COLUMN: Mainstream Media Can’t Be Trusted to Report on ‘Cop City’ Shooting

The following column is an opinion piece and reflects only the views of the author. 

The mainstream media cannot be trusted to report on last Wednesday’s shooting at the proposed ‘Cop City’ location in Atlanta. 

The mainstream media is the very one that did such an impeccable job reporting on the Rayshard Brooks shooting in Atlanta in 2020 – where they made assertions in absolutes before body camera footage was even released and before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation even had a chance to investigate. The media that villainized Atlanta Police Officers who were nothing but courteous and, quite frankly, waited too long to act against Brooks. The media that destroyed the careers of those two police officers and put their lives and that of their families in danger. The media that facilitated a ‘trial by public opinion’ instead of one within the confines of the law. 

Now, that same mainstream media wants us to believe headlines like Assassinated in cold blood’: activist killed protesting Georgia’s Cop City and “Cops Say Slain Atlanta Forest Protester Shot First. Activists Aren’t So Sure” are appropriate. In fact, The Guardian article states that several activists reported what they believe they heard to a single activist and the single activist was the source for what The Guardian reported. That’s not how this is supposed to work.

Without any factual basis, they want to raise doubt in the minds of readers and suggest that ‘multiple Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol’ just opened fire on a random, unarmed guy there to protest the tearing down of trees whilst the group sang Kumbaya. 

Never mind that in August 2022, even the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the ‘Far-left activists’ and their extreme tactics, though, hilariously, the title was later changed to refer to them as ‘Forest defenders.’ Nevertheless, the article states activists claim ‘vandalism’ and ‘violence’ were justified to halt the training center.

Image of SEO/google result of original title published by AJC

Never mind that a search at the campsite of the activists after the shooting revealed mortar-style fireworks, edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch. However, it is unreasonable, by the mainstream media’s presentation, to believe that someone also had a gun. 

Never mind that a gun was actually found in what the GBI has said was the possession of the now-deceased, Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

Never mind that the ballistics from that gun match the wound on the hospitalized Trooper, whose injuries, by the way, continue to go largely unacknowledged by activists, other than the view who claim he was shot by his own gun. Folks, this isn’t the Effingham County Courthouse. If the Trooper shot himself, we would know by now.

And the real humdinger — we’re supposed to believe the protestors were all SO PEACEFUL that on Saturday, 4 days after the shooting, they showed up *again,* with masks fully covering their faces, and broken windows, torched a police car (for an entirely different agency), and damaged private businesses. Sure, Jan. Everyone is so quick to point out that these violent protests aren’t from Georgia. Okay, and? Neither was the guy who supposedly brandished a weapon, refused to follow commands, and reportedly fired a weapon at a Trooper. 

The leader of the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement said on CNN, ‘Why are we even talking about a few windows really, when we should be focused on the life of (Teran) and what he stood for.’

It sounds to me, and most reasonable people, like what the activist stood for was vandalism, violence, and whatever means necessary to ‘Defend the Forest.’ And unlike the speculation about what might have happened coming from all of the traditional media outlets, the conclusions we can make about the activists come from their own words. 

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.' Sign up for her weekly newsletter:

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