The Associated Press: Just the Facts (That We Want) Please

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Because this site takes issue with the Huffington Post so often, the headline of this article targets the associated press. But really, the Huffington Post is still the worst – so we’ll continue to beat a dead horse until that dead horse stops churning out article after article about how a new Ginsberg Supreme Court dissent CHANGES EVERYTHING! (Hint: dissents change nothing – that’s why they’re called dissents. Only people trying to get A+’s in first year law school classes give a shit about them.)

The issue at play here is Ferguson which has been an obsession of HuffPo and other race conscious sites for months. HuffPo reacted to the Ferguson shooting as if it had found the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory of click-bait. They danced and sang and covered it and the resulting riots from every angle, devoting some 338 articles since August ranging from Thank You, Black Internet, for Bringing #Ferguson to Me to How One McDonald’s Became The Epicenter Of The Ferguson Conflict. But when the New York Times reported on new, actual evidence of the case, the HuffPo declined to post the facts of what happened in the shooting. The manipulation was that blatant..

Here is how the first couple of paragraphs of the article, which is titled, “Officer Darren Wilson Says He Feared For His Life: Report”, characterizes the new New York Times report:

Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night. The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle, according to the newspaper.

The Times reported that the account of Wilson’s version of events came from government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked racial unrest and weeks of protests, some of which turned violent. Wilson is white and Brown black.

This account makes it sound as if nothing new was disclosed by the New York Times report, and the article itself was buried in the middle of the front page (the Times likewise tried to bury its own story releasing it on a Friday night). The AP account even seems a bit contemptuous at how little was disclosed in the Times piece: “The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle.

So basically, all the Times piece did was share the police officer’s explanation that we already knew, with no explanation of anything more. But it did remind us that one person was white and the other is black – which as we know is the only evidence that matters. It’ s no wonder one of the top comments on the HuffPo article (with 273 likes and counting) is this one:

Well- if he is frightened by an unarmed person running away from him maybe needs to find a different job

Hilarious, but if you view the actual New York Times piece, it’s first paragraphs are vastly different:

The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.

The forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.

See, the New York Times piece cites forensics tests – something closely related to facts, which often get in the way of narrative. That’s why the Huffington Post put up the AP’s version without comment. The forensics shows that Wilson was not chasing and shooting after an unarmed man. We now have strong evidence to support that there was a fight and shootout inside a confined car that preceded those final shots. But that part does not fit with the narrative, so it isn’t relevant to HuffPo. They are not reporting the news, they are reporting what they wish the news to be. They state the part about the officer’s claims, decline to mention the forensic support, and then let their commenters fill in the snark – without a clue of how ignorant they actually are.

It’s similar to how they post Ginsberg’s dissents but not the majority arguments – which are the relevant arguments that actually make law. The Huffington Post isn’t a place where people want to find factual, useful information or where they want to learn about differing opinions. It’s a place for people to come and have their worldviews reaffirmed, and to read articles written by people smarter than them so they can repeat it back to their friends to sound intelligent. It’s the website equivalent of a bad sitcom where a guy goes on a date and gets lines fed to him through an earpiece – though unlike the sitcom, the readers never get caught since they never engage with anyone who actually disagrees with their viewpoint.

That’s not to say the evidence cited in the Times is definitive. Perhaps Officer Wilson is still guilty of manslaughter. Perhaps he is guilty of murder and premeditated the whole thing because he is the grand wizard of the KKK. Perhaps he was hypnotized by Justin Bieber’s bangs into killing all the black people he came into contact with. That is all possible. But the Huffington Post shouldn’t be reporting on what it is possible, it should be reporting on what we know. And right now the only things we know are that Brown committed strong armed robbery a few minutes before the shooting, Wilson and him then got into a fight that took place inside a police car where bullets flew and Brown got shot, and at some point Brown moved away from the police car and was shot more times – all of his shots coming from the front.

That’s a far cry from the initial story of a kid being shot in the back with his hands up for no reason – but the Huffington Post and other outlets are sticking to that narrative no matter how far it deviates from the facts.  They will continue to do so until their sheep stop giving them their own wool to get pulled over their eyes. But hey, who cares if you start a few riots if you’re getting people to click through your Amazon banner?

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