Democratic campaign fundraisers are complaining about cable news. The reporting they rely on, to attract attention and stir giving, dried up, they say, when US news networks switched their attention from politics and the midterms to Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
How do you spark alarm, inform the public, prod people to act, if the media aren’t covering the news, political fundraisers griped to the press this week. “We need Americans to care about the future… and get involved,” a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign told the New York Times.
It’s a problem social movements in the US have faced for decades, of course, and met none of the same sympathy from the press.
Even in the run up to the royal funeral for example, when coverage of the Queen quashed all other news, in the UK, where I happened to be, an uprising against police violence was taking place.
On the Saturday before the funeral, the family of 24 year old rapper, Chris Kaba, weren’t grieving the Queen, they were holding a national day of action. Kaba, who was unarmed when he was shot by London police September 5, died in hospital from his wounds and his family are calling for a murder investigation. They question whether their son would have died “if he hadn’t been black.”
On September 17th, protestors took to the streets in cities across the UK, and Kaba’s family led a mass rally outside Scotland Yard. The headquarters of London’s police is just a mile away from Buckingham Palace. The rally’s cries could well have been heard by the mourners lined up nearby to see the queen’s casket and certainly by the US news reporters covering the famous queue-of-grief. But was it?
I can find no mention of Chris Kaba’s name anywhere in the New York Times yet, and that wouldn’t be unusual. As documented by groups like the media watch group FAIR, social movements, as compared to political campaigns, have a famously hard time making it into our papers of record, let alone onto cable news. Even when they are reported on they are rarely put in any sort of international context. Might it have been interesting to connect the dots between protest movements in the UK with those in the US on a topic as trans-Atlantic as the continuing legacy and impact of white supremacy in policing? Especially, when, let’s face it, mobs of US media were there on site, and they’d been covering the same event for more than a week?
To return to the complaint of the Democratic fundraiser: How do you spark alarm, inform the public, and prod people to act in a news vacuum? It’s a problem that social justice groups face not one week a year, but year in year out.