Over the years, as our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the press have become increasingly unmoored from reality, I’ve discovered a rule of thumb: By the time I learn enough about a “news” story to realize I don’t care, it turns out to be bull$#!+ anyway.
This weekend, a Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives named Erica Thomas made national news after a Facebook video she made went viral. In it, she accused a man in an Atlanta grocery store of telling her to go back where she came from:
Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!
— Erica Thomas (@itsericathomas) July 20, 2019
In response to this claim, all the usual media outlets did all the usual things. They accepted Rep. Thomas’ word as proof. They cited it as evidence that Trump’s America is racist, and white people just want everybody who doesn’t look like them to “go back where they came from.” The story perfectly confirmed the media’s biases, so they assumed it happened just the way she said it did.
There was just one little problem:
Georgia Democrat Erica Thomas claims a “white man” told her to “go back to where I came from”
The guy is a Cuban Democrat and he says that he didn’t say that and that she is doing this for political gain
He defended “the squad” this week on Facebook against Trump’s attacks pic.twitter.com/ldWvrYGyqJ
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 20, 2019
Eric Sparkes absolutely denies claim that he told politician @itsericathomas to “go back where you came from.” He says the argument started over her using the express lane while having too many items. pic.twitter.com/ZikyJc81vf
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) July 21, 2019
Oh shocking. He didn’t tell her to go back to where she came from. The truth is finally emerging. pic.twitter.com/mCu7aY6XSd
— Jessica Fletcher (@heckyessica) July 21, 2019
So, instead of a white guy telling a black woman to go back where she came from because he’s just like those Trump supporters chanting “Send her back,” maybe he’s actually a Cuban Democrat who hates Trump and got fed up with a woman in a grocery store who brought too many items to the express line. Maybe it’s not actually a pressing matter that we all needed to know about. Maybe it’s not really national news.
My colleague Michael Van Der Galien calls this incident a hate crime hoax, but I’m not sure that’s exactly the right term for what happened here. I don’t believe this incident happened the way Rep. Thomas said it happened, but I also don’t think she intended to perpetrate a hoax. I think she was genuinely upset — she’s nine months pregnant, after all — and she made a lot of assumptions, and she jumped to an illogical conclusion based on her own biases. She read a motive into the guy’s actions because of the color of his skin. She figured that if he looks a certain way, he must think a certain way.
She’s not a hoaxer. She’s just a plain old racist.
In other words, she’s not another Jussie Smollett. Although she is an admirer…
— Erica Thomas (@itsericathomas) March 21, 2015
Rep. Thomas’ motives might not have been malevolent, but the result is the same. Just as with Smollett, and Nick Sandmann, and all the other race-based fiascoes we keep seeing again and again, the culprit is our irreparably broken media. They made a lot of people angry about an incident that may or may not have happened. They were in too much of a hurry chasing rage-clicks to verify whether any of it was true.
So now things are just a little bit worse for victims of actual racism. Now people are just a little bit more skeptical of such claims. We’re all just a little bit more cynical.
And journos wonder why everybody hates them?
P.S. If a politician is backtracking on a previous backtrack, it must be Monday.
“I am not backtracking on my statement.” – Rep. Erica Thomas
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) July 22, 2019