PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Stahl breaks every rule in the book!


Drum makes (instructive) mistake:
Everybody makes mistakes. Allegedly, this has been proven.

Last night, Kevin Drum made a mistake. We call attention to this mistake because it might be instructive.

Drum was discussing some of the things people do to alienate white suburban voters. He started by listed some of the things Donald J. Trump has done:
DRUM (9/8/20): On one side we have President Trump tweeting a video of a black man shoving a white woman; defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha; banning the use of diversity training at federal agencies; and tweeting that the Department of Education is “looking at” the use of the Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project in public schools. These actions and others are almost laughably racist, obviously designed to appeal to Trump’s core base of supporters. But because they’re so obvious, they’re also likely to turn off moderate white suburbanites who aren’t willing to swallow such overt and toxic racism.
The commander's actions weren't just racist. His actions were almost laughably racist.

Indeed, the commander had displayed overt and toxic racism. We love to toss ourt R-bombs around, sometimes jacking the level of racism up.

That said, did Trump display almost laughable racism when he defended Kyle Rittenhouse, "the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha?" We ask because the words we've quoited contain a basic mistake.

Let's start with a minor digression. Is Kyle Rittenhouse really a "man?" We ask this question because he's only 17 years old.

In earlier, major tribal narratives, being 17 made you a "boy," even a "child." For our money, it might be better to state a teenager's age and pretty much leave it at that.

That, of course, isn't the instructive mistake to which we've been referring. Here's the (possibly instructive) mistake:
"Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters"
In fact, Rittenhouse shot three people that night, two of whom died. But all of those people were "white!"

Drum hasn't been posting a lot of late. His mother had had a medical situation, and he's been helping out.

Beyond that, anyone can make a mistake. But this particular error strikes us as maybe instructive.

In recent weeks, we've asked a question several times. Rather, we've floated a fantasy:

We've wondered what people would say if they were surveyed about shooting deaths. More specifically, we've wondered if people have any idea about which "racial" or ethnic groups get shot and killed by police officers.

How many "white" people get shot and killed by police officers? Because of the way such matters are now being reported, we'll guess that quite a few people might think that the answer is basically none.

That thought would of course be wrong. We'd be inclined to guess that quite a few people might think that.

We'd love to see that survey done. We'd like to see it done several ways, with an array of well-formed questions.

Drum may simply have had a brain cramp when he made that misstatement. On the other hand, the fact that he apparently thought that the white man in Kenosha shot and killed two black people may be a window into what we've been wondering about.

Consider yesterday's very strange front-page report in the Washington Post. The giant report claimed to be discussing "an often overlooked but consistent subset of people fatally shot by police—women."

We were finally going to learn about the women who get shot and killed by police officers. But how odd:

In fact, 62.3% of women shot and killed by police officers are socially defined as "white." Only 20.3% of such decedents are socially defined as "black."

Sixty-two percent are white! But of the seven women the Post discussed, only one was white. And you had to read to paragraph 76 to see her case get mentioned, with the Post's report apparently containing major, embarrassing mistakes.

An obvious rule of thumb now obtains with regard to fatal shootings by police officers. Some cases get tremendous coverage--but only if the decedent is black.

If the decedent is white, Hispanic or other, the case gets disappeared. This is a fairly obvious fact. Let's not pretend that it isn't.

Along the way, a certain inaccurate picture may start to form in the mind. We may start assuming that all shooting victims are black. That may explain why Drum seemed to have an inaccurate picture in his mind about what the white man did.

Rittenhouse shot three people, one of whom was armed. But all of the people he shot were "white!" None of the three was "black."

We've asked and asked, then asked some more, whether the current press procedure might produce misperceptions. Because this topic is very important, misperceptions about this topic can be very harmful.

We'll guess that misperceptions do form when "white," Hispanic and "other" deaths get disappeared. That's why the analysts came out of their chairs when they visited Slate this morning.

There they found Jeremy Stahl, breaking every rule in the book.

Stahl was reporting a police shooting incident in Salt Lake City. And according to Stahl, the 13-year-old boy who got shot was "white!" He was white all the way down!

Jeremy Stahl broke every rule in the book by discussing that incident. In our view, it's a very good thing that he did. Once again, we recall what Professor cobb recently said, right there on The One True Channel:
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.
According to Cobb, this isn't just a black and brown problem. (For the record, Hispanic deaths get disappeared by the upper-end press corps too.)

It's a fundamental policing problem, Cobb says. He says we could address the problem better if we stopped pretending it only affects some groups.

Black shooting deaths by police may get massive coverage. All other such deaths get disappeared.

Can this ridiculous practice produce misperceptions? People, we'll be here all week!

Tomorrow: Kirk Herbstreit, Professor Krug, and the high academic elite

Friday: Do you believe in race? Recalling what Professor Gates said


  1. "But all of those people were "white!""

    No, dear Bob, they were "black" (sorry: "Black"). Your liberal-hitlerian cult defines all rioters as "Black", even if they look "white", dear Bob. And disputing it is a form of WHITE SUPREMACY.

    "Indeed, the commander had displayed overt and toxic racism."

    You're being ironic, dear Bob, correct?

    You're being ironic, but at the same time you're parroting the standard liberal-hitlerian narrative, thus demonstrating your loyalty. Clever, very clever, dear Bob.

    1. "Hitlerian"? Your being nauseating.

    2. I simple Google search shows they were both white.

  2. Keep stacking those incidences of police misconduct up, like so many cords of wood, Bob.
    There are still some slow learners who don't want to zero out police budgets, and start over.

  3. "How many "white" people get shot and killed by police officers? Because of the way such matters are now being reported, we'll guess that quite a few people might think that the answer is basically none."

    Somerby is rarely willing to accept the obvious, because, as he says, anything is possible. If you ask people how many white people get shot by cops, any answer is possible. Why is Somerby now so sure that people will say none? Because it fits the narrative he is pushing? Why isn't he cautious when it comes to his own preferred script and not when addressing other people's? In fairness, there is no reason to assume that people will answer that no white people are shot by cops. This will only be the case if Somerby hypothesis is true, but we do not get to assume our own hypotheses. We test and see what people actually say.

    It is annoying when Somerby asserts that, despite a thorough search, no heroin was found in that house yesterday where two people were shot. And then he says that it is still possible they were dealing drugs, because anything is possible, and it would justify the police behavior. Today, there is no reason to believe that anyone will answer that no white people are shot by police. It would be an idiotic answer because it would mean that there are no white criminals having shoot-outs with police, and that seems extremely unlikely, even if you believe that black people account for all crime (as some of our trolls seem to believe). So why would Somerby say that when he is so extremely careful to leave open possibilities in other situations? Because it fits his narrative that the press has been manipulating public impressions by never talking about those white people.

    Somerby pretends to be open-minded, but he has never been trained in how to answer questions empirically, so he doesn't know how to test a hypothesis and he especially doesn't know that you always assume the opposite of your preferred theory and test that. You never seek confirmatory evidence to support your cherished beliefs. You seek disconfirmatory evidence. But we all know that Somerby is no scientist. He isn't a journalist either. He is a retired stand-up comedian who has the meanness of spirit to point out trivial mistakes made by Kevin Drum, who doesn't deserve such attention.

    1. anon 1:21. a lot of words, but not much in the way of mental acuity. There has been a sweeping change in the news coverage since Floyd got killed (though this had been going on to some degree for some time. There is a massive emphasis on how blacks are getting killed by white cops. The implication is that this is the result of police brutality against "black and brown" people and "systematic racism", though little I've seen relates to "brown" people. You are being disingenuous, or clueless if you don't think TDH has a rational point that many listening or reading about all this police brutality and 'systematic racism' in the 'liberal' media will likely be under the impression that the only ones being killed are blacks. You seem incapable of critical thinking. You are clueless.

    2. Cecelia, take the time to get his name right. There is no @5:49.

    3. Ah. Keeping the rate of being correct at 0%.

    4. Coincidentally that’s the similarity between your posts and a new credit card.

      Zero Percent interest.

    5. “ Somerby pretends to be open-minded, but he has never been trained in how to answer questions empirically, so he doesn't know how to test a hypothesis and he especially doesn't know that you always assume the opposite of your preferred theory and test that.”

      Now that’s rich considering that on Tuesday you were chiding Somerby for being so picky as to criticize Marisa Iati for not giving all the facts about the shooting of Rogena Nicholas and her husband because that ole stuff did not impede Iati’s own narrative about female victims of police shootings...

      Now you’re all for testing all the evidence. Sure.

    6. anon 5:14 - are you an idiot? That TDH or any commentators here had any effect on any "proud boys" "beating the shit out of" anyone is ridiculous. Is that what you think?

    7. No one thinks TDH caused Republican voters to be Proud Boys. You're confusing Somerby with Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich.

  4. "Drum may simply have had a brain cramp when he made that misstatement. On the other hand, the fact that he apparently thought that the white man in Kenosha shot and killed two black people may be a window into what we've been wondering about."

    Somerby keeps referring to two people being shot, but there were three people who were shot, two of them died. Isn't this a bigger mistake that Drum's error about the race of the protesters?

    Drum perhaps made the mistake about their race because they were BLM protesters. In the past, BLM protesters have been primarily black, but this time the black protesters have been joined by a variety of people of different races, including white people. That is in keeping with the polling, which shows broad support for BLM across races (but not across political parties).

  5. Somerby made this statement last Friday:
    “A lot of people get shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. We'll repeat the points we feel we should make every day:

    As far as we know, no police misconduct is involved in the bulk of such cases.”

    That puts him in opposition to Cobb, who said “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.”

    That seems to be a fundamental disagreement.

    The only thing Somerby agrees with is that the incidents involving white people perhaps ought to get more press.

    It isn’t clear why Somerby thinks this though, since he believes most don’t involve misconduct.

    Cobb has taken a particular interest in policing. In the Frontline episode that he did in 2016, we learn that the Justice Department found rampant misconduct in the Newark, NJ police department. (

    The raid in Houston that Somerby has been discussing points to some very troubling things in the Houston PD, the more one learns about it.

    Somerby isn’t proving his case about misconduct.

  6. People are not assigned to a race by society (as in South African apartheid days). They choose a race and self-report it on forms and on the census. For example, both Obama and Tiger Woods are biracial. That is a category. They instead chose to designate themselves as black.

    1. Anon 1:39 - what's your point? Did you see in the news recently about the white person who passed herself (I think it was a woman) as black - and upset the woke community by doing so? You seem to be saying that we can just choose our 'race' like we can choose a religion? Wouldn't it be better if we perceived someone of a different skin tone like dogs do, toward differed colored dogs (fur not skin), or that it's like being left-handed or right-handed? By the way, that's the way people are supposed to be treated under the law. This obsession with race, and one's identity, is really stupid, as is judging a person by their skin color. No one chooses their parents.

    2. Republicans have been using identity politics for ages, now they get upset when others use the same technique. Boohoo.

      The obsession with race is not stupid, whites use it to maintain their power. Race will exist as long as racism does.

    3. Anon 5:19, you provide a set of non sequiturs. If Republicans have been using identity politics for ages, that doesn't justify anyone else using the "same technique". Obsession with race is stupid - it's what ignorant people do. How do "white people" maintain power by "obsession with race?" Seems like a nutty view pointYour observation that "race will exist as long as racism does" is nonsensical. You could argue it's the other way around. As TDH has observed (hardly a new revelation), rationality doesn't play a significant role in many ways. Anyone who isn't dumb doesn't judge anyone by the shade of their skin.

    4. Anonymous 1:39pm is the poster child for why these people stay anonymous.

      Before he/she was declaring race to be a social construct, the next minute Anonymouse will be arguing that a universal appeal to color-blindness is inherently pro-white.

      They are dumb and disingenuous.

    5. "Anyone who isn't dumb doesn't judge anyone by the shade of their skin."

      Some Democrats are also dumb, even if it's for other reasons.

  7. " Some cases get tremendous coverage--but only if the decedent is black."

    It isn't the case itself that is getting the coverage, but the fact that police are using excess force and have committed another atrocity.

    It isn't society as a whole that has been giving these cases publicity but the protesters who have had enough of police violence aimed at the black community. Without the protests (and sometimes riots), there would be no extra press attention to such cases. BLM has worked hard to make sure that these cases stay in the news, because they want change.

    I would bet that if you ask most people, they will assume, as Somerby does, that the killings of white people are justified. Somerby doesn't care enough to check whether that is true or not -- he just assumes it. I think it is worth asking how many of the white killings are the result of police misconduct. BLM feels that many of the black shootings, especially those where the victim was unarmed, could have been avoided. That may well be true for the white shootings too.

    Somerby tiptoes along a line that seems to insist the white shootings receive more attention, since more white people are shot, but he never calls for an investigation of police misconduct, never supports the goals of BLM. I suspect that what he really wants is for black people to sit down and shut up about the killings in their community, under the assumption that there is also no police misconduct involved when black people are shot. But he doesn't have the guts to say that directly. He just implies it, by totally avoiding the question of police misconduct in white shootings.

    1. TDH said that he assumes, but does not know, that most of the killings, white or black, are 'justified.' I suppose it depends on what you mean by "justified." TDH apparently wants the public discourse to be intelligent, instead of simplistic, reductive polemics, a seemingly unachievable utopian quest.

    2. Ac/ MA,
      Since you can read Bob's mind, can you explain why he hates women?
      Thanks in advance.

    3. "I drew a reasonable, and fairly obvious conclusion ..."

      So do the people who watched video of George Floyd, Eric Garnier, Philando Castile, etc, killed by police.

  8. I am waiting for Somerby to say that there are fine people on both sides, among the cops who shoot white people as well as the cops who shoot black people.

    1. If he said it, you'd probably take it out of context.

    2. What context would make such a statement OK?

    3. There are. Almost all shootings are in self-defense or defense of the public.

      As long as there are police there will be wrongful shootings. You better get used to living in the real world, little lady.


    4. I am waiting for Somerby to say that there are fine people on both sides, among the cops who shoot white people as well as the cops who shoot black people.”

      No one has illustrated the “fine people” trope as thoroughly as Anonymices here in comments ardently defending the honor of both peaceful and violent protesters.

      They've done so as Biden, and even Harris, condemn the violence as they watch the race tighten.

      In two weeks Anonymices will have memory-holed their passionate championing of looters as utterly as they have their 2019 criticisms of that good ole boy buddy to DC segregationists—- -Mr. Biden.

    5. Oh my. Cecelia is back to pretending she has a problem with businesses being looted. Just goes to show you, you can't keep a Right-wing bad faith argument down.

  9. Better trolling please.

  10. "Black shooting deaths by police may get massive coverage. All other such deaths get disappeared."

    All police shootings are reported in local newspapers. A shooting in CA will be reported by the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune. These are large papers with plenty of circulation and staffs that rival those of the NY Times and the Washington Post.

    These killings only become national news with the addition of a social issue about policing and racism. White people are not the target of race-based abuse of authority. That's why their deaths don't receive national attention. There are other issues that affect primarily white people that do receive national attention, so this is not a matter of ignoring white people's concerns and issues.

    It is fine to broaden the issue of police misconduct to include that which affects white people too, but that doesn't mean there is no racism in policing. The contribution of race can be seen in the different rates of such shootings among black people compared to white people. Racial discrimination in policing and law enforcement needs to be addressed because it is a problem above and beyond police misconduct that affects white people.

    Somerby wants to pretend that there is no such thing as racism. That won't solve the problem.

    1. How do you know that the shootings of blacks are "race based." What does it mean for it to be "race based." I wouldn't be surprised, however, if there are situations where blacks have been shot, in circumstances where a white wouldn't have, due to conscious or unconscious fears on the cop's part that blacks are more dangerous than whites - is that what you mean buy racism? and how do you prove it? Couldn't also be that in some of these situations, the black victim behaves in a way that a white wouldn't; and if he had behaved differently, e.g., by being more compliant, nothing would have happened; Believe it or not, things were a lot worse in the US years ago - e.g.,lynch mobs killed blacks for the express reason they were black - and they were immune from prosecution, along with myriads of other differences back then. Take the example of Breanna Taylor - why does that show police 'racism'? It was a screw up. The cops burst into the wrong house. One of the occupants, perhaps understandably, fired a shot at those he reasonably might have assumed were committing a home invasion - and the cops opened fire in return, killing Ms. Taylor. It was a screw up. they didn't go in there with the intent for that to happen. If I'm wrong, please explain.

    2. "Believe it or not, things were a lot worse in the US years ago - e.g.,lynch mobs killed blacks for the express reason they were black.."

      They were killed for stealing business from white people--e.g. being better businesspeople.
      Just like when it was worse in the past, we still have people who will argue as hard as they can to be on the wrong side of history.

    3. Are you suggesting that black people DON'T have superhuman strength and quickness which puts police in danger?
      Have you told the police? That seems like news they can use.

    4. Absolutely not. She would never suggest anything that wasn’t the creepiest of stereotypes or a revolting condescension.

  11. Somerby said this on Saturday about the Prude incident in Rochester, NY:

    “At present, we see no questions being asked about what happened at the medical center—about the judgment or the behavior of the medical staff. You see, those people come from the high-end professional class. Like college presidents and certain police chiefs, they're largely immune from rebuke.”

    He never explained what he meant by “certain” police chiefs. He likely meant black or Hispanic, but who knows.

    At any rate, the police chief of Rochester, a black man, has resigned. (Now, was he a “prole” or a high-end professional?)

    Somerby’s criticisms are taking less and less time to be invalidated.

    1. That’s a pitifully inaccurate analogy to what Somerby wrote about the buck passing no further up the organization than the guys on the street.

      The police chief, who had been a part of the force for 20 years, took his destiny into his own hands.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Jeleni Cobb took a small step in the right direction. Now if he would only bring up the subject of black people killing black people, we might start making some progress in this country.

    1. Homicides are up among all racial groups, nationwide. I suspect it is due to the stresses of covid, unemployment and financial strain. Domestic violence is up and child abuse is also up. Addresses people's problems via stimulus would be a good start. Homicides always go up with stress. If you want to address the stresses felt by black people in our society, feel free to do that too. They are at the forefront of covid essential workers and make up a disproportionate share of both cases and deaths. If you want to address black on black crime by getting serious about gun control, feel free to do that too.

    2. 2:24,
      A real fight against poverty. I love it.
      Just be ready to ignore the crying about "my hard-earned tax money going to help black people".

      The whiners will have to learn to get over their economic anxiousness.

  13. Everyone has stresses in their lives. Just because you do is not a reason to go out and shoot someone. Just because guns are easy to get doesn't mean you have to get one. I don't have one. That is a choice, and some people make bad choices because their single parent families don't teach them how to make the right choices.

    1. Some people choose to be born into two-parent households. They also choose to be born white and to have fewer stresses in their lives. I don't know why everyone doesn't choose to grow up that way.

  14. I believe the point Bob is trying to make, is that when liberals and the news media ignore police killings of whites, it gives the right a weapon with which to beat them over the heads, "you are the real racists, you are the ones trying to divide us." If you focus on the issue of police misconduct, regardless of race, the right is denied that easy line of attack.

    1. The right will do this anyway. There is no point in stifling legitimate concerns within our party out of fear of how conservatives will react.

    2. 7:53,
      This can't be said enough.

  15. It's an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power.

    In doing so they actually harm black people, because the hostile attitude toward the white majority they create tends to intensify race hatred.

  16. From Political Wire:

    "Popular Information: “Facebook has permitted a large network of Facebook pages and groups — with names like Trump’s Deplorable Army, To The Death Media, and One Angry Conservative — to spread disinformation about voting in the 2020 election to millions of people.”

    “The network operates by funneling traffic to Conservative Brief, an obscure right-wing website. Conservative Brief does not engage in any original reporting. Instead, it distorts reports from mainstream sources to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the upcoming election.”

    “Over the last 90 days, the network of pages that promote Conservative Brief has generated 30.65 million engagements… That’s more engagement than the main New York Times Facebook page generated over the same period of time (26.48 million).”

    1. Facebook relies white supremacists and disinformation peddlers to be successful.

  17. 11:15,
    What does that have to do with the overwhelming need to defund the police?

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