WaPo analysis shows many media wounds are self-inflicted
Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson maintains a list of the major media flubs of the Trump era. The addition of the breathless coverage of the Bubba Wallace “noose” claim — eventually debunked by an FBI investigation — brought her list of the media’s “unforced errors” to 135 over the past four years.
Maybe a recent Washington Post piece can be number 136.
Last Thursday the Post offered a “fact-check” of President Donald Trump’s assertion, made during a White House event on Wednesday, that major American cities led by Democrats were riddled with crime.
Specifically, the president said, “You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat-run,” he said. “Every one of them is Democrat-run. Twenty out of 20. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat-run.”
The Post’s analysis claimed that Trump, with the economy tanked because of COVID-19, is reworking his re-election strategy on a platform of law and order. “(O)ver and over, he has tried to imply that Democrats broadly and former vice president Joe Biden specifically are soft on crime. That his likely general election opponent and other leaders in the Democratic Party are happy to have social structures collapse into anarchy for some unclear reason,” the Post said.
“To make that case,” the Post added, “Trump has repeatedly lifted up a statistical factoid,” referring to the “20 worst claim.”
Anyone who’s watched the rioting, looting and arson going on in places like Minneapolis, New York and Seattle wouldn’t need Trump’s “factoid” to understand Democrats are soft on crime.
Nonetheless, the Post proceeded to prove Trump wrong — or rather, actually prove him right — and launched a classic self-own.
The Post based its survey on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for the first half of 2019, and looked at two categories: cities with the most violent crime overall and the most violent crime per capita.
Among the top 20 with the most number of violent crimes, 17 were led by partisan Democratic mayors. The three that weren’t were San Antonio, Las Vegas and Jacksonville, FL.
But San Antonio and Las Vegas are misleading. By local rule elections in both cities are nonpartisan. Yet Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has been repeatedly described in media reports as a Democrat, while the Texas Tribune noted that when San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg was re-elected last year the mayor was “allied with the Democratic Party.”
So, in essence, 19 out of 20 in that category are managed by Democrats.
From the per-capita angle, all but one — Springfield, Mo. — are run by Democrats. Some sources outside the news media claim Springfield Mayor Ken McClure is a Democrat. But he once served as chief of staff for former Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican.
Thus, the Post’s headline triumphantly declared, “Trump keeps claiming that the most dangerous cities in America are all run by Democrats. They aren’t.”
No, just 95 percent of them.
Ultimately, though, the Post noted, “(I)t doesn’t really matter that the other mayors are Democrats.”
“Cities generally have more crime than suburban and rural areas. That’s been true for decades if not centuries and is true across the planet,” the Post observed.
“In other words, if it were the case that cities were also more prone to elect members of one party over another, it might seem as though the most crime-riddled places in America were a function of leadership from that party.”
The piece then notes that America’s big cities tend to be predominantly populated by minorities who vote Democratic.
Or, in other other words, big cities will be run by Democrats and significant amounts of violent crime will simply be a fact of life — but not because Democrats are soft on crime.
“(I)t’s problematic to draw a causal relationship between crime and Democratic leadership,” the piece explained. “It may be the case that cities with more crime are more likely to have Democratic leaders. Such a comparison, though, is fraught, relying on the validity of reported crime data, the metric used to establish which cities are included in the analysis, the time period under consideration and so on.”
OK, except reality intrudes to undermine this.
New York City got progressively and demonstrably safer after electing Rudy Guiliani, a Republican, as mayor and Michael Bloomberg, then nominally a Republican, as his successor.
Meanwhile, when Republican Richard Riordan left office as Los Angeles’s mayor in 2001, the LA Times pointed out he had left the city “better than he found it — safer, more prosperous, more optimistic about its future. … Crime is down from the alarming peaks of the early 1990s, when Los Angeles voters turned their backs on a generation of Democratic rule at City Hall.”
As noted at the top, now calling number 136.
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No one could possibly be as bad as the Media has tried to portray President Trump.