Washington Post calls true police shootings statement by Republican a lie

Washington Post calls true police shootings statement by Republican a lie
Image: Gil C via Shutterstock

Liberal reporters don’t like it when a fact reported in their newspaper is used to make a conservative argument.  The Washington Post provides a classic example: it gave former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee “two pinocchios” for making a true statement about police shootings: that “More white people have been shot by police officers this past year than minorities.”

As Washington Post “fact-checker” Michelle Ye Hee Lee admits, Huckabee cited the Washington Post’s own “findings that of the 990 people shot in 2015, 948 people were male, 494 were white and 258 were black. So using raw numbers, Huckabee’s claim is accurate.” How, then, does she manage to find fault with it?  She claims it is misleading, because there are more whites than blacks in America: “looking at crimes simply as the raw number of white people affected vs. the number of minorities affected is misleading. By definition, there are fewer minorities.”

Lee’s argument is so absurd it is almost beyond parody. Everyone in America knows that blacks are a “minority,” and as Lee herself admits, “by definition, there are fewer minorities” than white people.  The dictionary definition of “minority” is “the smaller number or part.” Huckabee never denied this. The point of Huckabee’s statement was not that individual whites face a greater threat from police officers than blacks do: Rather, his point was that black people are not being singled out for police violence, contrary to the alleged “war on black America” that some black activists claim is being waged by police.

Lee claims Huckabee should not have made this statement, even though it was literally true, because it supposedly “lacks context”: that “Black people were shot at 2.5 times the rate of white people” in 2015. But it is Ms. Lee’s statement that is misleading and lacks context: It leaves out the crucial fact that rates of violence and crime are higher among blacks than among whites, both towards police and towards people in general. Black people are not being singled out by police for unjustified shootings.

As is noted in the Wall Street Journal, “Blacks made up a lower percentage of those police-shooting victims—26%—than would be predicted by the higher black involvement in violent crime. Whites made up 50% of police shooting victims, but you would never know it from media coverage. Note also that police officers face an 18.5 times greater chance of being killed by a black male than an unarmed black male has of being killed by a police officer.” Moreover, “this month ‘An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force’ by Harvard economics professor Roland G. Fryer Jr., analyzing more than 1,000 officer-involved shootings across the country, reports that there is zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings.” Indeed, a “‘deadly force’ lab study at Washington State University by researcher Lois James found that participants were biased in favor of black suspects, over white or Hispanic ones, in simulated threat scenarios. The research, published in 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, confirmed what Ms. James had found previously in studying active police officers, military personnel and the general public. In 2015 a Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects.”

Ironically, even while smearing Huckabee as dishonest for telling the truth, the Washington Post was turning a blind eye to misleading claims by President Obama accusing the police of racism.
As we discussed earlier, Obama claims that high black arrest rates are evidence of racism, when in fact they simply reflect higher black crime rates. As John Lott pointed out in the New York Post, “blacks commit murder at almost six times the rate whites do.” If you compare blacks to just non-Hispanic whites, the ratio is even bigger: The murder rate is eight times higher among blacks than among non-Hispanic whites. Arrests are not due to racism or black people being framed: As City Journal has reported, black victims themselves report that their attackers were black.

The policeman involved in the highly-publicized Minnesota shooting, Jeronimo Yanez, is “Latino.” There is no proof that the shooting occurred due to racism. Yet on Thursday, Obama claimed that that shooting, and another highly-publicized shooting in Louisiana, were manifestations of institutional racism and the “racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” As examples of these disparities, he cited the fact that “African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites,” and “the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.” He also complained that “African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over” than whites.”

All of these statements were highly misleading, because they falsely suggested that racism is causing blacks to be arrested at higher rates, rather than the higher black crime rate, as is actually the case. Yet, no Washington Post reporter took issue with Obama’s misleading statements, much less gave him any “pinocchios.” His deceptive message of white blame was just fine with them. Indeed, the Post ran multiple columns by black writers like ESPN’s Kevin Blackstone making exactly the same misleading argument: that higher black arrest and incarceration rates show racism against blacks. In the July 9 Washington Post, Blackstone faulted “white America” for the fact that “half of black men are arrested by age 23 . . . and they are locked behind bars at a disproportionate rate to whites.”

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is an attorney and author, who writes about politics.


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