Supplemental: Ruth Marcus starts including some facts!


The way our discourse works:
What follows strikes us as very depressing. But it’s a strong example of the way our “public discourse” now works.

Last Monday, the Washington Post published a letter from a reader who was very upset. The reader said she had been in tears as she read a recent column by Ruth Marcus.

Headline included, Marcus' column had started like this:
MARCUS (11/16/14): Cruel and unusual punishment for the autistic

Reginald Latson’s path to solitary confinement began four years ago as he waited for the public library to open in Stafford County, Va.

Latson, known as Neli, has an IQ of 69 and is autistic. Teachers and therapists describe him as generally sweet and eager to please.

He is also a black man, now 22, who on the day in question was wearing a hoodie
—which prompted a concerned citizen to call police about a suspicious person loitering outside the library.

The ensuing encounter should have been nothing more than a harassing annoyance. Instead, not surprising given the rigid thinking and “fight or flight” instincts characteristic of those with autism, it escalated after Latson refused to provide his name and was restrained by the police officer when he tried to leave.
For our original post on this topic, click here.

Reginald Latson was 18 years old on the day in question. According to Marcus, his teachers “describe him as generally sweet and eager to please”—but he was wearing a hoodie that day.

For that reason, a concerned citizen called police about a suspicious person loitering outside the library. Or so Marcus said, as she started her column.

Last Monday, a letter writer railed about that citizen’s behavior. We decided to click back through Marcus’ links to see what we could learn about this case.

Alas! The Post first reported this story in July 2010, in a sympathetic profile about the difficulties faced by the parents of young people with autism. In a 1354-word report, Theresa Vargas made no mention of any hoodie being involved in this matter at all.

In March 2011, Vargas reported the matter again, nine days after Latson was found guilty of four charges, including assault of a law enforcement officer and wounding in the commission of a felony. This time, Vargas mentioned the fact that Latson had been wearing a hoodie on the morning in question.

But Vargas said nothing to indicate that the hoodie had occasioned the phone call to police—a phone call which actually came from school authorities, according to the original police report. She also noted that Latson had been convicted for behavior in an unrelated incident:
VARGAS (3/13/11): Last week, prosecutors tried Latson on a breaking-and-entering charge related to an incident in 2009. In that case, prosecutors said, Latson rang the doorbell at a teenager's home. When the teen opened the door, Latson hit him and followed him inside. Latson pleaded guilty to assault last year. On Thursday, he was found guilty of breaking and entering.

"I'm not here to try to paint a pretty story about my son," but he is not the violent individual that Stafford authorities have depicted, said Latson's mother, Lisa Alexander. "Neli is not a danger to society. He doesn't belong in jail. He belongs at home."
Other violent incidents have occurred. Earlier this year, Latson, now 22, was found guilty in another such case.

Marcus may be perfectly right in her overall assessment—in her claim that young people with developmental disorders should be treated differently from other people who break the law. But in our view, her presentation of this matter was truly heinous.

She played the “arrested for wearing a hoodie” card in her first column about this incident. In doing so, she drove at least one reader to tears and spread fear about the heinous conduct directed at black youth.

It’s astounding to us that a major newspaper allows such things to occur.

Yesterday, Marcus wrote about this matter again. This time, she included more information about the various violent incidents in which Latson has been involved.

Even there, we’d have to say she put a heavy spin on these events. But we ask you to consider that original column.

We can’t tell you how Latson should be treated. We’re asking you to think about Marcus’s conduct.

In that original column, Marcus did some of the most egregious picking-and-choosing of information we have ever seen. Making matters much worse, she introduced the inflammatory claim that Latson, a sweet and gentle soul, had been reported to the police because he was wearing a hoodie.

A reader was soon in tears. An editor ran her letter under this headline: “Wearing a hoodie while black.”

People believe what they read in the Post. They should be warned about that.

For the record, levels of violence: In the incident Marcus described, a police officer was injured so badly that he had to retire. In March 2011, Vargas reported this:

“Latson's attorneys didn't dispute what had happened. Instead, they presented an insanity defense in court. They said Latson—in whom intermittent explosive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder had also been diagnosed—could not control his behavior because of an ‘irresistible impulse.’”

Marcus didn't have room for that in her original column. Plus, it would have harmed her heartwarming theme.

We feel bad for young people with problems. But just compare that passage, from her own link, to the portrait Marcus drew in that original column.

Marcus was posing as the journalistic hero in that original column. Most egregiously, she was toying with a popular meme, a meme involving a hoodie.

We think her conduct was very bad, to the point of being heinous. But as everyone knows, this is the way our “discourse” increasingly works.


  1. Yes Marcus's conduct was heinous (though typical of her cohort nowadays), but more importantly, egregious spin such as hers is only permitted to go in one direction -- towards the preferred narrative of the elite. She never would have been permitted to write such a slanted narrative in support of, for example, Darren Wilson.

    1. We see, prominently displayed on the home page of Wapo today, a link to a ridiculous post on the Volokh Conspiracy (now a Wapo blog), which takes the word of just one of the witnesses and concludes that it is "proof" that Wilson's account was true. We see elsewhere in the "elite" media rants from Joe Scarborough and others flogging Wilson's cause for all it's worth. We think the idea that such points of view are impossible to express, therefore, demonstrably wrong.

    2. In cases such as this the water pressure becomes intense enough that cracks form and eventually the dam begins to break, an event we are now witnessing.

    3. The lamentable part about the link from Maddow is the fact that they attack those who can least be spared from the outraged average (white) voters. It is not the Wilson, the careless or the incompetent, who suffer. On the contrary, Scarborough predicted doom and destruction from the outraged stupid leftists with greatest ability. Bob carved a niche for himself and needless to say, if someone on "the left" said that about a (it is only natural, perhaps, that this should be so.) Republican president Scarborough would be absolutely furious about it, predicting doom and destruction like the gastigation of a house, which has succumbed to the ravages of time.

  2. In other words, Marcus was free to mislead, because she knew she could get away with it. That's the reward, when your side controls most of the media.

    Similarly, when Prof Gruber made embarrassing comments about how ObamaCare was passed using deception, President Obama knew he could get away with describing Gruber as "not an employee." The mainstream media weren't going to embarrass Obama by pointing out that Gruber had been treated better than an employee. He was paid millions of dollars as a consultant for his work designing and promoting the health reform law.

    1. Not being a retired accountant myself I might be confused about this but the top number I ever saw as an amount Gruber received from the federal government for his work on the PPACA was $392,600. I don't know what CPAs call hundreds of thousands of dollars but we layman believe them to be an order of magnitude shy of "millions of dollars."

      True, Gruber had received coin from the state of Massachusetts when he worked on an earlier version of the plan but surely even with what Gov. "He who should be king" Romney doled out back in the day Gruber still has to comes up short of being paid millions of government dollars for his consulting in the matter.

    2. The term "not an employee" doesn't refer to pay but to whether his opinions represented the federal government or any agency of the govt or were his own.

  3. According to the Daily Caller,

    The federal government has paid Jonathan Gruber at least $4 million since the year 2000, for his work as an expert witness, a legal consultant and for his consultation on Obamacare.

    That comes on top of at least $1.6 million the MIT economist has been paid by several states to consult on their health care bills.

    Gruber, the so-called architect of Obamacare, came under fire this week after a number of videos emerged of him speaking candidly about how Obamacare was passed.


    1. David in Cal said:

      The mainstream media weren't going to embarrass Obama by pointing out that Gruber had been treated better than an employee. He was paid millions of dollars as a consultant for his work designing and promoting the health reform law. [END QUOTE]

      That article says:

      Gruber was paid $392,600 by the Department of Health and Human Services for his work on Obamacare. His main contribution was in the realm of economic modeling to help score the bill for budgetary purposes. [END QUOTE]

      And for instance, the article says:

      Gruber has done other work for the federal government.

      The Department of Justice paid Gruber $1.737 million between 2000 and 2005 for providing legal services as an expert witness, according to the site, which tracks federal expenditures.

      The State Department paid Gruber $103,500 in 2008 and 2009 to provide legal services.
      [END QUOTE]

      Of course in 2005 the Justice Department was under the direction of a George W. Bush Attorney General. The $2.05 million Gruber received from NIH had to do with Medicare Part D from the looks of that Daily Caller link. However, I will concede I had no idea that Gruber had been racking up such huge amounts of money, all told, from the federal and state governments when I made my snide reply to DiC's earlier comment.

      Of course, at this point, I share David in Cal's culpability in hijacking this post's comments and going off topic. I shouldn't have taken the bait, especially as I did so when the thread was fresh. My bad.

    2. These are large amounts but also spread out over multiple years, 2000-2005, for example. If they are grants, they may have covered expenses for staff or other resources.

    3. David -- David in CALIFORNIA! -- is full of shit???

      My fainting couch, hurry.

  4. I can’t tell you how Marcus should be treated. I can ask you to think about Somerby's conduct.

    In his original post, he did some of the most egregious picking-and-choosing of information I have ever seen. Making matters much worse, he introduced the inflammatory claim that Marcus, a sweet and gentle lady, had stated that wearing a hoodie caused someone to call the police about Reginald Latson. In my view, his presentation of this matter was simply false.

    Today, he escalated his falsehood to heinous propaganda. "She played the “arrested for wearing a hoodie” card in her first column about this incident" Somerby now writes.

    What other kind of "cards" do people play besides the "arrested for wearing a hoodie" card?

  5. [TDH] ... introduced the inflammatory claim that Marcus ... had stated that wearing a hoodie caused someone to call the police about Reginald Latson.

    Form the sweet and gentle lady's 11/14 column:

    He [Latson] is also a black man, now 22, who on the day in question was wearing a hoodie — which prompted a concerned citizen to call police about a suspicious person loitering outside the library.

    How is TDH's statement false?

    1. Using the deadrat protocol

      From Somerby

      According to Marcus, Reginald Latson, then 18, was wearing a hoodie as he waited for the library to open. His hoodie prompted a concerned citizen to telephone the police.

      From Marcus

      He is also a black man, now 22, who on the day in question was wearing a hoodie—which prompted a concerned citizen to call police about a suspicious person loitering outside the library.

      In the Marcus version there are four elements: black man, young, wearing hoodie, loitering around unopened library. In the Somerby version there is only one: hoodie wearer.

      By his second post, Somerby is not content to disappear three elements possibly leading to a report of a suspicious person. He skips straight to saying Marcus lableled the hoodie as responsible for his arrest as well.

      She played the “arrested for wearing a hoodie” card in her first column about this incident.

      If you can find a single thing in that first Marcus column which ties his arrest solely to his wearing a hoodie you are an amazing magician, deadrat.

    2. Before I amaze you with my magical abilities, you'll have to tell me where TDH says that anyone but the letter writer claims that Latson was arrested for wearing a hoodie. Marcus, and TDH quoting Marcus say that the hoodie prompted the call to the police.

      Is your complaint that TDH didn't mention that Latson's color, age, location also played a part in the call? Have you not figured out that TDH is criticizing Marcus for a column that led at least one reader to conclude that Latson was punished for wearing a hoodie while black?

    3. She played the "arrested for wearing a hoodie" card in her first column about this incident.... Bob Somerby

      For some reason using your html tags did not work and clearly attribute those words contained in my comment to Somerby. They are his. You can check above.

      I have figured out that Bob is using the letter as a means of attacking Marcus, yes. Have you figured out which commenters here at TDH to blame Bob for?

    4. "[The] Deadrat Protocol". Sounds like the title to a Tom Clancy yarn.

    5. The most boring Tom Clancy novel ever.

    6. Boring, and not as amusing as the "deadrat dance" performed in his latest comment which he used to defer notice that he indeed was told where Bob said Marcus linked the hoodie to the arrest.

    7. What is the complaint here? That TDH says that Marcus linked the hoodie to the arrest when in fact the hoodie was linked to the complaint which was linked to the arrest? The linkage was direct enough for the Post's headline writer to come up with "Punished for wearing hoodie while black." It was direct enough for the letter writer to complain that Latson was racially profiled by a "concerned citizen," in part because of the hoodie. This in spite of the fact that the original report from 2010 doesn't mention a hoodie, and the complaint came from Latson's school. Do you have anything to say on TDH's claim that Marcus' selective narrative is "heinous"? Probably not. For that you'd have to actually pay attention as you read the blog entry.


      I cannot believe a school, knowing its own student was autistic, would end up calling the police on the boy, leading to a disabling injury to a deputy and a life in solitary confinement for the boy.

      If the school did not have enough qualified personnel to deal with a child with diabilities it should have its federal funding stripped. If the school had a problem with the boy wearing a hoodie, they should have had better enforcement of tis dress code. They should not have had the boy maced and then arrested.


      A Stupid Reader

      there you go deadrat.

      You know what the difference in my letter and the letter to the Washinton Post which caused this double posting of poutrage from Bob "Panties in a Twist" Somerby?

      You actually said the call to police came from Latson's school. I read your comment correctly. The fact is Latson was not a student at the elementary school from which, according to police statements, the original call came.

      The letter to the Washington Post said "a neighbor called" because Latson was black, male, and wearing a hoodie while waiting in front of a library and thus "suspicious." It was the Post letters-to the-editor headline writer who made made the leap from the call to police to "punishment for wearing hoodie while black" and Bob who dropped it down to the hoodie itself.

      Sorry, but Somerby's is holding a columnist accountable for stupid letters to the editor which are made even more foolish by the paper's headline writer. Therefore, your comment would also be heinous, if someone wrote what I did above? Give me a break.

      You want a comment on what is heinous? It is heinous that Bob Somerby has yet to mention that the focus on Marcus's columns on this topic is the availability of a treatment and confinement alternative for a troubled young man with a mental disorder. Instead he is focused on one word in each column. And he has erroneously portrayed how that one word was used while he himself used "hoodie" at least a half dozen times.

      Could Marcus have been more careful in how she wrote of the unfortunate phone call which set in motion the tragic events that day? Perhaps. But focusing on the details like Bob has are evidence of a mental disorder as profound as the ones you carelessly throw around in an effort to be humorous about fellow commenters.

      Try these facts on for size: Latson was doing nothing wrong when a call, for whatever reason, was made to police about him. His subsequent violent encounter with police resulted from behavior which he may not be able to control. The reaction of official Virginia has been to try and convict him as an ordinary violent criminal, which has resulted in him having to be incarcerated and kept in solitary confinement. Other alternatives are available to use for Latson but officials in Virginia are resisting use of them. That is the issue. Not Marcus's sentence structure in briefly summarizing the opening chain of events.

    9. Somehow I've become the Anonymous-Ignoramus Whisperer, explaining the obvious to the unnamed clueless. Let me start at the end of your comment, where you talk about the real issue in the Latson case. A clear and concise exposition, and fuck you very much for spending the time writing it. And I mean that from the heart.

      Now let me remind you what this blog is about -- the press and its coverage of things like the Latson case, not things like the Latson case. TDH claims that it's misleading for Marcus to present a sweet kid, eager to please, profiled by a racist "concerned citizen" over (among other things) a hoodie. And, lo and behold! Marcus misled two writers, one who concocts headlines for the Post and one who writes letters to the Post's editors. Does that constitute heinous behavior on Marcus' part? I hardly think so, and TDH's judgment is a fair target. TDH practically begged you to consider his point, which is about Marcus, not Latson; but you couldn't bring yourself to do it, could you? You had to lecture me on the availability of treatment and confinement alternatives for the "troubled." But not before quibbling about how many constructs in the independent clause of a sentence were modified by a trailing relative clause.

      And don't think the irony is lost on me that you've diagnosed Bob Somerby with a profound mental disorder as you criticize my asides about other commenters. And don't think I've missed the sly promotion to the plural, Mr. Grammar Person. There's exactly one person I describe as broadcasting from the Galaxy Schizophrenia, and that's KZ. If he's serious, then my description is apt. If he's joking around, then maybe you should wrap up your concern for the mentally ill with a festive holiday bow and send it to him. Or you can shove it up your ass. As always, it's up to you.

  6. "In the incident Marcus described, a police officer was injured so badly that he had to retire."

    Speaking of spin . . . why does Bob again leave out the nature of the cop's injury and how he got it?

    According to the story, the officer was a 30-year veteran who suffered an ankle injury. How did he suffer this injury? Did he twist it or step in a hole chasing Latson? We don't know. Neither does Somerby.

    But does that ignorance stop Somerby from telling his story of an ultra-violent kid who beat up a cop so badly the cop had to retire?

    Of course not. Spinmeisters just love to spin. After all, he now has a Fan Club that now numbers in the teens that love stories about violent black kids who get themselves locked up in solitary or -- even better -- shot dead.

    And they eagerly await any spin the privileged white failure from Harvard wants to leave as his legacy to the world,

    1. Ruth Marcus, from her WaPo platform, pretends she's found a troubling case of suspiciously wearing a hoodie while black.

      She makes it up!

      But what disturbs this idiot? The blogger with fans "in the teens" who correctly criticises Marcus doesn't also bring in the irrelevant issue of the source of a cop's injury.

      (Yes, fools: irrelevant. If the cop shot himself in the ankle that wouldn't make Marcus any less culpably misleading.)

      You can't make these fools up. And you don't need to -- they abound.

    2. People blame Al Roker for the weather.

    3. Well, 9:06, if Somerby is going to accuse others of deliberately leaving out important details so that they can spin the story their way, then he shouldn't do it himself.

      Notice how "cleverly" Somerby words the sentence in the passive voice. He doesn't say, "Latson injured the cop so badly . . ." because that would be an outright lie by commission.

      Instead he lies by omission, not telling you how the cop was injured or where, but still leading the stupid and the incurious such as yourself to the conclusion he wishes to lead you to,.

      In short, what we have here is yet another case of the Rules of Somerby.

      You want to know what examples of intellectual dishonesty this self-loathing pseud-liberal is guilty of? Just look at what he accuses his few favorite targets, as he pretends to examine the "mainstream press corps" in service to the "american discourse."

      And speaking of "irrelevant," this entire blog has become one, long, whiney cry for help from an old man who is looking back on his life and seeing nothing but failure, and reeking of jealousy for those who actually put thought and work into their lives and succeeded

    4. Here is your massive fail, 9:57: you think that showing hypocricy is somehow proving worthlessness of content.
      You also seem to have a personal grudge here, which makes it very easy to dismiss your attacks as emotional flailing.

    5. Here is your massive fail @ 10:56. Somerby's hypocrisy is revealed by his practicing in his own work the very thing he criticizes in others. As a result, if their work is flawed, so is his. That is why his content is worthless. Because he spins as badly as those he faults.

      In this case Somerby attacks Marcus for leaving things out when he does as well.

      Let me ask you a simple question. What is the issue in Marcus's columns?

      And FWIW, I am not the person with whom you have been conversing.

    6. 11:11 - so if both are flawed, his is worthless? That's some non-standard logic.

      Have you also noticed that in your argument, you needed Marcus's work to be flawed (otherwise Somerby's would not be), but you challenge me to see any issue with it?

      Why can't they both be flawed, and we learn things from both presentations?

    7. Before I answer your question, answer mine. Have you noticed you did not?

    8. You're waiting for me to do something before you answer a rhetorical question?

    9. No. I am waiting for you to answer two questions now. And mine were not rhetorical. Your response suggests you know the answer to the second question but not the first.

    10. Anonymous @ 11:11 you write:

      And FWIW, I am not the person with whom you have been conversing. [END QUOTE]

      How would you know that? (One way to check would be to look around the house and see if you can find two I ♥ Maddow tee shirts that are of different sizes.)

    11. @9:57, According to news stories, Latson injured the cop. So is your complain just about the voice of a verb? Or that TDH is irrelevant?

    12. Can you provide me with a link to one of those stories that explains how Latson injured the cop in the ankle?

      Didn't think so.

    13. If Somerby is going to set himself up as some sort of arbiter of truth, should he be immune from the standards he demands of others?

      Of course he should NOT! After all, he is the Mighty and Powerful Somerby! Pay no attention to the crazy old coot behind the curtain~

    14. But we should use you as the arbiter, even though all you got is hypocrisy. And absolutely no interesting takes on modern media.

    15. How about using instead of me, Somerby, or anyone else you start thinking for yourself?

      Or is that too much work?

    16. @2:34P, Sure, go here:

      where it says

      Calvary tried to get Latson to identify himself, but Latson beat the officer causing severe ankle injuries.

      Is there some ambiguity about whether Latson injured the officer?

  7. You're waiting for me to do something before you answer a rhetorical question?

  8. OMB (Feeling Bad about Problem Youth with the OTB)

    "he was wearing a hoodie that day.

    For that reason a concerned citizen called police about a suspicious person loitering outside the library. Or so Marcus said, as she started her column."

    "She played the “arrested for wearing a hoodie” card in her first column about this incident."

    "she introduced the inflammatory claim that Latson, a sweet and gentle soul, had been reported to the police because he was wearing a hoodie."

    "Most egregiously, she was toying with a popular meme, a meme involving a hoodie."

    Shame on that heinous, egregious, inflammatory, meme toying, hoodie card playing media elitist.

    Fortunately dear readers, we are not like Ruth Marcus. We are like BOB.

    "We feel bad for young people with problems."

    What those problems are that sparked these columns by Marcus recently we are not sure, but we feel bad for young people who have them. Surely none of them are as bad as a columnist mentioning what you were wearing when someone reported you as suspicious.

  9. Ah, the old troll Dodge. We were discussing whether it was warranted to call something worthless if it was flawed. Then,for some reason,you were more interested in what I thought about Marcus's work. You said I had a massive fail, but I said nothing about Marcus. But I need to do something first? Dodge.

    This whole accusation of hypocrisy is childish and meant to stop discussion and learning. The way that pols are accused in this way (from both sides) helps to develop a cult of personality, which hides policy.

    1. Responding to 12:24.

    2. You are responding to nobody. You are not having a discussion. You are calling people names, then when asked a simple question, trying to deny you don't know the answer. What was Marcus writing about?

    3. I have already admitted that there is hypocrisy in these post,but disagree with your conclusions regarding said hypocrisy. You did not wish to continue with that subject. Now,how does my take on Marcus's article have anything to do with that disagreement?