The MSM's disturbing trend: We can see it, but you can't

In recent years, the mainstream media have increasingly put up barriers to their viewers and readers seeing the reality of many of the stories that they're reporting on.  For instance, it is extremely rare in the domestic U.S. media to see photographs that accurately show the results of terrorist attacks.  If photos are shown or published, the most "disturbing" parts of the pictures are typically fuzzed out.

Chris Cuomo.

Not only are graphic photos and videos considered off limits to public view.  Most notably, last October, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo told viewers on his morning show that it was illegal for them to download any of the John Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks.  As the Daily Caller noted on October 16, 2016:

CNN's Chris Cuomo told viewers it is illegal for them to possess emails leaked by the website WikiLeaks, and as a result they could not read them and had to rely entirely on the media to learn about their content.

In the clip, Cuomo opens a segment on leaked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's inbox by warning viewers they have to get all their information about the emails from the media, and nowhere else. If they try to check out the emails themselves, Cuomo warns, they're breaking the law.

Legal experts disagree about whether or not downloading stolen documents is a crime.  Moreover, the WikiLeaks Podesta emails can be read online at the WikiLeaks website without downloading (or technically possessing) them.

To see unredacted photos and videos of the results of Islamist terror attacks, one needs to search the internet apart from the usual MSM sources.

When raw unredacted documents, photos, or videos serve to advance the leftist bias of the MSM, the barriers tend to disappear.  Think of the endless repetitions of the surreptitiously recorded audio of Donald J. Trump speaking off the record and, he presumed, confidentially in "locker room talk" with television personality Billy Bush in 2005, leaked to the Washington Post last October at a critical time in the lead up to the 2016 election, only two days before the second presidential candidates' debate.

This trend of "we, the media, are the only ones who can view this material (especially when it advances our agenda)" is now spreading to local news outlets around the country.  Current case in point: the local Eastern Washington coverage of Tuesday's school shooting in Freeman, Washington.

For the first day of the coverage of the morning shooting by a student at Freeman's high school, which took the life of one student and injured three others, several of the local television stations in nearby Spokane, which quickly went to wall-to-wall coverage, did not name the shooter.  At least one station made the point that its newsroom's policy was not to give publicity or notoriety to the perpetrator of such crimes.  Censoring the name, and the background and record, of the shooter also allowed at least one Spokane TV station's reporter to make the ridiculous statement that "we are all responsible" for such mass shootings – accompanied by the usual discussions of the supposed dangers of the proliferation of guns in society.

Within seconds, it was possible to learn the name of the shooter, and see numerous photographs of him – in the British press.

Caleb Sharpe, 15, alleged perpetrator in Freeman, Washington school shooting, pictured during one of his mock shooting videos (Instagram), published in The Sun (U.K.) on September 13.

By the following day, however, as official court documents about the case were made available and began to be published, and no doubt also due to public interest and viewer demand, the policy began to change.  KXLY Channel 4 in Spokane, for example, made a point of noting during its newscasts that it had decided to name the shooter, but only infrequently, in an attempt to avoid giving him publicity or helping to inspire copycats.

On Thursday afternoon, September 14, KXLY posted an article at its website explaining its policy, which it subsequently referred its viewers to: "Why we name the shooter."

In an article written in 2015 by Poynter Vice President and former Spokesman-Review journalist Kelly McBride, she lays out when and why the media is justified and responsible for naming mass shooters. Her most important point: use the name, but use it judiciously.

Here are reasons why, according to McBride, whose entire article is here:

The KXLY article also references a website that outlines the arguments for not naming shooters – at DontNameThem, developed by Texas State University.  The arguments for naming the shooter appear to outweigh the other, pro-censoring point of view.

In a time of prolific fake news, the rise of alternative journalism, and the relative ease of finding uncensored information and primary source materials online, it seems like another nail in the MSM's coffin when they attempt to establish ridiculous barriers to the public's right to know.

Peter Barry Chowka is a widely published author and journalist.  He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker.  His website is  Follow Peter on Twitter.

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