Broadcast networks avoid calling chaos in Minnesota a ‘riot,’ opting for softer terms

Violence erupted in the Minneapolis suburb in response to the shooting, which Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Police Chief Tim Gannon suggested was a mistake by the officer who confused her gun with her Taser and fired at Wright as he attempted to drive off in his car. Demonstrations outside the Brooklyn Center police department grew violent as rioters threw objects at officers and several areas were looted, but the flagship newscasts on ABC, NBC and CBS didn’t refer to the chaos as a riot during Monday night broadcasts and only used the word to describe gear worn by law enforcement officials.

The truth didn’t matter to the broadcast networks as they gaslit their audiences,” NewsBusters analyst Nicholas Fondacaro wrote.


ABC described the riot asprotests turned violent,” while NBC used the term “agitación” and CBS went withviolent protests.ABC’s David Muir even admitted police werein riot gearto combat what he calledprotesters.

CBS reporter Omar Villafranca made a similar admission, señalando que “a big crowd of protestersdrewNational Guardsmen and officers in full riot gear.

The decision not to use the term “disturbio” to describe the events came after Gannon was scolded at a news conference for uttering the word.

What was your decision to issue a dispersal order while they were peacefully protesting in front of the police station?” a reporter asked before noting thatCO2 canisters and gasthat were also used on the crowd.

Just so that everybody’s clear, I was front and center at the protest, at the riot,” Gannon began.

Don’t do that,” someone interjected.

There was no riot,” said another person in the audience.

“Fue,” Gannon doubled down. “The officers that were putting themselves in harm’s way were being pelted with frozen cans of pop, they were being pelted with concrete blocks. Y si, we had our helmets on and we had other protection and gear but an officer was injured, hit in the head with a brickso we had to make decisions. We had to disperse the crowd because we cannot allow our officers to be harmed.

El año pasado, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, NBC reportedly told its journalists to only refer to unrest in Minnesota as “protestas” and notriots.

Fondacaro blasted the broadcast networks for downplaying the violence by softening the language used to describe it.

There is no such thing as a ‘violent protest,’ ‘protesters’ don’t clash, and states of emergency are not needed. Those are rioters,” Fondacaro wrote. “And cities don’t need to call in the National Guard because they’re ‘on edge and bracing for another night of protests.’

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