BREAKING: We're off on a mission of national import!

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015

Also, Gail Collins knows script:
We've been called away from our desks on a mission of national import. No posts are expected today.

In our absence, please accept this required script-read from the high columnist Collins:
COLLINS (4/16/15): Hillary Clinton is off and running and thinking about you all the time, everyday American. Right now she’s probably in her van, someplace on the Interstate highway system, wondering how you’re doing.

[...]

But what does it all mean for you? How are you going to come up with an opinion about a campaign where the first-day highlight was taken off the security camera at an Ohio Chipotle? Plus, when it comes to issues, she’s been a little ... vague.
In accordance with hard pundit law, they’ve all been required to say it.

Along those lines, have you heard that absolutely nothing has worked in the nation’s public schools? That assertion is mandated too.


Supplemental: Nothing has worked in our public schools!

THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015

The false claim that brings us together:
Earlier in the week, we mentioned a deeply unfortunate fact about our bizarre public discourse.

Whether from the pseudo-left, pseudo-right or corporate elite, absolutely everyone loves to run down the public schools.

Different groups offer different explanations as to why our public schools are so bad. But nothing has worked in our public schools! It’s the false fact we all can agree on!

According to our most reliable data, this widely-voiced “fact” is bogus. Today, we thought we’d show you what this gloom-and-doom looks like when it comes from the academic center left.

Last week, Professor Zelizer was dishing the gloom in The Atlantic. The Princeton professor’s gloomy thoughts appeared beneath these headlines:
How Education Policy Went Astray
Half a century ago, President Johnson signed a law—now known as No Child Left Behind—that he believed would solve inequality. But achievement gaps have only grown.
Please understand—Professor Zelizer isn’t an education specialist. But everyone knows how to dish the gloom about the public schools. By now, this communal activity has replaced baseball as the national pastime.

Zelizer, an LBJ specialist, was wringing his hands about the way Johnson’s good intentions failed with regard to the public schools. This chunk provides an overview of the professor’s misleading presentation:
ZELIZER (4/10/15): Fifty years ago, on April 11, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson went back to his old schoolhouse next to the Pedernales River in Stonewall, Texas, to sign the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the ESEA. Kate Deadrich Loney, one of Johnson’s former schoolteachers, sat beside him, as did a group of Mexican Americans who were students of the president when he worked as a teacher.

The legislation constituted a huge expansion in the role of the federal government in the classroom, an area of public policy that had traditionally been left to state and local governments. At the heart of the legislation was Title I, the section of the program that earmarked federal funding for poor children—a provision that is still in effect today and whose parameters continue to figure as a perennial subject of debate in Congress. The section stipulated the distribution of funds to state education departments, which then allocated the money to school districts with the highest concentration of low-income children. "By passing this bill," Johnson said upon signing the legislation, "we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than 5 million educationally deprived children." And this was one of several measures passed that year that aimed to provide better education: Head Start, for example, offered preschool programs for low-income families, while the Higher Education Act set aside federal funding to support aspiring college students.

But the president did not end up accomplishing his goal. Despite the hundreds of millions of federal dollars spent, the widespread challenges faced by children from low-income families in America remain extraordinarily difficult to tackle as they continue to struggle with vastly inadequate educational opportunities. Schools remain underfunded and poorly staffed. The quality of education is often poor, and their teachers are typically overburdened as they deal with the broader range of environmental factors that take a toll on student achievement. Since 2001, the government’s tendency toward focusing on the creation of national standards to measure school achievement, rather than the provision of resources, has also had negative consequences. The high-school dropout rate for children from lower-income families is much higher than it is for wealthier students. In 2012, The New York Times reported that since the 1960s the gap in standardized test scores between kids from lower- and higher-income families had risen by 40 percent.
Shorter Zelizer:

Johnson wanted to help low-income kids, but the president failed. The gap between kids from lower- and higher-income kids is much higher today than it was in Johnson's time!

In fact, low-income kids are scoring much higher in reading and math than they were in the 1960s. So are black and Hispanic kids. Surely, no one would ever get that idea from reading the gloomy professor.

In the passage we’ve shown you, Zelizer bases his gloomy portrait on a 2012 report in the New York Times. On a narrow technical basis, that report from the Times may well be true. (The data are hard to check.)

Here's the background:

According to Stanford professor Sean Reardon, the gap between kids from lower- and higher-income families really has grown by 40 percent. That’s the research the Times was citing in 2012.

But Reardon is talking about a special class of “higher-income” kids. he's talking about kids from the 90th percentile by family income—kids who are border-line wealthy.

Reardon was comparing those kids to kids from the 10th percentile by income, kids who are living in poverty. That is a very specialized comparison.

Reardon discussed his own research in the Times in April 2013. When he did, he stressed the fact that everyone is doing better today, including low-income kids.

In his culturally mandated gloom, the Princeton professor wiped away the essence of what Reardon said. This is a very brief excerpt:
REARDON (4/27/13): Before we can figure out what's happening here, let's dispel a few myths.

The income gap in academic achievement is not growing because the test scores of poor students are dropping or because our schools are in decline.
In fact, average test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the so-called Nation's Report Card, have been rising—substantially in math and very slowly in reading—since the 1970s. The average 9-year-old today has math skills equal to those her parents had at age 11, a two-year improvement in a single generation. The gains are not as large in reading and they are not as large for older students, but there is no evidence that average test scores have declined over the last three decades for any age or economic group.
In his lengthy report, Reardon paints a complex picture of a trend in which kids at the 90th percentile by income are strongly outpacing their peers from both lower- and middle-income families. The growing gap stems from vastly higher achievement by the kids who are truly well-off, a phenomenon Reardon attributes to the growing investments such familiars are now able to make in their kids’ out-of-school educational experiences.

That said, all groups are scoring much better on the NAEP than they were in the past. As Reardon put it, “the average 9-year-old today has math skills equal to those her parents had at age 11.”

That’s a reference to the average child. But lower-scoring kids are strongly outperforming their counterparts from the past too. Scores by black and Hispanic kids are way up in the years since President Johnson made his historic efforts.

Reardon sketched a complex picture in his lengthy piece for the Times. Zelizer dressed it the mandated way, draping it in gloom.

Nothing has worked in our public schools! It’s the one (bogus) message which “brings us together,” to borrow an old Nixon line.

NO FAVORITE EXAMPLE LEFT BEHIND: Other examples discarded, ignored!

THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015

Part 4—The imperfect death of John Geer:
Last night, Tavis Smiley guested on The O’Reilly Factor. The progressive PBS host was appearing in support of his new book about Maya Angelou.

Smiley continued the conversation he had with Sean Hannity last Thursday night. Along the way, he expanded his earlier statements about police shootings and race.

Below, you see the exchange which ended last night’s session. Smiley said he doesn’t believe that policed agencies are “targeting” young black men. He also said that police mistreat “far more” whites than blacks. Beyond that, he may have endorsed a certain statistic O’Reilly had cited earlier.

We can’t speak to the perfect accuracy of any of these judgments. But for starters, here’s what was said:
O'REILLY (4/15/15): Let me ask you one more question here. Do you believe that police agencies around the agency are targeting young black men to hurt them?

SMILEY: I do not. Here’s what I do believe—

O'REILLY: OK.

SMILEY: I do not. We agree. But here’s what I do believe. What I do believe is that, too often in these conversations, you and others suggest, every time one of these incidents happens, that it's an isolated incident. My question to you, Bill O'Reilly, is how many isolated incidents equal a pattern?

O'REILLY: I can't answer the question. I can only give you—

SMILEY: Now you’re dodging, right? Now you're dodging!

O'REILLY: No, because it's an impossible— I'm not dodging. It’s an impossible question to answer with any certainty. All I can do is give you the statistics. And in 2013, I believe it is—might be 2012—it was like 135 black men killed by police. There is 1.2 million police in the country. So I wouldn't say that's a pattern, Tavis.

Last word.

SMILEY: Which makes my point. When you try to tell black people, every time one of these incidents happens and another precious young life is lost, that it's just an isolated incident, that’s offensive, number one. But number two—

O'REILLY: If the numbers aren't there to support the pattern, you got to say it.

SMILEY: I agree. I agreed with your facts earlier. There are far more white people maimed by cops every day in this country than black people. This is why this ought to be a concern for all Americans. Not a color-coded issue. We have got to respect and revel in the humanity of all fellow citizens.

O'REILLY: And I have to stick up for the cops because I think generally they are doing a good job. But great debate, Tavis. Always good to have you on the program.

SMILEY: Thank you.
To watch the whole segment, click here.

As he did last week, Smiley said that more white people are “maimed” by police than blacks. As far as we know, that’s accurate in the aggregate, though not as a percentage.

Earlier in the segment, O’Reilly had cited a statistic he sourced to the CDC. According to the CDC, “three times as many white folks are shot by police as black folks,” O’Reilly had said.

We don’t know if Smiley meant to endorse that claim when he said “I agreed with your facts earlier.” To see FactCheck.org discuss that statistic, you can just click here.

As many people have noted, the nation’s statistics about police shootings are highly imperfect. That said, we thought Smiley’s discussions have been intriguing and important, for a basic reason.

In the past few years, many news orgs and advocacy groups have discussed police shootings of blacks. A string of examples have been presented, sometimes with videotape.

These examples are intended to illustrate a problem. Some examples have been massaged to turn them into “perfect examples” of the alleged situation, in which police are said to be “targeting” blacks.

The shooting of Michael Brown last August was originally seen as one such perfect example. The public was offered a set of facts which, in some cases, have apparently turned out to be false.

Uh-oh! Last month, the Justice Department affirmatively judged that the shooting of Brown was justified. But so what? Last week, the New York Times editorial board seemed to be restoring this unfortunate incident as a perfect example of police misconduct. In the Washington Post, Gene Robinson followed suit.

Alas! When “journalists” want to sell a narrative, they often invent or ignore basic facts to create their perfect examples.

Inevitably, they’ll do something else. They’ll disappear egregious examples which don’t reinforce the pattern they want you to see and believe in.

In the current instance, this means ignoring examples in which white people get shot by police—examples which don’t support the racial pattern which is being promoted. This represents a second way in which the public can perhaps get misled.

Today, let’s consider a striking example of police conduct which has gone undiscussed on the national scene. Smiley said this problem extends beyond the black community. As an example of what he means, let’s consider the rather remarkable shooting death of John Geer.

Geer was shot to death by a Fairfax, Virginia policeman in August 2013. One year later, Michael Brown was shot to death in Missouri.

Geer’s death seems to involve an egregious case of police error, followed by a remarkable example of administrative inaction. Nineteen months later, the case has not been discussed on the national stage.

For the Washington Post, the shooting of Geer is a local story. In January of this year, the Post discussed the case in an angry editorial.

Seventeen months had now passed. The editors summarized thusly:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (2/3/15): The Fairfax stonewall

In broad daylight and at close range, three Fairfax County police officers saw a fourth officer, Adam Torres, shoot John Geer once in the chest in August 2013.
Two other witnesses, Mr. Geer's father and a friend, also saw it. All five of those witnesses agreed that Mr. Geer, who had a holstered handgun at his feet, had his hands up at the moment Officer Torres pulled the trigger.

Mr. Geer, a 46-year-old father of two, committed no known crime that day. He had been speaking calmly with the officers for almost three-quarters of an hour when the lethal shot was fired. He then bled to death just inside the doorway of his home.

That was more than 17 months ago, and still there has been no accounting for Mr. Geer's death. No charges. No indictment. No prosecution. And no information until last week, when the police, complying with a judge's order, finally released thousands of documents.

Those documents provide a stark picture: Only Officer Torres contended that Mr. Geer made a sudden movement as if going for a gun.

Everyone involved in this case has dropped the ball and dodged responsibility, enabling what now looks like a coverup in a case of police impunity.
As they continued, the editors noted that the police “did not seek medical treatment for Mr. Geer or retrieve his body for more than an hour.”

In fairness, there were complicating factors involved in this incident. For a lengthy front-page report on the facts, you can just click this.

We're not suggesting that this case is typical police conduct. We think it clearly is not.

That said, this seems to have been an actual case in which a person who really did have his hands up was shot and killed by a policeman. Three other policemen at the scene have said the shooting wasn't justified.

This shooting happened exactly one year before the shooting of Michael Brown. But no one in the national media presented this incident as a companion case to that much-discussed shooting.

Last week, the New York Times editorial board began reinventing the facts about the shooting of Brown. So did Gene Robinson in the Washington Post.

On a journalistic basis, this is egregious conduct. But our highest-ranking “journalists” pimp favored narratives in such ways all the time.

There’s no excuse for their misconduct. But they continue at will.

To what extent do police officers and police agencies “target” young black men? Especially in the absence of data, we can’t really tell you.

But in recent years, our “journalists” have sold us a string of examples, some of which have been perfected, designed to advance a preferred impression about police conduct. To help us see the world as they want us to see it, they massaged facts about the shooting of Brown, skipped past the shooting of Geer.

Robinson should be ashamed of himself for the column he wrote last week. That said, people are dead all over the world in part because of the conduct in which he engaged while “reporting” Campaign 2000.

Whatever! At the end of last week’s column, Robinson made one last peculiar presentation. This is terrible journalistic work of a familiar kind:
ROBINSON (4/10/15): The fact is that not everyone who is ever stopped by a police officer is going to be happy about the experience. Yet black men run a tragically greater risk than others of having the encounter turn deadly.

How much more risk? As I wrote in a column last year, no one really knows. Incredibly, there are no authoritative, comprehensive statistics on police killings nationwide
—not even in the aggregate, let alone broken down by race.

But it doesn't take data analysis to realize that when police treat communities like occupied territory—and routinely automatically classify black men as suspects—the opportunity for tragedy grows exponentially.

Walter Scott's broken taillight was an excuse, not an offense. Slager knew that Scott had to be guilty of something. It was just a matter of finding out what that black man's crime might be.
Do black men “run a tragically greater risk than others of having [traffic stops] turn deadly?” We can’t exactly tell you that, although it’s certainly possible.

On some basis which goes unexplained, Robinson feels he can reach that judgment. In service to this belief, he composed a rather peculiar passage. First, he asserted that black men do run a tragically greater risk. After that, he seemed to say that he doesn’t exactly know.

“Incredibly, there are no authoritative, comprehensive statistics on police killings nationwide,” Robinson wrote, “not even in the aggregate, let alone broken down by race.” That didn’t stop him from selling the story he wants you to hear, something he’s done in the past.

Here’s what we think you should notice:

In the absence of comprehensive statistics, people like Robinson are going to sell you dramatic examples, some of them perfected. He did the same freaking thing in 1999 when his guild was working so hard to tell you that Candidate Gore was a liar.

Now, he has another story he is eager to peddle. He doesn’t quite know if his story is true, or to what extent, but he’s still eager to sell it.

According to that imperfect CDC statistic, three times as many white people get shot by police. Two summers ago, one of those people was Geer.

That said, the example didn’t fit the narrative which makes us liberals feel morally glad. For that reason, it got disappeared, along with quite a few others.

The press corps tells you the stories they like. They’ve engaged in this non-journalistic conduct for many years.

In this case, our limbic brains tell us liberals to buy. People are dead all over the world because we’ve reacted this way in the past.

This afternoon: Two “journalistic” attempts to examine the relevant data

Supplemental: Speaking of insultingly vapid!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2015

Big major pundits gone wild:
Hillary Clinton kicked off her White House campaign this week. We have no real idea why.

It’s still only April—April of the year before. Putting that another way, it’s April 2015. The election in question will be held near the end of 2016.

At present, no one is running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Putting this another way, there is absolutely no earthly reason why Clinton should be “campaigning” now.

We don’t mean this as a criticism of Clinton. The press corps was screaming for her to start. Their deportment could only have gotten worse if Clinton had waited longer.

That said, the reaction to Clinton’s start has been just this side of insane, especially at the Washington Post. Consider Ruth Marcus’ recent post, “Hillary Clinton’s insultingly vapid video.”

Marcus refers to the short, pointless video in which Clinton announced that she is running. Given the factors we’ve already mentioned, the video is roughly as consequential as the average grain of sand in the Sahara.

Despite this rather obvious fact, Marcus is highly verklempt. “The more I watch Hillary Clinton’s announcement video, the less I like it,” Marcus says at the start of her post. “This may be putting it mildly.”

Marcus is doing it wrong. You aren’t supposed to watch this short video over and over again.

You aren’t supposed to sit and worry about what’s AWOL from the tape. But Marcus was been worrying hard. Eventually, she reaches this judgment:
MARCUS (4/13/15): [T]he video was relentlessly, insultingly vapid—a Verizon commercial without the substance. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in what passed for a meaty message. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Seriously, this makes Ronald Reagan’s gauzy “It’s Morning Again in America” commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy. Understood—an announcement video isn’t the moment for a detailed policy platform, but it is, or should be, a venue for at least nodding to specific goals.

In 2007, for instance, Clinton cited specifics [in her announcement video]: “how to bring the right end to the war in Iraq … how to make us energy independent … how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security and Medicare … how every American can have quality affordable health care.”

Sunday’s announcement—well, I just quoted the entirety of its substance. The Clinton campaign is focused on reassuring voters, as a campaign official put it in a conference call Monday previewing Clinton’s Iowa trip, “it isn’t about her … this is about … everyday Iowans.” But everyday Iowans deserve to hear more from the woman who would be president about what, exactly, she intends to do in office. It disrespects them to spend precious video seconds on the cute boy playing a fish in his school play.
That may be the dumbest four paragraphs we have ever read. And we’ve been following this group’s “campaign coverage” rather closely since March 1999.

“Everyday Iowans deserve to hear more...about what, exactly, she intends to do in office?” Really? Why?

We have almost a year to go before the Iowa caucuses. At present, no one else is even competing on the Democratic side.

If Clinton discussed lots of substance this week, is there any chance that any Iowan would remember or care by the time they actually get to vote? It’s crazy to think that anyone needs to be “talking substance” at this time.

Crazy as Marcus’ post was, colleagues are chasing her for the title of Craziest Reaction to Clinton’s Video at the Post. Because David Ignatius isn’t crazy, we’re amazed by the headline on his column today:

“Hillary Clinton is off to a fuzzy start”

Clinton is off to a fuzzy start? She isn’t “off to a start” at all! Does Ignatius own a calendar?

Kathleen Parker is almost as crazy in her own deconstructive column about the vexatious video. She too is begging for substance:
PARKER (4/15/15): Clinton made [her announcement] from the remote perch of a YouTube video, consisting of a series of vignettes that felt like a commercial interruption of regularly scheduled programming...

At the end of this ennui-inducing marshmallow roast of good feelings and American awesomeness, Hillary materializes as an apparition of The Good Mom, eager to help (e)veryday (a)mericans find the uppercase key—and perhaps a nice glass of milk.

Otherwise, there was no there there. No passion, no policy, no pie. At least couldn’t there be pie?
Where are the policy prescriptions? Inquiring scribes want to know!

Inevitably, “campaign coverage” makes us wonder if our pundits are truly human. The relentless inanity of their work always suggests the possibility of non-human origins, whether in a laboratory or on some distant planet.

That said, this week’s Clinton kick-off coverage seems as daffy and as dumb as any we’ve ever seen. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how they trashed Candidate Gore for offering too much early substance—and that was in July of 1999!

This could be the very bad start of a very bad ride to a bad destination. On the bright side, we’re seeing push-back against The Dumb at a couple of sites.

Explicit push-back against The Dumb? Have we ever seen that before?

Instant update: Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! This just in from the heinous Frank Rich:

“Unscripted Hillary Clinton Still Feels Scripted”

No, really! You can click here.

NO FAVORITE EXAMPLE LEFT BEHIND: The Justice Department doesn’t exist!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2015

Part 3—Restoring Michael Brown:
We’re sorry, but no, Virginia:

No one went on CNN last week and “surreptitiously blamed [Walter Scott] for his own death.”

No one “falsely equated” Scott’s behavior in running away from Officer Slager with Slager’s conduct in shooting Scott in the back. No one actually said that.

When Charles Blow said that unnamed people were saying those things on cable last week, it made for a fabulous column, a piece from the hard tribal mold.

But no one actually said those things! Blow imagined that those things were said, or he may have just made his claim up.

Whatever! Blow produced the perfect column—a column in which Those People were saying horrific things. Of course, it’s easy to write the perfect column when you work in paraphrase—when you don’t name the people you’re assailing or quote what they actually said.

When a columnist plays that game, he can pleasingly invent the latest perfect example. In a trope which dates to prehistory, Blow’s column had his unnamed pundits “reveal[ing] a deficiency in their own humanity,” the way Those People always do when we make our examples up.

Thrilled by Blow’s moral greatness, we liberals cheered in comments. Unfortunately, other voters are able to see how dumb this process is.

Also, how dishonest.

More and more, our emerging “liberal” world seems to turn on these perfect examples. We invent statements and events which illustrate our deepest beliefs about the world. In order to make our examples perfect, we paraphrase wildly or push bogus facts. We make other facts disappear.

Recently, our perfect examples have tended to fall apart:

Rolling Stone came up with a perfect example. It fell apart within days.

Ferguson was a perfect example. In that case, the perfect story we wanted to tell fell apart more slowly.

Finally, the Justice Department seemed to say that the shooting of Michael Brown had been fully justified. We can’t say if their judgment was sound. But after reviewing all the evidence and speaking to all the witnesses, that’s what Justice said.

Unless you read the New York Times editorial page. Unless you read Gene Robinson.

Last week’s shooting of Walter Scott really does look like a perfect example of police misconduct. When the videotape emerged, we saw a fleeing man get shot in the back by a policeman.

Ironically, this videotape showed the behavior we had been promised in the case of Michael Brown. Initially, we were told that hehad been shot in the back. This claim made his death a perfect example, but it turned out to be untrue.

Whatever you think of the shooting death of Michael Brown, it pretty much fell apart as a perfect example of heinous police misconduct. But how odd! In the aftermath of the shooting of Scott, the shooting of Brown was restored!

In a strange New York Times editorial, it almost seemed like that Justice Department report never happened. This is the way the editors started, headline included:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/9/15): The Walter Scott Murder

The horrifying video of a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., shooting and killing an unarmed black man—while the man is running away—may still come as a shock to many Americans. But this heinous act, which the officer tried to explain away by claiming that he feared for his life, strikes a familiar chord in communities of color all across the United States.

The case underscores two problems that have become increasingly clear since the civic discord that erupted last year after the police killed black citizens in New York, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo. The first, most pressing problem is that poorly trained and poorly supervised officers often use deadly force unnecessarily, particularly against minority citizens. The second is that the police get away with unjustly maiming or killing people by lying about the circumstances that prompted them to use force.
Strange! From that brave account, a person might think that the shooting of Brown helped us see that “poorly trained and poorly supervised officers often use deadly force unnecessarily, particularly against minority citizens” and that “police get away with unjustly maiming or killing people by lying about the circumstances that prompted them to use force.”

As usual, King Rosenthal seemed to be tugging his nether regions as he preened and postured. Based upon that peculiar account, a reader would have no idea what the Justice Department had said about that case, or that the Justice Department had spoken at all.

The Justice Department did describe apparent lying in its report. But the apparent lying was done by alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting, not by the policeman in question.

Beyond that, the Justice Department directly said that Officer Darren Wilson’s use of force was justified in that unfortunate case. The editorial board of the Times doesn’t seem to have heard.

As our emerging liberal culture unfolds, we seem to be adopting a lofty principle: No perfect example left behind! As often occurs at the New York Times, some letters on that very same page followed the board’s lead.

None of the letters named Michael Brown, but the first letter may have evoked him for some readers, especially those who had just read the editorial two columns over.

One of the letters even brought Professor Gates back from 2009! No perfect example left behind!

That editorial struck us as strange, leaning toward baldly dishonest. The next morning, Gene Robinson outdid the Times editors in his column for the Washington Post.

Robinson seemed to have no idea what the Justice Department had said. In his column, he too seemed to restore Michel Brown to the role of perfect victim.

Robinson maintained this posture right from the start of his piece. We think his opening paragraph provides a good learning experience for liberals:
ROBINSON (4/10/15): You thought, perhaps, that we were making this stuff up? That the whole “Black Lives Matter” thing was probably overblown? That the idea of African American men having to fear routine encounters with the police was being exaggerated by self-serving activists?

Let’s go to the video [of the shooting of Walter Scott].
We think that was a strange way to start. We’ll address ourselves to Robinson, and to other liberals:

Have some people “thought, perhaps, that we were making this stuff up?”

Actually yes, they have thought that! All across the United States, many people decided, not without cause, that Rolling Stone was “making stuff up” when they published and pimped their UVA perfect example.

Other people have decided that we liberals were “making stuff up” when we said that Michael Brown was shot in the back. When we later said that he was shot with his hands up, attempting to surrender.

Actually, yes! In these and other high-profile cases, quite a few people have come to believe that “we were making this stuff up.” A fair-minded person would have to say that these people have cause to think such things—and that they were given further cause when they read that column by Blow.

This is a problem for liberals! More and more, American voters are rolling their eyes at our phony perfect examples. Many folk will react the same way to last Friday’s column by Robinson.

All through the column, Robinson adopts the same pose adopted by the New York Times editors. He seems to think the shooting of Michael Brown is still in play as a perfect example of police misconduct directed at minorities. He shows no sign of having heard what the Justice Department has said.

The most striking example of this framework comes in the second half of his column. Earlier, though, he offers this strange rumination as he describes the shooting of Walter Scott:
ROBINSON: Imagine the narrative that might have emerged if the bystander, a man named Feidin Santana, hadn’t happened along. “A violent suspect struggled with Officer Slager, wrested control of the officer’s Taser and threatened him with it. Fearful of his own safety and that of the community, Slager had no choice but to fire. The officer regrets the loss of Mr. Scott’s life but did what he had to do.”

After Ferguson, such an account might not have been taken at face value—especially, I should note, in South Carolina, which has been much more aggressive in holding police officers accountable for fatal shootings. The most basic forensic examination would have shown that Scott was some distance from Slager—and fleeing—when he was shot. Investigators from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division likely would have been skeptical of any claim that the officer feared for his life.
That passage strikes us as strange.

In that passage, Robinson seems to think that Ferguson was a case in which a policeman’s account of a shooting was found to be bogus.

“After Ferguson,” an officer’s claim of innocence “might not have been taken at face value,” Robinson strangely says. This seems to suggest that Ferguson showed that police officers in shooting incidents might lie about what happened.

In fact, the Justice Department supported Officer Wilson’s account of the facts. Robinson doesn’t seem to have heard.

Already, Robinson seems oddly clueless. He doesn’t seem to understand that we liberals have been “making stuff up” in some of our recent perfect examples. He doesn’t seem to have heard that the Justice Department supported Wilson’s account of the facts.

Was Robinson tracking the New York Times? Was he in the process of leaving no perfect example behind? Incredibly, he soon offered this:
ROBINSON: What started the whole thing? Slager pulled Scott over because he had a broken taillight on his aging Mercedes.

Michael Brown was walking in the middle of the street. Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes. For three black men, these misdemeanors became capital offenses.


We don’t know what happened before Santana arrived to bear witness, but I have to assume that Scott might have given Slager lip or otherwise expressed his displeasure. And given subsequent events—eight shots fired at Scott’s back—I have to doubt that Slager initiated the encounter with an Officer Friendly approach.
We’re sorry, but that’s bad journalistic behavior. In that highlighted passage, Michael Brown has been restored as a perfect example.

According to Robinson, Brown was shot “for walking in the middle of the street,” for a “misdemeanor.” All the other facts in that case have again been disappeared.

The Blows, the Rosenthals and the Robinsons do this again and again. Dim bulbs that we’ve turned out to be, we liberals stand and cheer.

But uh-oh! Around the country, reams of voters can actually see what we're doing. They can see that we really are “making stuff up” as we make other “stuff” disappear.

Robinson seems to have feelings about this sort of case. We can understand that. we have feelings about the people who are dead all over the world because of the career-building things he happily did at one point.

Whatever! We’ll only say that Robinson’s judgment served him poorly in this piece, in which he does a fair amount of guessing.

“I have to doubt that Slager initiated the encounter with an Officer Friendly approach?” By the time this column appeared, the dash cam video showed that this was exactly what Slager had done.

That doesn’t change what happened later, of course. But will journalists like Robinson ever stop “imagining the narrative that might have occurred?” Will they ever stop saying they “have to doubt” the basic facts they don’t know yet?

Like the editors at the Times, Robinson restored a favorite tribal example. Around the country, this kind of conduct keeps convincing American voters that we liberals can’t be taken seriously.

In fairness, those voters have cause for reaching that judgment. We've invented and disappeared many facts in the past several years.

Robinson restored a perfect example, one we tribals love. As we read the end of his piece, a further thought came to mind:

When we “liberals” create perfect examples with which we construct an imagined world, other examples may get left out. Sadly for progressive interests, the voters will notice this too.

Tomorrow: Robinson mentions the data