Ok, it’s time to call out some shoddy journalism.
Brian Hickey of PhillyVOICE put out a piece telling the story of Philadelphia Police officer Hung Nguyen and a photo that supposedly was on the officer’s Facebook page which shows him in an Instagram-like filter with a fake wig and splotchy blackface.
The trouble with the photo is that Hickey, FOX29 nor HotAir.com who all ran the story did any sourcing on the photograph.
Philadelphia Magazine journalist Ernest Owens did some digging. It appears the photo along with two others are on the Facebook page of a man named Andre Boyer, a former Philadelphia Police officer who was forced out of the department and runs a personal Facebook page he calls “Serpico News”.
The photo has been hyped-up by Asa Khalif, an activist who has tried to market himself as Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania even though the BLM Network and local civil rights organizations have publicly distanced themselves from Khalif.
Yours truly decided to reach out to Hickey and to Bob McGovern, editor of PhillyVOICE to see whether or not Hickey had independently verified that the picture appeared on Nguyen’s Facebook page and whether it appeared in their eyes to have been authentically posted by the police officer. Further, Hickey’s story mentions other activists who also noticed the Facebook photo posting but does not mention their names. Hickey has not responded, but editor Bob McGovern indicated that they received a similar screenshot from another person and decided to run the story emphasizing that there is a police investigation, promising to follow-up after the Philadelphia Police finish their investigation.
Since Ernest Owens wrote that he could not independently verify the photo for himself, Khalif has taken to making personal attacks against Owens on his Facebook page. Khalif has not provided any further screenshots or more fuller screenshots than the pictures that appear on Boyer’s Facebook page, none of which include the border chrome and formatting consistent with a social media screenshot.
Folks… while a blackface controversy within the Philadelphia Police Department sounds enticing and very prone to generate outrage and lots of social media clicks—there’s also a very good possibility that this controversy is not real since nothing about this story has validated information and the journalists who have been publicizing it failed to do their duty to investigate it for themselves to make sure it was valid before running with it.
We will know later after Police Commissioner Ross’s investigation whether this story has merit, but for the time being it looks like our local news media organizations are letting us down.
Here’s a clip from the PhillyVOICE article.