I remember the summer of 2011, a story about a crowd of teenagers at the Wisconsin State Fair randomly attacking fairgoers went viral as a sign of a burgeoning race war. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fanned the flames, calling the teenagers "rampaging youths" who caused "mob-like disturbances":
"Then around the closing time of 11 p.m., witnesses told the Journal Sentinel, dozens to hundreds of Black youths attacked White people as they left the fair, punching and kicking people and shaking and pounding on their vehicles."
"Dozens to hundreds"? When witnesses can't differentiate between 24 and 100, should we really rely on them to speculate whether a crime was racially motivated? One of the reasons the story gained so much traction could have stemmed from the fact that Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the country, and it validated White residents' fear that their Black neighbors are dangerous.
Now, the false trend story of Black mob violence has cropped up again, as it seems to do annually, in conservative media outlets. (McKay Coppins wrote about this phenomenon in BuzzFeed last year.) The new scare is the "knockout game," in which Black youths supposedly attack innocent people just for fun. Conservative pundits decry the MSM for suffering from political correctness and whitewashing crimes perpetrated by Black people, but a more reasonable explanation for why most media outlets aren't devoting round-the-clock coverage to the knockout game is that—sorry, Sean Hannity—there is no hard data showing that it's a trend.
An important clarification: the game definitely exists, and has been around for at least a couple of years. I'm not claiming the game doesn't exist. But the idea that it's reached epidemic levels, or that it's only being played by young Black people, is a fallacy