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Media blasted for referring to Waukesha parade attack as ‘crash’


Several people have questioned the recent media decision to refer to a man allegedly driving through a crowd of people in Waukesha as a « crash. »

Suspect Darrell Brooks was charged last week with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly plowing his SUV through crowds of Christmas parade goers, according to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office. After a sixth child victim was reported, prosecutions announced more charges that are currently pending.

Dozens of injuries have also been reported from the scene.

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When CBS and CBS reporter David Begnaud reported the charges, however, many were struck by how the broadcast station referred to his alleged act as a « crash. »

Police and emergency responders gather after a vehicle plowed through the Christmas Parade, leaving multiple people injured in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S. November 21, 2021. Scott Ash-USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS
((left image) Scott Ash-USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS)

Although most of the backlash emerged after CBS’ report on the charges, many other mainstream media outlets also notably referred to the events on Sunday as a « crash. »

PBS previously wrote « Waukesha parade crash devastates holiday favorites ‘Dancing Grannies.’ » USA Today repeatedly wrote about the « Waukesha parade crash » going so far as to label Brooks as the « Waukesha parade crash suspect. » Newsweek also updated news on the tragedy under the banner « Waukesha Deadly Christmas Parade Crash. »

This reference to the Waukesha tragedy as a « crash » continued even after Brooks was formally charged with intentional homicide.

NPR reported on Brooks’ hearing with the headline, « Man charged for Waukesha parade crash made 1st court appearance. »

Media blasted for referring to Waukesha parade attack as ‘crash’

WAUKESHA, WI – NOVEMBER 22: People hold candles during a vigil in Cutler Park on November 22, 2021 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Five people were killed and several injured after Darrell Brooks, Jr. drove an SUV through a holiday parade route on November 21st. The vigil is being held at Cutler Park, near the crime scene, to honor the victims. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)
(Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

CNN wrote about the charges in an article titled « A sixth victim has died after the deadly Waukesha Christmas parade crash, prosecutors say. » HuffPo’s coverage read « Suspect In Deadly Waukesha Parade Crash Charged With Intentional Homicide. » The Associated Press also wrote, « Child is 6th death in Waukesha parade crash; suspect charged. »

The pattern continued with ABC, Yahoo, and Time Magazine all referring to the horrific incident, even after Brooks’ charges were announced, as a « crash. »

On Twitter, Politico White House Bureau Chief Jonathan Lemire quoted the Associated Press: « Prosecutor: 6th person, a child, has died in deadly Wisconsin parade crash. »

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman also promoted both Lemire’s and Begnaud’s tweets on her account.

Although police officers have ruled out the tragedy being an act of domestic terrorism, investigators have not yet attributed a motive to Brooks’ actions. Early reports claimed that Brooks was fleeing a crime scene, but Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson stated there was no police chase against Brooks at the time.

Prosecutors have also announced an investigation into Brooks’ previous jail release earlier this month on $1000 bail after a woman accused him of running over her with his car. Brooks was also released from jail in February on $500 bail for allegedly shooting his nephew.

Multiple people have since criticized the bail recommendation that led to Brooks returning to the streets despite a lengthy rap sheet.

Media blasted for referring to Waukesha parade attack as ‘crash’

« The state’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks, » District Attorney John Chisholm’s office said in a statement. « The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime. »

Cash bail has been set for Darrell Brooks at $5 million with a hearing scheduled for Jan. 14.

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