Attention Publicity-Hungry Murderers: Find a Tall Building

If you are intent on mass mayhem, and want to maximize the media coverage, head for a tall building. Bin Laden and his cronies knew that, and so, it may be, did Jeffrey Johnson, who shot and killed a former colleague near the Empire State Building the other day.

After shooting his victim in the chest and head, Johnson crossed the street, where he is said to have pulled his gun on a couple of New York City policemen who confronted him, and was fatally shot.

Somehow eight other people were injured by bullets alongside the city’s tallest building, which had regained that distinction, alas, on September 11, 2001.
The early reports seem to indicate that at least some of those collateral victims, and perhaps all, were hit by stray bullets fired by the cops. Johnson evidently did not have enough cartridges in his gun to wound that many people, and preliminary accounts seem to indicate that he may not have gotten off any shots at all in his brief encounter with New York’s finest.

The shootings have received blanket coverage in the media, naturally, but one is tempted to wonder how much attention they would have received if the exact same events had occurred on a sidewalk alongside one of the projects in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, an area made up mostly of poor, black residents.

To  TV viewers in small-town America, those projects might seem fairly tall, but they certainly are not in a class with the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

With one innocent victim killed, and the shooter shot dead, and several other injuries that don’t seem to have been terribly serious – and with all the victims black – most of the media probably would have taken a pass. Just another one of those days in Brownsville. Put it on page eight.

There is a lesson to be learned here by the hoodlums of Chicago, the ones who have lately turned President Obama’s hometown – the town renowned for its “Chicago values” – into the murder capital of the United States.

On some weekends, several dozen blacks in the ghetto are killed by other ghetto blacks. These scenes of horror and tragedy make the Empire State Building incident look like a communion breakfast – don’t you just love trite metaphors like that?  — yet the media are reluctant to give them much coverage.

A half-century ago, when I entered the newspaper business, the assignment editors on the city desk used to distinguish between black-on-black crimes and crimes involving important people, meaning whites. They would play up the latter and pretty much ignore the former. Nothing much has changed in the news business, it seems.

If I may be so bold as to offer advice to the murderers and prospective murderers of Chicago, why not take the slaughter downtown, the way Al Capone and his boys used to do?  That way your murderous deeds will get more than just passing attention from the media.

Get yourself a copy of the 2012 World Almanac. Maybe you can boost one from the corner drugstore after shooting the proprietor. Turn to page 719, where you will find a list of more than one hundred Chicago skyscrapers, topped by the Sears Tower (pictured).
If you kill one or more people outside a downtown skyscraper, and maybe wound a few more, and if – this is crucially important — you include whites among the victims, you should make it to prime time.

Author Bio:

Arthur Louis spent more than forty years as a print journalist, with the Philadelphia Inquirer, McGraw-Hill, Fortune magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, but he is not asking for sympathy. He is the author of two non-fiction books: The Tycoons, and Journalism and Other Atrocities, as well as a novel, The Little Champ. In retirement, he has decided unilaterally that he is a profound political pundit.
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  • therealguyfaux

    Actually, what is sad is that the Empire State Building only incidentally figures into the story. Here’s a “workplace revenge” killing, of a kind which the MSM have covered (and not just ones with Postal workers), which killing appears to have been methodically planned and carried out with no intent to harm anyone else in the actual commission– the typical malice aforethought murder, you might say. Sadly, nothing remarkable there. Add in location (across from a landmark), a casualty toll (not blaming NYPD, just stating objective fact), and recent events (Denver, Milwaukee), and you have a recipe for Headless Chicken coverage by media outlets who are oh-so-eager to scream “Terrorism!” “Gun Culture!” “Copycat Effect!” When the facts emerged, you could feel almost a palpable sense of disappointment on the part of MSM that this wasn’t Breivik redux, the way they dumped out of the story so fast! Another example of a great handwringing what-does-this-tell-us-about-our-miserable-society opportunity mugged by the facts.

    • Artlouis

      Thanks for your perceptive comment.

  • CCNV

    Mr. Louis,

    Chicago is the armpit of the Midwest. Growing up in an adjacent state, I remember hearing the stories of murder, corruption and Mayor Daly’s shenanigans. As a kid one could only wonder how such things could happen and imagine how scary a place called ‘Chicago’ was. (Heck, even Bozo the Clown seemed a little sketchy.) Here we are 40 years later, and the only things that have changed are the players. I guess it’s true, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

    • Artlouis

      Terrible place, except for one section by the lake. Do we blame Capone?