MOB AND TOWN: Our press corps pretends to discuss a trial!


Gene can't seem to stop: Simply put, he can't stop.

The "he" in this case is the Washington Post's Gene Robinson. In recent weeks, he hasn't been able to stop writing a certain type of column about the ongoing Chauvin trial.

We refer to columns including factual claims like the one we highlight below. In this passage from his new column, Robinson is referring to yesterday's closing argument by prosecutor Steve Schleicher: 

ROBINSON (4/20/21): [Schleicher] reminded jurors that the encounter began when a different officer—who also faces criminal charges—approached Floyd’s car with his gun aimed at Floyd’s face, which was obviously terrifying. Schleicher explained that Floyd was not resisting arrest but experiencing claustrophobic anxiety about being shoved into the patrol car. And he pointed out that when Chauvin and the other officers brought Floyd back out of the car, Floyd politely told them “thank you.”

The highlighted passage is a misstatement of what Schleicher actually said.  It's also a misstatement of what that "different officer" actually did.

The "different officer who also faces criminal charges" is Thomas Lane, who was literally in his first week on the job on the fateful day in question.

Lane, a rookie officer, was in his first week on the job! He'd responded to a call from Cup Foods about a counterfeit $20 bill. Later, things went badly downhill after Officer Chauvin arrived.

That said, Lane and his partner, J. Alexander Keung, were the first officers on the scene. Keung was also in his first week on the job. 

(We have no idea why the MPD would assign two first-week rookies to patrol together. As far as we know, no one in the upper-end press corps has ever discussed this point.)

Lane was directed to the car where the late George Floyd had apparently fallen asleep. One of Floyd's two companions that day (Shawanda Hill) testified that they'd been unable to awaken Floyd so he could drive away before police arrived.

Now, Lane was approaching the car. But he didn't "approach Floyd’s car with his gun aimed at Floyd’s face," the exciting claim Robinson has falsely placed in Schleicher's mouth.

In fact, Lane didn't approach the car with his gun drawn at all! We find it hard to believe that Robinson, a celebrated Pulitzer winner, is unaware of that basic fact. We assume he simply preferred his exciting, prejudicial claim to an accurate statement of fact.

(The Pulitzers are a set of prestigious awards our "journalists" bestow on each other on an annual basis. Sometimes, they're richly deserved. Other times, not so much.)

In fact, Lane knocked on the window of Floyd's car with his flashlight. The sequence was first described by the Washington Post's Holly Bailer all the way back in July 2020, when bodycam footage of these events was first released to the press by Judge Cahill.

We read the report on the day it appeared on the Post's front page. Stating the obvious, Robinson read it too:

BAILEY (7/16/20): [Lane's] 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 Floyd started to open his door, Lane ordered him to stay in the car and drew his weapon. “Put your f---ing hands up right now!” he ordered, while aiming at him.

Floyd raised his hands and started to cry. He told Lane he had been shot by police before. Floyd then followed Lane’s order to place his hands on the wheel and leaned his forehead there, too, as he sobbed. Lane placed his gun back in the holster seconds later...

Why did Lane draw his weapon at all? If memory serves, Floyd—who seemed somewhat disoriented after being startled awake—may already have been failing to obey the command to let Lane see his hands.

(You can go back and check that one out. We aren't going to bother.)

At any rate, once Floyd placed his hands on the steering wheel, Lane put his gun back in its holster Unless you read Robinson's inexcusable column, in which case you've been told that he "approached Floyd’s car with his gun aimed at Floyd’s face, which was obviously terrifying."

We're sorry, but no—that isn't what happened. On the brighter side, Robinson has treated Our Town to a  much more pleasing, though blatantly false, version of those events.

Why would someone like Robinson present a claim of that type? Also, why would Robinson's unnamed editor allow the widely ballyhooed prize-winner to do that?

As Michael Corleone once asked, "Who's being naive now, Kay?" By now, aren't the answers to these questions fairly obvious?

At this site, we've been writing about this type of behavior for roughly twenty-three years. In this case, we'll speak frankly about what Robinson is doing in that inexcusable passage:

He's trying to get a first-week cop locked up—thrown in jail. Chauvin's head won't be enough, given the fury of the stampede our upper-end "press corps" is on.

Robinson's columns on the trial have been replete with conduct of this type. We plan to review at least one earlier column before this week is done.

That said, let's go ahead and be perfectly clear about what Robinson was doing when he composed that phony account. He was running with a mob in the streets—the same kind of mob which used to run in the streets, but also in the backwoods, of his native South Carolina.

Make no mistake! Here in Our Town, we want to get Chauvin locked up, but we want those rookie cops too. Please don't say this assessment is wrong. This is exactly what our "journalists" have been doing, nor is this anything new.

It's what they did when they formed a mob to go after Candidate Gore, thus sending us into Iraq. It's what they did when they couldn't stop talking about the deeply troubling emails of Donald J. Trump's opponent, Candidate Hillary Clinton.

Today's misstatement is ugly stuff, a throwback to deep prehistory. But when will Robinson stop doing such things? When will his newspaper make him?

Yesterday, we watched the closing arguments in the Chauvin trial. Then we watched the punditry.

The punditry was the standard clownish disgrace. It would be comical if life and death weren't involved, along with the nation's future.

Woody Guthrie said it long ago in his ballad, Pretty Boy Floyd. His song was about upper-class conduct  in Dust Bowl days, but it describes Robinson's conduct as well:

As through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men.
Some rob you with a six-gun,
Some with a fountain pen.

In Guthrie's vision, it was Dust Bowl bankers who were willing to "rob you with a fountain pen." They'd seize the farms of the little people, who were sent on the road to Hell.

We've often thought of that formulation as we've watched Our Town's upper-end press corps pretend to discuss this trial and the events which caused it.

In the past, mobs in Robinson's South Carolina took a type of hands-on approach to the delivery of justice.

Today, it's done with a computer terminal, with Our Town's greatest people in charge.

This afternoon: Brian's comical question

What did Schleicher actually say: No, that isn't what Schleicher said. We'd say he had his thumbs on the scales a tad, but not to that extent.

What did Schleicher actually say? For the full transcript of his remarks, you can just click here.

When you get there, search on "Lane." You'll find it 24 minutes down.

Robinson misreported what Schleicher said. He just can't seem to stop.


  1. "In fact, Lane didn't approach the car with his gun drawn at all! "

    This is untrue. You can see in the video that Lane approaches the car with gun drawn shouting "Put your fucking hands up right now!"

    The last time Somerby discussed this, he linked to video presented during the trial, but unhelpfully did not tell us the time at which this appeared. Somerby then claimed there was no video of this confrontation, when there was -- just further along in the courtroom video shown.

    In that video, you can see the point at which Lane draws his gun, that he approaches the car with his gun drawn and that he shouts at him to put his hands up. You also see Floyd comply.

    Why does Somerby lie about this?

    1. You can see the video here:

      The gun is already out of the holster and it is definitely aimed at Floyd's head. Floyd begs "please don't shoot me man" and he is weeping.

    2. Uhm, if you just watch the video, you can see that Lane does not have his gun drawn when he approaches the vehicle. You can see him take the window with his flashlight to get Floyd’s attention, and then you can see both of Lane’s hands in the video’s frame, neither of which is holding his hand gun. Bob is right, and you and Robinson are wrong. Why are you trying to gaslight people?

    3. Hi hardindr, I disagree. I think the gun is just out of frame but drawn, since you do not see any motion in which he draws the gun. He appears to just move it back into the frame.

      But if you stipulate that he didn't have it at the point where he taps on the window, he certainly has it in hand and is aiming it at Floyd while shouting at him, as Robinson says, just a few seconds later.

      Bob is not right and I am not gaslighting anyone. You can see the part where he aims the gun at Floyd and yells at him to put his hands on the wheel. That is what Somerby is claiming didn't happen. But you can see it yourself.

      Somerby says: "But he didn't "approach Floyd’s car with his gun aimed at Floyd’s face," the exciting claim Robinson has falsely placed in Schleicher's mouth."

      Does it really matter whether he put the gun in Floyd's face after taking a few steps or while he was standing next to the window? If you listen to Floyd, he is clearly terrified, which is the point Robinson was trying to make.

    4. The video you linked to does not show Lane approaching Floyd’s car with his gun drawn, and the WaPo report Bob linked to affirms that. Robinson’s column clearly claims otherwise, as Bob pointed out. Where are you getting the evidence to support yours and Robinson’s claim that Lane had his fire arm in his hand when he approached Floyd’s vehicle?

    5. Do you think this is a major complaint that warrants Somerby's over-the-top attack on Robinson? Lane had his gun pointed at Floyd's head within seconds of approaching his car. You CAN see that.

      I am saying that it is ambiguous whether Lane had his gun already out at the point that he begins shouting at Floyd. You cannot see him draw the gun. It looks more like it is being held in a position that is out of frame and he merely shifts position to bring it into the frame of his body cam. Since you cannot see him draw it, the video neither confirms nor refutes either of our interpretations, in my opinion.

    6. So, according to you, Lane had his gun drawn when he approached the car, then holstered to get out his flashlight to tap on the car’s window, only to get it out again? Doesn’t make much sense to me, when he just could have used his hand gun to tap on the car’s window.

    7. No, I now think I was wrong about that. I see from the video posted by @1:53 (below) that he put his hand on his gun and then drew it when Floyd started to open the door. So, he didn't walk up to the car with his gun drawn.

      It still seems like a minor point to me, when he clearly did all the rest of what Robinson describes and Floyd is clearly upset, crying and begging, during the encounter. So what is Somerby's point? Robinson isn't lying.

    8. Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist in one of the elite newspapers in the US. Did he not watch the video himself before he wrote his column? How did the fact checker who went over his column before publication not catch this error? In journalism, details are supposed to matter.

    9. Once again Somerby is trying to disqualify everything Robinson said because a single trivial detail is wrong. If there was a separation in time between watching the video and writing the column, it would be easy to make such a mistake. But such mistakes tend to involve incidentals, not the main point of what happened, because people think in terms of meaning, not such details. If the detail were crucial to the meaning of what happened, it would be much less likely to be forgotten or distorted, or misreported, in this case.

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  2. "The highlighted passage is a misstatement of what Schleicher actually said. It's also a misstatement of what that "different officer" actually did."

    Every statement of everyone of your goebbelsian dembots is a lie, dear Bob. We've already established it, about a million times, over and over.

    Here, for example, what Jonathan Turley wrote:

    "As with Coates, Alcindor went on attack the minute the defense rose to make its closing argument. Alcindor declared: “Chauvin’s lawyer said it flies in the face of common sense to say Floyd’s death was not caused at least in part by his underlying conditions or drug use,. This argument is in direct contradiction to the prosecution’s case which says believe your eyes, Chauvin’s knee killed Floyd.”

    The statement is so bizarre and biased that it is breathtaking. Alcindor appears aggrieved that the defense had the temerity to contradict the prosecution on the question of guilt. That is what PBS now considers to be professional journalism.

    All your little goebbelses are doing exactly the same thing, dear Bob. Regurgitating any particular set of lies is absolutely unnecessary.

  3. Somerby says:

    "At any rate, once Floyd placed his hands on the steering wheel, Lane put his gun back in its holster Unless you read Robinson's inexcusable column, in which case you've been told that he "approached Floyd’s car with his gun aimed at Floyd’s face, which was obviously terrifying."

    Robinson's statement is correct. Lane did approach Floyd's car with his gun aimed at Floyd's face (his head and shoulders are the only part of him visible through the car window). His gun was out and he was shouting at Floyd to raise his hands as he approached the car.

    Somerby's memory may be failing him. Or maybe he would have no column today if he didn't make up something to attack Robinson with.

  4. Robinson isn't trying to get a first-week cop locked up, as Somerby claims. He is trying to explain Floyd's panic attack.

  5. Somerby thinks that journalism is equivalent to bank foreclosure on dust bowl farms! He has lost his tiny fucking mind!

  6. I think it is Somerby who can't stop. He will defend even the worst cops.

  7. In a just world, the police would be begging us to de-fund them.

  8. 'In the past, mobs in Robinson's South Carolina took a type of hands-on approach to the delivery of justice.

    Today, it's done with a computer terminal, with Our Town's greatest people in charge.'

    You mean your town of hard core malignant Trumptards, who worship Trump and defend Roy Moore, Johnson, Nunes and Matt Gaetz ? Who support thuggish murderers ? That town ?

  9. Here in Chicago, the protesters and the media totally ignore facts about 13 year old Adam Toledo's shooting by the police. The police responded to a call about gunshots, Toledo was out at 2:30 in the morning with a 21 year old and his mother hadn't seen him in three days, yet this is a so-called typical police shooting.

    1. No one is saying that criminal behavior isn't problematic or that a 13-year old should have been out that late, after running away from home. People are saying that cops shouldn't shoot people for such behavior.

  10. The reflection in the left rear window of Floyd's car shows Lane's pistol in its holster:

    1. Yes, it appears that he drew his gun when Floyd started to open the door.

  11. How Somerby twists Woody Guthrie to serve his own sentiments would be disgusting if it weren’t so ludicrously wrongheaded.

    Here’s Guthrie on cops:
    “I know the police cause you trouble
    They cause trouble everywhere
    But when you die and go to Heaven
    You'll find no policemen there”
    (Hobo’s Lullaby)

    I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roamin’ ‘round,
    Just a wandrin’ worker, I go from town to town.
    And the police make it hard wherever I may go
    And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.
    (I ain’t got no home)

    When Paul [Robeson] had sung and gone
    And the kids and babies home
    Cops came with guns and clubs
    And clubbed and beat them!
    I’d hate to be a cop caught with a bloody stick
    Cause you can’t bash the brains out of thirty thousand
    (My Thirty Thousand)

    This isn’t surprising, coming from a man who had the words “This machine kills fascists” written on his guitar. He viewed the cops as enforcers of a fascist order, and as such, as fascists.

    And the song Pretty Boy Floyd?

    It’s a paean to the outlaw Floyd, about whom Guthrie says “You won't never see an outlaw
    Drive a family from their home.”

    1. Somerby thinks it is cute to link a song about Pretty Boy Floyd with his discussion of George Floyd's killing. His mind is full of loose associations...

  12. “He [Robinson] was running with a mob in the streets—the same kind of mob which used to run in the streets, but also in the backwoods, of his native South Carolina.”


    “It's what they did when they formed a mob to go after Candidate Gore,”

    This is lunacy.

    Robinson isn’t calling for the lynching of random cops. He is calling for these specific cops in this specific instance to be held accountable in a court of law.

    And Somerby’s analogy is even more far-fetched when applied to Al Gore. Those complaints about those buttons? Just like when those racist whites committed extrajudicial killings of blacks. Just like. Yep.

  13. "Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges against him, Judge Peter Cahill announced on Tuesday. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter after kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, outside of the Cup Foods corner store in Minneapolis."

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