An op-ed in the Nov. 11, 1992 New York Post worried that 25 percent of African-American New Yorkers rely on black-owned WLIB and “militant black weeklies” for their news — not on “mainstream media whose perspective could counter extremist views.”
While FAIR encourages news consumers to get the widest selection of sources possible, we’re also worried about white New Yorkers who rely on “militant white dailies” — like the New York Post — for all of their news. Opposite from the op-ed warning that WLIB was trying to stir up racial fears and divisions, the Post ran an editorial titled “Target: Suburban Women”.
Commenting on a gruesome crime in New Jersey, the editorial maintained that there was something particularly “depraved” about crimes against “middle-class people, many of whom are refugees from urban crime.” These victims aren’t “courting danger” — they’re people who “used to feel safe by virtue of their geographical separation from the inner city.” The Post urged President-elect Bill Clinton to focus his attention on crimes that “tend to victimize people who live in suburbs,” since they have “reached epidemic proportions.”
It’s clear that “suburban,” as used by the New York Post, is a barely veiled code word for “white.” The paper went out of its way to mention that the suspected killer was “wearing an ‘X’ sweatshirt” and noted insinuatingly that similar crimes often have “racial implications, although there’s an obvious reluctance on the part of the media and public officials to note this circumstance.” Apparently the Post wants to return to the days when newspapers routinely identified crime suspects by race.
A report by Katherine McFate of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (detailed by Michelle McQueen in the Wall Street Journal, 8/12/92) shows that the New York Post is engaging in racial fear-mongering. Although the media present crime as being at a new height, the number of victims of violent crime has actually decreased by 9 percent from 1981 to 1990. The most common victims are black men, who are 50 percent more likely than white men and two and a half times more likely than white women to be the victim of a violent crime.
And crime seldom has what the Post calls “racial implications.” Only 18 percent of white victims of violent crime reported that their assailant was black. The real racial bias in the system is against African-Americans: Blacks account for 29 percent of arrests, but 47 percent of prison inmates. But if all you see is the New York Post, you probably won’t read about that.