The “dark white” is an apparent sendup of how the media, paralyzed beyond sense by PC culture, refuses to identify black people as “black” and hurting liberal fee-fees. Which is idiotic, of course, because accompanying pictures of Stephen illustrate beyond a doubt that he’s a man of color. Nonetheless, searching “dark white skin” on Twitter shows dozens of users who believe that the media is somehow “covering up” his race or using sanitized language when identifying Stephens. Bizarrely, a few users are tweeting that CNN described Stephens as having “dark white skin,” though even the ‘shopped version clearly has “Fox 8" displayed in the corner.


Misinformation spreads quickly. The fact that an altered image of a Fox broadcast was so easily conflated with an unrelated CNN broadcast demonstrates both widespread media distrust and rock bottom media literacy. More perniciously, the incident shows how bigots can use tragedy as currency for their own moronic points about media sensitivity and PC culture. A remorseless killer still hasn’t been apprehended, but some people would rather complain about CNN’s word choice.

This, however, is one of the dangers of using crowdsourcing tactics during manhunts. Involving the public also means involving public prejudices and creates an opportunity for those hoping to twist both to their own ends. More and more often, innocent people are getting caught up in viral hoaxes to make them look like terror suspects. There’s little to be gained from this other than propagating racist misconceptions and sowing distrust in the media. Both, it seems, are spreading faster than ever.