By: Alexa Taylor

Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

On April 4th, 1968 civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. He was standing outside on the balcony of Lorraine Hotel when he was shot in the neck. He was dispatched to the hospital where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. The malicious murder behind this appalling event was James Earl Ray. James Earl Ray rented a room near King's hotel and waited in the bathtub to shoot down Dr. King. This single shot to King's neck dismantled his spinal cord and killed him. James fled the scene immediately after firing the shot, and after two months of searching, the FBI finally found him in London. Many individuals still do not know why James did this or if he was even the one to blame, but some have a prediction of what really happened.

Perspective #1 Media Portrayed

The media has taken it among themselves to convey up their own predictions of MLK's assassination. They have proposed a conspiracy that involves the government in the assassination. They have made it seem that James Earl Ray did not act alone or may have not been involved at all. Ray was a criminal; however, the media portrayed him as an unintelligent individual incapable of masterminding the assassination. A 1978 congressional committee even said there was the "likelihood" that Ray did not act alone. This is where the governments involvement comes in to action. It was said that Ray was set up by the U.S government, who hired a Mafia hit man to kill MLK. The media even quoted Dexter King and Coretta King-- Martin Luther King's son and wife-- when they spoke about how they believed the Army intelligence, CIA, and FBI were involved in King's death. However, this conspiracy was never proven because the Justice Department would not release the findings of King's re-investigation. It is said to be the most incredible cover-up of the century.

Perspective #2 Media Portrayed

Another perspective perceived by the media was that James Earl Ray acted alone in this event. Everyone wanted to believe that only a single individual was involved because this made it easier for people to move on knowing the man was behind bars. The media portrayed Ray as an evil racist who plotted against the civil rights leader in order to demolish the Civil Rights movement. They also showed how all the evidence pointed toward Ray and confirmed his involvement with the assassination.

Media Bias

The media uses bias by commission throughout the stories on MLK's assassination. They mostly use assumptions instead of actual facts to support their idea on how the government was involved. There is no actual evidence or proof that shows the governments involvement in MLK's assassination. Some media also use bias by labeling where they label James Earl Ray as a racist who only acted out of spite. Personally, I support them in these views. I think James Earl Ray was the only one involved in MLK's assassination. I agree that Ray was a racist individual trying to put an end to the Civil Rights movement. I found it hard to believe that Ray wasn't involved because he admitted to the crime. If someone was not involved in a murder, then why would they admit to it? His confession and the handful of evidence against him lead me to believe that James Earl Ray was the only individual involved in Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.

Criticism #1

Cultural criticism is present throughout the media's stories on MLK's assassination. Cultural criticism deals with criticizing different elements of culture such as religion, race, gender, or political beliefs. Martin Luther King Jr. was targeted for being African American and leading other African American in the Civil Rights movement. This shows how cultural criticism is being utilized because this specific group was being marginalized and segregated for being African American. The media used this criticism to affect the perception of the issue by perceiving MLK as a victim of racist hatred. It caused some people to change their minds about how they viewed African Americans. After MLK's assassination people finally started to stand up and fight for their rights, and eventually it helped put an end to segregation.

Criticism #2

Historical criticism is also another criticism the media utilizes in their stories about MLK's assassination. This type of criticism focuses more on the time in which something takes place. This event took place in the 1960's where segregation and racism against African Americans were present. The media was able to show the racism against King in order to affect the audience's perception. You would not see this in today's society because segregation has ended, and we are all equal today despite the differences in race, religion, or ethnicity. Historical criticism is also seen through James Earl Ray's crime. Today it wouldn't have been so easy for Ray to get away or for it to take as long to catch him. Back in that time period they did not have the advances in equipment and technology that we do today that help us capture criminals faster.


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