A New York Times headline on Thursday downplayed the ongoing surge in murders in the United States, emphasizing that at least the homicide rate appears to be rising more slowly now.
The media is often accused of downplaying the destructiveness of the racial justice movement that erupted nationwide last summer following the police slaying of George Floyd.
The Times joined a number of other news outlets in reporting on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the authoritative annual summary of U.S. crime, which found the national homicide rate spiked by 29% last year.
Times’ crime analyst Jeff Ashwer went out of his way to find a silver lining, conducting an independent analysis of big cities to show that the “increase in murders this summer does not appear to be as large as the record spike last summer.”
- He found the rate went up by another 9.9% — not even 10% — since last year!
- The Times noted the murder rate was highest, 35%-40% in big cities, but didn’t mention that they’re almost all run by Democrats.
- The Times also made sure to point out that the overall crime rate fell last year, and homicide “makes up a tiny portion of major crimes as defined by the F.B.I.”
- The Times’ independent analysis also “found large increases in retirements” among police, particularly in large agencies.
- But — despite widespread reports of police quitting over public scorn fueled by racial justice movement — that didn’t make the Times’ list of potential explanations.
- Is this sad, new reality a result of poor morale and increased difficulties in doing the job, or did retirements surge because increased overtime in 2020 made it a more attractive prospect?
- Perhaps some agencies lost officers overall because the pandemic made hiring replacements particularly challenging. These questions remain unanswered by the U.C.R. data.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Some people weren’t buying what the Times was selling.
The Times hasn’t been alone in framing the data this way, and people have noticed: