OUR CONVERSATIONS TO NOWHERE: Chief Longo in Wonderland!


Part 2—Information later:
Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo has been commandeering the news.

Yesterday, he held a press conference which made the front page of today’s New York Times.

In yesterday’s presser, Longo described his department’s lengthy investigation into events which were described in an exciting but journalistically fraudulent Rolling Stone novella. We’ll discuss that topic tomorrow.

(In the meantime, if you want to be misled and misdirected about this widely-discussed matter, just watch this discussion from last evening’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.)

Yesterday, Chief Longo was discussing the Rolling Stone case. His discussion made the front page of the Times.

On Saturday morning, Longo appeared on the front page of the Washington Post. In that instance, he’d been discussing a different high-profile case.

We thought the Post report was quite striking. We thought it illustrated a deeply unconstructive practice which is coming to dominate our pseudo-liberal discourse.

Why was Longo on the front page of the Washington Post? Last Friday, the chief took part in a campus discussion about an event in which his department had played no part—the arrest, on St. Patrick’s Day, of Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old UVa junior.

Johnson was arrested by officers from the state of Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The circumstances of his arrest are still unclear, unless you’re part of our rapidly growing pseudo-liberal world, in which case we simply invent the facts we find most pleasing.

Over the past three years, this form of “argument” has increasingly come to dominate “liberal” thinking.

We’d have to say that this form of “thinking” leaves much to be desired. It showcases our laziness, ineptitude and lack of discipline—our inability to make a serious social or political case without the shortcut provided by invented facts, disappeared facts, and irrelevant facts which we trumpet.

We liberals can’t seem to stop playing this game. A bit of background:

By the time of last Friday’s campus discussion, Rolling Stone’s exciting claims about that alleged gang rape had almost completely broken down, unless you’re watching O’Donnell’s program.

Those weren’t the only preferred claims which had broken down. Two weeks earlier, the Justice Department had issued a report in which treasured claims about the shooting of Michael Brown also seemed to fall apart.

In a slightly more rational world, we liberals might begin to grasp a key point:

If we want to know what actually happened in some particular incident, we will often have to wait for an investigation. Initial reports, initial appearances, will often turn out to be wrong.

There’s little sign that we “lazy liberals” are ready to grasp such facts. Many of us seem wed to the practice in which we invent a perfect example of social wrong-doing through our use of invented, discarded and irrelevant facts.

We seem to love this undisciplined practice. Just watch Lawrence’s program!


In the discussions which follow this week, we want to draw a sharp distinction between the behavior of adult authority figures and the behavior of younger people. As a general matter, we hold “journalists” and college presidents to one set of standards, college students to another.

That said, the most striking part of Saturday’s front-page report in the Post involved the grilling of Chief Longo by a group of UVa students. In fairness, it’s hard to know what the students were grilling Longo about, thanks to the Post’s reporting.

Remember—Longo’s force wasn’t involved in the arrest of Johnson, in which Johnson ended up on the ground with a cut which required ten stitches. At the direction of Governor McAuliffe, an investigation of that arrest is now underway

Despite this fact, reporter Nick Johnson described a fairly remarkable scene at that campus meeting. As his portrait begins, angry students are shouting at Longo:
JOHNSON (3/20/15): At Friday’s campus meeting, students pressed Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo about whether his force had been properly trained to de-escalate tensions when officers find themselves in confrontations with civilians.

“Why has there been a pattern of escalation, especially on black bodies?” one student asked.

Longo said his officers are trained to “de-escalate,” depending on the situation.

Unsatisfied, students raised their fists and shouted: “Answer the question we asked!”
Has there been “a pattern of escalation, especially on black bodies?” (The unusual language tracks to Foucault. This practice rarely ends well.)

Has there been “a pattern of escalation,” especially against black students? Anderson, a high-ranking journalist and an adult, didn’t pursue this point.

He made no attempt to explain what the student meant. He cited no recent examples.

Could it be that the angry students had real complaints about Chief Longo’s city police force? Anderson never asked. As Anderson’s report continued, Longo cast himself in the role of hang dog, as adult authorities seem to do in many such circumstances on various campuses:
ANDERSON (continuing directly): “Let me try it again,” Longo said. “I tried hard the first time, and I wasn’t successful the first time, and I’m sorry.” He said that officers receive extensive training in dealing with crowds but that he was open to ideas to improve those lessons.

Longo’s force did not participate in Johnson’s arrest, but Charlottesville police were called to the scene after the altercation. Longo said he will review what, if anything, could have been done differently in that situation.

“What happened this past week has shaken your trust,” Longo said. “It’s my responsibility as police chief in this city to regain it. I commit to you today to do that.”
There’s nothing wrong with being polite. That said, Longo has made a fetish of the practice in each of these recent events.

UVa’s president, Margaret Sullivan, also seems to make it her life’s work to pretend that nothing could ever be wrong or imperfect with certain types of complaints, as long as they’re coming from students.

We can’t say that this is always helpful behavior. Sometimes, super-deference from the adults encourages moral certainty from the younger people:
ANDERSON (continuing directly): Students also asked Longo whether police paid more attention to the investigation of the abduction of white U-Va. sophomore Hannah Graham last year than the disappearance of Dashad “Sage” Smith, a Charlottesville area black teenager who disappeared in 2012.

Graham’s remains were found on abandoned property in Albemarle County after an intensive search. The case, which resulted in a murder charge against a black suspect, Jesse L. Matthew Jr., drew huge national media coverage. Smith’s case garnered little attention outside Charlottesville.

Black students at Friday’s meeting asked Longo whether after Smith’s disappearance he “had cried at a press conference,” referring to Longo’s tears in front of television cameras last fall after Graham disappeared.

Longo said police continue to investigate the Smith case. But he acknowledged the students’ point, saying, “No, sir, I did not cry.”

After about an hour, student leaders announced that they had no further questions. Students who had gathered in the aisles turned abruptly and walked out of the building, chanting, “Black lives matter!”
That rallying cry has been heard across the country amid debate over police actions in Ferguson, Mo., in New York and elsewhere.

Outside, the students marched to the African-American Affairs Office across campus. Their chant shifted: “No justice, no peace! No racist police!”
Good God! Longo gad cried at one event but he hadn’t cried at the other! In our view, it’s sad to see the nation’s black youth reasoning like Maureen Dowd.

Needless to say, President Sullivan thought the young people were flawless. Or at least, that’s the way it was played in Anderson’s peculiar account:
ANDERSON: After the meeting, Sullivan praised student leaders for facilitating the discussion. “Good citizenship involves confronting issues honestly and looking for solutions together,” she said.

Sullivan and other university officials have voiced outrage over ABC’s handling of the incident, saying that it appeared police used excessive force. “Getting arrested shouldn’t involve getting stitches,” Sullivan said Thursday.
The youngsters showed wonderful citizenship as they stormed out of the meeting! Meanwhile, earlier reversals be damned! As always, President Sullivan already knows how this new matter “appears!”

Do black students have real complaints about the UVa police? Unasked and unanswered!

Did ABC officers misbehave when they arrested Johnson? Governor McAuliffe can end the state probe. Sullivan already knows!

Our adult authorities keep acting this way as our wave of “perfect examples” continues. Meanwhile, Longo had failed to cry about the earlier event!

When good young people reason like Dowd, are good things likely to happen?

Tomorrow: Lawrence does Charlottesville


  1. "If we want to know what actually happened in some particular incident, we will often have to wait for an investigation. Initial reports, initial appearances, will often turn out to be wrong." B.S.

    What a novel concept. Do you actually believe that will catch on with Rev. Al, Maddow, O'Donnell, Schultz, Wagner, MHP, ?

    1. Or the Republicans in Congress? Heck, even when their own investigations turn up nothing wrong, they can just start another.

    2. Or POTUS Obama who proclaimed there was not even a "smidgeon of corruption" in the IRS while the head of the IRS exempt-organizations division Lois "slow" Lerner investigation was in progress.

    3. As we know, not a single MOC Republican or conservative columnist has uttered a peep of criticism while awaiting results of ongoing investigations. Dumb, lazy, dislikable liberals should noyte their lessons from Somerby and cicero

    4. Oh yeah, that IRS scandal. Real black mark against Obama...

    5. @ Greg,

      If it were not for watching the news, POTUS Obama would still be blissfully unaware of any malfeasance and improprieties going on in his administration such as
      Solyndra, Fast and Furious, The Department of Veterans Affairs’ fake wait lists, the NSA’s spying on Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the problems with the Obamacare website, the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations, and the Department of Justice’s subpoenas for the Associated Press.


    6. THE IRS Scandal was a scandal, in which completely political groups were able to self-claim that they weren't political, so they could skirt paying their fair share of taxes.
      It's a scam, and the IRS needs to put a stop to it.


    7. @ Berto,

      Describing the facts of a scandal just isn't your forte. This scandal was initially revealed when Lois "slow" Lerner planted a question at American Bar Association] Tax Section's Exempt Organizations Committee Meeting.

      Of course that only leaves a half dozen other scandals for you to obfuscate what transpired.


    8. I KNOW, you know the IRS allowing completely political groups to self-claim they aren't political to avoid paying their fair share of taxes is a scandal.
      Whatever nonsense reply you post here will just be a feeble attempt to deny the obvious, because you need to get paid.


    9. @ Berto

      When will IRS revoke Media Matters 501(c)(3) status? Or is that answer too obvious?

    10. Well, well, well, look who finally copped to the real IRS scandal.
      Are you okay, cicero? Did you pull anything admitting the truth?

    11. Cicero,
      It just seems like I know everything, because I'm a liberal, but I have no idea when the IRS will put a stop to these scams.


    12. @ 9:58

      You are in favor of eliminating the IRS exempt-organizations division? Since when? If Lois "slow" Lerner had targeted liberal organizations instead of concentrating on conservative organizations this wouldn't be a scandal?

      How many Salonpas patches would you require to admit Lois "slow" Lerner was/is corrupt?

    13. @ Berto,

      Can you link to a Howler post of yours where you have criticized Media Matters for being allowed 501(c)(3) status?

    14. "You are in favor of eliminating the IRS exempt-organizations division?"

      No, I'm not a know-nothing mouth-breather like Ted Cruz. (BTW, tell him the Department of Defense will need to fund their war with ISIS through a bake sale, and watch him explain why taxes are next to Godliness).
      The IRS should be skeptical of ANY group which requests to be tax exempt. If they think they meet tax-exempt status, they should have to prove it. Yes, that may add to the IRS workload, but collecting from the scammers should offset whatever the cost is to assure the game isn't rigged.

      BTW, is this personal? Was the group that pays you to troll on the internet "targeted"?

    15. cicero, IMHO was simply giving his THO about POTUS and FLOTUS Obama, VPOTUS Biden, and their attempts to scuttle SCOTUS rulings using IRS JBTs. BTW and OMG do not capitalize words in the middle of acronymmery. It took me more than a NYS to figure out what ANY stood for.

    16. "Can you link to a Howler post of yours where you have criticized Media Matters for being allowed 501(c)(3) status?"

      No. I have not named any specific group in my criticism of these tax-exempt scams here on Howler posts. My criticism, regarding the IRS Scandal, is about completely political groups, regardless of where their political ideology lie, skirting their tax obligations through an obvious scam.


  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

    1. Warning!
      Before installing this fanbelt, be sure you shut off the engine as it may cause irreversible injury

    2. We should listen to cicero. After all, he is the troll who agrees with Somerby the mostest of the most.

    3. If cicero knows as much about automobiles as he does about say, economics, I assume the engine is where he washes his dirty dinner plates.

    4. cicero eats off of plates?

  3. Has there been an escalation of stupidity emanating from the posts at the Daily Howler? Does throwing in a reference to a French philosopher indicate our blogger is clearing up journalistic fuzziness or showing his intellectual pretensions have survived the cultural meltdown he is one of the few who is witnessing? As a low ranking commenter
    we have asked. We are trying to find out. We will point out some disturbing signs as the day goes on.

    1. A disturbing sign!

      A student asks a question. Bob Somerby finds the question reminds him of his least favorite Pulitzer prize winner. So Somerby compares the reasoning of all young black people to that columnist.

      We are sure Somerby did not think their reasoning ability is a result of race. We know Somerby finds many black people remarkable, like Martin Luther King, Jr. And, of course D'Leisha Dent, who he praised repeatedly while falsely reporting her college admission status.

      We do know he doesn't think much of young people. He denigrates them every chance he gets. So his deprecatory comparsion must have been aimed at youth, who in this instance, happening to be black and protesting at the same time, reminded him of a prominent east coast Irish Catholic.

    2. A disturbing sign!!

      "Needless to say, President Sullivan thought the young people were flawless...The youngsters showed wonderful citizenship as they stormed out of the meeting!" Somerby

      And how exactly does Bob reach that conclusion? Because the WaPo reporter wrote:

      "After the meeting, Sullivan praised student leaders for facilitating the discussion."

      I guess Somerby thinks praising the student leaders who facilitated the meeting means you are saying those who left chanting, after those student leaders announced the questions were over, are flawless. Or so it must have "appeared" to Somerby, who went on to direct more snark at Sullivan because the reporter wrote she felt something "appeared" to be excessive.

      Having "no further" points with this comment I will "storm out" looking for more signs.

    3. A disturbing sign!!!

      "As a general matter, we hold “journalists” and college presidents to one set of standards, college students to another."

      "In our view, it’s sad to see the nation’s black youth reasoning like Maureen Dowd."

      Somerby, discussing matters generally.

    4. A Disturbing Sign!!!!

      "Do black students have real complaints about the UVa police? Unasked and unanswered!"

      Also unasked and unanswered!

      Do black students have real complaints about the FBI?

      Do black students have real complaints about the UVa food services?

      Do white students have complaints that are real or unreal?

      Do complaints about a two seed seem real any more?

    5. A Disturbing Sign !!!!!

      Many of us seem wed to the practice in which we invent a perfect example of social wrong-doing through our use of invented, discarded and irrelevant facts.


      "Has there been “a pattern of escalation, especially on black bodies?” (The unusual language tracks to Foucault. This practice rarely ends well.)"


      "Last Friday, the chief took part in a campus discussion about an event in which his department had played no part"


      "President Sullivan thought the young people were flawless.

  4. The fawning tone of both Longo and Sullivan suggests appeasement not agreement with student concerns. Does it benefit African Americans when people humor them to avoid bad press instead of caring about their concerns?

    The anti-intellectualism shown by trolls who mock the mention of Foucault is a trademark of right-wing small-mindedness. Cicero and Somerby have nothing in common.

    The latest troll gambit seems to be to try to portray Somerby as a right-winger. It is ridiculous but very consistent with the tactic of attacking someone by portraying their strength as a liability. It was how Kerry got swiftboated, and how Hillary is being shown as a money-grubber because she donates speaking fees to charity. I doubt anyone here is gullible enough to fall for it, but it does tell us where some of this trolling is coming from because it is out of the right's playbook.

    1. Yes, the anti-intellectualism shown by mocking mention of Foucault is an obvious trademark of those desperate to stop a blogger volunteering his time to demonstrate the evils of professors.

      Kerry. Clinton. Somerby. All attacked for their strengths.

    2. @12:38 I am not sure you are right about the tone being "fawning." I detect deference in Longo's tone and timidity in Sullivan's. But you are right to ask what is the proper tone to strike in making sure one does the correct thing to benefit the interests of African Americans.

  5. A few days ago Chris Matthews had a panel talking about which woman should appear on the $20 bill to commemorate the anniversary of women gaining suffrage. He asked each of the panelists which of the 15 proposed women they favored. Two said they thought the field should be widened to include women with other accomplishments, such as Estee Lauder or Georgia O'Keefe. Of the remaining panelists all of them voted for an African American woman, including Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson, Harriet Tubbs. There were no white women selected from the list and none of the black women mentioned had anything to do with gaining women's suffrage.

    I think this behavior suggests that white liberals have a strong need to please black people, at least verbally. Or perhaps their need is to show everyone that they are unbiased by being biased in favor of African Americans. Whatever the motive, it makes liberals appear ridiculous.

    1. Sorry for typo -- should be Harriet Tubman

    2. Typos may be the least of your problems. Being a whiny paranoid white person may loom larger.

    3. I don't think it's a matter of corporate liberal elites pleasing black people, what they pretend to do is speak FOR black people. In a time when corporate power has seized control over virtually every institution in this country, a growing permenant underclass has been created, and the working and middle class are increasingly put apon to the point where we have finally likely "achieved" a situation where kids can now expect to do worse than their parents, does anyone expect our liberal elites to even try to touch these realities? Hell no. They're empty hollow souls who having abandoned any concept of class and solidarity are only good at turning poor and working people against one another. The void has to be filled that's how a bar fracus on an elite university can become the big story of the day.

      Can anyone really imagine a Lawrence O'Donnell or Maureen Dowd addessing real economic issues of substance in anything other than the most condescending worthless way? I remember not all that long ago, when he cashed a Jack Welch paycheck, O'Donnell played a arrogant "Hollywood liberal" on the talk shows who was fed up with Democrats, in part because they (supposedly) pandered to much to "the little people", his cry was I'm rich "where's my tax break". Some liberal champion you've got there.

    4. Chris Matthews didn't have the panel. He wasn't there.

    5. The Women on the 20's campaign was started by Barbara Ortiz Howard. a Hillary canvasser in 2008. Complaints about the nominees should be directed to her. I guess.

    6. Sez Howler regular Anon@ 12:50:

      "I think this behavior suggests that white liberals have a strong need to please black people, at least verbally."

      Since only 1 of the 4 people on the panel was "white" I'd say your comment suggests either bigotry or stupidity.

    7. Anonymous at 4:25,
      Thanks for pointing out there are no liberals in the mainstream media.
      BTW, what was the rest of the nonsense in your reply about?

    8. Krugman, Reich, sure there are some good liberals that pop up on television from time to time. The primetime dandies I see on MSNBC or on network aren't worth a damn. Basically corporate media does a poor job when they claim to present a liberal viewpoint. The leadup toIraq? The financial meltdown? And now a heaping dose of racial identity politics.

    9. Hillary plans to remedy the emerging plutocratic state with a job training bill.

    10. Her son-in-law appears to have some good contacts at Goldman Sachs. The Lad's taken on a hedge fund.

    11. Divide and conquer, most importantly keep people's minds off of real problems to the point where "they just don't get it".

    12. I get it. She and Bill were dead broke. That is why convenience matters so much. Or were you talking about picking Rosa Parks for the $20 bill

  6. Gee, what's Bob going to do when all those "initial" reports turn out to be true? And the cops were lying?


  7. "In a slightly more rational world, we liberals might begin to grasp a key point: If we want to know what actually happened in some particular incident, we will often have to wait for an investigation. Initial reports, initial appearances, will often turn out to be wrong."

    Solid advice from Bob. But, I don't think it's sufficient. In addition to simply waiting for a full investigation, liberals would do well to be affirmatively skeptical of initial reports of incidents or allegations of allegedly outrageous racial or sexist conduct, especially since so many of these have turned out to be bogus.

    For example, the initial story of the alleged UVA gang rape, i.e. a 3-hour 8 man gang rape in the dark over broken glass in a fraternity house bedroom, was simply absurd on its face, and liberals should have been openly skeptical of it from the beginning.

    1. Let's stick with "incidents or allegations of allegedly outrageous racial or sexist conduct", because this would never work with incidents or allegations of outrageous economic work by Congress.
      For example, the story of the Republican budget cutting the amount for social services and giving the rich tax breaks during a time of high unemployment/ underemployment, sounds simply absurd on it's face. Unfortunately, it's the truth.


  8. Does this mean spring training for liberals and Democrats must wait on spring training for campus leadership?

  9. "Black lives matter!" is their slogan, but their actions show that black lives don't much matter to them. If they were truly concerned about black lives, they'd be trying to do something about the thousands of black murdered by other blacks each year.

    1. Whoever "they" are, how do you know they're not trying to do something about black-on-black violence?

    2. DinC,
      Like what? Fight poverty?

      In the meantime, what's with all the Southerner on Southerner crime, and who is going to do something about it?

    3. "Or perhaps it's the media's fault?"

      The cries of those in the crossfire of "black on black crime", as they call for a stop to the madness are ignored by the media. The media won't allow an adult discussion about the roots of poverty, gun proliferation, the police state, a two-tiered justice system, etc.
      The divide game they play (seriously, "black on black crime", but barely a mention of the growing epidemic of economic crime?), is just one of many tricks in the bag of these propagandists, as they distract, misinform and confuse the people.

  10. George Zimmerman discusses his persecution. Very credible and eliminated any lingering negative opinion previously held. Decent man and a real victim.


    1. Yep. Obama made him do it.

    2. Actually God made him do it. And then he committed acts of hypocrisy and almost blasphemy for blaming others for doing things which were all part of God's plan.

  11. Thomas Jefferson would have been proud of Chief Longo. He was a big admirer of the native population.