I was disappointed by the Aug. 17 front-page article “ Two lives intersected ,” regarding the two central players in a shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
The outrageous reporting in The Post was consistent with the media dropping the ball in covering these events. The reporters clearly sought to present a contrast between Michael Brown and police Officer Darren Wilson. Brown was described as a “mild-mannered,” kind person, while Wilson was described as the product of a troubled home. We have been told that the allegation that Brown committed a strong-arm robbery was irrelevant to the shooting that occurred minutes later. Yet The Post devoted space to the criminal history of Wilson’s mother and the facts that he is blond, has a swimming pool and is recently divorced. How was that relevant? It would be equally irrelevant to report whether any member of Brown’s family had engaged in criminal activity.
We need to let the investigation of Brown’s shooting proceed and allow the facts to inform what the media report. The investigation will show what role, if any, the robbery played in the shooting. The investigation will tell us whether an altercation ensued subsequent to the initial contact, how many shots were fired and at what point. If the facts reveal that Wilson behaved criminally, then he should be prosecuted. But the facts may reveal another story.
This is a tragedy for Brown, Wilson and the community. The events in Ferguson illustrate that we need to look seriously at how law enforcement officers engage with the communities they are entrusted to protect. But the looting of stores and destruction of property only distract from the message of the peaceful protests. When we look back at this, we should seriously consider what role the media played in inflaming an already volatile environment.
John Cohen, Germantown
The writer is former principal deputy coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of Homeland Security.