At the time of this writing — after 1:30AM — I’m not exactly sure what happened to Chris Dorner, who is or was the ex-LAPD officer who murdered the daughter of a LAPD police union rep and her fiancé, then eluded police for over a week.
Last night, from a cabin in Big Bear, California, he allegedly killed a police offer and wounded two more before he either set the cabin fire or the police bombed it. Multiple “reliable” news outlets reported he was dead, some even referring to his “charred body,” but then the LAPD invited over-eager reporters to have several seats by announcing they have not yet found a body — any body’s body, much less Dorner’s. In fact, they haven’t even been in the cabin because it’s still too damn hot. Dorner might be on the run, or might be dead. Your guess is as good as any reporter’s.
Wild misinformation during breaking news stories has become a common place. Yesterday, some broadcast journalists played the equivalent of “Eenie meenie miney mo” to guess whether Donner was still with us or had gone to the Great Beyond. Two months ago, TV reporters mis-indentified the shooter in the Sandy Hook school killing, naming his brother instead and even flashing his picture on the news. In a rush to be “first,” some journalists are acting irresponsibly, and losing credibility.
Other journalists are filling broadcasts with bad experts or pointless discussions. Last night, CBS was so desperate to avoid dead air they didn’t even bother to check to if a man claiming to be a member of the Big Bear State Fish and Game Department was actually a real source. He was actually a Howard Stern fan who claimed to be “Ronnie the Limo Driver,” who was “on his way to a block party” when he fired his gun at Dorner. When the reporter continued the interview after that outlandish statement, even the hoaxer was fed up. “You’re a real dumb ass” he told the reporter. “You still don’t know this is a prank?!”
I tuned into this real-life drama playing out like a made-for-TV movie sometime around 6PM. Dorner was allegedly in the cabin and surrounded by cops, but there hadn’t been any more to report in a while. All the commentators and experts were having lengthy discussions about whether Dorner should surrender to police, as if a former cop who allegedly had just killed one and injured a few more was actually going to turn himself over. Had any of them even bothered to read Dorner’s manifesto detailing how he was specifically screwed over by the LAPD, which he also found to be corrupt in general?
And it’s not like the LAPD would actually take Dorner into custody. Days earlier, two Hispanic women — one a 71-year-old — were shot by the LAPD as they rode in a truck that resembled the one Dorner was last seen driving. So like I said, there was no way in hell he was going into police custody. The options were A) suicide; B) a literal blaze of glory; or C) going out like “Cleo” at the end of Set It Off. But their reporters sat rambling on like there was a probable “D” choice, if indeed Dorner was even in that house.
As commentators and “experts” kept yapping, I wondered if I — you know as a Black member of the general public — was even the intended for the audience for these broadcasts. The experts and the reporters on CNN and MSNBC were talking about how Dorner should surrender so the LAPD would no longer be terrorized, and how sad it was that the LAPD was being targeted and living in fear. And all I could think was, “Well, now they know how Black and Brown people in LA feel!”
Don’t get me wrong, I want Dorner caught, but it’s because he killed that poor girl and her fiance’. And because round-faced, caramel-colored Black men (that means you, LL) — and apparently, Hispanic grannys — ain’t safe on the streets until Dorner’s dead. The last thing on my mind was the pain and suffering of the LAPD. I came of age listening to NWA’s “Fuck da Police” and watching the grainy footage of the Rodney King beating. What the dominant culture calls the LA “riots,” I refer to as an uprising. Frankly, I’m real “meh” on the LAPD and its “chickens coming home to roost” Moment.
And I wish I’d caught the expert’s name on CNN who referred to the part of Dorner’s manifesto when he choked out a fellow white officer who was dropping n-bombs left and right. When confronted by Dorner, the officer told him, “I’ll say it when I want.” Oh, word? The expert said it was evidence of that Dorner was “unstable,” and I thought “oh, he must be talking to the dominant culture” because Black folk might think that’s out of order, but not nowhere does it hold water as evidence of being crazy.
But maybe I am for relying on the news to get a story right or represent my point of view.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk