Double Standard Of Political Accountability By Media Is Playing Out In Suffolk County

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is reportedly on a short list of names, vetted by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, recommended to serve as the US Attorney for this region. However, looming in the background is the image of DA Rollins reacting to a Channel 25 News reporter seeking an interview to follow up on a complaint filed by a female resident of Brockton, shopping in the mall, against the DA regarding a Christmas Eve incident in the South Bay Mall parking lot, while Ms. Rollins was in her official vehicle and the other party in her personal vehicle.  

As is routine in many, if not all, broadcast news organizations, a Channel 25 camera crew was dispatched to attempt to interview the DA outside her home, after first attempting to interview her at her office. In the opinion of many who have viewed the video, it appeared that DA Rollins was out of line with her reaction to the attempted interview. Notably, on the other hand, it was clear that the female reporter acted in a professional manner throughout what some observers have characterized as a bizarre episode.  

Investigators of the alleged South Bay parking lot encounter are looking for area security camera video tapes to back up either DA Rollins description of the situation or the complainant’s, who apparently had more than one witness who had observed it. Highlights of the comments made by DA Rollins to the Channel 25 reporter, captured by her camera man include statements where DA Rollins appears to threaten to “call the police and make an allegation against her (the reporter) and we’ll see how that works with you; and the rantings of a white woman (the complainant) get you here and scare my children”. The Channel 25 report, the video and public statements by the District Attorney in the aftermath of both the South Bay incident and the encounter with the reporter are easy to access and view through social media by the public.

DA Rollins situation is what it is, and Attorney General Maura Healy is now investigating the complaint and its aftermath. However, despite the video graphic, none from any of the other media outlets has followed up with an inquisitive investigation into what seemed clearly questionable behavior by an elected official, with subpoena powers no less. The question is, were the DA other than Ms. Rollins, what would the media normally do?

In any event, in part based upon DA Rollins own statements, the disturbing undertone that crept into her diatribe is at question and is the basis for this piece.

Suffice it to say that there are many citizens of the neighborhoods of Boston who eschew what they believe to be the false narrative about “Racist Boston” that has been propagated, selectively, both here in Boston and around the country. It is valid to suggest that there is a cloak of self-preservation that exists on both sides of the propagation. Ordinary hard-working citizens of color fear finding themselves in the crosshairs of their elected or anointed leaders because they are tired of being held up as victims, rendering them as submissive to the racist narrative. Ordinary hard-working white citizens fear being unjustly labeled as racist and are tired of being held up as oppressors, to perpetuate the racist narrative. The continuation of this socio-cultural divisiveness seems to only serve the agendas of those who desire to capitalize on it for their own self-serving purposes. History, since 1965, is self-explanatory.

The indisputable truth is that, over the last several decades, landmark strides have been made in improving race relations and equality in Boston. Hundreds of faith-based and multicultural cooperative programs exist to address disparities of all kinds including coalitions of black ministers, the Urban League, Diversity Dialogues, the NAACP, the YWCA, ABCD and on and on. Thousands of personal, organizational, non-profit and private foundations have made material commitments to redressing the wrongs of the past that have resulted in millions of dollars annually allocated by government entities and private donors to their respective missions.

Courageous political leadership displayed by Mayor Ray Flynn of South Boston and the Honorable Mel King of Roxbury during a critical period in the early 80’s created an atmosphere that eased tensions and brought credibility to the efforts of others seeking to improve race relations. Tens of thousands of the people of Boston, as well as the institutional leadership of Boston, both longstanding and new, pledged their resources both professional and financial. Today several organizations, guided by successful minority executives, have been funded by corporate donors and the City of Boston to stimulate wealth-building opportunities for minority businesses and entrepreneurs.

The youth of tomorrow, cliché as it sounds, surely benefited from programs addressing the core elements of positive race relations that their Colleges and Universities invested in. In 2009, MIT, for example, conducted interactive programs including ‘Diversity and Inclusion”, and established an on-campus committee on race and diversity. MIT actively promoted a diversity agenda by  creating a ‘Council on Staff Diversity’, as well as a series of Roundtables for New England Schools and Hospitals. Boston corporations and small businesses employ thousands of Boston citizens of all races, colors and creed. A recent search of companies with a diversity component uncovered no less than 107 companies in Boston alone with direct outreach to the minority population. As everyone says, more can and will be done, to be sure.

The role of teachers in the Boston Public School system cannot be overstated. Along with coaches in sports, the sports team members themselves – and on and on – all have not only pledged to reverse the narrative but have delivered daily on their pledges in ways that are difficult to quantify.

Perhaps this recitation of undeniable fact, both specific and broadly referenced, presents a reasonably accurate context for this alternative narrative. The final point of this article is this: the mainstream media, lamentably, driven only by revenue, has no incentive to lend credence to any of these references to the truth, as many thinking people see it. If it did, the rhetoric that insistently, consistently and persistently portrays Boston and its citizens as racist would have long been discredited by now.