Federal authorities have closed their investigation into a “hate crime” incident in Madison, Wisc., where a black woman claimed four white men threw lighter fluid on her and set her on fire after shouting a racial epithet.
Eighteen-year-old Althea Bernstein claimed she was the victim of a June hate crime attack. Her story was uncritically reported across the nation. CNN, NBC, Good Morning America, and most major print publications told a horrific story.
Althea Bernstein, 18, told investigators she was stopped at a traffic light in the city at around 1 a.m. Wednesday when she heard someone yell a racial slur through her rolled-down window, according to a police department incident report
“She looked and saw four men, all white. She says one used a spray bottle to deploy a liquid on her face and neck, and then threw a flaming lighter at her, causing the liquid to ignite,” the report states.
But after an investigation by the FBI, which included examining every scrap of video available, no evidence ever emerged of a “hate crime” and, indeed, Bernstein was nowhere to be seen.
“After reviewing all available evidence, authorities could not establish that the attack, as alleged by the complainant, had occurred,” U.S. attorney Scott Blader said in a Friday statement. A statement from Madison’s chief of police stated that “detectives were unable to corroborate or locate evidence consistent with what was reported.”
In a statement released by police, Bernstein and her family said they “appreciate the detailed investigative efforts by all involved in this case.”
You’d think the media would have been taught a lesson after the first 50 hate crime hoaxes. Instead, they doubled down on this one, reporting every detail with that hysterical tone they get when they think America needs to be taught a lesson.
It’s they who need to go back to school and learn how to be journalists.
In addition to earning national headlines, Bernstein was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America, included in a floor speech by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D., Mass.), and received a phone call from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. She was also included in the NFL’s list of “victims of systemic racism, victims of police brutality, and social justice heroes,” and her name has been featured this season on the helmet of players such as the Atlanta Falcon’s Todd Gurley.
Hate crime hoaxes will continue as long as the media reacts this way—and as long as authorities let the criminals get away with it.
I love this statement from “community leaders” who, like Bernstein’s family, never mention the investigation’s findings.
“This morning the Mayor and the Police Chief briefed myself and other community leaders about the investigation surrounding Althea Bernstein and I appreciate the time federal authorities and local law enforcement officials put into this case,” Johnson told the Washington Free Beacon. “In the meantime, we will continue to provide support to Althea and hope and pray for her healing and well-being.”
CNN and NBC haven’t gotten around to issuing a correction yet.