Herridge inquired about one: Catherine Herridge, an experienced journalist, asked a question of Donald J. Trump during a lengthy interview for CBS News.
Herridge seems like a throughly decent person, but her question sounded a bit peculiar. It went exactly like this:
HERRIDGE (7/14/20): Let's talk about George Floyd. You said George Floyd's death was a terrible thing.To our ear—but also to Donald J. Trump's—that question sounded peculiar. Before we show you what Trump said, we'll further explain why that question sounded peculiar to us.
HERRIDGE: Why are African-Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?
Herridge wanted to know why African-Americans are still dying at the hands of law enforcement. As we noted yesterday, the question seemed rather odd to us because large numbers of other people "still die at the hands of" police.
Many "white" people "still die at the hands of" police. So do many Hispanics. Herridge's question made it sound like she only cared about one group.
What did Herridge have in mind when she asked that question? What might she have been trying to suggest? Upon full reflection what was she asking about?
Before the week is done, we'll show you what Herridge asked Trump in her one follow-up question on this important topic. Today, before we show you any of that, we're going to cite two recent events—only one of which Herridge seemed to care about.
We'll start with the late Rayshard Brooks, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Atlanta on June 12. Brooks was fleeing from two police officers at the time. In a rather typical type of recitation, Ali Velshi described the incident in a sreamlined way last week.
Velshi was guest-hosting for Lawrence O'Donnell. He was speaking with Al Sharpton:
VELSHI (7/17/20): Rev, in Minneapolis today, the city council declared racism a public health emergency. Now for some people, they'd say, "How does that square?" But actually, for a lot of black Americans, that's kind of how they see it. Like, it is actually hazardous to your health, as we saw with Rayshard Brooks, to be pulled over in a car in a Wendy's parking lot.That was Velshi's full description of the event he cited. Brooks had been "pulled over in a car in a Wendy's parking lot." In a way which wasn't described, this innocuous event had turned out to be "hazardous to his health."
So it has gone, for the past eight years, as major journalists have sanitized accounts of iconic events. We'll review other, more striking examples of sanitization in the next week or two.
Before Brooks was shot and killed by that one officer, he had punched a different officer; had stolen that officer's Taser; and had turned and fired, or attempted to fire, the Taser at the officer who then proceeded to shoot him.
At some point, a jury will decide if that officer's conduct was justifiable under law. But in this case, a man who was fleeing was shot and killed—and the unfortunate incident became famous nationwide.
In Herridge's question to Trump, she was asking about the shooting death of the late Rayshard Brooks. She wasn't inquiring about the May 1 shooting death of Nicholas Bils, whose name she quite possibly had never heard.
Bils was also shot and killed while fleeing from police. On July 13, the New York Times finally reported the event, though its news report wasn't considered important enough to appear in print editions.
Bils was shot and killed in San Diego all the way back on May 1. According to the Times report, this is the way it happened:
GROSS (7/13/20): The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office on Monday charged a sheriff’s deputy with second-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed man in May—a rare instance of criminal charges being brought against an officer for actions on the job.We can't vouch for the perfect accuracy of any part of that account. That said, the sheriff's deputy who shot Bils has been charged with murder.
The deputy, Aaron Russell, 23, is accused of shooting Nicholas Bils, 36, while Mr. Bils was running from officers after escaping from a California park ranger’s car on May 1.
Eugene Iredale, a lawyer for Kathleen Bils, Mr. Bils’s mother, said that Mr. Bils had been mentally ill and had a lifelong fear of police.
Mr. Bils was putting golf balls at a San Diego park in a game of fetch with his dog when park rangers approached him and told him that his dog could not be off the leash and that the park was closed because of the coronavirus, Mr. Iredale said.
Park rangers told Ms. Bils, 66, that her son had swung a golf club at rangers and then fled, her lawyers said. The rangers caught him about a mile away and arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon. While he was in their vehicle on the way to a county jail, he reached through an open window, unlocked the car door and ran, the lawyers said.
When he fled, Mr. Russell, who was carrying a lunch tote and a water bottle in his left hand, shot at Mr. Bils five times with a gun in his right hand, according to a court document. Four of the shots hit Mr. Bils, including one that struck him in the back, the family lawyers said. They believe that was the fatal shot.
“The decedent was running away,” Mr. Iredale said. “He made no assault on the officer who killed him.” No other officers in the area drew a weapon, he added.
Initially, Bils had been approached because he was playing a game of fetch with his dog in a park. Allegedly, he assaulted the park rangers who approached him—though in this case, the weapon he used was a golf club rather than a Taser.
(Woody Guthrie: "Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.")
Reportedly, Bils had a history of mental illness. In an echo of a different, highly publicized case, it's reported that he had a lifelong fear of police.
It seems that Bils resisted arrest, as several others have done. At the point where he finally fled from law enforcement, he assaulted no one—but a sheriff's deputy shot and killed him.
Allegedly, one of the five shots fired at Bils struck him in the back.
Bils was shot and killed all the way back on May 1. Except in San Diego, the event produced no interest.
The New York Times published its report on July 13. One day later, Herridge interviewed Donald J. Trump and asked him why African-Americans still die at the hands of police.
In her question, Herridge was asking about the shooting death of the fleeing Brooks.
She wasn't asking about the shooting death of the fleeing Bils—though, in fairness, there's a very good chance that she'd never heard of Bils.
Velshi offered his streamlined account of the Atlanta shooting death last Friday night. He didn't mention the San Diego shooting death.
Right before Velshi made the statement we've posted, we're going to say that Velshi's guest may have done the right thing.
We've long admire Reverend Sharpton for his intelligence, but also for his superb sense of humor. He wasn't joking around this night—but on this night, in our view, he may have said the right thing:
SHARPTON: ...The real question you have to ask yourself is, why are whites or blacks being killed unjustifiably by police?...[President Trump] shows no concern about the accountability of why police are killing anyone if it is not justified.Did Reverend Sharpton say the right thing? Having asked that question, we make this request:
Spend several years at one of the finest schools pretending to study your Kant. After you've landed an upper-end job, get back to us on that!
Tomorrow: Donald J. Trump's reply
Concerning Sharpton and Velshi: To watch part of Sharpton's segment with Velshi, you can just click here.
At present, no transcript has been posted. It's beginning to look like The One True Channel has decided to abandon this practice.
As we type, no transcripts have appeared since Monday, July 13. The channel may be doing this for the obvious reasons.