STUDY: Broadcast And Cable News Largely Ignored Xenophobic Shooting Of Indian Immigrants

Fox News’ 14 Seconds Of Coverage Continues Its Pattern Of Dismissing Hate Crimes Against People Of Color

››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

Broadcast and cable news largely ignored the February 22 shooting of two Indian immigrants in Kansas in which the suspected attacker told the victims to “get out of my country,” devoting mere minutes to the attack. Fox News’ virtual failure to cover the attack fits into the network's larger pattern of severely downplaying hate crimes aimed at people of color.

FBI Investigating Whether Shooting Of Immigrants Was A Hate Crime

Kansas City Star: Law Enforcement Is Investigating Whether The Shooting Of Indian Immigrants Was A Hate Crime. The Kansas City Star reported that Adam Purinton, a white man, shot three men, including two Indian immigrants, killing one, on February 22. According to the Star, “at least one witness reportedly heard the man yell ‘get out of my country’ shortly before shooting Kuchibhotla and Madasani.” Federal and local law enforcement officials said they are investigating whether “the shooting was a bias-motivated hate crime in violation of the victims’ civil rights.” From the February 23 report:

An Olathe man who reportedly told two strangers — Garmin engineers originally from India — to “get out of my country” before he shot them in an Olathe bar was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of one of the victims.

Adam W. Purinton, 51, allegedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32; Alok Madasani, 32, of Overland Park, and another bar patron, 24-year-old Ian Grillot of Grandview.

Kuchibhotla died at a hospital after the 7:15 p.m. shooting in Austins Bar & Grill near 151st Street and Mur-Len Road.

[...]

[Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe] was joined by federal law enforcement officials who said that they are investigating in conjunction with Olathe police to determine if the shooting was a bias-motivated hate crime in violation of the victims’ civil rights.

At least one witness reportedly heard the man yell “get out of my country” shortly before shooting Kuchibhotla and Madasani. The man fled on foot. A manhunt ensued. Five hours later, Purinton reportedly told a bartender at a bar in an Applebee’s in Clinton, Mo., that he needed a place to hide out because he had just killed two Middle Eastern men, The Star has learned. [The Kansas City Star, 2/23/17]

Broadcast And Cable News Barely Covered The Shooting

Cable And Broadcast Programs Spent Just Over 22 Minutes Total On The Shooting Over Four Days. Over four days of coverage immediately following the shooting, broadcast and cable news programs spent little time on the incident. Of the broadcast news channels, ABC devoted 5 minutes and 40 seconds to covering the shooting, while CBS spent 3 minutes and 58 seconds on it, and NBC aired 2 minutes and 55 seconds of coverage. On cable networks, CNN aired 4 minutes and 56 seconds of coverage and MSNBC devoted 4 minutes and 46 seconds to the story. Fox News spent merely 14 seconds on the incident.

Sunday Shows Ignored The Shooting. The February 26 editions of the Sunday morning political news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Broadcasting, and CNN spent no time covering the shooting.

Fox’s Omission Fits Its Pattern Of Dismissing Race-Based Hate

Fox News Spent Only 14 Seconds Covering The Shooting. Over four days, Fox News devoted 14 seconds to covering the shooting. The segment took place during a newsbreak in the middle of the February 24 edition of Red Eye, which airs at 3 a.m. on the East Coast.

Fox News Figures Have Dismissed The Importance Of Hate Crimes Aimed At People Of Color. Several Fox News figures have denied that hate crimes aimed at people of color have increased, despite reports that they have gone up in recent years. In November, host Bill O’Reilly rejected findings from the FBI on an increase in hate crimes, calling the numbers “infinitesimal.” In early 2016, The Five co-host Eric Bolling claimed that he hadn’t “heard of any” anti-Muslim hate crimes. And following the June 17, 2015, shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, SC, Fox figures repeatedly pushed the idea that the massacre was an attack on Christianity, despite the overwhelming evidence that the shooting was racially motivated. Despite Fox's attempts to minimize hate crimes, a February 15 annual report from the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of active hate groups in the United States increased for the second consecutive year "as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump." The report found that the "most dramatic" growth area was "the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups." [Media Matters, 6/19/15, 2/4/16, 11/14/16; Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/15/17; The Huffington Post, 10/22/16]

Methodology

Media Matters searched Nexis and SnapStream for mentions of "shot,” "shoot," "Purinton," "Kuchibhotla," "Madasani," "engineer," "Kansas," "Olathe," and "India" between February 23 and 26. The search included broadcast morning shows (ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and NBC’s Today), evening newscasts (ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and NBC’s Nightly News), and Sunday morning political shows (ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and CNN’s State of the Union). It also included all coverage on the cable news outlets -- CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News -- but segments were coded and timed on only their first run. Segments were coded and timed if they included a significant discussion of the shooting.

Graphs by Sarah Wasko

This piece has been updated to include an updated methodology 

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