Moral Low Ground


‘Douche du Jour’: Chicago TV Station WBBM Edits 4-Year-Old Black Boy To Make him Look Violent

A CBS affiliate station in Chicago is under fire for editing footage of a young black boy to make him seem violent.

According to The Raw Story and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, WBBM CBS 2 edited an interview with a four-year-old black child to make him seem as if he advocates gang violence. In a story about a drive-by shooting in the city’s Park Manor neighborhood, WBBM aired this exchange between a reporter and the boy:

Boy: “I’m not scared of nothing.”

Reporter: “When you get older are you going to stay away from all these guns?”

Boy: “No.”

Reporter: “No? What are you going to do when you get older?”

Boy: “I’m going to have me a gun!”

Anchor Steve Bartelstein then remarks “that was scary indeed,” to which co-anchor Susan Carlson adds “hearing that little boy there, wow!”

The only problem is, that’s not what the boy actually said. Here is an excerpt from the actual interview:

Reporter: “Boy, you ain’t scared of nothing! Damn! When you get older are you going to stay away from all these guns?”

Boy: “No.”

Reporter: “No? What are you going to do when you get older?”

Boy: “I’m going to have me a gun!”

Reporter” “You are! Why do you want to do that?”

Boy: “I’m going to be the police!”

Reporter: “Okay then you can have one.”

WBBM communications director Shawnelle Richie admitted that the segment should not have been aired in its deceptively edited version. “We acknowledge that a mistake was made, both in the reporting and editing of the story,” she said.

Dori J. Maynard, President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, was understandably upset with WBBM. “Airing a video of the boy saying he wanted a gun that edits out the context simply  reinforces stereotypes that African American males are violent, even preschoolers,” she is quoted as saying on the organization’s website.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, called the incident “disturbing.” “As somebody who’s a former journalist, like many past presidents of the NAACP, it’s important to tell the whole truth, because when you tell half a truth you’re, in effect, lying,” he said.

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  1. trentAugust 3, 2011 at 3:30 amReply

    him having a gun when he is older may not be the worst thing. even if he wasnt goin to be a police officer… we need to be protected… dont let the media make having a gun be a bad thing… its our right to bare arms… it may be every man for himself sooner than we think.

  2. PaulAugust 5, 2011 at 11:01 amReply

    Well written! I’m taking a poll on the matter. “Either this is racist or I’m too sensitive” At the time this written, 70% say that ‘it was just a dumb mistake.’ Guess I’m in the minority on this one.

    If you’d like to vote, follow this link to Content of Character.

    • Brett WilkinsAugust 5, 2011 at 11:15 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks. I voted in your poll, where I chose “other.” Sure, there may be some hint of racism involved, but I believe the station was probably just trying to sensationalize the story in its quest for “ratings gold.”

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