Accuracy in Media

CNN’s reporting on the ongoing riots and protests across the country focused on the protesters and rioters, but it was silent on the potential consequence of spreading the coronavirus.

The protests and riots began after a Minneapolis police officer was recorded by bystanders with a knee applied to the neck of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, was accosted by police officers after allegedly using a counterfeit bill at a local store. Officers forced him to the ground and told officers that he could not breathe after one of them applied pressure with a knee on his neck. Floyd died soon after and his death sparked protests and riots across the country.

The cable news network’s coverage focused on the protesters and the descent into rioting. One of CNN’s reporters excused the riots because the protesters were frustrated with the alleged lack of progress on policing issues.

CNN correspondent Sara Sidner told host Chris Cuomo that “many people” chose to “lash out” by rioting. She said that protesters were frustrated with peaceful protests and lack of change in policing, which in her mind validated the shift from protests to riots. Sidner did not acknowledge or mention how the protests and riots could have spread the coronavirus.

Also, CNN’s Brian Stelter’s monologue over the weekend emphasized that the riots were the “worst weekend of civil unrest in America since the 1960s.”

He acknowledged the riots’ violence and said that the damage was confined to several cities and small blocks within those cities. Stelter, like Sidner, did not address the potential consequences of riots and protests of spreading the coronavirus.

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