In the past few weeks, we’ve seen two mass shootings in the U.S. that were committed by White men against targets those men did not know in seemingly-random acts of intense violence.
While there were some differences between the two shootings, the biggest differences seem to be in the identity of the victims and shooters and in the levels of media coverage each shooting has received. After the Aurora shooting on July 20th, there was ’round-the-clock coverage of the shooting, the shooter’s background, and the implications for culture and politics on every major news network for at least a week, and coverage still leads when any new info breaks on the shooter. On the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, there were leading headlines with remorse expressed for the victims’ families and takes from the political right and left respectively.
Today, though, only two days after the horrific attacks at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the coverage of the shooting at the Drudge Report begins halfway down the page.
The Huffington Post’s coverage is worse. In the entire homepage, there are two articles about the shooting. One is about some asinine comment that Pat Robertson made regarding the tragedy, and the other, with attention paid to the irony, is an article by Riddhi Shah about why the media seems to care less about this shooting than others. On the homepage, there’s no scrolling image slideshow of the scene and victims faces. There’s no analysis of why. There’s nothing! But there’s plenty of coverage of Paul Ryan!
So, in much the same way that Shah tackles this question, I want to interrogate why people in the U.S. don’t seem to care much at all about the Sikh temple shootings when there was such anger, sadness, and indignation only a few weeks ago. I’ve heard some argue that there’s been less attention because there were fewer casualties or that people had “tragedy fatigue” after Aurora. I think it’s something much deeper than that . . . and much more troubling.