Biased Beat Cops At The MRC
The Media Research Center spent much of the past TV season being angry that TV police shows tried to reflect reality by tackling the thorny issues of racial justice and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center has spent months obsessing over how cop shows on TV reflected a little bit of reality in the wake of last year's police-custody death of George Floyd by admitting that cops aren't always good and black people aren't always evil and/or criminals. It took both Gabriel Hays and Tierin-Rose Mandelburg to summarize this obsession in a May 24 post:
A lot can change in a year. And it seems like no year has brought as much cultural change to America’s TV landscape as the year since African American man George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. In that timeframe, America endured a summer of rioting, the acceleration of cancel culture and attempts to force critical race theory into every aspect of public and even private life.
No mention, of course, of how TV cop shows have spent decades pushing negative portrayals of Blacks and normalized and justified violence by police -- which could also be described as "propaganda-ridden storylines" -- so it could be argued that the past year was a corrective for the past. But no, Hays and Mandelburg had to portray it as a conspiracy:
Again, it was no accident nor mere organic trend that TV exploded with this racist, anti-American propaganda in the last year. It had been done for an expressly political purpose. Kristen Marston, Culture and Entertainment Advocacy Director of the Pro-BLM civil rights non-profit, Color Of Change, stated in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, “What we see on TV, it impacts the way we vote, the way that we react to people and even the way that we either believe Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization or not.”
Um, don't most TV cop shows use actual current or former law enforcement officers as consultants? We don't remember Hays or Mandelburg ever complaining about that.
Indeed, the MRC spent much of the 2020-21 television season complaining that scripted network TV shows that focus on police have taken last summer's real-life events regarding racial justice and policing into consideration. Elise Ehrhard devoted a Nov. 11 post to ranting about one show's treatment of the issue:
This fall's network television line-up of cop shows has begun and that means endless lecturing of the Black Lives Matter narrative. Audiences are being hectored that police officers are inherently racist towards black men and nothing has changed in the U.S. since Jim Crow.
Karen Townsend complained in a Nov. 12 post: "The eighth season of NBC’s Chicago P.D. began airing on November 11. From the beginning of the first episode, titled 'Fighting Ghosts,' it is obvious that the groundwork is being laid for an ongoing conflict between police reformists and those who want to protect racist, corrupt cops." She then attacked the show for "portraying the police as racists and always the ones in the wrong." Given that the previous time the MRC devoted a post to the show was 2017 (when it complained about an episode regarding illegal immigrants), we're pretty sure it does not "always" portray police as "in the wrong."
The same day, Lindsay Kornick groused about another cop show reflecting current events in an episode based on the notorious Central Park dog walker story, with added racial profiling. "No, this wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t assume every cop was an evil racist. More importantly, this wouldn’t have happened if networks weren’t so desperate to appeal to BLM activists that they claim the characters in a show over twenty years old are now racist," Kornick huffed.
Ehrhard hate-watched "S.W.A.T." again for a Nov. 25 post, which featured "another BLM storyline, with a discussion of the movement to defund the police," further huffing that the storyline "only fuels the dangerous police abolitionist mentality that is causing the greater loss of life in our country.
Even non-cop shows were not immune from the MRC's lashing out. Ehrhard devoted a Nov. 16 post to grumbling about the "woke legal drama" "All Rise" for "repeating the Black Lives Matter narrative," declaring, "This is the poison Hollywood pushes on our culture to sow constant racial division."
Kornick complained in a Jan. 3 post:
Looks like CBS’s NCIS: New Orleans will spend its 2021 doubling down on false liberal propaganda. While the show already bent over backwards to claim police officers are killing young black men last month, the latest episode somehow went further to appease a “burn the establishment” progressive and her mostly “peaceful” crowd.
Kornick further complained that one character "even goes so far as to peddle the usual lie that the “vast majority” of BLM protestors are just peaceful idealists being dragged by a few bad actors. She linked to a right-wing Townhall.com post ridiculing a study finding that 93 percent of protests did not result in rioting -- a "vast majority" by any definition and, thus, not a "usual lie." (Ironically, the MRC would be using this exact same argument a few days later to distance conservatives from the right-wing Capitol rioters, even though both were clearly on the same pro-Trump side.)
Rebecca Downs went after a different show, "The Rookie," grumbling on Jan. 4 that the show "aims to get political on policing" by discussing racial issues and that one show writer said that it "can’t do one special episode, where we feel good and solve racism in the end, and then go back to our usual thing the next week. We want to change things for as long as we get to do this show.” This was followed by her complaint on Jan. 11 that the show "revealed a new 'polarizing' character, veteran officer Doug Stanton (Brandon Routh) and his hit-you-over-the-head racial profiling. The episode also featured interactions between titular character Officer John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) and James Murray (Arjay Smith), a local black man, while Nolan's assigned to a community policing center."
Downs' anger continued as the show's storyline did, ranting on Jan. 18 that the latest episode featured how that "polarizing" officer character "physically assaults an innocent young black man who does not match the description of their suspect, then threatens to arrest the man's entire family for trying to intervene while pointing his gun at them all in an over-the-top scene, with the rookie he is training, Officer Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.), uncomfortably watching it all." She concluded by huffing that "it looks like next Sunday we can enjoy what is, at best, another increasingly crowded, melodramatic, and poorly written episode of The Rookie." The next week, Downs groused that the character was "a white racist cop personified," adding that "Our main characters may want Stanton gone, but he also is a veteran of the job who knows a thing or two."
Ehrhard returned to bashing another show in a Jan. 26 post:
CBS's woke court drama All Rise has spent all season pushing BLM propaganda. One lie that Black Lives Matter promotes is the myth that America's first police departments were created to capture fugitive slaves. The leader of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York< even said on Fox News that the first police departments were used as "slave patrols." One way that leftism attempts to destroy American institutions is by lying about their founding.
No, it's not "demonstrably false." Northern big-city police departments may not have been founded on capturing slaves, but historians point out that Southern cities had slave patrols that predated police departments' founding, and that all such police operations were created to enforce the existing social hierarchy before evolving into a force for protection starting in the late 19th century.
On Feb. 14, Ehrhard complained that another show pointed out that last summer's protests were mostly peaceful: "Television shows this year just have characters keep saying over and over again that the protests are peaceful, really, really peaceful. Did they ever hear of Shakespeare's warning, 'I think thou doth protest too much'? If protests were genuinely peaceful, Hollywood writers would not have to keep telling audiences that." She concluded by sneering out the MRC's nasty narrative: "BLM and Antifa protests have been a poisonous exercise in domestic terrorism and no amount of Hollywood lying should ever cause Americans to forget it."
Downs returned on Feb. 22 to bash "The Rookie" some more: "For weeks, ABC’s The Rookie hit viewers over the head with the evils of racist white cops, personified through Officer Doug Stanton (Brandon Routh). While Officer Stanton may be gone, the show is just getting started on the racial white guilt."
Slusher served up another typical rant on March 6:
CBS’s Magnum P.I. reboot teased viewers in Friday night’s episode, “The Long Way Home,” by making it seem like they might follow in the footsteps of their fellow cop drama Blue Bloods and depict the unfair treatment police and their loved ones are facing in today’s anti-cop culture. But sadly, they not only dropped the ball, they kicked it out of the park by instead stating, “the system is broken,” and defending BLM activism, which has led to violence and riots, as “a form of patriotism.”
Julia A. Seymour went after a hospital drama, "New Amsterdam," on March 24 for an episode in which a nurse said that police were “just a different kind of unsafe” than violent patients, declaring this to be "anti-cop." Four days later, she groused: "In order to show Chicago cops in the worst possible light, Showtime’s Shameless made up a rule observed by the police force "We're here to serve and protect the rich," going on to sneer, "This is the last season of Shameless. Frankly, I don’t think it will be missed."
Kornick complained on April 15:
Anyone who thought Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was finished with kowtowing to Black Lives Matter will be severely disappointed. The latest episode of the NBC drama reminds that there’s always time to scold the police, just like there’s always time to call new voting laws racist.
Elise Ehrhard served up a full-on anti-BLM screed on April 20 that had little to do with the show in question and everything to do with pushing a right-wing narrative:
Network television has officially jumped the shark in its desperate efforts to defend the domestic terrorist organization Black Lives Matter. This week on CBS's court drama Bull, an earnest defense attorney actually said with a straight face that BLM is "not opposed to the police."
Ehrhard returned to grouse on April 22 that "CBS's cop drama S.W.A.T. signaled to its audience this week that those who question critical race theory and the Black Lives Matter agenda are really white supremacists. ... As long as Hollywood continues playing these sort of games with their messaging, Americans will feel afraid to speak up about real issues that harm all Americans for fear of being lumped-in with genuine villains. This twisted media and entertainment tactic makes authentic dialogue in our country impossible."
Of course, the MRC's knee-jerk binary narrative that all cops are good and all protesters against police brutality are violent and evil (see above Ehrhard screed) isn't exactly encouraging authentic dialogue either.
"Blue Bloods" safe space
The MRC had to work to find a show that reflected its pro-police, anti-racial justice narrative. But Kornick did, and gushed all over it in a Dec. 5 post:
Despite an occasional dip into political correctness, CBS’s Blue Bloods usually takes the rare stance in defending the police in media. Thankfully, the latest episode continues that trend with the show standing up against the charge of “systemic racism” in the NYPD at the height of anti-copaganda. Christmas season is truly the time for miracles.
Not surprising coming from a "media research" outfit that sought to demonize all Black Lives Matter supporters as Antifa terrorists.
A Jan. 25 post by Dawn Slusher cheered, "Leave it to CBS’s excellent hit cop drama Blue Bloods to confront anti-police sentiment head-on and depict how it affects not only officers, but their families, as well," calling the show "a breath of fresh air in an industry that refuses to recognize the humanity of police officers and how they sacrifice their lives to keep us safe."
The MRC even found one of the shows it attacked for serving up normal (for right-wing activists) pro-cop, anti-BLM propaganda. Ehrhard gushed on April 8:
Could common sense actually be returning to network television cop shows? Are some Hollywood scriptwriters waking-up to the insanity of the left's radical anti-police activism?
Four days later, Ehrhard was back in her "Blue Bloods" safe space:
Throughout the 2020-21 television season, Blue Bloods has been the rare network cop show that has refused to kowtow to the woke BLM mob.
That's the kind of propaganda the MRC loves.
As the TV season wound down, the MRC has also continued to complain about individual shows, even throwing some non-cop shows in the mix in an apparent attempt to pump up the numbers (and the manufactured outrage):
Hays and Mandelburg concluded their summary --a somewhat lazy effort, since it essentially just updates a February post by Matt Philbin offering similar complaints and citing some of the same examples -- by declaring: "It’s clear that this is all being done to change your perceptions about your country and its history. And it's all being broadcast into the safety of your suburban home. It’s way past time to just turn the television off." As if the MRC is not paying them to change perceptions about BLM and black people in general.