The media will be much louder telling stories of racist hate crimes than untelling them.

Fox4kc is reporting that a disgruntled employee of the Concord Fortress of Hope Church in south Kansas City is in custody on suspicion of his involvement in the vandalism of the church. As Fox4kc’s Mark Alford reported Monday morning, “Originally this came out as a hate crime. Turns out it may not be a hate crime at all.”

“There is no doubt that someone spray painted vile graffiti on the exterior of Concord Fortress of Hope Church,” the Sentinel reported Sunday, “but what would make it “racist” is not the images themselves–KKK, a swastika, racial slurs–but the intent of the vandals.” This morning an ATF agent was telling fox4kc pretty much the same thing.

The Sentinel article was headlined, “Media, Please Wait Before Denouncing KC Church Vandalism As ‘Racist.’” Despite hundreds of recent cases of fake hate crimes, the local media competed with each other to see who could cry “racism” the loudest.

Deep in the Star article on the vandalism there were some quiet caveats from the ATF about motive, but they were drowned out by the larger message as prominently captured in a tweet by churchgoer and City Councilman Quinton Lucas, “Racist Vandals and arsonists not slowing down 8 a.m. service @concordhope church.”

KCTV-5 headlined its story, “Vandals spray paint racial slurs on KC church, set fire.”

KSHB headlined its story, “Vandals spray paint racist symbols on local church, set fire inside.”

The Associated Press headline read, “Racist graffiti found at Kansas City church.”

In no story does the reporter suggest that the “vandals” might have had some other motive than “hate” to deface the church. This would be understandable if fake hate crimes were rare, but they are not. In the age of Trump, there seem to be more fake hate crimes than real ones. The political provocateurs, the confused, and the disgruntled have all played a role. The net effect of this is to create needless fear and distrust among minority populations.

For some in the media, that is exactly the point.

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