By Greg Tomlin, producer of the Michael Medved Show
As I read Michael Bennett’s account of his run-in with the Las Vegas Police Department, which allegedly involved racial profiling and excessive force — one thought couldn’t escape me: no matter how sincere, how heartfelt, how descriptive his distressing story was, I needed to refrain from casting judgment after hearing just one side to a story.
Due process is a bedrock of American jurisprudence, yet this seems to have been forgotten in the age of social media where forbearance takes a back seat to impetuousness. Take Twitter for example, Bennett’s tweet about the incident, as of this writing, has garnered over 375,000 “likes” — a massive number. As his story went viral, teammates and head coach Pete Carol rushed to his side. Carol said the Seahawks “stand in support” of Bennett after this “horrendous incident.”
Predictably, Colin Kaepernick, now famous for his refusal to stand for the National Anthem, said, “This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust. I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.” Even hip-hop artist and actor, Common, joined in the chorus, saying “#BlackLivesMatter: I stand with Michael Bennett. And I stand with the people. We’re in this together brother.”
What’s troubling is that all of this reaction came before the LVPD had been given a chance to describe their side of the story. Shouldn’t this be an obvious consideration before making such swift judgments? It very well could be that Bennett was roughed up by police and unjustly treated, but all of the evidence and eyewitness testimony must be taken into account in order to gain a comprehensive view.
As it happens, when Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, a 25-year veteran of the police force, held a live press conference to explain the LVPD’s version of the story, the tweet (featuring his presser) garnered a mere 141 “likes.” The disparity in favorability between Bennett’s tweet and the LVPD tweet speaks volumes. This is yet another illustration of our slow descent into mob rule becoming the order of the day.
Bennett, Kaepernick, and dozens of NFL players around the league have been refusing to honor the American flag before games because of alleged oppression and unjust treatment of minorities at the hands of the police. It is clear that they have seized this incident as an opportunity to build support and credibility for their protests — even if it means undermining the legal process. Fueled by confirmation bias, they are quick to affirm and circulate a story that corresponds to their preconceived notions, rather than taking the time to consider the totality of what happened.