How low can CBS News go?
The broadcaster has repeatedly put out this “sponsored post” on Facebook since the beginning of the year. It just popped up in my news feed today.
When you click through, you see a mugshot plus a brief description of the crime that that person allegedly committed. Then you’re expected to click another 57 times to see the rest of the rogues’ gallery.
And if you do, you’ll notice that most of the folks arrested for those “shocking crimes” are, in fact, white people.
So why the hell are we looking at a featured photo of no fewer than four black suspects? The simple reason is that those four suspects were all charged in the same incident. But by choosing that particular image — and promoting it via a “Sponsored Post” in a way CBS did not do with their other links to the same gallery of images — viewers are led to believe that’s a compilation of four different perpetrators, representative of the entire gallery.
It is a very unfortunate coincidence, if not an outright act of racism, to pick the mugshots of four brown faces to illustrate a low-information story on crimes committed predominantly by Caucasians.
A friend of mine who has worked for CBS opined that maybe the image is cached, and/or that Facebook pulls it up automatically. But here’s the thing: Various commenters on the CBS site and Facebook page have called CBS out on it — for months now, since the post has been up since January. Even if the broadcaster’s photo choice was an unfortunate coincidence, or a repeated glitch, and if CBS actually cared, this could’ve been fixed. They could’ve deep-sixed the original sponsored post and substituted one with a more representative image (or even a better snapshot of what’s in the full gallery).
Yet this piece of shameless clickbait is still going out, disturbing as all-get-out, unchanged, no fucks given.
Anything for clicks, more clicks, and ad revenue, I guess.
One additional note: Not everyone seems to care about this particular problem. A Christian commenter on Facebook noticed something else entirely:
I wonder do many people know the Ten Commandments or at least the 6th commandment… “Thou Shall Not Kill”… who is teaching this? They took the 10 commandments out of the schools and the crime rate went up and stayed up. How will they know that you should not kill? We need to insist the 10 Commandments return to the classroom. People need to know that you should not take another’s life.
Huh. Citizens seem to know this full well in heavily secular (and low-crime) countries like Norway, the Netherlands, France, and Japan; apparently you don’t need a heavy dose of religion to tell you that murder is wrong.
Also, the U.S. homicide rate is way, way down over any multi-year period worth counting — 10 years, 20 year, 30 years… take your pick. The numbers plummeted as secularization progressed, in fact. You’d have to go all the way back to the early 1960s to find a higher murder rate.
P.S.: I phoned CBS today and my call got passed around to five different people. I was then asked to submit any questions by e-mail, which I did. If I hear back, I’ll update this post.