A horrific stabbing spree at a Boise, Idaho, apartment complex last night left nine people injured, including six children. Local media reports state that four of the victims have life-threatening injuries.
The national media quickly seized on the fact that the apartment complex was known to house refugees and that some of the victims themselves were apparently refugees.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 1, 2018
At least nine people were injured in a knife attack at an apartment complex in Boise, Idaho, that is known to house resettled refugees https://t.co/LfSFSGJYwG
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 1, 2018
Refugees among wounded in knife attack at Boise low-income apartment complex. "A single, evil individual" who doesn't represent community, police chief says. https://t.co/8nSvYZc62z
— John Bacon (@realjohnbacon) July 1, 2018
Despite the fact that the 30-year-old male suspect was arrested last night at 8:50 p.m. and his arrest record and mugshot were posted on the Ada County Sheriff’s website at 3:46 this morning, none of the articles identified the suspect.
CNN left the suspect’s identity out, too, while pushing the refugee status of the victims:
Nine people were stabbed by a single assailant at an apartment complex in Boise, Idaho, police say https://t.co/VljZWObXPy
— CNN (@CNN) July 1, 2018
That the victims were refugees — with no mention of the suspect’s identity — was quickly highlighted by establishment media types:
No motive has been established. But…. 9 people at a housing complex for refugees in Idaho were stabbed and several of those stabbed might die, per police.https://t.co/45p6RQTXyI
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) July 1, 2018
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) July 1, 2018
The seeming direction that the media narrative took was that this was a hate crime by someone from out of state, directed at Boise’s refugee community and fueled by anti-immigration rhetoric.
Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case with arrested suspect Timmy Earl Kinner:
NEW: Police say Timmy Kinner, 30, of Los Angeles, was arrested and charged with nine counts of felony aggravated battery and six counts of felony injury to a child.https://t.co/btVvY4tDre
— Alexis Goree (@AlexisNews3LV) July 1, 2018
The suspect in the Boise mass stabbing had lived at the apartment and was asked to leave before the attack https://t.co/dnNE4tOyNU
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) July 1, 2018
A quick internet search shows a series of arrests and charges for Kinner in a number of states, including apparently being shot by a homeowner during a burglary, but nothing to indicate any anti-immigrant animus or bias, just a career criminal.
That notwithstanding, the message that the horrific stabbings last night were fueled by anti-refugee sentiments and by President Trump quickly took hold on social media, including from D.C.-area PR specialist Brian Lustig in a now-deleted tweet:
Weird that right-wingers are tweeting that a black guy is the stabber of the Boise refugees, and they link to what looks like a legit Idaho sheriff's site that lists the name, photo and charges — and yet no news source has reported this. What gives?
— Ward Harkavy (@WHarkavy) July 1, 2018
Self-styled Russia expert and registered foreign agent Molly McKew knew exactly whom to blame — RUSSIA!!!
And a reminder to you all that Idaho has been intensely targeted by Russian info ops aiming to inflame people on the refugee issue.
Idaho had has basque, Bosnian, Middle Eastern communities for years with no problems. Good state citizens and economic engines.
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) July 1, 2018
The story also allowed for airing other racial grievances:
If the perpetrator were brown or black you KNOW that fact would have been included in the police description. The subtleties of racism.
— mayogottem (@Donald64195420) July 1, 2018
Given the media’s less-than-stellar response to Thursday’s horrific mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper on and all kinds of hints that President Trump’s criticism of the media was to blame (turns out the killer had a long-standing grudge against the newspaper), you might think that the establishment media would be inclined to tone down the rhetoric against Trump and his supporters and wait until all the facts come out.
That doesn’t seem to be the case. In last night’s stabbing spree, there is no indication that the refugee status of some of the victims played any role at all. But that was exactly the element to the story that the media led with earlier today.
Media claims that overheated rhetoric is having a corrosive effect on our political and social discourse may be true, but the media seems to be reluctant to admit, let alone correct, their own fearmongering and how it is contributing to the problem. This is especially true as the facts in many of these cases don’t match the initial media narrative.
One might argue that the low public opinion of the media is more due in part to these missteps and the media’s own behavior than anything the president says or tweets.