Editor’s Note: On February 2, 2016, Juan Thompson’s editors at The Intercept published a note to readers that indicated he had fabricated elements of his reporting. Some of the stories that have been retracted or corrected may have been ones he referred to during the interview below, although The Intercept made clear that some of Thompson’s reportage did hold up under their review. Fabrication scandals undermine the work of all journalists, including those who cover the painful subject of American racism, the vast majority of whom work diligently and ethically. The allegations are especially damaging in this case, ironically, because so much of what Thompson said during our BRIC encounter about race and power is unassailable truth.
If there’s one topic where notions of “media objectivity” are rendered most absurd, it’s race. There certainly are journalists who lack religion, and there probably are a few who have no political beliefs to speak of, but no one is an uninvolved bystander when it comes to skin color. Nor is there a topic where the media’s coverage has been so deeply chronically flawed or so important to the broader public getting at least some understanding of the reality race in America.
Straight Up!, the reporter roundtable show on Brooklyn Independent Media that I’m very proud to host, had Juan Thompson of the Intercept and Derrick Clifton of Mic News on to discuss the coverage of the Baltimore protests and recent police killings and the larger issue of how mass media—and social media—deal with race. It’s definitely worth a watch.