Yesterday’s Biased Mainstream Media 2022 Election Panic Exhibit B: The Washington Post’s Gaslighting

If you were troubled by yesterday’s Exhibit A regarding the degree to which the mainstream media is “all-in” to try to somehow convince potential voters that everything is really hunky-dory so they should vote Democrat next month, Exhibit B will really unsettled your grits. That would be this analysis by Washington Post political reporter Phillip Bump, a “numbers” guy who is only robbed of the title of Most Shamelessly Partisan WaPo Columnist because Dana Milbank is still at large. (Trump-Deranged Jennifer Rubin has become such a hack that she doesn’t qualify as a columnist any more.)

Bump’s contrived thesis is that there is no big crime problem that can be laid at the feet of Democrats and the Biden Administration; it’s all the concoction of Fox News and right wing conspiracy theorists. His excuse for this exercise in gaslighting was a Fox News segment in which political analyst Gianno Caldwell asked Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y) about rising crime rates. Caldwell’s brother was shot dead in Chicago in June, so I guess one could perhaps argue that he has a distorted view of matters, and that the the whole rising crime thingy is his imagination. But it isn’t, which is perhaps the reason Nadler refused to answer the question.

Americans’ concern about rising crime are at their highest levels since 2016, and no wonder.

Though the number of homicides and some violent crimes dropped slightly in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021, violence in major American cities still remains dramatically higher than it was before the pandemic.

As with the other crime surges, we know why, don’t we? Since the Michael Brown false narrative in Ferguson, Mo. (“Hands up! Don’t shoot!) was enthusiastically spread by the news media, Black Lives Matter decided it could make money off of it, and a bad cop in Minneapolis negligently killed a drugged-out petty hood resisting arrest, police have been increasingly reluctant to do their jobs proactively, particularly when black perps are involved. Add to this the policies of woke mayors and district attorneys in Democratic enclaves holding that locking up criminals is part of “systemic racism” and non-violent crimes (like mobs storming a retail store and picking it clean of merchandise) shouldn’t be prosecuted because poor folks should have a license to steal, how could crime rates not go up?

The Council on Criminal Justice released its mid-year 2022 crime report in July, examining crime data from 29 cities. Though homicides decreased by 2% between January and June 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, that’s misleading: murders hit historic highs in some cities in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, the United States nationally saw its highest-ever increase in homicides according to the CDC, but to be fair, why believe the CDC? Official FBI crime statistics also indicated that 2020 witnessed the largest increase in homicides since the bureau began tracking those numbers in the 1960s. 2021 was only a little better. In early December, ABC News reported that a dozen U.S. cities still set homicide records in 2021: Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; Rochester, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Bump downplays it, but the homicide numbers for the first half of 2022 are 39% higher than they were in the same time period of 2019. Aggravated assaults and robberies have increased by 4% and 19% respectively. Property crimes increased by 6% while larceny jumped by 20%. Residential burglaries rose by “only” 6% and motor vehicle thefts are up by 15%.

Bump’s argument is “You call that a crisis?” He is essentially invoking infamous Rationalization #22, The Comparative Virtue Excuse, or “There are worse things.” Yes, crime was a bit worse in the 1990s. So compared to that decade, you see, the Democrats are doing great! Still, many cities are seeing more murders in 2022 than the previous year. Minneapolis, the heart of the “defund the police” movement, has reverted to the levels of violence that had the city called “Murderopolis” when Bill Clinton was President. Milwaukee has had a 39% increase in homicides, Raleigh a 38% increase. Pittsburgh 25% and Atlanta16%.

Moreover, there are good reasons to think crime is being under-reported this year. United States is hampered by broadly inconsistent and uneven reporting of crime data. In 2022 the FBI began tracking data using a new system, and many states haven’t made the switch, including agencies in California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Gee, might some cities you can think of in those states have rising crime problems? The FBI—which is even less trustworthy than the CDC– has made estimates in locations where it didn’t have data.

Here’s Bump babbling and but-but-butting:

Again, crime is up over the past three years! The best available data, though, suggest violent crime isn’t up significantly since last year. In some places, in some categories, yes. But people also tend to overestimate both their own vulnerability to crime and the national level of crime. In August YouGov polling, people consistently viewed crime as a problem in the country, though not in their own communities.

The lack of data is an opportunity for those who might find it useful to suggest that crime is out of control. Though it’s hard to contextualize individual acts of criminality, it’s easy to cast those individual acts as representative of broader trends. Fox News and others in the conservative media were effective at portraying the protests during the summer of 2020 as incessantly violent and enormously damaging to a large number of major American cities over an extended period of time, even when that was easily disprovable. Now, with the midterms looming, Fox News is talking about crime more than ever.

Most Americans say there is a “crime crisis.” But what, exactly, are legislators like Nadler supposed to say about it in the absence of any understanding of what that “crisis” actually looks like? How do you counter an endless loop of criminal activity shown on television without knowing whether those crimes are anything more than sensationalism?

It’s disgraceful that no Post editor had the integrity to tell Bump he needs to get serious, or maybe take a vacation. Bump’s column reminded me of nothing so much as a desperate criminal defense attorney pleading with the jury that his guilty client wasn’t really as bad as the prosecution was making him out to be. It’s an embarrassment, but expect more of the same, and worse, if possible, before they open the polls in November.

7 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Biased Mainstream Media 2022 Election Panic Exhibit B: The Washington Post’s Gaslighting

  1. “In early December, ABC News reported that a dozen U.S. cities still set homicide records in 2021…Indianapolis, IN…”

    No kidding. Almost every morning, we wake up, turn on the news while making breakfast and hear about how many people were shot the night before.

  2. “Fox News and others in the conservative media were effective at portraying the protests during the summer of 2020 as incessantly violent and enormously damaging to a large number of major American cities over an extended period of time, even when that was easily disprovable. ”

    Really… beacuse NO ONE has actually proven any such thing. This seems to be a common left wing delusion though.

  3. The Democrats can blindly proclaim that “all’s well”…

    …regardless of the facts swirling around them and their sheeple will follow them straight over a cliff.

    The art of building a propaganda narrative to manipulate the masses.

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