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For Breitbart, It's Only a "Race Murder" If the Victims Are White


There are two ways the conservative website Breitbart covers murders with a racial component, and it depends on the skin color of the suspect and victim. When an admitted white supremacist massacres black churchgoers, Breitbart ignores race as a motivation in the shooting. When a black man kills two white former coworkers, one of whom the shooter claimed made racist remarks, Breitbart reports the shooting is a "race murder."

Vester Lee Flanagan murdered two television journalists in Virginia, WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, during a live broadcast early on Wednesday morning. Flanagan, a former employee of the Roanoke-based station, later killed himself during a police chase. As the story was still developing, Breitbart ran this headline on its home page:


In the hours since, Breitbart’s John Nolte has been gleefully tweeting that this is a racist shooting, and that the liberal media should be held responsible. 

Later in the afternoon, Breitbart switched its lead homepage story to this:

Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams on air, reportedly faxed ABC News a manifesto. The rambling document includes a long list of grievances and praise for mass shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. But Breitbart has latched onto this line, “Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15... As for Dylann Roof? ... You want a race war...? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …!!!"

In June, Roof slaughtered nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. His manifesto made clear his racist beliefs. And yet, Breitbart took a different approach, as Huffington Post reporter Elise Foley noted:

In early August, Breitbart quoted Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson saying, “We have the purveyors of hatred, who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it.” Yet Breitbart, Fox News, and Drudge are eager to focus attention on “black on white crime,” as Breitbart did about a week ago with an article alleging that YouTube is censoring videos about such crimes.

Meanwhile, conservative reaction to Breitbart's "coverage" has been mostly absent. Without singling out Breitbart, National Review’s David French urged conservatives to be cautious about “the racial angle”: “Yes, there’s some evidence of a racial angle to the shooting, but there’s also evidence of crazy, and the truth may well lie somewhere in between.” While Republicans have blamed Breitbart for favoring Donald Trump in the Republican primary, they're content to let the website slide here.