Mayor Nutter showed up on CNN’s new program The 11th Hour to chat with anchor Don Lemon (not an old person, despite the name) about the possible existence of the “Knockout Game.” Lemon asked him if the game — rumors of which has people in Philly spooked — was real. Nutter said, that like many of us, he didn’t know the answer.
City Paper’s Dan Denvir, who flagged this story, is befuddled that Nutter would “[hype] a Knockout Game that no one has confirmed actually exists in Philadelphia.” Two thoughts. One, Nutter hardly seems to be hyping it in this appearance, making the precise point that he doesn’t want to hype it, saying “you have to walk that fine balance between giving something too much attention versus ignoring it.” Which leads us to point number two.
Whether it is a nationwide ‘game’ or a couple isolated incidents, a couple people died in Syracuse died this year after getting sucker-punched, apparently for no reason. And as Nutter said, “unfortunately people have been assaulted in Philadelphia” in a similar fashion. As Stephen Silver pointed out in a smart opinion piece, it’s likely that this stuff has been going on forever, and that smartphones have made the attacks seem like a recent trend. But to blithely chalk up coverage of these sort of assault up to a press corps eager to traffic in racist tropes about the threat of black-on-white crime, as many progressive journalists have done, is not necessarily doing justice to those that have been on the receiving end of a random punch. Sure, there have been some laughably overhyped reports. But that doesn’t mean a mayor can’t be concerned about bored teenagers assaulting people for no reason.