Media Bias Accusations Don’t Exactly Tell Whole Story


Have you heard of the Pearl River, MS shooting? An interesting meme on Facebook the other day used the incident as a way to accuse the media of bias.

It’s amusing to me how easily some people can be swayed by any argument that paints the media as being biased. But I find it sad how little research they’ll do on those claims. I saw an interesting little meme making its way around Facebook the other day, one of those familiar little graphics that accuse the media of being biased against gun owners.

This one featured white text on a black background with a photo that presumably depicts the person about whom the meme is focused. The text reads as follows:

“Ever heard of the Pearl River, MS shooting?
Probably not.

This 16-year-old kid was stopped by Asst. Principal Joel Myrick and his .45 pistol retrieved from his car.

Did the Gun-Free Zone stop this nut? Nope.

Did an armed citizen with a .45? Yep.

Will you hear this in the mainstream media? Nope.

Frankly, because I work in the media, I’ve learned that any time an accusation includes something about, “the media will never report this,” there’s a reason for that.

This case is no different.

I’ll admit it, though: if I didn’t know about that red flag, I’d definitely be curious to know why we aren’t reporting a story about a school administrator rushing in to stop a student before he could kill any classmates.

No matter how “anti-gun” you believe the media is, it’s a no-brainer that a story of a student bringing a gun to school itself would be enough to get coverage. Add to that the fact that an assistant principal rushed into the scene with a gun of his own and prevented a bloodbath and you’ve got a story that no reasonable news outlet would refuse to cover.

Therefore, there has to be more to this story than this little accusation is leading us to believe.

There always is.

I checked the news wires, wondering how we didn’t have this in that night’s newscasts. Sure enough, there was no mention of the story.

That’s odd.

So I Googled it.

And I found the whole story.

Beginning with the fact that there seems to be confusion over where this happened: though the Pearl River runs through Pearl, Mississippi, Pearl River and Pearl are two different communities. This shooting happened in Pearl, not Pearl River. So much for accuracy in reporting.

More importantly, this isn’t a breaking news story. Unless you consider “breaking news” to refer to something that happened 16 years ago. Yes, it was 1997 when that 16-year-old — who gun enthusiasts would no doubt describe as “a bad guy with a gun” — was stopped by his assistant principal, the “good guy with a gun.”

To be honest with you, off the top of my head, I can’t recall any gun related story from 1997: one that ended with fatalities or one that was brought under control before a fatality occurred.

But that part about fatalities brings up another important point: the little message, as it attempts to skewer the media for not reporting the story, fails to mention a few other pertinent facts: that 16-year-old was not stopped in the act. By the time he encountered that gun-toting assistant principal, the teen had already shot two classmates to death, wounded seven others, and had left the school and was in his car attempting to leave the campus. The assistant principal merely prevented his escape from the parking lot, a valuable act, certainly, but not an act that necessarily saved lives. points out that while some speculated that the teen, who’d started his day by killing his mother with a butcher knife then bludgeoning her before bringing his rifle to school, was next headed to a middle school to shoot more kids, no conclusive evidence was presented to confirm this once and for all.

And in comments posted to the original graphic, several claim they remember hearing about the story. One person claimed it was all over the national news at the time. I don’t recall the story specifically, but that hardly means it wasn’t covered. And at this distance, it’s not necessarily easy to find out the extent to which it was covered. I suspect that’s what the originator is, in part, counting on.

If we really want honesty, and if we really want the whole story reported, why would we want to focus on the assistant principal and make absolutely no mention of the nine students wounded by the gunman? Could it be that mentioning those facts doesn’t serve the “agenda” of the people crying “bias”?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. And when you encounter someone screaming bias, the fair thing to do, before spreading the accusations further, is to do a little research to see what the rest of the story actually is.


  1. in 1997 there was less media coverage of these “incidents” probably to keep public panic and outrage down to a minimum. Today the media is nothing but sensationalism with more ways to reach the public. As a result, we have people with their own, country destroying agendas having their say. We also have foreign countries laughing at the USA because we are tearing ourselves apart. We have removed God from our lives and government, we have not outlawed killing babies and even though killing children in a school gets the attention it is the same thing as aborting a child’s life. We
    have no clue anymore about who what or where our enemies are…I say we are our own worst enemy… First she says ” You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet” But didn’t she say she GOOGLED the story? Hmmm She said 7 wounded then later on says 7 wounded? the nine could have been ‘wounded running for cover…the focus should be on 2 dead children and the fact that the perp was stopped before causing MORE wounded or deaths…

  2. does anyone think that its possible the 16 year old had enough time to kill those 2 kids and wound 7 others if there had been metal detectors and armed guards too?   Thats what we want – protection.    Also, I’m positive the principal was not allowed to have the gun in the school (causing a clear delay from hearing the shots, to going to get your gun from the parking lot to getting back)  This is the main reason for the conceal and carry.  GUN FREE ZONES don’t work.   Does that not make a difference either ?  You wrote it yourself Patrick, by the time he got back the kid was in his car.  That won’t happen with armed guards, he wont leave the building.

  3. First, I respect your opinion that someone with a gun did not stop a criminal in action; he only caught him after the act. My thought is that no law abiding individual could have stopped him because they would not have had a firearm on school grounds.

    I do believe that the media is or at least could very easily be biased. My little bit of understanding is that there are fewer main stream media companies but they are larger. If one wanted to pursue an agenda who could dispute it? How much influence does CNN have? I read several posts from people claiming that their posts on the out come of the Democratic debate were deleted because they opposed the CNN declaration on who “won.”

    I think we skipped the information age and jumped into the misinformed age.

    Over all I believe that this violence would happen with or without firearms. Take a stick away from a kid and they will just swing something else until they are pacified. Society is getting sick and this violence is just a symptom. As the middle class dwindles I don’t see how it would improve. Not the only reason but I can understand poverty starting anger and fueling desperation.

    Stopping short before I ramble off topic too much. But basically violence is the result of other causes. Fix those causes!

    1. Fair points, Carl.

      I hadn’t heard of anyone’s comments being deleted, but I haven’t been by CNN’s Facebook page, so I wouldn’t have seen which comments might have been deleted or whether their content might have violated the comment policy (assuming they have one).

      The issue with media companies having an agenda is that for that to truly work, it means EVERYONE who’s part of the company (at least part of the company’s distribution chain that gets the info to the public) has to either have the EXACT SAME agenda, or be willing to behave AGAINST their own training and beliefs in a way that supports that agenda. I honestly think there are far more journalists out there with enough morals and who are interested in pursuing truth than the field is generally given credit for.

      I think your points about violence — by whatever means available — are quite valid. Violence does mean there are bigger problems, and I have to think the start of all of those problems begins in the home with the parents (or the absence of parenting, as the case may be. Those of us who were raised a certain way wouldn’t consider the violent acts we see more and more of. We just weren’t raised that way.

      I don’t know why that has changed, but I think that’s at least a big part of the problem.

  4. I guess I might be one of the only ones on here that’s pleased with your analysis of this meme. Just saw it maybe 20 minutes ago on Facebook and came to the same conclusion: He didn’t stop the shooting, he did stop Woodham from escaping after his car was stuck, using a gun to assure compliance. Like you, I do not know this story at all, just did very basic internet search about it to know a bit more, since some guy was making random statements in the comments section on facebook. Trying hard to focus on this individual situation and not my own opinions about the gun control debate. At first I saw it as meaning he stopped the shootings, though it doesn’t explicitly state that he did, just that he stopped him (though it appears implied the shooting was stopped, because of the brief wording in the meme). But Myrick did stop Woodham from escaping (after being stuck in the grass), so I granted that a pass because it can fit with the vague wording of the meme.
    I’d say yes, of course there is the possibility the amount of people injured would probably be less had the AP had his gun in office instead of in the vehicle. Keep swaying between does it matter though in this case or not. I guess so? Mostly because it would be an example used to decide future regulations for on-site CHL faculty. I wasn’t there, only 4 when it happened, so I don’t know the layout of the school, time and distance differences between Woodham exiting the premises and Myrick retrieving his gun, locating Woodham and confronting him. Maybe the time it took rushing to the car and back was during the same time people were injured (I’m assuming you might have slightly more info on that seeing as how you researched this subject), which would be a decent appeal for having at least one firearm available for one of the upper-level staff or former service members who are faculty and in good health.
    In regards to speculating about where he went, I’d say it’s more theorizing than speculating , since, in my opinion though, it could be reasonably assumed more injuries or murders would take place had he been able to drive away (this is where I’d support it with either examples of other shootings, which would be shot down simply by stating not everyone is the same, which would then just bring up some kind of explanation in the psychological realm of criminology). Hot air aside with nothing of substance actually being said yet, I figure it’d be pretty reasonable to think he would either A) Commit another crime, most likely murder, elsewhere, since he had already driven once after killing, maybe with the intention of just doing it until stopped or B) Might have panicked after being stuck and either went back to the school or shot himself after being caught by Myrick. Though I’d just assume that if he intended to kill himself, Myrick’s presence would have made no significance to that part and it would have happened, which because he didn’t makes me go with A or some other alternative others come up with outside of suicide by self, Myrick or cop.

    Not really sure what point I’m trying to get across anymore… It’s late :/ (3 am).

    I still don’t trust televised media and sources that lean far left. They are definitely biased. The Big 3 (abc, nbc, cbs) lost my respect for their so-called journalism when they took part in jumping the gun on condemning police officers in shootings without any facts of the situation of real investigating. To the point where it almost seems like they’re being used on purpose to stir up dissension and hatred towards police officers. Have a hard time trusting anything they say, especially with having anchors that make up false narratives or stories “in the field” and give apologies for being caught and bogus statements like how they “misremembered” an event that could not possible be “misremembered”. And now people still chanting things that were never said, because of false accounts given, or a mayor not knowing the difference between protesting and rioting and letting a city almost burn because they couldn’t handle the situation. But I definitely do digress…

    Don’t really know how I got on that tangent to make this a ridiculously long comment, which is pretty typical for me to do. I’m glad for you pointing these things out and attempting to take a realistic, unbiased review of this and acknowledge the flaws behind the meme. -Long comment officially over!

  5. So Patrick you think the media is unbias? You are “one”… So are you unbias? Do you get to report on Whatever you want any or everyday? Or are you Told what to research and report on? Also how about the way our Pres has handled the last two national attention casses… When four people were killed in a recruitment center did he call for massive gun control? Did he when the religious killer who hated Christians? Take a look at what journalism has become by googling the Conan O’Brien show parady of them ” pushing the envelope ” then get back to me…

    1. Mike, I think the GOAL of journalism is to be unbiased, or as David Brinkley once put it, (and I’m paraphrasing) to report what they genuinely believe to be true based on the information they are able to confirm.

      Mike, do keep in mind that this post was written to address a specific meme circulating across Facebook MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO that concerned a specific incident that happened SIXTEEN YEARS before that. Specifically, I was refuting the tone of the meme itself that sought to prove bias in that case.

      I have never said there is NO media bias. As with all human endeavors, there are failures. But failures, no matter how many you wish to count, do not mean that everyone in the industry sets out to produced biased reporting. I’m not sure what career field you happen to be in, but I’m sure people in your line of work do things wrong from time to time. Does that mean you’re equally in the wrong?

      As to your question about covering stories, almost no journalist gets to report “whatever they want” every day; that’s not how it works. Reporters pitch ideas and news managers discuss those ideas with regard to the impact those stories have on the community compared to newsworthy events happening in that area and then assign stories accordingly. Managers and reporters talk about angles to stories sometimes, but an angle is not a bias; it’s merely a direction from which the storytelling goes. The expectation is always that both (or more) sides will be told.

  6. And further more to show how bias media is , use the recent Frein Case in Pennsylvania. The medi posted as a terrorist killing an innocent cop and who was planning on having a mass shoot out. Well that by no means is true, Yes he was proficient with a gun but the photos they posted was from a club, not some well trained russian terrorist. Also the cop that was shot and killed was known in his community as a woman beater, alcoholic, adulterer, and a lot of his cop buddys had to of know ,but you never heard about any of that through the media. And the cop that was injured was probably at the wrong place wrong time because he could have definitely killed him too but he gave him a nonfatal shot. This was by no means a War on Cops, this was war on one very corrupt cop. I didnt get any of this information from the news, online or social media, this is all either based on logic or information was community members that knew him or the cop’s family and friends. They told the media the truth but it was never released. Media reports what will get the most uprise to government agenda and it really doesnt even have to the reports themselves but the corporation they work for

    1. Jaime, I don’t wish to pull this thread off topic, since the point of this post was about one specific meme that was circulating two years ago.

      But I’m curious: where do you get your information about the officer who was killed? Was he ever charged with assault? Was he ever convicted? How many of his cop buddies knew of these allegations? Who in the cop’s own family made these allegations against him?

  7. I also have to believe that had the weapon been on his (the asst principle) person rather than in his vehicle there is a high probability that he would have stopped the shooter before the tally got to 9 victims.
    I am of the opinion that police are just average citizens with some training and we trust them to be armed at all times. Why not allow the same for everyone else. Firearms safety and shooting proficiency is learned by most country boys by the age of ten. It’s not that difficult.

  8. The fact that the perpetrator was detained with the use of a firearm even without having to fire it speaks volumes as to how we should protect our children in our schools. I would be very inclined the think it is reasonable to conclude that if the adults in the schools were trained and packing firearms our children would certainly be safer than they are now.

  9. It’s nice how you said not to believe everything you see on the internet but your info is based on You googling the incident.
    Also I wonder if the asst principal did not have to go out top his car to retrieve his pistol would he have been able to stop the gunman earlier? I would have to yes.
    Also, from what I read from CNN, it says that the gun man didn’t go to his car tool after the asst principal confronted him.
    And lastly, you stated that you could see a good reason why this incident wasn’t reported. I seem to have missed your explanation of the reason. Could you please share that with us? I sure can’t see any reason as to why this wasn’t front page news.

    1. Surely, Jonathan, you understand that some sources are more credible than others. Many people think finding something on ONE site, whether they’ve ever even heard of that site before, is enough.

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough on my reasoning for it not being front page news, but I was actually referring to the timing of the newsworthiness of the story. This meme was circulating in 2013; the story happened in 1997. I don’t know why anyone would reasonably expect it to be front page news 16 years after it happened.

  10. There are several disturbing issues with this article, which is proffered as an honest examination of a meme that the author does not like, because he is in favor of extreme gun control, as evidenced by his writings here on the subject.

    Regarding the national scope of the coverage, all it took was a quick look at Wikipedia to find articles from People, NY Times, and CNN followed this case from the event to the outcome of the trials. So it isn’t really “not necessarily easy to find out the extent to which it was covered”. In fact, it was very easy, if the author cared about the truth. Instead, he accuses others of lying and hoping the mist of time will cover up their deception, without even the most rudimentary check to see if his accusation was in any way accurate.

    While we can never be sure what his next actions would have been, we do know that 1) the killing at the high school were not an isolated event, but the second of two horrific attacks, 2) he still had 30 rounds for the rifle he had used, and 3) there are numerous sources that indicate that he was heading to either the junior high school or the pizza parlor where he worked (try Googling “Luke Woodham junior school”), and 4) Mr. Myrick stopped him. A person with “common sense” might draw the conclusion that is was likely his rampage was not yet over and would have continued until stopped. You may wish to pretend that certainty is required, but that doesn’t seem to be the standard used by liberal journalists in other cases, such as declaring George Zimmerman a “white”, only later having to invent the term “white Hispanic” to cover their malpractice.

    And finally, it’s strange how the more liberal news sources failed to point out that the gunman wasn’t using a semi-automatic weapon, but instead had to chamber each round as he shot from his 30-30. But that didn’t fit the narrative, so that fact was excluded. But no bias, right?

  11. 1. The assistant principal was a man, not a woman. 
    2. The assistant principal was in the U.S.Army Reserve.
    3. The assistant principal got his gun out of his truck when the shooting started.
    4. The assistant principal did not shoot his gun. He used his gun to hold the suspect at bay until the police arrived.

  12. How can you say that her action of shooting him “didn’t necessarily save lives.”? Where do you think the murderer was going next?! What’s wrong with you? Your bias makes you say dumb things like that.

    1. Jim, The assistant principal did not shoot the “shooter”, but detained him until the authorities came. No one knows where the shooter was going next. Although I believe that the media is biased (according to the owner’s views), I do no think that Patrick is painting an unrealistic picture here.

      1. Well, let’s see, where is a deranged murderer with a gun, who just killed two students, going next? Hmm…answer. WHO THE F CARES. Maybe he was going to the movies. Maybe he was going home. Maybe he was going to go murder MORE KIDS, who knows? Where he was going is not the point. The point is he was a murderer, who just killed, and was armed, and on his way SOMEWHERE. Just because an act hasn’t happened yet does not remove the ABSOLUTE POTENTIAL for the act to occur.

        1. Bob, with respect, I was responding to someone else. You are correct that we DON’T KNOW what he might have done next and that the potential was there.

          But that was my point as well. To suggest he definitely would have moved to a second location to commit more murders is speculation. It doesn’t always happen that way.

          1. Actually Patrick, I think you missed Bob’s point completely. His point was it doesn’t matter where he was going. The kid was a murderer and needed to be stopped right then and there, whether he was going to kill more, or just going to get a milkshake from the Sonic down the road, and that’s exactly what the principal did.
            I see your point about it being so long ago, and it’s hard to remember how much coverage it got, but it’s not hard to smell the bias that you and the media reek of in this article and moreso in your comments.
            Leading in, with “Bob, with (condescending) respect, I was responding to someone else”, in an open forum (your site or not), doesn’t help your case.

            1. Al, it was not my intention to be disrespectful to Bob. I don’t know that I can say the same about your intent towards me.

              I agree with you (and Bob) that the kid needed to be stopped right then and there. I don’t know anyone who would possibly argue that point.

Comments are closed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.