ESPN should stop Mark Jones from lying about Jacob Blake case
ESPN needs to address the inflammatory lie announcer Mark Jones told on air on Wednesday.
Jones was the play-by-play announcer for the network’s coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game. The network rejoined the game with a tribute to Elgin Baylor, noting the late Hall of Famer’s civil rights-related actions. They tied it together with the Bucks’ actions last year in response to the Jacob Blake shooting.
While talking about the Blake case, Jones stated that Blake was “of course unarmed and shot seven times.”
Jones, who expressed anti-police statements in September, shared a blatant falsehood. Police stated at the time of the incident last year that Blake had a knife. Blake also admitted in a January interview that he was armed with a knife prior to being shot.
“I realized I had dropped my knife, had a little pocket knife. So I picked it up after I got off of him because they tased me and I fell on top of him,” Blake said in an interview that aired in January.
The police officers involved in the shooting were not charged by the Kenosha County district attorney. The district attorney determined the officers were acting in self-defense against an armed man who was resisting arrest. Prior to being shot seven times, Blake was Tased by police multiple times and fought with them on the ground. He picked up a knife off the ground and was going towards his car when he was shot. The incident, which was captured on video and shared over social media, inflamed racial tensions and led to riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
As a major outlet with an audience of millions, ESPN has an obligation to provide factual information to its audience. Allowing an announcer to share a lie about such a sensitive story that involves a tense, racial issue is unacceptable, especially given the influence it could have on their viewers. If they are going to integrate sensitive racial issues into their content as much as they have over the past year, they need to demand accuracy from their employees, and correct the record when significant errors are made.