Media

US Media’s Misleading Framing Of Atlanta Police Officer’s Comments About Shooter Used In Chinese Propaganda

ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Media Reporter
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American media’s misleading framing of a police officer’s description about why a man shot up multiple massage parlors in Atlanta was used by China’s state-run media outlet Sunday.

The Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run press agency of the People’s Republic of China, repeated a misleading claim suggesting Cherokee County Sheriff Capt. Jay Baker made excuses for Robert Aaron Long, who stands accused of killing eight people in Atlanta. The misleading claim suggested Baker told reporters – in his view – that it “was a really bad day for” Long.

“8 lives taken, 6 of them Asian. And the killer was just ‘having a bad day’!” Xinhua News Agency tweeted Sunday. (RELATED: Media Spreads Misleading Context About Atlanta Police Officer’s Comments On Massage Parlor Shooter)

The misleading context went viral after Vox’s Aaron Rupar tweeted out a short clip of Baker speaking.

“‘Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did’ — a law enforcement official explains Robert Aaron Long’s decision to kill 8 people in a strange manner,” Rupar tweeted March 17.

WATCH:

In reality, Baker was explaining what Long apparently told investigators.

“He claims – and as the chief said, it’s still early – but he does claim that it was not racially motivated,” Baker noted in the video showing fuller context. “He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places. And it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate. Like I said, it’s still early on, but those were comments that he made.”

Shortly after, a reporter asked if Baker felt Long “understood the gravity” of his actions.

“Um, when I spoke to investigators – they interviewed him this morning – and they got that impression, that yes, he understood the gravity of it and he was pretty much fed up and he kind of at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Baker explained, indicating it was how the accused shooter explained what had happened.

Soon after Rupar’s tweet, the claim reached the larger media, with publications like CNN, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast and others spreading the misleading context.

“If you watch the full video, it’s clear the police spokesperson is summarizing the suspect’s explanation of his own actions to investigators. Vox journalist Aaron Rupar framed this to make it sound like the cop was making excuses for him. Remarkable dishonesty,” Reason senior editor Robby Soave tweeted March 19.

Long is accused of a mass shooting that left eight people dead in Atlanta massage parlors. Police previously noted that the investigation is ongoing, but the suspect has claimed the attacks were not racially motivated.