Why Did Media Largely Ignore the Antioch Church Shooting?

I’m trying not to be cynical about the media’s treatment of the mass-shooting incident at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, but it’s not easy.

While the focus of all gun-related violence is now understandably focused on Las Vegas, the Antioch shooting sat dormant and largely ignored for a week as newspapers and cable news coverage was preoccupied with NFL anthem protestors. To a certain extent, I suppose part of that is understandable. Not to say that media obsession with what overpaid sports stars do when everyone else is honoring the country is healthy or genuinely newsworthy, but given that football is the nation’s most popular sport, those storylines are going to get the attention news networks crave.

But it’s hard to imagine anything – even NFL protests – bumping the near wall-to-wall coverage that followed in the aftermath of the horrific church shooting in Charleston, SC in 2015. After racist psychopath Dylan Roof gunned down 9 innocent Christians there at Emanuel AME Church, the media offered appropriate coverage to the crime, as well as to the amazing testimonies of love and forgiveness offered by the surviving families.

For some reason that coverage is missing in Antioch. It’s fair to ask why.

Is it the number of victims? Yes, nine were murdered in Charleston, which was more than the one slaughtered in Tennessee. But had it not been for the heroic actions of church usher Caleb Engle, the bloodbath could have easily been as horrific at Antioch. After all, killer Emanuel Kidega Samson calmly walked through the church back door after gunning down his first victim in the parking lot and began shooting. Six were hit before Engle grabbed his gun and ended the attack.

So maybe that’s what prevented CNN and the New York Times from making this tragedy their lead story. Perhaps the heroism of a good guy with a gun runs contrary to their left-wing editorial views on gun policy. They could potentially be afraid that they will be asked to explain why they would have preferred Engle not have ready access to a firearm, thus leaving his congregation at the mercy of a madman?

Or maybe it’s race? Is it because the Charleston massacre was committed by a white supremacist while the Antioch shooting was committed by a black man apparently exacting his idea of justice for the Roof murders? The left is busy scoffing at that notion, of course. Newsweek tweeted:

“The Antioch church shooting has been overlooked because the suspect is black, according to alt-right conspiracies.”

Alt-right? Conspiracies? First, the murderer Samson left a note in his car referencing revenge for the Charleston slayings. But instead of arguing, maybe we should just be asking: if it’s not the crime’s failure to match the current media racial narrative of white supremacists on the prowl that is causing this profoundly newsworthy story to be discounted, then what is it?

I’ll give the left and their mainstream media mouthpieces the benefit of the doubt. I won’t ascribe motives to their disinterest in aggressively reporting this case if they will just tell us why. What makes this church mass shooting so much less newsworthy than the last?


About the author

Peter Heck

View all posts