JOURNALISM OF THE SAINTS: Rules for the journalistic road!

FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2020

Diomedes visits the Times:
The overall point of the Atlantic essay was perhaps a bit hard to define. On the other hand, its intended point was perfectly clear.

The author opened by recalling the shooting deaths of four men. Each man had been shot and killed by a police officer.

Three of these deaths, readers were told, constituted a "gruesome cycle." The author's description of that cycle made it sound like the deaths had resulted from wanton, uncaring police conduct.

The author didn't offer evidence to that effect, but the implication was clear. As the essay continued, the author focused on shooting deaths in which black people were shot and killed by police.

That, of course, is a deeply serious topic. That said, the essay published by The Atlantic may have left something to be desired.

Before long, the author was referring to "a reality in which black people [are] routinely robbed of their livelihoods and lives by armed government agents."

Eventually, the thoroughly admirable activist around whom the essay had been constructed was quoted saying this:
LOWERY (6/10/20): “We want justice for George Floyd, but we know justice isn’t enough,” Noor said. “That’s why we’re demanding bigger and bolder things. Now is the time to defund the police and actually invest in our communities.

“These systems were created to hunt, to maim, and to kill black people, and the police have always been an uncontrollable source of violence that terrorizes our communities without accountability,
” Noor added. “Black communities have been and are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities.”

Many reformers, especially black reformers, have long viewed incremental policy changes as a way to reduce police abuse and killings in the short term while they work toward their true goal: fully remaking the entire criminal-justice system.
An obvious picture was being painted, with potential solutions included. As for the author himself, his identity line read like this:
WESLEY LOWERY is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement...
"They Can’t Kill Us All?" Journalistically, does that title suggest the possibility that some such plan is in effect? Is that what terrified children will hear?

We take it as obvious that Wesley Lowery is a good, decent person. That said, we can't say that we're giant fans of his journalism, or of its possible effect on the world.

That said, this style of journalism is currently hot, as is Lowery's topic. In the upper-end mainstream press, the children are always prepared to stampede in some preapproved direction, and the impetus for the current stampede is the sudden desire to exhibit vast interest in racial justice.

In the current stampede, journalists and news orgs race to display a heartfelt interest in racial justice—a heartfelt interest rarely put on display in the recent past. Other journalistic stampedes have turned out extremely poorly in recent decades.

One of these journalistic stampedes sent George W. Bush to the White House and the United States army into Iraq.

A second related journalistic stampede—the one in which our high-minded journalists and orgs sat around as Hillary Clinton was derided by their colleagues in openly misogynistic terms—helped send Donald J. Trump to the White House and covid-19 all over the U.S.

This new stampede may turn out better. But skepticism should be advised.

We didn't think much of Lowery's essay when we initially read it. Personally, we thought the instant reference to Michael Brown was a (very familiar) mark of the current purveyor of novelized news designed for the liberal audience.

It's certainly true that everyone is currently telling these novelized stories, at least within our own blue tribe. On a journalistic basis, that doesn't make it right.

In our view, editors at The Atlantic should have challenged Lowery as early as paragraph 2. After that, they should have challenged paragraphs 3 and 4, and much that came after that.

That said, it wasn't until we read Lowery's essay in last Sunday's New York Times that we thought of Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, and his rebuke to headstrong Diomedes not far from the walls of Troy.

"How young you are," Nestor famously said. For now, we'll just leave it at that.

In his essay for the Times,
the fiery young journalist tried to write some rules for the future road of his craft. Were we grading, we'd be forced to grade his essay as D-minus work.

Inevitably, this meant that Lowery's lengthy essay had to be the featured piece in last weekend's Sunday Review. That's how they play at the Times.

What was wrong with Lowery's essay? Let us count just a few of the ways:

In one strand of his essay, Lowery makes a claim for which he presents no real evidence. He says the powers-that-be at major news orgs don't listen to their black employees enough.

That may well be the case. That said, Lowery makes no real attempt to offer evidence in support of the claim. For that reason, we have no way to assess it.

Lowery makes a larger claim which also could be correct. He claims that news orgs are mainly concerned with seeming to be objective—with "the neutral objectivity model."

According to Lowery, news orgs would rather seem objective than tell the actual truth. And when they try to seem objective, he says, they are trying to seem objective to their white readers.

Once again, these claims could be true. But no serious evidence or discussion is offered.

Do news orgs try to seem objective, even at the expense of stating basic facts and telling the basic truth? It would be interesting to hear first-person accounts of such decision-making, but Lowery doesn't provide them.

For the most part, Lowery proceeds to offer a list of overall do's and don'ts for the modern journalist to follow. In some ways, the advice he provides borders on the comical.

He starts by citing journalistic advice offered by Alex S. Jones way back when, in a 2009 bool. Lowery agrees with these basic ideas—but then again, who doesn't?:
The stated views of Alex S. Jones:
Journalists should make a genuine effort to be honest brokers when it comes to news

Journalists should play it straight without favoring one side when the facts are in dispute, regardless of their own views and preferences

Journalists shouldn't create the illusion of fairness by letting advocates pretend that there is a debate about the facts when the weight of truth is clear
Would anyone on the face of the earth disagree with those principles? We don't offer this as a criticism of Jones, but already several analysts were crying as Lowery ladled this stew.

From there, Lowery began to adumbrate his own journalistic principles. As with the stated views of Jones, we'll eschew the use of quotations marks, but a simple review of the text will show that we're basically cutting-and-pasting.

Lowery offered his do's and his don'ts. Let's list some of the things the modern journalist should do:
Four things Lowery says journalists should do:
We should be telling hard truths

Reporters should focus on being fair and telling the truth, as best as one can, based on the given context and available facts

We should devote ourselves to accuracy

We should stop doing things like reflexively hiding behind euphemisms that obfuscate the truth
Would anyone disagree with those views? As before, we're just asking!

Below, we list two more things the journalist ought to do. We'll return to these points below:
Two additional things Lowery says journalists should do:
We should diligently seek out the perspectives of those with whom we personally may be inclined to disagree

We should ask hard questions of those with whom we’re inclined to agree.
Did Lowery honor these fair-and-balanced ideas at any point in his Atlantic essay? Did the magazine ask him to do so? More on these questions below.

We've listed six things the new, improved journo should do. Here is a list of some don'ts:
Several things Lowery says journalists shouldn't do:
We shouldn't deprive our readers of plainly stated facts

We shouldn't find ways to avoid telling the truth.

We shouldn't make decisions that potentially let powerful bad actors off the hook and harm the public we serve.
Journalists shouldn't avoid telling the truth. They shouldn't deprive readers of facts.

Also, journalists shouldn't harm the public. They shouldn't let bad actors off the hook!

We're going to guess that Lowery will find wide agreement within the profession concerning these basic ideas. The problem comes when Lowery attempts to apply these comically obvious principles to actual questions which may arise when news orgs report on painful events—events which occur in the dead of night in a complex, murky world.

His first example is utterly trivial. He says news orgs should stop using the allegedly euphemistic phrase, "officer-involved shootings."

Few suggestions will be more pointless—or more jumbled. This is the full presentation:
LOWERY: Neutral objectivity trips over itself to find ways to avoid telling the truth. Neutral objectivity insists we use clunky euphemisms like “officer-involved shooting.” Moral clarity, and a faithful adherence to grammar and syntax, would demand we use words that most precisely mean the thing we’re trying to communicate: “the police shot someone.”
If that doesn't bring on the revolution, nothing ever will!

Question: Did "the police" shoot the late Michael Brown, or did Officer Darren Wilson? Even when he tries to be high-minded in pursuit of "telling the truth," Lowery defaults to a suggestion of collective action and collective (alleged) guilt.

That first suggestion is just basically sad. Lowery's second suggestion makes zero sense when applied to the four incidents with which he started his Atlantic essay:
LOWERY: In coverage of policing, adherents to the neutral objectivity model create journalism so deferential to the police that entire articles are rendered meaningless. True fairness would, in fact, go as far as requiring that editors seriously consider not publishing any significant account of a police shooting until the staff has tracked down the perspective—the “side”—of the person the police had shot. That way beat reporters aren’t left simply rewriting a law enforcement news release.
It's certainly true that official accounts of police shootings will sometimes be grossly inaccurate. But with respect to this new rule, what if the person "the police" shot was actually shot and killed?

In these, the most serious cases, the perspective of the person "the police" shot will in fact never be heard. Somehow, editors have to soldier on. Presumably, editors can do the same, where necessary, in shootings which aren't fatal.

Those are Lowery's first attempts to apply the new principles, and so far we're pinning our wheels. With his third attempt, the rubber finally met the road—and we thought we heard Nestor calling:
LOWERY: Moral clarity would insist that politicians who traffic in racist stereotypes and tropes—however cleverly—be labeled such [sic] with clear language and unburied evidence. Racism, as we know, is not about what lies in the depths of a human’s heart. It is about word and deed. And a more aggressive commitment to truth from the press would empower our industry to finally admit that.
When politicians traffic in racist stereotypes, news orgs should step up and say so! To the mind of the child, this will seem to make perfect sense—but the child may not realize that the question of what constitutes "racist" speech will always be a matter of judgment.

Lowery provides no examples of real reporting he would change in line with this new rule. Nor does he seem to realize that some reporter's "racist stereotype" may be some editor's "racial insinuation," or possibly something else.

Who will decide what it actually is? In the end, these will always be matters of judgment. We can state our principles as much as we like; there will never be a scientific formula which tells a news org what to decide in matters of this type.

To some extent, this obvious fact doesn't seem to have entered the fiery author's head. That said, he may know who's best equipped to be making such judgments:
LOWERY: Black journalists are speaking out because one of the nation’s major political parties and the current presidential administration are providing refuge to white supremacist rhetoric and policies, and our industry’s gatekeepers are preoccupied with seeming balanced, even ordering up glossy profiles of complicit actors. All the while, black and brown lives and livelihoods remain imperiled.

Ideally, the group of journalists given the power to decide what and whom to give a platform in this moment would both understand this era’s gravity and reflect the diversity of the country. Unfortunately, too often that is not the case.
As always, Lowery makes a striking charge while offering no examples. He says the industry's gatekeepers have been "preoccupied with seeming balanced, even ordering up glossy profiles of complicit actors."

He says the industry has been doing this even as the Republican Party and the Trump administration are "providing refuge to white supremacist rhetoric and policies."

So far, so pleasing! But who has been writing these glossy profiles? Who are these profiles profiles of? Where have these profiles been appearing? No information is given.

Meanwhile, what are the white supremacist policies being proposed by these bad actors even as they're glossily profiled in the manner described? Even as he makes a thrilling charge, Lowery offers no example.

Lowery seems to say there'd be less of this mess if the (largely white) gatekeepers consulted with a more diverse group of decision makers—and who'd want to argue with that! At some point, though, someone has to decide. Why not name the names of the current gatekeepers who are creating this mess?

We're sure that Lowery is a good person, but this is semi-loudmouth work. On the brighter side, it's the type of loudmouth work mainstream orgs are now rushing to offer, much as they once stood in line to invent the latest weird statement by the very weird Candidate Gore.

This the way these idiots play. This may not turn out to be more helpful even when it's applied to this thoroughly recent new cause.

In fairness, Lowery finally gives one semi-example of what he's talking about. He becomes the ten millionth member of the tribe to complain about the fact that the New York Times published that column by Tom Cotton, concerning which Lowery says this:
LOWERY: Perhaps the most recent controversy to erupt because of such thoughtlessness and lack of inclusion was provided by The New York Times Opinion section, when it published an essay by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, calling for, among other things, an “overwhelming show of force” by the American military in order to quell civil unrest at protests that, while at times violent, have largely been made up of peaceful demonstrations.

A method of moral clarity
would have required that leadership think very hard before providing the section’s deeply influential platform to any elected official—allowing him or her to opine, without the buffer of a reporter’s follow-up questions, using inflammatory rhetoric. It would require, at the very least, that such an article not contain several overstatements and unsubstantiated assertions.
Absolutely! Because here's no one who hates "overstatements and unsubstantiated assertions" in New York Times opinion columns quite the way Lowery does!

Lowery's piece was classic New York Times-level work. Along the way, it made us think of Nestor. It struck us as very unimpressive work—as the journalism of unearned confidence and true belief.

In closing, let's return to two of Lowery's principles which we've listed above. We refer to the principles which emerge from his "fair and balanced" side:
We should diligently seek out the perspectives of those with whom we personally may be inclined to disagree

We should ask hard questions of those with whom we’re inclined to agree
We should ask hard questions of those with whom we’re inclined to agree?

Question: Do you think Lowery challenged Noor with hard questions when she made the statements posted above from the Atlantic essay?

We're not saying that Noor's statements were wrong. We're asking if her statements were challenged, in the manner Lowery recommends for everyone but himself.

Did Lowery challenge Noor's sweeping representations? Did Lowery, for example, ask Noor to talk about this?
People shot and killed by police officers in Minnesota,
2015 to the present

White victims: 37
Black victims: 10
Every progressive knows what to say when presented with data like those. Chris Hayes said it on Wednesday night. Next week, we'll spend time exploring such data.

That said, do you think, for even one minute, that Lowery asked Noor to justify her overall presentation in the face of data like those? We're going to guess that the answer is no. We'll also make this guess:

We'll guess that The Atlantic didn't challenge Lowery's instant reference to Michael Brown's unfortunate death. We'll guess they didn't challenge his citation in light of the findings within the formal Justice Department report about that unfortunate incident.

We'll guess he wasn't asked to explain why the shooting death of Robert Christen—in which a female police officer stopped a former Big Ten fullback from killing his former girl friend—should be presented in The Atlantic as part of a "gruesome cycle."

Did it make sense to present that incident that way? We'll guess Lowery wasn't challenged with hard questions about any such topic as that.

We'll guess that Lowery wasn't challenged with respect to his presentation of the shooting death of Jamar Clark. Did the police officer who shot and killed Clark that night actually do something wrong?

We don't know how to answer that question, and we feel fairly sure that Lowery doesn't know either. But Lowery wasn't really performing journalism for The Atlantic.

He was telling a preapproved "story." He was telling a story his readers would recognize and feel that they very much liked.

Last Sunday, Lowery's piece in the New York Times was straight out of Nestor and Diomedes. His earlier essay for The Atlantic was novelized tribal story-telling pretty much all the whole way down.

Our journalism has routinely been "novelized news" over the past several decades. Our journalists have staged stampedes in which certain preapproved stories get told and retold and retold once again, with formulations becoming more pleasing and more simple-minded every step of the way.

One of these novelized group stampedes sent the U.S. army into Iraq. Another set of novelized stories helped put Donald Trump where he is. He was running against Nurse Ratched! Major figures had said such things for years, and none of these news orgs complained.

Lowery writes with youthful ardor; where others are now derided as "Karens," he's a Diomedes. That said, his story is currently selling quite well, and you will continue to hear it.

It also could be that no real change occurs within the help of this "journalism of the saints"—without a bunch of self-impressed lunkheads inducing the public to stampede off in a way which may turn out well. (Or not.)

That may be the only way revolutionary change ever occurs. For the record, many revolutions of the saints have turned out quite poorly around the globe, and other journalistic stampedes in recent decades haven't turned out real well at all.

Next week: Numbers

What Professor Cobb said:
The number of killings in Minnesota make us think of what Professor Cobb recently said.

We'll revisit his statement next week. His statement—it concerned police shootings—went exactly like this:
COBB (6/10/20): One other point that I have been making a lot, I have been making all the time, is that one of the reasons that this problem has been allowed to persist is that people have the perception that this is a black and brown problem.

But if you were to discard all of the incidents involving black and brown people
, what you would find is, there are a heck of a lot of white people, unarmed white people, who are killed by police each year.

We have a fundamental problem with policing in this country
, whose most extreme violent forms are witnessed in how we see black and brown people treated by law enforcement.
Did Lowery ask Noor to respond to that statement? Did editors at The Atlantic present some such comment to Lowery?

Dearest darlings, use your heads! That just isn't the way "story" work, and the news you see each night on TV is novelized all the way down.

71 comments:

  1. "...helped send Donald J. Trump to the White House and covid-19 all over the U.S."

    Heh-heh. Spoken like a true dembot, dear Bob.

    If this is your "actual truth", dear Bob, then what could you possibly have against liberal-hitlerian hate-mongering and your cult's glorious race war? Schizophrenic much, dear Bob?

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  2. According to Samantha Bee, there were over 50 instances of police attacking clearly identified members of the press during the ongoing protests. Because they were press members, there is also video of many of those attacks. Serious harm was done to press members by the police, including a woman who was blinded in one eye by a rubber bullet.

    Press are exercising their first amendment rights, as are the protesters. If the police are inflicting violence on these people, how can we believe that they are showing any restraint in the deaths of other community members?

    One reason why police feel they can attack the press with impunity is the ongoing attack on the media by our President and the right wing. Somerby's ongoing criticism of the press here, day in and day out, erodes the respect with which the media should be treated as they collect information needed to report the news. Somerby echoes the "fake news" labeling of Trump by trying to show how the press distorts and puts its thumbs on the scales, producing propaganda on the left which we liberals lap up indiscriminately (according to Somerby). This portray help to justify the violence and more extreme attacks on the press.

    I shouldn't have to tell anyone here when our country would be like without a free press. It is one of the bulwarks of personal freedom that make our country democratic and give its citizens the ability to live an unshackled life.

    The press doesn't always get things right, but it (like Somerby's hardworking sincere police) is doing its best. Somerby's mockery is undeserved and harmful in my opinion.

    If Somerby had any guts, he would address the issues raised by BLM head on. Instead he plays this stupid game, pretending that he is a defender of journalistic standards while he attacks liberals and liberal values.

    Dearest darlings, Somerby is no liberal and no supporter of civil liberties. And, he is a major asshole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shouldn't have to tell anyone here when our country would be like without a free press.

      Thanks for sharing. Good thing the essay wasn't about abrogating the freedom the press, eh?

      The press doesn't always get things right....

      And, in fact, as TDH has been pointing out in his charming, obsessive way for almost a quarter of a century, they often get things wrong.

      Somerby's mockery is undeserved and harmful in my opinion.

      But you are an uninformed numpty. No one should take your opinion seriously. Perhaps you could change that by taking TDH's points seriously and countering them with evidence and logic.

      Oh, who am I kidding? Ignore that last.

      If Somerby had any guts, he would address the issues raised by BLM head on.

      But evidently that's not what he wants to do as that's not the kind of thing he writes about. Are you capable of addressing his concerns?

      Oh, who am I kidding? Treat that last as rhetorical.

      Somerby is no liberal and no supporter of civil liberties.

      Quote TDH as advocating the curtailment of civil liberaties. I'll wait.

      Oh, who am I kidding? I don't have that kind of time.

      And, he is a major asshole.

      An anus is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. But if Somerby is in line for Asshole of the Year award, he's standing behind much of his commentariat.

      Delete
    2. 'But evidently that's not what he wants to do as that's not the kind of thing he writes about'

      Indeed. Somerby confines his writing to defending Trump, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Barr etc., repeating right wing troupes, and acting like a malevolent Trumptard (but it's not acting).

      Delete
    3. centrist, every word from you is a lie

      Delete
    4. AC/MA your assertion is debatable and I find most words from you to be inaccurate, and similarly tilting towards Republican goals.

      Delete
  3. "...but this is semi-loudmouth work"

    Come on, Somerby, just call Lowery an uppity n***** and be done with it. You know you want to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, we know you want him to. That way you wouldn't have to actually address TDH's points.

      Delete
    2. What points are these ? His gallant defense of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Donald Trump, Barr etc. ? His repeating right wing talking points ? His attacks on liberals ?

      Delete
    3. Deadrat, my point went swoosh over your head. Somerby's use of the words "semi-loudmouth" are akin to telling a black person to sit down and shut up. He doesn't have to say it in a more obvious form because he has already said it. It bothers me that Somerby doesn't realize how obnoxious that phrase is.

      Delete
    4. No, I got your point. You decided to take offense that you imagined that TDH gave. This allows you to signal your unsullied virtue while ignoring the content of the blog entry.

      Of course, TDH's words aren't actually silencing a black person; they're just "akin" to it. And who's more attuned to racist akinship than you? Of course, TDH doesn't actually have to "say it" because we've got you to tell us that he's already "said it."

      What TDH actually wrote was that Lowery had joined the swelling chorus of the "mainstream orgs" -- loud, insistent, full of themselves, and unevidenced, as bogus now as they were while Gore was running for President.

      But the hell with what TDH actually wrote, as long as you're bothered by it.

      How'd I do?

      Delete
    5. You don't call a black man "loud, insistent, full of himself and unevidenced" in the aftermath of yet another shooting without in turn being called a racist asshole.

      Delete
    6. That assertion is certainly true. In fact, it takes far less to be called a racist asshole.

      To be fair to TDH, "insistent" and "full of themselves" are my words for describing news outlets, stretching back to the 2000 Presidential campaign. So don't pin those words on TDH.

      TDH does say loud ("semi-loudmouth work," actually), and he provides plenty of evidence that Lowery provides no evidence for his arguments. I don't find anything offensive or strident, or even semi-offensive or semi-strident, in Lowery's reporting, so I think it's fair to challenge the "loudmouth" phrasing as untrue and offensive.

      But that doesn't excuse the abyssally poor quality of the reporting.

      Delete
  4. "That said, do you think, for even one minute, that Lowery asked Noor to justify her overall presentation in the face of data like those? "

    One of the hallmarks of a free press is that the journalists get to write whatever they choose -- not what Somerby decrees they must ask, answer or write.

    Clearly, Lowery's intent for his article was different than whatever Somerby wants to read. That isn't Lowery's fault and it certainly isn't a sin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That whooshing sound you heard when you hit the "Publish" button? It was the point going over your head.

      TDH isn't trying to dictate to Lowery what the latter should write. TDH is pointing out that Lowery isn't following his own rules for how journalists should write. In other words, "Lowery's intent for his article" was different from Lowery's own expressed standards for articles like his own.

      But I'm sure you'll be back to defend TDH when Anonymous Ignoramuses like @12:55P complain about TDH's choice of topic.

      [I]t certainly isn't a sin.

      Depends on whether you consider obtuse hypocrisy a sin.

      Delete
    2. Here is the point you continually miss. When I make a comment about something Somerby has not addressed, it isn't because I have missed Somerby's point. It is because I consider what I am saying important too. You generally overlook that and lecture me about what Somerby said, as if I didn't know it. Please stop and consider that other people here have opinions besides Somerby and that the comments are the right place to express such opinions.

      Delete
    3. When I make a comment about something Somerby has not addressed, it isn't because I have missed Somerby's point. It is because I consider what I am saying important too.

      That's the story you've decided to go with, professor? Because I'm gonna call bullshit right now, and I'll explain why below.

      Please stop and consider that other people here have opinions besides Somerby and that the comments are the right place to express such opinions.

      Since TDH doesn't moderate his comment section -- and why would he? it would mean reading it -- we're treated to ads from Bombay packers and movers, spell casters, and troll leavings from Mao (our Village Troll) and Centrist (our Avis troll -- #2 but he tries harder).

      (Nostalgia trivia fans: when did Avis drop that ad campaign and how long had it run?)

      So by no means do you have to hew to the theme of the blog entry you're submitting comments to. At times my commentary has certainly gone far afield. A discussion of Lord of the Rings comes to mind. So I wouldn't even notice if a comment thread had wandered off into the discussion of the First Amendment or even if you'd started a top-level comment with "Hey, everybody! You know what I think? I think one of the hallmarks of a free press is that journalists get to write whatever they choose! Well, that and the comics section of newspapers."

      But that's not what you do, and that's not what you've done here. Fercryanoutloud, your comment starts with a quote from the blog entry. So please stop telling me that you're just expressing one of your "important" opinions in the right place.

      You were responding to something TDH wrote, something that you called attention to by quoting it, and judging by what you wrote, something the point of which went over your head.

      Delete
    4. By "pointing out that Lowery isn't following his own rules" TDH is also trying to achieve goals beyond just merely making that narrow point, frankly his coyness is obnoxious. This is something that deadrat always ignores, there is a broader point being made. TDH has the same problem as he misinterprets phrases by limiting his reading of them to just a literal sense. TDH similarly reduces things to an individual level, never understanding when people are referencing systemic issues.

      Delete
    5. I don't know what "goals" TDH has beyond making his stated point, and neither do you. I always ignore your claims of insight because I'm pretty sure none of those is valid. How could they be?

      If TDH "misinterprets phrases," then quote him doing so.

      As for not understanding "systemic issues," I guess it somehow passed your notice that this blog is mainly about the systemic problems of a malfeasant main-stream press.

      Delete
    6. His stated points are obvious enough.

      And no, this blog is not about systemic problems. It is about targeting young female and Ivy League writers for trivialities and complaining because the Style section wants to talk about relationships. Too dang much women's stuff in the NY Times these days!!!

      Delete
    7. If you want to look for offense, you're sure to find it.

      That the NYT chooses to waste its column inches on fluff is a systemic problem for TDH. And to be fair, the problem seems widespread. It's fair to argue that newspapers and other outlets provide and should provide information other than that which meets TDH's standards.

      The argument "His stated points are obvious enough" supports my side of this disagreement, not yours.

      Delete
  5. 'at least within our own blue tribe'

    Somerby's tribe is the tribe of malevolent Trumptards who repeat right wing talking points and defend racists, pedophiles and rapists.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The BLM movement is finally making some progress, gaining traction, and it is scaring the bejesus out of Somerby and his ilk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Somerby's methods and goals are ineffectual and outdated.

      Delete
    2. Another Somerby Whisperer. This one knows what "scares" the blogger. Another member of the claque deriding the blogger's "methods and goals" as useless.

      Yet here you are commenting. Someone have a gun to your head forcing you to read the blog and comment?

      Delete
    3. 'Someone have a gun to your head forcing you to read the blog and comment?'

      Someone putting a gun to TDH's head and forcing him to read the Washington Post, the NYT or watch Maddow ?


      Delete
  7. Somerby would like to take each and every reported instance of violence by police against suspects or people in custody, examine them and find the reasons why that victim had it coming, why the police were justified in this shooting and that one. Then he can use those details to discredit the journalists who report on BLM protests with sympathy, the ones who summarize the complaints of the marchers, leaving out those cop-exonerating details, showing how the left spews nothing but propaganda and "novels" in which cops are the bad guys and dead people are the victims, as if reality were just a series of black, cop-baiting suicidal criminals-in-waiting, trying to get the innocent cops in trouble, thereby ruining their lives (just like drunk girls at frat parties ruin the lives of promising young athletes). And he pretends that he just wants Lowery to tone it down a little (be less like Diomedes and more like Nestor), while he actually is arguing to preserve the status quo, in which cops do what they want and shoot whomever they want without accountability.

    Another sterling essay, Somerby! An actual Republican couldn't write a better defense of police virtue against those exaggerating BLM sign-wavers! Keep up your magnificant assholery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree completely. Somerby claims to be concerned about AA kids, but his 'concern' seems to be restricted to allowing policemen and civilians (like Zimmerman) gun them down without suffering any consequences.

      Delete
    2. Somerby would like to take each and every reported instance of violence by police against suspects or people in custody, examine them and find the reasons why ... the police were justified in this shooting... or not.

      (Addition mine.)

      Yeah, exactly. Because sometimes the police are justified when they take a life. I want to know when they're not. If only because failure to make the distinction emboldens rightwing assholes to discredit the movement to demand accountability for wrongdoing.

      Delete
    3. The "or not" is implied by the word "whether". Unlike you, Somerby appears to prefer finding cops justified and argues that those calling these shootings unjustified are not looking at all of the facts. It is clear what his preference is. The problem being decried by BLM is that the cops are not being held to account when the shootings are not justified.

      Delete
    4. The "or not" is implied by the word "whether".

      It does when it's used. The quoted passage says "reasons why," not "reasons whether."

      Unlike you, Somerby appears to prefer finding cops justified and argues that those calling these shootings unjustified are not looking at all of the facts.

      Appears is a slippery word. I can't argue with what "appears" to you, but I can ask you to quote TDH to make that appearance manifest. As usual, TDH is talking about the reporting on an issue and not the issue itself. He spends his words on criticizing Lowery for among other things, "novelizing." In other words, weaving claims into a story even when some of those claims don't support the story's moral.

      I don't see anything to support the idea that TDH would "prefer finding cops justified." Perhaps you can redirect my gaze.

      Anyone citing the Christen tragedy as an example of an unjustified shooting is likely not looking at all the facts.

      The problem being decried by BLM is that the cops are not being held to account when the shootings are not justified.

      Absolutely true. But that's not the problem being decried by TDH, now is it?

      Delete
    5. You don't think that the days upon days of posts about the Michael Brown and George Zimmerman cases were about challenging the idea that Brown shouldn't have been shot and that Trayvon Martin shouldn't have been shot? Somerby dug up every stray fact he could find from conservative web pages in order to prove that Brown was a thug who deserved his treatment and that Martin was going to rob some white condo and that he was up to no go and thus deserved his treatment by Zimmerman (who disobeyed orders to stay in his car). Somerby couldn't have argued any more strenuously about this if he had been employed by the police union.

      You really need to stop defending Somerby.

      Delete
    6. You don't think that the days upon days of posts about the Michael Brown and George Zimmerman cases were about challenging the idea that Brown shouldn't have been shot and that Trayvon Martin shouldn't have been shot?

      I'm not a big fan of concluding what blog entries are "really" about instead of reading what they actually say. But people do have ulterior motives, make implications, offer so-called dog-whistles, and so on. And since I like TDH (the blog), I realize that I'm inclined to give TDH (the blogger) the benefit of the doubt, perhaps even when he doesn't deserve it. So I'm open to changing my mind.

      However, I'll say it's odd that someone who says he'd rather see the police retreat in the face of potentially-dangerous confrontations would try to prove that Brown and Martin deserved to be shot to death. Nevertheless, I'll listen to a coherent argument for the latter.

      I've been over this ground before, so I'm going to ask you to quote TDH to support your case. I think that's fair, since you've made the claim, and that gives you the burdens of production and proof.

      Here's what I think you'll find how TDH's discussion proceeded. For the Martin killing, regardless of how reprehensible George Zimmerman was (and remains), nobody knows what happened in the last minutes of Trayvon Martin's life. Presumably the two confronted each other in the dark. Without question some minutes later, Zimmerman shot Martin. Between those two events of which we're certain, we have only Zimmerman's self-serving account. People should probably stop claiming they know what they can't. Including, by the way, concluding that the jury ignored the law to acquit Zimmerman. In fact, Florida law is so screwed up that no jury following the law could have convicted Zimmerman.

      I don't know why you mention police unions. No police were involved in the shooting. Zimmerman didn't "disobey orders." The dispatcher told Zimmerman "we don't need you to do that," meaning following Martin. Police dispatchers do not have the authority to issue orders to citizens. However big a jerk Zimmerman was, he was legally allowed to be where he was, just like Martin.

      As regards Brown, have you read the DOJ report? I have. All the available and credible evidence shows that Brown assaulted Wilson while the latter was in his police car, and after that moved toward Wilson on the street, ignoring orders to stop, and displaying what might reasonably be called aggressive behavior. The conclusion: deadly force was not "objectively unreasonable" and Brown's Constitutional rights were not violated.

      The report is rebuttable, of course, but it was Eric Holder's DOJ, and the evidential bar seems pretty high to me.

      There's videotape of Brown's theft at the Ferguson Market. You don't think his behavior is thuggish? Wilson had every reason to believe that Brown was the thief. In any case, I don't remember TDH discussing that. He wants reporters to stop including the Brown shooting in the category of police misconduct.

      I read TDH because I find his contrarian view useful. I don't defend him when he's wrong, e.g., his analogy of the current unrest with the Cultural Revolution of Mao (not our Village Troll, the other one). But I do defend him when commenters attack him unfairly.

      I think your claims about the Brown and Zimmerman cases are wrong. But maybe I'm the one who's wrong. Can you demonstrate that?

      Delete
    7. Why would Somerby dismiss the Ferguson PD violating the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, but not the video from Ferguson Market?
      I'm not a mind-reader, so I'd like to know why Somerby has his thumb on the scale of justice.

      Delete
    8. Because none of those amendments is relevant to the Brown shooting? Just a guess.

      Delete
  8. "As always, Lowery makes a striking charge while offering no examples. He says the industry's gatekeepers have been "preoccupied with seeming balanced, even ordering up glossy profiles of complicit actors."

    It seems ironic to me that Somerby and Lowery are both making complaints about those same gatekeepers, for somewhat similar reasons (false equivalence, seeking balance where there is none, glossy showcases of the wrong people).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think Somerby notices and is bothered by these points which he criticizes because he lacks sympathy for the larger issues being discussed by these various journalists that he critiques. His conservative views make these criticisms stark whereas more liberal readers will not notice the points he raises or care about them. The problem is that Somerby has turned conservative perhaps without noticing it, so he calls himself liberal while not actually having been liberal in a long time. That is, assuming he isn't explicitly working to reelect Trump, which is entirely possible. There is no reason to believe that Somerby seriously holds any liberal opinions, or that he ever has.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somerby notices, is bothered, lacks sympathy, turned conservative without noticing, not actually ... liberal, working to reelect Trump, no reason to believe ... Somerby ... seriously holds any liberal opinions

      Somerby Whisperer of the Year contender.

      How about addressing the points TDH makes?

      Too hard?

      Delete
    2. These are the things that are implied by Somerby's words, like it or not.

      Delete
    3. No, these are the things that you've inferred from Somerby's words. Like it or not.

      Delete
    4. I didn't add anything that wasn't already there.

      Delete
    5. C'mon, Sparky. Maybe you're right about TDH, but at least have the intellectual honesty to admit you're reading his mind.

      Delete
    6. I have no idea what Somerby is thinking when he puts his thumb on the scale. I just know that's what he does on a regular basis.

      Delete
    7. You had me after "I have no idea," Sparky. The rest was talking past the close. But if you have no idea what Somerby is thinking, maybe you should stop telling us what he's thinking.

      Delete
  10. Somerby quotes Cobb who essentially said that the problem of police shootings is not a black or brown problem but a white problem too, a policing problem.

    This would be fine if the only point of BLM were these killings, but it is not. We have a black and brown problem of injustice in all aspects of the criminal justice system, not simply police killings. It arises from the discrimination and systemic racism that pervades our society and is a legacy of slavery and colonialism.

    Somerby doesn't want to deal with those larger issues so he focuses on Cobb's statement and wants to narrow Lowery's focus to eliminate race. He doesn't see how self-serving it is for a white person to argue that consideration of present and past racial injustices should be set aside as past history, not relevant to the present.

    As we become a multicultural society, our habits of preferring whites over black and brown people must stop. The majority is no longer in favor of that unfairness. This may be hard for guys like Somerby to accept -- no one wants to relinquish a position on top to become just another guy among others, but that outcome is inevitable. These are just the squeals of the deposed and their king is Donald J. Trump, the biggest squealer of all.

    ReplyDelete
  11. PSSST Hydroxychloroquine works. Pass it on.

    Also Trump is going to win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Psssst, go gargle bleach.

      Delete
    2. Be as loud as you want. Those 130,000 people aren't sleeping due to Trump's criminal negligence, and idiocy (i.e. trying to gaslight a virus like it was Maggie Haberman). You're not going to wake them no matter how loud your nonsense.

      Delete
  12. “Who will decide what it actually is? In the end, these will always be matters of judgment. We can state our principles as much as we like; there will never be a scientific formula which tells a news org what to decide in matters of this type.”

    This is why precisely Lowery wants more black journalists and editors.

    Lowery has judged that racism is true, and should be called out when it occurs. He presumably feels that other black journalists would do the same.

    If Somerby were the reporter, he would rather plainly try to be objective, questioning whether a particular incident is racist, and, indeed, questioning whether racism even exists or what the term means. After all, it is subjective, according to him.

    So, Somerby is skeptical of racism; Lowery is not.

    Lowery is arguing that what he sees as truth should be reported that way. He wants more journalists like himself and fewer like Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "So, Somerby is skeptical of racism; Lowery is not."

      Skepticism is unwarranted, since Lowery is clearly a racist, obsessed with his "race"'s perceived grievances against other "races".

      He's a liberal-Nazi, whose worldview revolves around imaginary rivalry of imaginary "races".

      That's what your bosses do, your only play: inventing bullshit "identities" and making them hate each-other,
      inciting hatred.

      Delete
    2. "That's what your bosses do, your only play: inventing bullshit "identities" and making them hate each-other,
      inciting hatred."

      Exactly. WTF is a "coastal elite"?

      Delete
  13. “People shot and killed by police officers in Minnesota,
    2015 to the present
    White victims: 37
    Black victims: 10”

    When it comes to Covid-19 deaths, Somerby implores everyone to use per capita numbers.

    According to the Washington Post’s police shooting database “Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than white Americans.”

    In fact, in Minnesota, the population is 83.8% white and 7% black, and yet 21% of the people shot since 2015 in officer-involved shootings were black.

    Of course, Ms Noor isn’t looking just at Minnesota. And she isn’t looking purely at shootings by police. After all, George Floyd wasn’t shot, and it is the Floyd killing that has sparked nationwide protests.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now adjust for violence.

      Delete
    2. "Black victims: 10"

      Not 'victims'; most likely: perps. Getting shot during commission of a crime doesn't make one 'victim'.

      And I bet the cops try to avoid shooting anyone of your "black" Master Race the best they can, knowing that the woke mob will raise a stink to high heaven. No matter what circumstances are.

      Just like dear Bob documented. So, in all likelihood the stats are skewed in the opposite direction, dear dembot.

      Delete
    3. Meh. Mao pretending he hated the Establishment, that he loves, was a decent shtick. Now he's dropped that pretense, and he's just another in a LONG, LONG list of Right-wingers who are flat-out bigots.
      Boring!

      Delete
    4. mh, do you know what percentage of crimes are committed by Blacks in Minnesota, or throughout the US? could be a relevant factor too.

      Delete
  14. “These systems were created to hunt, to maim, and to kill black people, and the police have always been an uncontrollable source of violence that terrorizes our communities without accountability,” Noor added. “Black communities have been and are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities.”

    And this is an adult, not a college sophomore.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Are you denying that until now, police have mostly been uncontrolled and unaccountable? Are you denying that systems like Ferguson traffic control and New York stop-and-frisk have been disproportionately burdensome to black people? Are you responding to one of your fellow citizens telling you her experience with "You can't feel that way?"

    I guess you are.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Who created the culture of black people killing black people?

    ReplyDelete
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    "This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

    ReplyDelete
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