THE PROBLEMS WITH NOVELS: Gene Robinson buries John Geer!

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016

Part 2—Morning Joe star frankly puzzled:
This very morning, on Morning Joe, Gene Robinson was frankly puzzled.

Guest host Katty Kay had just given a bungled account of a new study which suggests that blacks don't get shot more often than whites during police encounters.

Kay cited this front-page report in the hard-copy New York Times. Presumably, the bungled text she read had been crafted by the cable program's incompetent producers.

Could that new study possibly be accurate? One regular guest on this daily gong-show found it hard to believe.

Frankly, Gene Robinson was puzzled by the new study. Here's what he said when he was asked if the new study could be accurate:
ROBINSON (7/12/16): These numbers surprise me. It's a study that I'd love to see replicated. I'd love to see some, you know, some back-up, because frankly a lot of people will find it hard to believe, and I find it hard to comport with the reality that we see.

If you look qualitatively at these incidents that we have seen over the last few years, it's difficult to find parallel situations in which white suspects have been killed, I mean, you know, like Walter Scott running away from the police officer in Charleston, or even like what we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

KAY: Gene, is it possible that those incidents are happening—a white suspect runs away and gets shot by police—and it doesn't come to public attention in the way that it does when a black suspect runs away? Or do you think it's just not happening in the data mix?
In the second part of that exchange, Kay asked a very good question. To see Robinson deliver a world-class non-response, you can just click here.

Frankly, Robinson was puzzled by the new study. He said the new study "was hard to comport with the reality that we see."

Truer words were never spoken! But in part, Robinson was describing the way his infernal guild creates their infernal novels, which often dominate the way we the people come to see the world.

Frankly, the Pulitzer-winner and Morning Joe enabler was puzzled by the new study. Try as he might, he couldn't think of "parallel incidents" in which white suspects get killed by police in the way "that we have seen" in the case of black victims.

He said he couldn't think of a case. We're forced to suggest that the Morning Joe enabler/hack was perhaps maybe possibly being less than obsessively frank.

Frankly, Robinson couldn't quite think of a case! Because we read the famous newspaper by which the gentleman is employed, we can think of a recent high-profile case.

Just last month, the high-profile case came to an end. For three years, the case had been covered by the Washington Post as a local story.

Despite the remarkable aspects of the case, despite the focus on police shootings, the case never moved beyond the Post to national attention. That said, Gene Robinson would have to be aware of this rather remarkable case. That's why our analysts say we're forced to suggest that he was maybe possibly lying when he told Kay that, speaking frankly, he can't think of any such case.

The remarkable case to which we refer reached its end late last month. Tom Jackman's report appeared on the front page of the Post's "Metro" (local news) section.

In news reports and aggressive editorials, the Washington Post had covered the case for three years. Headlines included, this is the way Jackman's report began:
JACKMAN (6/25/16): Ex-Fairfax officer gets a year in jail for fatal shooting
Victim's mother: "This is not justice"/Adam Torres will be released next week

The former Fairfax County police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in the man's doorway in 2013 was sentenced to a year in jail Friday for involuntary manslaughter, over the vehement objection of the victim's mother. Having already served more than 10 months behind bars, the officer will be released next week, Fairfax sheriff's officials said.

Adam D. Torres, 33, was facing trial for second-degree murder for the August 2013 killing of John B. Geer. But on the eve of trial in April, he and his lawyers reached a deal with prosecutors for a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter and a 12-month sentence. Geer's mother, Anne Geer, took the witness stand Friday morning and said it was "insulting to suggest that the crime of murder is only worth one year in a protected jail cell....John will spend forever in his grave. This is not justice for John."
In many ways, this case resembles the cases "we have seen" in the past several years. A police officer shot and killed an unarmed man who was posing no threat. He ended up with a 12-month sentence, over the objections of the victim's mother.

The fact that Torres ended up getting charged at all may make this case stand out. That said, other aspects of the case are perhaps a bit unusual.

According to Jackman's report, "The Aug. 29, 2013, shooting remained largely under the radar for more than a year, even as other police killings around the country sparked unrest in 2014, until Fairfax police were forced to release information about it in January 2015. Then the case erupted..."

There too we see a familiar pattern, with the local police department withholding information about this shooting for more than a year. But did the case really "erupt" when they finally had to relent?

In fact, this case only "erupted" on the local level, despite its similarity to the types of cases "we have seen" in recent years.

In some ways, this case was especially egregious—and especially striking. Eventually, Jackman offered this summary of what occurred when Geer was shot and killed:
JACKMAN: Geer, 46, was angry that Harrington, his girlfriend of 24 years, was moving out of their Springfield townhouse and he had thrown her belongings onto the front yard. Torres was one of the first two officers to arrive on the scene. Geer went back into the house, where Torres said he displayed a gun in a holster, then placed the gun on the floor and raised his hands onto the frame of his screen door and refused to come back outside, Torres told detectives in two statements.

After 45 minutes, while a third officer was speaking to Geer, Torres suddenly fired one shot into Geer's chest from a distance of about 17 feet. Geer spun, closed the door and fell to the floor, fatally wounded. Torres later told investigators he saw Geer suddenly drop his hands to his waist and he feared that Geer might be going for another gun. Four other nearby officers and two civilian witnesses—Geer's father and his best friend—all said Geer's hands were near his head or shoulders when Torres fired, their statements show.

But the details of the case, including the name of the officer who fired the shot, were withheld by Fairfax police for more than a year. Behind the scenes, Fairfax police refused to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors who wanted to examine Torres's personnel files, both prosecutors said. Finally, in January 2015, after Harrington filed a civil suit on behalf of their two teenage daughters, a Fairfax judge ordered police to release the criminal case information to the family, to include the shooter's name and the witness statements.

Fairfax County then settled the civil case with Geer's daughters for $2.95 million. Morrogh impaneled a special grand jury in July, and the following month it indicted Torres, charging him with second-degree murder. Fairfax police fired Torres in July after he spent two years on paid administrative duty.
Five police officers were at the scene when Geer was shot and killed. in a remarkable manifestation, four of the officers testified that Geer had done nothing to pose a threat when he was suddenly shot and killed.

Despite this fact pattern, the Fairfax police stonewalled the case for over a year. And how odd! Despite the massive, appropriate interest in "other police killings around the country," this case never became one of the cases "we have seen."

It remained a local case, discussed in the Post, nowhere else.

That said, the Geer killing got huge attention from the Post, both in its news reporting and in a series of aggressive editorials. There is no chance—zero, zilch, none—that Robinson, the Morning Joe star, doesn't know about this case, which had a very high local profile but never became one the cases "we have seen" as our nation's "news orgs" created their latest novel.

Let's be fair. There is no videotape of the shooting of Geer—but then, there is no videotape of several of the most famous cases in our ongoing novel.

The lack of videotape hasn't kept such cases from gaining huge currency, nor should it. As a general matter, our news orgs and our "journalists" know what to do in the absence of tape. In such cases, they simply start inventing facts to serve the demands of their novel.

In many ways, the Geer case was especially egregious. We know of no other case where a police agency stonewalled a case for over a year in the face of damning testimony against the accused from four—count em, four!—other police officers.

Despite that remarkable profile, very few people around the country have ever heard of this case. They've never heard that this man was shot through the chest, in his doorway, in broad daylight, while posing exactly no threat.

If we might borrow Robinson's language, the Geer case isn't one of the cases "we have seen!" Surely, everyone with an ounce of sense understands why that is.

This morning, Robinson was frankly puzzled by the new study. Frankly, he couldn't think of a case involving a white victim which resembles the cases "we have seen," the cases with the black victims.

For that reason, he was puzzled by the new study, a new study which may or may not reflect the nation's reality.

After Robinson spoke so frankly, the analysts came to our sleeping chamber. Tears were running down their cheeks as they gently roused us.

"A Morning Joe star is at it again," the youngsters pitifully wailed. "Gene Robinson, the Morning Joe star, has been extending that novel again!"

Tomorrow: Was Hillary Clinton telling the truth about that famous case?

Thursday: We start to assess the statistics


  1. Joe and MEka have been lying about Hillary Clinton to slam her for days and this is when you decide to attack something said no Morning Joe. I guess you rather attack a liberal african-american than a fellow old, white, southern, conservative white guy

  2. Nowhere in this piece or in the quoted material does it say that Geer is white.

    1. Another Howler reader who never follows a link.

      (Reporters never ask the questions Bob wants in the posts or quoted materials so why should his readers follow his links. Everyone disses

    2. Yes, why should readers follow his links?

      Somerby, by implication, makes it plain that Geer is white but he doesn't say so.

      If the reporter neglected to mention that Geer was right, a reader could "follow the links" and find out by looking up Geer's birth certificate, so why the fuss?

      Years ago, journalists were told it was racist to mention the race of a person in a crime article (or other type of article), so they stopped doing it. Then civil rights activists decided race was important and began emphasizing disparities. It is hard to notice patterns or assess disparities when race is omitted from articles routinely.

      The point isn't whether the original article mentioned that Geer was white, but that cases of shootings of white people are not given the same salience, the same media attention as those involving black men in these days of BLM and renewed civil rights interest in police activity. A distorted picture of the statistical realities is the result.

      Somerby illustrates in today's post how this happens. You @12:08, think it is sufficient that race could be determined with a bit of effort. That effort deters a reader from generating a correct impression of who gets shot under what circumstances.

      Another Howler reader who doesn't get subtlety when it hits him in the face.

    3. I remember a reporter from the New York Times who, by implication, made it plain Donald Trump never sent gumshoes to Hawaii but didn't say she asked anyone. Pretty clear to all but really stupid people that he didn't.

    4. Reporters aren't supposed to dance around the truth.

      If Donald didn't send gumshoes to Hawaii, she should have said so plainly, up front. Journalism isn't about reading between the lines.

      What Somerby does here isn't journalism. How many times does that need to be explained before you will get it?

    5. What Somerby does here is journalism. Bad journalism. From someone with no education, training, and very little practice in the field before beginning his own publication,

    6. "Bad journalism." An opinion of yours that is so poorly defended, that you actually manage to prove Somerby's points more often than not.

    7. I don't have to prove anything. I am not a journalist.

    8. Are you "someone with no education, training, and very little practice in the field?"

      Oh, NO! Could it be that you are a, *gasp*, hypocrite?

  3. if you like them,

  4. Did Greer really, after being shot, have the temerity and the wherewithal to close the door before he fell to the floor, fatally wounded?

    1. Did Geer really have the temerity to be called Geer instead of Greer?

  5. From 2000 to 2015, the data span a pretty large period. Lots of changes in circumstances in there: post-9/11, two major wars, deep recession, slow recovery, black president. It would be very informative to see those statistics plotted year-by-year. People tend to think history began with their awareness of it. If it is so that 20-25-year-olds have just discovered the last 5-8 years, and it is true that in that period, blacks ARE more frequently shot, they may have point.
    From the data we have, it appears to me that blacks are generally grabbed, held, and generally abused at a much higher rate. And, of course, they survive those experiences to tell the tale. Naturally, those persons will deduce a higher shooting rate as an escalation of their own experience. I would also like to know how many times each shooting victim had previously been beaten and released by police. Everyone has a breaking point; after being stopped 51 times for minor offenses, Mr. Castile might have shown less than the respect expected by the police, and they both escalated ftom there.

    1. Having been stopped many times before, Castile may have been known to the police and that may have been the basis for deciding he looked like the robbery suspect in the security video. If we are going to speculate, why not speculate that Castile was known to local officers?

      Further, everyone seems to assume that the numerous traffic stops were bogus. Does it change the picture to assume that Castile was someone who couldn't conform to requirements to keep his driver's license current, to license his vehicle and keep it in good repair? 31 of his CONVICTIONS (not stops, convictions) were for misdemeanors -- those are not routine tickets (such as for speeding) but more serious problems such as DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, lack of a license or insurance. We have video of Castile and Reynolds driving DUI (from Reynolds facebook). Why assume he was being hassled unfairly when there is evidence such stops may have been justified. Why assume anyone was beaten? Why not assume he was a nuisance to local officers because he could not conform to traffic laws? Inability to do what an authority figure asks, in the manner asked, then seems like a plausible contributor to his death -- e.g., failure to keep his hands up after he told the cop he had a gun.

      Assumptions can go both ways. Reasoning from statistical data tells us very little about what happened in this specific situation.

      Being stopped 51 times does not result in any tickets at all if you keep your vehicle in repair and follow traffic laws. Dismissed tickets are generally the result of fixing a mechanical problem and showing proof of the repair in court. They don't prove the officer's stop was wrong. I've seen a lot of dismissive talk about "They were just speeding tickets" and so on, but these laws exist because they prevent accidents and keep people safe. Why should any segment of the population, because of skin color, be exempt from following the same laws everyone else agrees to follow? Traffic tickets matter.

      If I see one more person say "The sentence for speeding shouldn't be death" I will believe BLM supporters are not trying to think clearly. Castile's death was because he made a cop fear for his life by reaching instead of keeping his hands up (after telling the cop he had a gun). It wasn't a punishment for any aspect of operating his car or for being black or for being a cafeteria supervisor or for having a child in the car or anything else like that. These formulations -- who cares if he had 52 traffic stops -- the penalty for that shouldn't be death -- are an insult to the seriousness of the discussion on race.

    2. Speaking of narratives, after the Dallas police shooting last week, can we finally kill the one about the 2nd Amendment being for citizens to fight the tyranny of the government?

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