MONDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2021
Young Driver disappeared: Actually, no.
As we noted last Friday, this actually isn't an accurate picture of what actually happened. And yes, it actually matters:
COBB (12/21/21): If you think about what ties [Kyle] Rittenhouse, [George] Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, and the death of Ahmaud Arbery together is that all three of these incidents involve people who were going out to protect property that was not theirs. So this is fundamentally about the idea that you can construe self-defense to mean anything. And you can proactively pursue people and still say you were defending yourself.
Actually, no! Kyle Rittenhouse wasn't pursuing Joseph Rosenbaum, the mentally ill man he shot and killed, on that unfortunate evening in Kenosha. As is perfectly clear from the videotape and as everyone testified, Rosenbaum—and yes, this unfortunate man was mentally ill—had been chasing Rittenhouse through Kenosha's streets.
Unfortunately, there's more! It isn't clear that George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin at the time their paths finally crossed, and a fatal fight occurred, on that earlier unfortunate night.
In that earlier instance, it isn't clear who may have been pursuing who, and it likely never will be. But our tribe has a story we very much like, and it's fairly clear that nothing is ever going to stop us from telling it.
While we're at it, when did "protecting property that is not [one's own]" turn into something that's morally suspect or wrong? We don't know when that presumption took hold, but it strikes us as unfounded, peculiar, strange.
Professor Cobb is a good, decent person. For that reason, his presentation on last Tuesday night's All In strikes us as an example of "cognitive capture."
What he seemed to be saying just doesn't seem to be accurate. And three hours later, as we noted last Friday, Ali Velshi chipped in with this mandated groaner as he hosted The Eleventh Hour:
VELSHI (12/21/21): You'd be forgiven for assuming that what you just saw here was some kind of WrestleMania introduction. That [videotape] was yesterday's carefully staged and overly elaborate introduction at an event for ultra-conservative young people for none other than Kyle Rittenhouse, the then 17-year-old who shot and killed two people and wounded a third last summer at a Black Lives Matter protest after crossing state lines with an AR-15 that was not obtained legally.
In an obvious instance of "cognitive capture," Velshi repeated the standard non sequitur in which Rittenhouse is said to have "crossed state lines" on his way to Kenosha.
For the record, Rittenhouse wasn't actually transporting that gun when he "crossed state lines;" the gun was already in Kenosha. But that's a minor factual error, joined in this instance to the utterly irrelevant, braindead claim about "crossing state lines" our tribunes insist on reciting.
Velshi and Cobb are good, decent people. On the other hand, because they're also very smart, we feel we should tell you this:
When people misstate in the way Cobb did, you should be careful about taking anything else they ever say at anything like face value.
You see, "cognitive capture" is a fact, and our tribe is sick with the illness. We expect to discuss this concept at the start of the new year. For today, we'll limit ourselves to teasing one more example.
This example is drawn from the way our tribe's major news orgs have covered the shooting death of Daunte Wright and the subsequent trial of Kim Potter. For today, we're going to mention a name you don't know:
The name is Emajay Driver.
Driver has been mentioned several times as the New York Times has reported, or has perhaps pretended to report, this unfortunate topic. In print editions, the first citation occurred on April 14, in the Times' news report about an unfortunate event—the funeral of Daunte Wright:
MARTINEZ AND SANDOVAL (4/14/21): Before Sunday, Mr. Wright had been a young Black man unknown to the world, but known and loved by his friends and relatives in the Minneapolis area. He was a young father of a toddler who was almost 2, Daunte Jr. He loved basketball. As a freshman at Thomas Edison High School, he was voted a “class clown.”
Mr. Wright attended Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis in 2018, said the school principal, Yusuf Abdullah.
“He was just like any other kid,” Mr. Abdullah said.
He had also attended Edison High School in Minneapolis, where he was voted class clown as a freshman, according to the school’s 2015-16 yearbook.
“He loved to make people laugh,” said Emajay Driver, a friend of Mr. Wright. “He was just great to be around. There was never a dull moment.”
Mario Greer, a cousin, said Mr. Wright was also a sensitive soul who enjoyed lighting Roman candles with him.
That was the New York Times' first mention of Driver. In the paper's December 2 print edition, young Driver was mentioned again:
BOGEL-BURROUGHS (12/2/21): Many who knew Mr. Wright have said he was a man who had made mistakes but had been improving his life.
A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school in Minneapolis, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.
In the eulogy at Mr. Wright’s funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Mr. Wright the “prince of Brooklyn Center” and said the police had not known how many lives Mr. Wright brightened.
On this occasion, Bogel-Burroughs recalled a bit of what Sharpton said in April's eulogy. The police had not known how many lives Wright had brightened, Sharpton had said at that time.
Six days later, Bogel-Burroughs cited Driver again. This citation appeared in a brief online post which bore the headline, "Who Was Daune Wright?"
This brief post only appeared online; it never appeared in print. Bogel-Burroughs quoted Driver again—and he went into more detail from Sharpton's eulogy:
BOGEL-BURROUGHS (12/8/21): Many who knew Mr. Wright have acknowledged that he had made mistakes but had been trying to improve his life for his son.
A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.
Delivering a eulogy at the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he was told that Minneapolis had not seen a funeral procession so large since Prince, the musician who was born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.
“You thought he was just some kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said at Mr. Wright’s funeral, referring to the air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which prosecutors said was one reason that the police stopped Mr. Wright’s car. Mr. Sharpton added: “He was a prince, and all of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center.”
Within our captured tribe, that air freshener has never stopped being useful. At any rate, Wright had been "the prince of Brooklyn Center," Sharpton had said.
Also, there had never been a dull moment. "He loved to make people laugh," Driver had said.
(Last Thursday, John Heileman read those excerpts from Sharpton's eulogy at the start of Deadline White House, which he was guest-hosting. In this way, people like Heileman reinforce our mandated Storylines.)
Emajay Drive is a young person. So was Daunte Wright. He was only 20 years old when he was shot and killed.
That said, reporters and editors at the Times are often somewhat older. Reasonable people may assume that they exercise appropriate journalistic judgment as they report on such important events and topics.
We may assume that high-end journalists exercise sound judgment. By way of contrast, it seems to us that the Times' citations of Driver—and the paper's reporting of this case overall—have been prime examples of the syndrome known as "cognitive capture."
Let's be much too fair! On two occasions—in that December 2 print report, and in that brief post on December 8—the Times finally described, if only in passing, a few of the "mistakes" Wright may have made in his young life.
Many young people make lots of mistakes. People might hope for better performance from experienced journalists.
That said, it seems to us that the New York Times increasingly exists in a state of "cognitive capture." In our view, its cheerful references to Driver's statements can perhaps be viewed in this light.
Alas! The New York Times now lives in a world where it is considered morally suspect to seek to protect property which isn't one's own. Also, in a world where highly regarded professors and journalists—high-IQ people like Velshi and Cobb—will routinely go on the air and say things which are flatly untrue or grossly misleading.
Our tribe has badly lost its way. In that way, Our tribe is a great deal like Theirs.
We plan to try to lay that out at the start of the new year. For the rest of this week, we plan to visit some intriguing manifestations as the dying year reaches its end.
Today, we'll make one last point:
Emajay Driver is a young person. We aren't inclined to go around trashing young people, especially those who may have been forced to grow up in challenging surroundings.
That said, people in the conservative world know much about Driver (and about Wright) than we liberals do. All the way back in April, a high school senior in Arizona was describing some basic facts of this case in her high school newspaper!
She reported the facts in a slightly jumbled way; we'd be inclined to disagree with the opinions she hotly stated. But even way back then, this high school journalist reported (relevant) facts to which readers of the New York Times have never been exposed!
(For a clearer statement of those facts, mixed with a comically biased framework, see this report by Snopes.com from that very same week.)
Alas! This is one of the many cases in which people who follow conservative media may actually know much more than we porridge-fed liberals do. It's so bad that, if you can ignore her insulting conceptual frameworks, Ann Coulter has basically gotten it right concerning the work of the Times!
Our floundering tribe is deeply sunk in a version of cognitive capture. We've been sinking in this quicksand for roughly a decade now.
No one's interests are well served by this remarkable state of affairs. It's also pure anthropology—anthropology all the way down.