The prosecution’s closing argument in the George Floyd trial asked the jury to believe their eyes when they saw the video of Floyd’s death, but when it comes to the media—it seems that they can’t do the same.
16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot by police Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, while she was charging another girl with a knife. The shooting occurred just minutes before the judge announced the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for George Floyd’s death.
National media was quick to report that Bryant was “unarmed” based on Bryant’s family member saying that she dropped the knife before police shot her, however, body camera footage proved that false a few hours later. The footage shows Bryant pushing one woman onto the sidewalk before charging another girl and swinging at her with a knife.
But the quote about Bryant dropping the knife was still reported by the Daily Beast and the Washington Post before spreading widely on Twitter.
CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin said Tuesday night on Twitter that “there has been yet another police shooting of an unarmed 16-year-old Black teen girl by police in #ColumbusOhio.”
The post was still up as of Thursday despite being verifiably false.
There has been yet another police shooting of an unarmed 16 year old Black teen girl by police in #ColumbusOhio ????????♀️????????
— Areva Martin, Esq. (@ArevaMartin) April 21, 2021
The Daily Beast cited Bryant’s family members and reported that the teenager was “fending off a physical assault” and “had already dropped the knife in the yard” when police arrived. The outlet has since updated the story to say that Bryant’s family members had commented on the shooting “before the release of the body-cam footage.” (RELATED: Former NAACP Chairman Cornell Brooks Compares Knife-Wielding Altercation That Led To Ma’Khia Bryant’s Death To ‘Schoolyard Fight’)
The Daily Beast did an absolute masterclass in journalism on this one. The left screenshot is what they originally reported about the shooting. The right is what it now says.
The truth is an officer saved somebody from being stabbed. pic.twitter.com/IEhasVyOtQ
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 21, 2021
The Washington Post published an article that never mentioned the knife clearly visible in Bryant’s hand. The article said that the video shows Bryant lunging towards another girl when police shoot her and note that a knife is visible on the ground next to her while police performed CPR. The publication also mentioned that Bryant “takes a swing” at another girl’s head, but didn’t include the fact that the teenager was holding a knife.
The Washington Post also quoted Bryant’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, who falsely claimed that the teenager dropped the knife before police shot her.
Although the outlet later published two other articles that accurately describe the body camera footage—including one that mentioned she had a knife in the headline—the first article was still left up.
MSNBC host Joy Reid said Wednesday night that the police couldn’t be trusted and weren’t being “fully transparent” despite the fact that the Columbus Police Department released the body camera footage just hours after the shooting. Reid—while never directly pointing out the Bryant was swinging a knife at someone—also said that she knew teachers who were able to diffuse knife fights in her high school “and they didn’t have guns.”
One of her guests, Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Cheryl Orange, said that she “could not see how the young lady was using the weapon.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow compared police-involved shootings of black people, including Ma’Khia Bryant, to Jan. 6. She said—without mentioning that Bryant had a knife and without playing the body camera footage—that these shootings were based on a “perceived threat.”
Maddow described one rioter who attacked police on Jan. 6 and was not shot as a “real threat.”
“But real threats to police, concerted attacks on police, they are not all met with bullets from the police,” she said. “My God. Certainly not in this country.”
When NBC Nightly News edited the 9-1-1 call for a report on the incident, they left out the caller telling the dispatcher that a girl was “trying to stab us.” They also leave out the knife that’s in Bryant’s hand before the police officer fires.
In their report on the officer-involved shooting in Columbus, Ohio, NBC Nightly News deceptively edited the 911 call to leave out the part where the caller says a girl was “trying to stab us.” They also don’t show viewers the knife in the attacker’s hand just before the shots. pic.twitter.com/r5uXD1qDb1
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) April 22, 2021
The shooting resulted in widespread protests in Columbus, while activists questioned the use of deadly force in the incident. Black Liberation Movement Central Ohio founder Kiara Yakita told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the officer should have tried to deescalate the situation. Ibram X. Kendi, an activist and author of the book “How to Be an Antiracist,” agreed, telling CNN during a Thursday interview that the officer should have “talked her down.”