Media ignorance on mass shooters with military service
July 13, 2016 Share

Media ignorance on mass shooters with military service

Featured image: The national media over exaggerated Micah Johnson’s (left) military training, much the same as in 2013 when Christopher Dorner (right) cowardly gunned down police officers and civilians in Los Angeles.


By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

tyler@southerntorch.com

In the event of every mass shooting, the pundits and anchors on the national media networks are quick to point out that they don’t want to sensationalize a monster. Some refrain from even using their name, which is largely symbolic, given that other outlets will use it incessantly.

But when the alleged shooter has a military background, the national media seems to unintentionally glorify these individuals. In the coverage of last week’s shooting of Dallas police officers, we heard words or phrases such as, “sniper” or “highly-trained.” In the military world, confirmed shooter Micah Xavier Johnson was neither one of those things.

Johnson had served in the United States Army, where each soldier, no matter what job description, is basically trained on how to use the M4/M16. The training consists of how to load and maintain the weapon, clear malfunctions, and engage targets from 25 to 300 meters. After this initial training, jobs titles that aren’t focused on combat do little tactical training, aside from occasionally training for self defense.

Johnson served as a carpentry and masonry specialist. While no doubt the U.S. Army has probably the best construction engineers in the world, such a job description is not focused on combat or tactics. Unless he sought private training after his military service, his combat skill level would have amounted to a carpenter that knows the basic functions of a M16. It’s been reported that Johnson used an AK47 variant, which handles much differently than the M16.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a killer with prior military service, but no combat experience or tactical experience, portrayed as a Jason Bourne type character in the media. In 2013, recently terminated Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner went on a murderous rampage, killing four civilians and police officers, as well as wounding many others.

In an online manifesto, Dorner cited racism and his termination from the LAPD as reasons for his rampage. Dorner served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, where he served as security for a naval air station and did one deployment to Bahrain. While Dorner served as a naval diver and probably received more weapons training than Johnson, his combat training doesn’t amount to the “one man army” the media portrayed.

Probably most disturbing is the media’s mentions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in their reporting. We’ve all heard it from at least one outlet during each of these events. It was even mentioned in the 2013 Washington Naval Yard shooting, when Aaron Alexis took out his anger on his fellow employees; killing 12 and wounding three others. Alexis had served as an electrician in the navy. A little research (in the basic job description of any journalist) by any of these outlets would have shown that Alexis, like Dorner and Johnson, had no real combat experience in order to develop PTSD.

Pundits and journalists in the mainstream media are quick to document stories of racial profiling, stereotypes, and injustices in our society. While they focus so much reporting on these issues, when it comes to veterans, the media jumps to every negative stereotype imaginable at the mere mention of prior military service. Not only do they promote the image of the crazed veteran on a flashback rampage, they also over-exaggerate the tactical training of the perpetrator. Many mass shooters seek glorification, and the media readily hands it to them by portraying a carpenter or electrician as John Rambo.

The truth is, a mentally deranged eight year old who took the few minutes to learn to fire an AR 15 could easily ambush uniformed police officers while on the street. It doesn’t take tactical training or experience; it only takes enough evil to pull the trigger. The media seems to get its inspiration more from Hollywood than the real world. Ambushing and killing people who are just out doing their job is cowardly; plain and simple. The coverage gives those who might be considering doing something evil more incentive. Usually, these killers live in a state of grandiose delusion, and want to be seen as some kind of super-soldier on a mission. Media ignorance gives them the opportunity to make those delusions a reality.

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