Officer Lane's five requests disappear!

FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2020

Watching a novel take form:
Last week, journalists gained access to the transcripts of what was said on the day of George Floyd's death.

Two days ago, journalist gained access to the actual body camera footage from which those transcripts emerged. On each occasion, the Washington Post's Holly Bailey published a front-page report about what the new material revealed.

Below, you see the account she gave last week of what happened when two rookie officers, Thomas Lane and J. A. Keung, arrived on the scene that horrible day and first interacted with Floyd:
BAILEY (7/9/20): Officers had responded to a 911 call from Cup Foods complaining of a customer who had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. Kueng and Lane were the first officers on the scene, and the transcripts show that a store clerk pointed them to where Floyd and two others sat in a parked car nearby.

Transcripts show that Lane approached the car and called on Floyd at least five times to show his hands, drawing his gun when he didn’t. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Floyd responded, according to a transcript of Lane’s body camera. “I didn’t do nothing. . . . What did I do though? What did we do, Mr. Officer?”
According to last week's report, Lane ask Floyd to show his hands at least five times before he drew his gun. This information might tend to suggest that Officer Lane may have had reason to be concerned, at least at that point.

Last week, we were puzzled by Bailey's overall take on what happened that day, but she did include that information, and quite a bit more, in her lengthy report. Yesterday, in her new report, she described that same initial approach to Floyd in this new, amended way:
BAILEY (7/16/20): Officers had responded to a 911 call from Cup Foods complaining of a customer who had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. Kueng and Lane were the first officers on the scene, and the video shows that a store clerk pointed them to where Floyd and two others sat in a parked car nearby.

Lane pulled his weapon on Floyd within 15 seconds of first approaching the blue SUV where Floyd sat in the driver’s seat.
His body camera shows he twice tapped on the vehicle’s window with a flashlight. Floyd initially didn’t respond, but the second time, he looked over his shoulder and seemed startled to see Lane.
As you can see, that first paragraph is taken, word for word, from the previous week's report. There's no obvious reason why it shouldn't have been. It what it said was right last week, it's likely still right today.

After that, the story changes this week. Lane's five (or more) requests to Floyd are no longer mentioned. Instead, Bailey's wording makes it sound like Floyd was approached by the kind of cop who draws his weapon first and maybe asks questions later.

As you can almost surely see, Bailey's new account is substantially different from her account last week. In the old report, Lane made five requests before drawing his gun. This week, it almost sounds like he drew his gun before doing anything else.

(In her next paragraph, Bailey's jumbled chronology may undercut that initial impression.)

Is there something in the videotape which justifies the changes which occur in this new account? We have no way of knowing. The videotape hasn't been made public at this point.

Having said that, we'll also say this:

Quite routinely, this is the way the mainstream press corps creates its standard stories. The novel they're writing gets better and better as the days and weeks go by.

In this case, Lane is being thrown under the bus in the race to imprison all four officers on the scene that day. Could it be that last week's report of this initial approach to Floyd was a bit too fair and balanced?

We can't answer that question. But from the standpoint of obvious preferred Storyline, the story reads better this week.

Let us stress the basic point again:

We don't know if Bailey's new report is better than her first report concerning the basic facts. We can tell you this:

Reporters routinely massage their facts as the shape of the preferred narrative becomes increasingly clear. New types of wording will be introduced. Basic facts may disappear.

We've reported this type of transformation of Storyline before. Simple logic says it can't be so, but they actually do this sort of thing a great deal of the time.

At this point, we'll state our overall bias:

It seems to us that it's pretty clear who killed the late George Floyd. If he wants his day in court, he'll get to offer a defense. But it's hard to see how Derek Chauvin will be able to justify the apparently crazy behavior in which he engaged that day.

By way of contrast, it seems to us that the rookie officer Lane is being thrown under the bus in service to preferred Storyline. We've also noticed this:

No one is asking the chief of police why use of the chokehold was still allowed in Minneapolis that day. No one is asking the chief of police why he still had an apparent nut like Chauvin out on the street that day.

No one is asking what kind of training the rookie cops received concerning what they should do if, on their fourth or fifth day on the job, a veteran who served as their training officer starts behaving in a crazy way and refuses to heed their suggestions to stop.

What kind of training had been provided? What had those rookies been told they should do? So far, we've seen no one ask.

For whatever reason, the chief of police has been cast as one of the good guys in this tale. (He was willing to take a knee after he fired the rookies!) Meanwhile, the rookie cops are being turned into Chauvin 2 and 3.

In line with that, as Woody Guthrie wrote, every crime in Oklahoma is being added to their names. Guthrie thought he saw this sort of thing being done even way back then!

Last week, Lane asked Floyd to show his hands five times. This week, he simply drew his gun, within 15 seconds! He did so for no apparent reason.

You can look for this shaping of story to continue apace. Whatever the merits may be in this particular instance, this is the way our novelized news is frequently shaped and spun.

For extra credit only: In the paragraphs which follow the ones we've posted, Lane is rougher and cruder this week.

This week, he seems to do everything wrong, and he curses. Last week, he almost seemed kind.

There may be reasons for those changes. We'll only note that this narrative-driven story-shaping is hardly unknown. The novelized story on which the press corps eventually settles gets massaged a great deal of the time.

18 comments:

  1. "But it's hard to see how Derek Chauvin will be able to justify the apparently crazy behavior in which he engaged that day."

    'Crazy behavior' again, dear Bob?

    Perhaps you would like to share your own experience of 'normal behavior': how many high on drugs uncooperative 5-time-convicts have you arrested?

    Please, feel free to lecture us some more, dear Bob.

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  2. Somerby says: “Is there something in the videotape which justifies the changes which occur in this new account? We have no way of knowing. The videotape hasn't been made public at this point.

    Umm, according to the Post:

    “The videos, made available to the public by a Hennepin County judge, were filed as evidence in the former officers’ criminal case “

    Of course, Somerby is technically correct, because no videotapes were made available.

    Good grief.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good deal depends on how these videos are being made available to the public. If Somerby is "technically correct," it's not because of the use of "videotapes," but rather because the videos cannot yet be accessed online. Did the Post link to them? I didn't see the link, if they did. Once the videos are as readily available online as the notorious Chauvin video, then Somerby's observation will have passed its sell-by date. Perhaps then one might say he was "temporarily correct." The main thing is that he is right that the videos -- now or soon -- may tell us a lot about the changes he sees between the two accounts.

      Delete
  3. Plenty of people have been asking why "an apparent nut like Chauvin [was] out on the street that day". There has been lots of discussion about how officers cover for each other and how the police unions uniformly resist any kind of discipline and how prosecutors rarely charge police. Rather than actually take up this important discussion, Somerby prefers to pick nits in the repeated media accounts of encounters.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Quite routinely, this is the way the mainstream press corps creates its standard stories. The novel they're writing gets better and better as the days and weeks go by."

    It is most often the case that news reports are incorrect in the details when first reported and then get more accurate as time goes by.

    Somerby wants to claim that narratives are created, but his claim is undercut by the availability of video from several different officers. Why would any reporter change a news story to fit a storyline knowing that there exists video that may ultimately contradict that narrative? Reporters DO NOT work that way. They do want to be accurate.

    Somerby is grabbing discrepancies to make this event fit HIS storyline that reporters improve their narratives to fit political exigencies. Because we do not have access to the video ourselves, we must choose whether to believe that Somerby is right about reporter perfidy or whether the reporters themselves are correcting misstatements as more is known about an event.

    I choose the latter. I've seen too many convenient omissions and misstatements by Somerby to place any faith in his narrative about those ratty journalists.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "No one is asking what kind of training the rookie cops received concerning what they should do if, on their fourth or fifth day on the job, a veteran who served as their training officer starts behaving in a crazy way and refuses to heed their suggestions to stop."

    My understanding is that rookie cops do receive this type of training. These cops may have been probationary, but they had both graduated from the police academy. They were considered sufficiently trained to be working together without other supervision.

    Somerby sounds kind of desperate as he grasps for straws that would exonerate these two rookies. He seems to have thrown Chauvin under the bus. If we worked this hard to exonerate Floyd, Somerby would be calling us the same names as he does Bailey. What names? Narrative-improving story teller for one, an accusation that violates journalistic ethics and thus is the equivalent of calling a poker player a cheater. I hope he is smiling when he says these nasty things about her.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Early reports by the passengers said that Floyd did put his hands on the steering wheel in response to the officer's demands.

    The burden of proof lies with Somerby if he is going to accuse a journalist of fabricating her story to fit a preconceived idea of who is innocent and who is guilty. His charge of creating a narrative is akin to accusing a poker player of cheating. You don't do that unless it is clear you are kidding ("Smile when you say that, pardner!". I think it is time for Somerby to put up or shut up with these attacks on young, female journalists -- and yes, his criticism is an attack, and no, these simple changes in details over time (with and without access to video) are not proof that there was any intention to improve the story in accordance with some narrative.

    Unless Somerby can make his case with actual evidence of wrongdoing, he is just being a bully, much like the two men he is defending today.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The anti-police media narrative is leading to reduced police protection in high-crime neighborhoods. Increased numbers of murders are occurring right now in Atlanta, Baltimore, NYC, Chicago, St. Louis, etc.

    Thousands of black Americans will die because of this media behavior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duly noted: concern troll is concerned.

      In other news, the sky is blue.

      Delete
  8. Here is the only description I could find about the videos that are currently available by appointment, only:

    https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/07/15/george-floyd-killing-police-bodycam-video-details-fatal-arrest

    Floyd said he was claustrophobic, which told the cops he was an uncooperative liar, since he had been pulled out of a vehicle he had been driving.
    Floyd claimed he couldn’t breathe almost immediately, which may have undermined his credibility at the end and contributed to his death.
    Floyd claimed he had “just lost his mom” which was a lie the cops couldn’t know about. Covid-19? Whatever.

    There is nothing in the article that contradicts the possibility Lane told Floyd multiple times to put his hands on the wheel. If that proves to be the case. the reporter should be fired.

    Floyd’s behavior while in the back of the patrol car justifies his being hauled back out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. ...and the editor should be put in the stocks outside the Columbia School of Journalism

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