Erin Burnett's disgrace: The report appeared in print editions of yesterday's New York Times. On May 23, a motorist had been shot and killed by a policeman on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway.
The motorist's name was James Gordon. Though many facts remain unclear, other facts and claims are striking and sad. The following excerpts are drawn from Tracey Tully's news report:
TULLY (6/9/20): The attorney general’s office said that Mr. Gordon had been spotted at about 6:26 a.m. driving southbound at 110 miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway in Bass River, about 100 miles south of New York City.The fact that New Jersey's attorney general says it doesn't make it true. (His name is Gurbir Grewal.) That said, you can hear the five-minute 911 call by clicking here, though parts have been redacted.
It was Mr. Gordon’s fourth encounter with the police in 30 hours after a friend in New York called 911 to express concern about Mr. Gordon’s “well being and whereabouts,” according to the attorney general. “He looked very, very panicked,” the friend told the dispatcher, according to a recording of the 911 call. “He said something about a paranormal experience.”
At any rate:
Thirty hours before Gordon's death, a friend had called 911 to express concern about Gordon's behavior and/or state of mind. According to Tully, four encounters with police followed. At least three of those encounters are accounted for here:
TULLY: According to Mr. Grewal’s office, Mr. Gordon ran out of gas twice in the hours before the shooting, with state troopers responding both times. He was also issued a ticket for driving 101 m.p.h. in Stafford, N.J., about 13 minutes before Sergeant Wetzel stopped him.That would account for at least three encounters. Was there an earlier encounter in the immediate aftermath of that 911 call?
Tully's report seems to say that, but that part of her report isn't clear.
At any rate, according to Tully's report, Gordon had been issued a ticket for driving 101 mph. He was stopped for driving 110 mph shortly thereafter.
He had run out of gas two times, or possibly three. According to Tully's report, his car may have been out of gas again at the time he was shot and killed.
Thirty hours earlier, a friend had called 911 to express concern about Gordon's state of mind and/or behavior. Also included in Tully's report is a claim about a possible mental health issue and a standard disavowal:
TULLY: A former girlfriend told The Pine Barrens Tribune, a South Jersey publication, that [Gordon] was being treated for schizophrenia. His mother, sister and a family lawyer neither confirmed nor disputed that, but they said it was irrelevant to his death. The former girlfriend could not be immediately reached for comment.How did this traffic stop lead to Gordon's death? We can't tell you that, although Tully's report includes more claims and facts about what happened after that traffic stop.
“I don’t think his mental health has anything to do with it,” [Gordon's mother] said.
According to Tully's report, the incident is under formal review; Governor Murphy is sounding very high-minded. The videotape is unclear, as is Tully's account of the videotape.
Having said that, mental illness is a serious matter. Like speed, mental illness can kill.
Or not! We don't know what happened that night. We don't know if the trooper was at fault in some way.
We did watch Erin Burnett last night, and what we saw was a simple disgrace. Chris Cuomo's later interview with Houston police chief Art Acevedo wasn't a whole lot better.
Burnett's presentation would be an extremely bad joke if so many deeply serious matters weren't at stake. We'll suggest you read the embarrassing transcript to see the way she and her corporate owners decided the game should be played.
In our view, CNN has become unwatchable in the wake of George Floyd's death. The network could save a lot of money by replacing Cooper and Lemon with enjoyable life-sized puppets. Cuomo's not far behind.
Journalistically speaking, we're not sure we've ever seen a worse segment than the one Burnett conducted. We're suddenly living in Maoist times. Multimillionaire "cable news" stars retain their jobs in such ways.
All downhill from here: At the start of the segment, after a very short account of what happened, Burnett introduced her fair-and-balanced panel. If life and death issues weren't involved, this would merely be funny:
BURNETT (6/9/20): All right. Martin [Savidge], thank you very much.Her fair-and-balanced panel consisted of two people—a lawyer who's representing the family, and a lawyer who's trying to help the family.
And I want to go outfront now to William Wagstaff, the attorney for Maurice Gordon's family, and Shavar Jeffries, a civil rights attorney and community leader who's trying to help the family get answers about Maurice's death.
Kabuki theater proceeded from there. Increasingly, more and more, this truly is CNN.