about the Rice decision, but still spent nearly the entire first half of the program covering The Donald’s speech. We were ‘treated’ to a lengthy live look-in of the celebrity billionaire bloviating to his fawning admirers, along with Reid and panelists giving their opinions on Trump’s latest made-for-TV controversies. After a segment on Rice, Reid and other guests went right on talking about the former reality TV star.
Sadly, the Trump parade continued the following hour. Filling in for Anderson Cooper, CNN’s Jim Sciutto led off Anderson Cooper 360° with more live coverage of Trump’s speech along with panel discussions on, you guessed it, Trump. (For the second hour in a row, professional Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord was given airtime.) 25 minutes into the broadcast, Sciutto devoted a segment to the Rice story, complete with racist cop sympathizer Harry Houck and Houck’s longtime nemesis Sunny Hostin. The rest of the hour saw time given to the terrorism poll and tornadoes in Texas.
Unbelievably, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who has presented himself as something of a social justice advocate, spent the entire first half-hour of All In talking about the GOP Presidential frontrunner. During the first segment, Hayes talked about Trump’s war of words with the New Hampshire Union-Leader and spoke to a writer from the paper. The second segment featured a discussion of Bernie Sanders and his back-and-forth with the real estate mogul.
It wasn’t until 36 minutes into his program that Hayes covered the Tamir Rice shooting and non-indictment. To his credit, he did speak to the Rice family’s attorney and provided an informative segment on the tragedy. However, it was already sadly apparent that the host was more interested in the ongoing Trump saga than the far more important and heartbreaking news of the day.
The string of disappointing ‘news’ coverage was broken when MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show came on at 9 PM ET. Filling in for Maddow, guest host Melissa Harris Perry started the program with an in-depth recounting of the Rice story, providing further insight by discussing other tragic killings of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers. This was followed up with an interview of Sanders, with the majority of the conversation centered on his views on law enforcement, racial justice and possible political solutions.
Kudos to MHP, but shame on her colleagues, especially Hayes.