One wasn’t the loneliest number: The first thing we read this morning was Leon Neyfakh’s report at Slate. It concerned the decision not to prosecute the officers involved in the shooting death of Tamir Rice.
Neyfakh started as shown below. We were struck by the highlighted passage:
NEYFAKH (12/29/15): The two police officers involved in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland will not be charged with a crime, officials announced Monday. Timothy Loehmann, a rookie officer, shot Rice on Nov. 22 after he and his partner, Frank Garmback, confronted the boy at a park in response to a 911 call about a man with a gun.We were surprised, and not surprised, by the highlighted passage. It can perhaps be described as “technically accurate,” depending on how kind you are.
It turned out that the gun Rice was carrying was not real—a fact that has made the tragedy of his death stand out from the many other cases of police-involved shootings in recent months.
As Neyfakh correctly notes, “the gun Rice was carrying was not real.” But according to the Washington Post, that situation obtained in 32 fatal shootings by police in the course of the past year. Videotape of at least one of those shootings can be found on YouTube.
You can perhaps defend Neyfakh’s presentation as technically accurate. A person could also respond by asking a question:
The Washington Post has performed a major service by compiling its data base on fatal shootings by police. Why don’t the nation’s journalists use that data base?
Different people might answer that question in different ways. For ourselves, we’re shoveling in the cold frozen north in the hope of making our way to the Amtrak station at an undisclosed location.
Tomorrow, we’ll return to the question of the New York Times’ coverage of Candidate Trump’s budget proposal. Meanwhile, if you want more information about those 32 fatal shootings, you can find it here.
(The Post includes a short description of each of the fatal shootings, plus a statistical breakdown. Click on the words “Toy weapon.”)
The Post has performed a valuable service by compiling that data base this year. They make it hard to find at their site. If you click that link, you’ll be there.
Our own incomparable ruling: For ourselves, we wouldn’t be inclined to describe Slate’s presentation as “technically accurate.”
Our expectations are higher than that! We’d be inclined to rate it “highly misleading” and therefore “essentially wrong.”
Also perhaps as “the same old same old,” given the shape of the times and the shape of the stories we’re preferentially told.