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Many have been complaining about the sad state of reporting. In order to get a quick story out with the least amount of resistance, too many journalists have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the powerful. This has allowed truthful narratives to be blurred and doubt to be introduced where there should be none.

So is the case with the New York Times article titled “Shooting Accounts Differ as Holder Schedules Visit to Ferguson” by Frances Robles and Michael S. Schmidt on August 19, 2014. The article is a defense attorney’s dream, however flawed. The first paragraph of the article sets the tone:

As a county grand jury prepared to hear evidence on Wednesday in the shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer that touched off 10 days of unrest here, witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing.
The realty is that most of the assertions from eyewitnesses are not in fact "sharply conflicting." This post is not an attempt to refute the article point by point because Lawrence O’Donnell does it masterfully in his video segment above. The point of this post is to illustrate how the media can be used to drive a false narrative.

When the New York Times says that there are sharp conflicting stories it is believed by most Americans based on the gravitas of the newspaper. No one should forget that stories by New York Times journalist Judith Miller was instrumental in setting the narrative for America’s entry into the Iraq War. This narrative of conflicting eyewitness statements lays the groundwork to make a no bill by the grand jury or an acquittal by any jury of Darren Wilson, Michael Brown’s killer, an accepted outcome.

Yesterday actor/activist Jesse Williams had a prescient statement on MSNBC that should be heeded by all including those that report the news. Essentially he implores that we are careful about who we use as our news sources:

Who will be the victor? The aggrieved citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, must ensure that they are the victors so they are the ones telling their story.

Originally posted to ProgressiveLiberal on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 01:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As terrible as the NYT article was... (18+ / 0-)

    it contained the bombshell that Ferguson Police confirmed that Mike Brown was shot at by the officer as he fled. Not to excuse the NYT shoddy reporting, but I wonder if the rest of the article was meant to temper that major admission by FPD. Just kinda thinking out loud here. Great post - thanks, EW.

    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 02:09:41 PM PDT

  •  O'Donnell hit it out of the park with this one. (13+ / 0-)

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 02:18:52 PM PDT

    •  Truly one for the ages, maybe his best ever. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, elwior, cotterperson, mwm341

      Anyone coming to work at the NYT in the future should be required to watch the entire broadcast, and whoever wrote that story should be sent back to school.

      Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil. The other is gentle and good. The two dogs fight all the time. Which dog wins? The one I feed the most.

      by bakeneko on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 03:08:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, mwm341, jqb

      Really sad that hardly anyone else in the media has been making the all too obvoius point that shooting at a fleeing suspect in the first place is normally a crime.

      Beyond that, great job in using the interview of Michael Brady to show that when Brown "moved forward", it was because he was hit and stumbled a couple of steps.  I've not seen one witness named who even contradicted this. I've not seen one witness named who claims he "charged". James McKnight, quoted in the NY Times story, agrees pretty exactly with Brady:

      James McKnight, who also said he saw the shooting, said that Mr. Brown’s hands were up right after he turned around to face the officer.

      “I saw him stumble toward the officer, but not rush at him,” Mr. McKnight said in a brief interview.

      To the contrary, Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, Michael Brady, and Piaget Crenshaw all seemed to me to believe that Brown was not a threat, and was giving himself up, when he was executed.

      I've only seen the one quote from McKnight so far, so I don't know his sentiment on that, but at the very least his account doesn't seem to contradict that in any way.  

      Also of interest, Brady's account says Wilson was "walking briskly while firing on Mr. Brown". If Brown, a severly wounded man, charged him, or if he was fearful he was too close to him, wouldn't it make sense to back away? No one that I've seen, not even Wilson so far, has claimed Wilson made any attempt to back off or move away.

      •  This video and others show: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gritsngumbo, Alhambra, snwflk

        The street has no traffic. Wilson backed up or drove to the  wrong side of the road separating the boys. (Remember the  boys were jaywalking which is quite different then walking in the middle of the street.) Wilson had moments to consider his actions at each point in this tragic event, whatever happened at the car window. Wilson got out of his car and walked to position himself before shooting with the both heads to steady the gun.

        A witness tells us Wilson shot then immediately returned to his car to drive it past Michael's body to a distance (maybe 20 yards) away and parked perpendicular to the road, front bumper to the curb and against oncoming traffic that would have had to pass Michael's body. Why? It would not block traffic; but it did give a full view of the body to people in the apartment building and the growing circle of shocked people. Consider the visual effect of this parking site because now the tragic scene reads differently to the viewers. He got out of the car.  (to wait?)

        The body lies in the street and Wilson does not move toward Michael's body to check for signs of life. Nor does Wilson search for a weapon, a phone, or identification. It appears he does not even speak to Michael's companion. Other cops arrive and stand with him or slowly walk around. As people begin to walk up to the scene and even after the numbers increase, Wilson and other cops stand around, they show no concern for their own safety.

        My father saw this happen often in the POW camp of WWII-the display of the dead. It is a clear sign of warning, symbolic threat to all survivors: "this will happen to you."

        Ferguson is an occupied community.

    •  Yes he did. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spritegeezer, cspivey

      I would recommend your comment but it's not letting me.
      That goes for everybody else I agree with.

      I want to be the next Secretary of Antics.

      by nellgwen on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:06:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, the NYTimes is a different (5+ / 0-)

    paper, now that Jill has been removed as editor.  

    Yes, that assertion about witness reports sent the flags flying in my mind.  Glad I wasn't the only one.

  •  I'm surprised it was tacit (0+ / 0-)

    and not open and loud mouthed.

    My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

    by AoT on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 02:48:47 PM PDT

  •  Conflicting accounts (12+ / 0-)
    witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing.
    In other words ...  Several known witnesses have independently given almost identical accounts ... while Police Chief Provenliar has given a very different account ... and an anonymous caller on the radio claiming to be a friend of the officer in question says something else.

    What could the truth possibly be?!!

    Oh, well, it's not the journalists' job to weigh any of it.  They just report who says what, and leave it up to us to sort it all out.

    •  Except they did not report WHO agreed with (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ewmorr, niemann, NoBlueSkies, mwm341

      the officer's account.  No names, no descriptions, nothing.  That's not reporting by any standard.

      •  Or what the Officer Wilson's account was.... (0+ / 0-)

        For all we know, Officer Wilson's account goes someting like this:

        "Yeah, I saw these two jaywalkers, drove up, told them to get the fuck off the street, then moved on a bit, but they were still strolling along in the street, so I decided to teach them a lesson.  Threw it into reverse, backed up right next to them, swung the door open giving them a good whack with it, then grabbed the big guy by the neck. He was a pretty strong kid and pushed me off though, then started to run.  

        I wasn't really hurt any, other than my pride, but I was kinda pissed at that point. So now I'm thinking, I'm really gonna get this n***. He's trying to get away, so I get out of the car and start shooting at him. I miss the first couple of shots, but finally I must have hit him, cause then he stops then, puts his hands up, and turns toward me, like I'm just going to arrest him now.

        Ha, so I fire a few more shots into him, and he stubles forward, then I know he's disabled at that point, I've really got him. I get in closer where I can get a better shot, and then shoot him right in the head, really finished him off good. It was awesome, dude."

        I mean, it's maybe unfair to speculate, since his version hasn't been made public yet, but since it's been leaked that it agrees with all these other accounts, it must be safe to infer it goes something like that, right?
      •  The article says where they got the info without (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        naming names:  

        The accounts of what witnesses have told local and federal law enforcement authorities come from some of those witnesses themselves, law enforcement authorities and others in Ferguson. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
    •  I've heard that his name is Chief Gofuckyourself (3+ / 0-)

      He was adopted by the Provenliar family and his full name is Chief Gofuckyourself Provenliar.

      His wife is just as much a rabid racist as Chief Provenlier. She referred to "those animals" more than once in a TeeVee interview.

      His bastard step nephew and half uncle is Officer Gofuckyourself, they say. It's complicated.

      And the Mayor is closely related in several ways to the Gofuckyourself family, so they believe.

      What a nice place to raise a family what with all those family values fumes seeping up through the cracks in the basement floor.

      So many first cousin marriages and all those incest babies helps to preserve their pure Aryan gene pool, too.

      The witnesses' accounts are sharply different than the sharply differing and conflicting accounts spewed out by the Ferguson police PR officer (an actual canine from the K9 unit, apparently).

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:08:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't know if there are conflicting accounts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are several witnesses who have spoken to the press who have given similar accounts.  

      There are also, undoubtedly, numerous other witnesses who are speaking to investigators but who have chosen not to speak to the press.  Those 40 FBI investigators are not sitting on their hands.  But, because it's an ongoing investigation, those statements are not released by investigators.  So, we don't yet know if the accounts given by witnesses who have not spoken to the press confirm the known accounts or not.

      And Officer Wilson has almost certainly given an account of the incident to investigators -- even if it is a compelled statement that can be used in the investigation but cannot be used against him at trial (due to the 5th Amendment).  

      We cannot assume that we have heard all of the accounts of the shooting of Michael Brown.  We almost certainly have not.  

      Now, whether the NYT has some source telling it what those other witnesses are saying, or whether the NYT has a source telling it what Wilson said in his statement, I have no idea.  Based on the way this was worded, I suspect not -- it seems that someone "close to the investigation" simply told them the accounts were conflicting.  And if that's all they have, I'm not sure how responsible the reporting is.  

      •  Are you sure you watched the Last Word (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        •  Yes I did. I was responding to a comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That indicated this was the "record":

          In other words ...  Several known witnesses have independently given almost identical accounts ... while Police Chief Provenliar has given a very different account ... and an anonymous caller on the radio claiming to be a friend of the officer in question says something else.
          My point was to this commentor, that there undoubtedly is a lot more out there, including other witnesses, and -- just as O'Donnell says -- we don't know what these others say.

          If there's an area where I would part ways with O'Donnell, it is that he seems to assume that if investigators won't reveal the details of what witnesses are telling investigators, then any suggestion that there are conflicts in accounts is illegitimate.

          I think it's entirely possible that the NYT got an "on background" statement from someone involved in one of the two investigations that other witnesses were giving conflicting accounts.  The question is, given that, should the NYT in any reporting pretend that there ARE no witnesses giving conflicting accounts? Should it just completely ignore anything that it gets from the investigations?  It seems to me that if they got that information from a source they consider credible (and remember, lots of credible sources give information on condition of anonymity), they have to report it, but perhaps could have reported it in a less definitive way, such as "as source close to the investigations tells the NYT that other witnesses who are speaking to investigators are giving sharply different accounts, but as the details of the investigations won't be released until those investigations are complete, the NYT can't independently confirm or refute those statements.  

          •  From the NYT article (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The accounts of what witnesses have told local and federal law enforcement authorities come from some of those witnesses themselves, law enforcement authorities and others in Ferguson. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
            If people are suggesting that the NYT should not report things based on sources that want to remain anonymous, then I think they are wrong.  Without anonymous sources, we never would have known about the whole Watergate thing. But I do think that if they rely heavily on law enforcement authorities accounts of what witnesses said without any verification, they should make that clear.  
          •  Yes, what you said in that last sentence. (0+ / 0-)

            That's what Lawrence says in the video. He is talking about the reporting and the structure of the article. Or as the Public Editor of the NYT has just said (someone linked it below), and I bold the important part:

            But this article doesn’t measure up, for the reasons detailed above.  The Times is asking readers to trust its sourcing, without nearly enough specificity or detail; and it sets up an apparently equal dichotomy between named eyewitnesses on one hand and ghosts on the other.
            •  I disagree that it's "ghosts" unless (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you think all anonymous sources are "ghosts."  

              The article says they got the information both from talking to law enforcement AND from talking to witnesses who had given information to law enforcement.  If that's true, that's not "ghosts" -- that is anonymous sources.  The job of a journalist is not to completely disregard anonymous sources -- some of the best reporting in this country has been based on anonymous sources who are in a position to know.  The job of a journalist is to determine whether the source wishing to remain anonymous has credibility and is in a position to know what he/she is talking about.  And sometimes the journalist can't report the verification because that would identify the source.

               Perhaps, given the emotions running with this case, the NYT should have been clearer about whether it did its job in that respect.  As I said, if the only thing they did was simply take the word of someone with the investigation, then they still should have reported it but made it more clear.  If the NYT has credible information that some witnesses talking to the investigations are giving accounts that "sharply differ" from each other, that's useful information, because it at least tells the public that there's a reason for the investigation not ending in a day or two -- as part of the investigations must necessarily involve determining which witnesses are credible and which are not.  

              But it seems to me that O'Donnell's tone and tenor -- including the language he uses -- sends the message that if the NYT can't identify the witnesses who gave conflicting reports and specify exactly what each of those identified witnesses said, the NYT should have ignored that information.  Certainly, that seems to be the message some here are getting.  And that's where I would disagree.  

  •  mr o'donnell very good with a sledge hammer (5+ / 0-)

    I hope nyt editors cringed. you should not print stupid stuff unworthy of your masthead.
    that paper has been slowly sinking for decades now. used to be the best. used to be.
    being careful is not much, if that's all you do.
    being correct is bland if you don't know what's missing.
    good newspaper people have an insatiable hunger to uncover, confirm, understand, expand and deliver the most exciting news as fast as it can be learned and verified.
    I'm not addicted to any newspaper anymore. previously, I sometimes read 7 a day.
    this site provides better access than all the newspapers put together.
    but Lawrence O'Donnell enobled his medium yesterday. I saw it too and applaud the diarist pointing it out.

    for the love of humanity please protect the light in all that may glow and try not to make anyone else's path more cruel than it would be on its own.

    by renzo capetti on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 03:07:28 PM PDT

    •  Back in the day, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      renzo capetti, mwm341

      I was the night editor at a small Gannett daily. A time or two I had to go to higher-ups to "kill" a piece of trash like this NYT story. For instance, "The police chief had no comment about whether Officer Whatever Name was drinking on the job." That was some rumor about town.

      (If there were three unnamed sources, maybe, but I'd have to know who they were and how they knew.)

      So glad O'Donnell stuck it to them -- and in public!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 04:11:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  NYT is the biggest pimple on the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, cotterperson, mwm341

    face of the American Corporate News Establishment (ACNE) and they are very proud of that fact.

    When they admitted to running stories about national security past the Bush White House during the Bush years years after 9/11 to ensure it didn't reveal any supposed secrets I knew it's claim as the paper of record was a lie.

    They didn't want to be accused of being traitors to the Iraq war effort.

  •  Ed show calling out eye socket!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, mwm341

    Ed show calling out eye socket!!!

  •  Unfortunately he put up wrong video...not one w... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Unfortunately he put up wrong video...not one with officer Wilson standing over body that MB attorney refers to during the segment.

    •  Are you talking about the Ed Show today? (0+ / 0-)

      I noticed the same thing.  There is video showing Officer Wilson standing by the body, and pacing up and down.  He seems shaken up, but doesn't appear to be nursing any injuries.  Too bad Ed didn't use that video.

  •  I am already losing friends, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Curt Matlock

    good, decent people, perhaps forever, over their comments re the police vs the "thug" thing they've been parroting the last week. They're not saying things nearly as hateful as are the strangers in other threads who don't actually like me to start with, but the tone has gotten very accusatory. They are shocked that I haven't automatically taken the word of the cops -- the changing word -- at face value every time someone with a badge speaks.  "How can [I] not trust the word of the authorities?!"  My glib response has become, "Because I remember the '60s".  I've been really surprised at the passionate opposition from people just because I have said "there's more to the story" at times or pointed out that taking sides was premature until all the evidence was in. They've been downright appalled that I even consider that the residents of Ferguson as well as the country, especially many of the black ones, may have reasons to distrust the LEOs' intentions and truthfulness or that the media may have ulterior motives in slanting reports a certain way.  We can only hope that, just like with many of the other crazy Right Wing "scandals" disguised as news stories, the truth will eventually come out. Neither side will be above reproach at that point. After all, the two young men may have actually lifted some cigars.  We know more and more what the police, individually and collectively, did in their role.  In the meantime, we need to continue to check our sources and keep minds as open as possible for information.  Maybe then those so quick to condemn that dead child and all the other victims of an overzealous militarized police system will be forced to admit the world isn't as they perceived it 40 years ago. And maybe not.

    •  If your "friends" want to do an interesting... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat, cspivey

      experiment the next time they have interaction with one of these publicly licensed killers  just use the term "cop" to his or her face.  Based on personal experience they will perceive that as disrespectful and will immediately become hostile, more often then not.  Also, have them mention an obvious error the cop made.  I guarantee you that will get you cuffed and in a patrol car headed downtown.  These overblown cretins will accept no slight will admit no error without responding unreasonably.

      You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns. Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

      by spritegeezer on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:32:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How can they trust the word of the authorities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as much as they lie?

      It's a true sign of gullibility.

    •  Taking the word of the cop (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat, cspivey

      Maybe I've missed something, but I thought that the cop did not submit an incident report, nor has he spoken publicly.

      I pay no attention to someone who claims to be a friend of a friend of Wilson's, and who claims to know what his story is. If Darren Wilson wants the public to hear his story, he has but to tell us what it is himself, or tell it through his lawyer.

  •  The one question that Anderson Cooper HAD to ask (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that new eyewitness, but didn't, is "How close were Michael Brown and Officer Wilson when Michael Brown fell to the ground and died?"  I haven't heard any of the three eyewitnesses say whether Brown was close enough to Wilson to justify fearing for his life and continuing to fire shot after shot into him.  That's what I want to know.

    •  And the answer is.... (0+ / 0-)

      20 to 25 feet away!  Witness Brady told Lawrence O'Donnell tonight that Officer Wilson was about 20 to 25 feet away from Michael Brown when Brown "went down" and Wilson kept shooting into the top of his head.  This was not a police officer defending himself from an imminent threat - it was an execution.

    •  Elsewhere I read of other cases where MO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      officers were acquitted of any crime on the grounds that the officers were afraid the victims they shot to death were going to use their vehicles to hit them.  

      The victims in fact did not use their cars to attempt to hit the officers, but apparently like the Florida "stand your ground" law, MO law hinges on what the shooter was thinking, not what the victim was doing.  

      And short of the officer shouting to witnesses, "he's no threat to me but I'm gonna shoot this guy anyway" it's almost impossible to disprove someone's statement about what they were thinking.

      If we had a real Supreme Court these laws would be ruled unconstitutional, but, of course, we don't.

  •  I hope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I hope it's the truth that wins. No matter what it is and whose 'narrative' it supports.

    I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

    by Zornorph on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:32:48 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this excellent diary (5+ / 0-)

    totally irresponsible -- and I say that as a former journalist who worked for the Times for five years.

    Alison Lundergan Grimes for Senate!

    by noweasels on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:33:03 PM PDT

  •  If you just have to be misinformed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cspivey, a2nite

    believe what the police will tell you.

    For recent example: Police: Denver man shot his wife dead, then asked 7-year-old son to do the same to him

    Now, the headline is true. That seems to be exactly what happened.


    The Denver Post reported that, according to police testimony, Kristine Kirk told the dispatcher that her husband had begun behaving erratically after eating a marijuana-laced candy, and said he might have mixed it with prescription pain medicine.

    The suspect was also reportedly hallucinating and blaming the “blood moon” for his demeanor, and reportedly asked his wife to shoot him. She said at the time that he had never exhibited this type of behavior.

     - - - - -

    Authorities recovered an empty bottle of hydrocodone, as well as a partially-eaten marijuana candy and an unsmoked marijuana cigarette, all purchased on the evening of the shooting. However, a toxicology report later found no traces of any prescription drugs in Richard Kirk’s system, but did discover a small amount of THC, the active ingredient in the drug, which was legalized in November 2012.

    The parents owed a large chunk of cash to the IRS, due apparently the day after the killing, as well as were in $40k debt.

    And the house had guns.

    So the COPS will have you believe that it wasn't the hydrocodone (empty bottle + no hydrocodone in bottle can=  withdrawal).

    It wasn't a guns in the house (which did kill the mom)

    Oh... dad also believed in John Hagees' "Blood Moon" bullshit, so that tells us he's a religious nut (sue me.).

    Nope, the MARIJUANA was to blame for all the horrors described.


    Lying, reefer mad motherfuckers.

  •  Just sent a furious email (4+ / 0-)

    to KGWV in Portland.  They have a local politics show called Straight Talk.  The woman who hosts it is on vacation, so it was hosted by a fairly new guy who thinks he's better than he is.  He asked a series of awkward questions about race in Portland of a minister who is a leader in the black community and the guy who is the city's liaison.  Both men gave measured and dignified answers to his clumsy questions.

    At the end of every show they have a Point / Counterpoint segment; the question dealt with if and how President Obama should be involved with Ferguson.   David Sarasohn presented 'the view from the left'.  He gave a bland response about national dialogue.  

    'The view from the right' was our local Rush wanna be, Lars Larson.  He said the president should not be involved because:  he then proceed to say Michael Brown was a strong arm robber who beat up a cop and was charging at him.  

    I told the station that nothing Larson had said was proven, and it was irresponsible of them to allow what he said to stand unchallenged, and that they owed their viewer an apology.  We'll see what happens.  I hope other people complained as well.

  •  I feel you weakened this diary (0+ / 0-)

    by asking us to remember that Judith Miller was full of BS on Iraq 11 years ago, so we should therefore conclude this story by a different reporter on a completely different topic  is BS too.

  •  NY Times has no excuse for shoddy stories (0+ / 0-)

    It is not like the NY Times is some smaller city newspaper trying to contain costs and keep readership up.  As shown by Chris Hayes and others from MSNBC, there are plenty of people on the ground in Ferguson eager to tell their side of recent events.  The only challenge with regards to "access" is the Ferguson police, and except for character assassination, they are not talking.

    Is the NY Times afraid that their subscriptions from Ferguson, MO will plummet?  I don't think so.  You can't even make the argument that the shoddy reporting is because of lack of reporters, such as foreign correspondents.  How difficult is it for a NY Times reporter to get to Missouri?

    No, this is all about being fucking lazy and going for the cookie cutter narrative of "two sides to every story."  

  •  no difference (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, Sapere aude, GrantR, Alhambra

    Narratives of witnesses in the Michael Brown shooting do not differ in any meaningful way. I have, because I'm laid up again, been following the witness reports and the other press reports since the second day or so fairly closely. Putting it all together is eye popping, for those who trust eyewitnesses if they concur. Here, they concur too well for Darren Wilson, FPD and SLCPD. What becomes clear is that FPD began a cover-up immediately, and then in an attempt to protect themselves, they transferred the case and responsibility to SLCPD. I guess they figured that would obscure the trail effectively. But anyone who has been watching from my distance can see what has actually happened. First of all, in the primary details eyewitnesses agree. Wilson screeched his vehicle to a halt on return, after passing Brown and Johnson. In the process, he was opening the door as he stopped but the door recoiled off of Brown and Johnson because he almost hit them with the vehicle itself. (It was probably the recoiling door that bruised Wilson's face because no witness says Brown ever threw a punch. Piaget Crenshaw is clear that they "tussled" through the open vehicle window, but she is clear that it appeared to be Wilson trying to pull Brown into the vehicle as Brown tried to remain outside.) Crenshaw says that Brown, the clearly bigger fellow, pushed away from the vehicle as Wilson tried to pull him inside; Johnson says Wilson grabbed Brown about the throat or chest. It is clear that Wilson was still in the vehicle, one hand engaged with Brown. After a shot was fired inside the vehicle, Brown broke away and ran. Wilson, according to Crenshaw and Johnson, fired at Brown while he ran, but the autopsy may dispute Crenshaw's claim that Brown was hit in flight. One wound may be from back of the arm to front, but if Brown's hands were in the air when it occurred  then he was not hit while he fled. Conversely, he could have, as Crenshaw seemed to believe while talking to Anderson Cooper, been hit while fleeing. Whatever the case, several witnesses including Crenshaw and Johnson say Brown stopped, turned and faced Wilson. (It seems significant to note at this point that the incident report from SLCPD is a mere cypher, containing no reference to witnesses or any detail about the shooting from Wilson or anyone else. Thus we only have eyewitness reports through the media to rely upon. Yet police and unnamed sources suggest a version from Wilson in the media that contradicts the eyewitnesses. It is interesting given the Ferguson riots, that an official version that might quell anger and suspicion has not been attempted by official sources.) After Brown ran and Wilson exited the vehicle, Crenshaw and Johnson concur that Wilson moved toward Brown as he fired several shots. Crenshaw is clear that Brown did not, as alleged by Wilson's friends "Josie", Jake Shepard, and girlfriend, bum rush at Wilson. In fact, it seems from eyewitness accounts, the opposite may have been the case, Wilson rushing after a fleeing Brown. Crenshaw says Wilson chased Brown from the vehicle as he ran. After at least one shot, Brown stopped running and turned to face Wilson. Crenshaw and Johnson agree that Brown began at least to put his hands in the air as Wilson continued to fire at him. The coroner says that Brown's right arm was hit four times from front to back, but if Brown's arm was not yet raised, one shot may have been from the back as has been implied. Crenshaw is clear that Wilson fired while Brown's back was to him. At that point Brown, hands trying at least to move into the universal position of surrender according to Crenshaw, was shot twice more, once through the eye, once through the top of the head apparently as he toppled from his knees forward. It was that sixth shot that was fatal.
    Now, I am not a police officer. But, as far as I can tell, Darren Wilson should have known his career in law enforcement ended about the time his weapon went off in his vehicle. He by then had committed so many breaches of professional procedure, that he had to know he was done, and that alone may have motivated what followed. First, a police officer never wants a suspect near or in his vehicle if the suspect is not subdued, yet Wilson drove his vehicle to the point of hitting Brown and Johnson with the opening door. Second, a police officer in a situation involving multiple suspects is advised to call for back-up support and wait until it arrives. Third, a police officer will not attempt to apprehend a suspect with only one hand, or through the window of a moving or stopped vehicle. Fourth, an officer will keep his vehicle at a sufficient distance from suspects that it will not impede his apprehension or give opportunity to escape to the suspect in the vehicle. Fifth, an officer will not fire his weapon from his vehicle, moving or stationary, since the vehicle is larger target for the suspect if armed, while his own accuracy is compromised. Sixth the officer will not fire his weapon while running or moving since that endangers bystanders by increasing his inaccuracy. Wilson, clearly responded in the heat of the moment, but his response was anything but professional and after six years he certainly knew he had compromised his career before he exited his vehicle. If his head was throbbing from the recoil of the door off of Johnson and Brown causing the bruising that sent him to the hospital, he was also probably angry or embarrassed by that fact as well. It is apparent that FPD and then SLCPD began a concerted effort to shield Wilson from his own significant and apparent failures at that point. Both police entities have been caught in lies. FPD's Chief Jackson about incident reports, claiming an unrelated theft report was what the media requested about the shooting. Clearly he was trying to cover for Wilson, implying at first he was apprehending a robbery suspect, but later he admitted Wilson knew nothing about the incident. Then, as community emotions flared, he lied about the escalation by his forces, using teargas on peaceful demonstrators but claiming it was only smoke grenades. SLCPD then picked up the baton of cove-up, lying about 12 witnesses who corroborated Wilson's nonexistent version of events, and then about his nonexistent orbital fracture with X-ray. All in all, this has been miserable performance by Missouri law enforcement, an episode fraught with events sure only to worsen matters as they attempted to bury them.

    •  Clear accounting but.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When you say: "Wilson, clearly responded in the heat of the moment, but his response was anything but professional and after six years he certainly knew he had compromised his career before he exited his vehicle" you are forgetting Wilson's career is with the FPD. In all likely hood, Wilson expected to get a pass on this, certainly high fives in the FPD locker room. He may still expect to be exonerated. The FPD is a rogue law enforcement agency operating as an occupying force.
      How many are there in America?

    •  Hmm (0+ / 0-)
      First of all, in the primary details eyewitnesses agree. Wilson screeched his vehicle to a halt on return, after passing Brown and Johnson. In the process, he was opening the door as he stopped but the door recoiled off of Brown and Johnson because he almost hit them with the vehicle itself.
      I thought there was only one witness to this, Dorian Johnson.
  •  Brown charging at Wilson. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sapere aude, GrantR, Anak, Alhambra

    This part of it is purely bullshit, given the fact that Brown started to flee after a shot went off in the patrol car.

    So this is what was supposed to have happened: Brown struggles with Wilson, possibly trying to get his gun, the gun goes off (let's be generous) and this spooks Brown enough to cause him to turn and flee. Then, after having two shits fired at him, we are supposed to believe that Brown, all of a sudden found the courage few battle-hardened soldiers ever demonstrate, turned around, and charged at a police officer thirty feet away with complete control of his weapon?

    Even if we concede Brown was a violent thug, that is very different from saying he was suicidal.

  •  ... and, now, we get to watch the predictable (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    wave of kneejerk, uninformed support for Wilson from the barely-disguised 'white right', opening their wallets online and demonstrating their utter ignorance of the known facts.

    Kinda like watching a scab form over an infected, oozing sore.

  •  NYT's Public Editor slammed the article too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, Alhambra, snwflk

    The New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, responded to criticism of the article by O'Donnell and many of its readers, and agreed with the criticism:

    I’ll grant that the Ferguson story is a difficult one to report, with dangerous conditions for reporters and photographers, relentless deadlines and shifting story lines. The Times has generally covered it accurately and well, from all that I can see.

    But this article doesn’t measure up, for the reasons detailed above.  The Times is asking readers to trust its sourcing, without nearly enough specificity or detail; and it sets up an apparently equal dichotomy between named eyewitnesses on one hand and ghosts on the other.

    For me, the article shows how clueless so many otherwise intelligent people - mostly white people - still are about the crux of the protests in Ferguson, and elsewhere, over the murder of Michael Brown.
  •  This is a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Very poor job by O'Donnell. This does nothing but further damage O'Donnell's reputation as a pure partisan and in the worst way by selectively leaving out things that clearly put this star witnesses's statements into question.

    Just based on what this witness says I have some doubts about her credibility. She says the officer "was trying to pull" a 6'5'' 300 lb man into his car. That's a tough one to swallow. That's not likely to fly. No officer in his right mind would be "pulling" a man -- if he even could for that matter -- into his car. That's a deadly and losing idea.  

    She says "the first shot was fired through the window"??? Really? And how does she know that? She doesn't mention seeing the gun at that point. Nobody was hit. She doesn't know how the shot got fired. She may have heard it, yes, but that was part of the officer's story also.

    She says she's going for her cell phone and parking her car all while this is going on. So she obviously wasn't paying full attention to what was actually happening. She may have missed critical events.  

    She says the officer "pursued" Brown and shot him while Brown was running away. Well the autopsy appears to contradict her completely.  

    It's times like this that I can understand why Lawrence can't attract viewers.

    The NYT piece was very fair. Nice job by the Times presenting the facts and trying to show honest balance and integrity in journalism. There has been a concerted effort in seems by some in the media to rush to judgement on this and it's disgraceful and dishonest. We do not have enough evidence at this time to believe the officer is guilty of a crime.

    "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

    by Sam Weller on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 06:33:47 AM PDT

  •  Definition (0+ / 0-)

    Gravitas (n.) The state of being full of shit in a manner which supports the rich and/or powerful.

    “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” —Aldous Huxley

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 08:23:31 AM PDT

  •  It's about time! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For the NYT to get such a well-deserved comeuppance. Kudos to O'Donnell, who expressed the quiet rage that I, too, felt when I read that ridiculous article passing itself off as news.

    The NYT has been so busy trying to inject pseudo balance into its news reporting, and thereby injecting its editorial opinions directly into the news, that they no longer understand or know how to report accurately.

    Maybe they can't attract talent any longer?

  •  The New York Times' Gravitas (0+ / 0-)

    and reputation for high journalistic standards is exactly what makes it such an effective tool for news makers who occasionally manage to misuse it as terribly as did the Bush Administration with Judith Miller and St. Louis County law enforcement about Ferguson, in the article that incensed Lawrence O'Donnell.

    Also, despite O'Donnell's praise of the NYT for its usually high journalistic standards, that paper, like any other corporate giant, generally follows a pro-capitalist line and clearly operates as a voice for, at least, parts of the Establishment.

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by LeftOfYou on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 11:51:05 AM PDT

  •  Yeppers (0+ / 0-)

    At times Lawrence gets it right. But far too often doesn't

    Boycott WalMart-Papa Johns-BP-Steven Seagal movies- and Jack Welch is still a pr*ck

    by truthronin on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 01:57:09 PM PDT

  •  4 Witnesses, justice is overdue. (0+ / 0-)

    4 Witnesses, justice is overdue.

  •  (1.)The citizen of Ferguson needs to sue.... (0+ / 0-)

    The Ferguson Police Dept over their 1st amendments rights. (2.)The people of Ferguson should demand that Eric Holder put an interim police force in control of Ferguson to replace the Chief of Police and his cronies.(3.) Until then the people of Ferguson should follow the police start recording their every move with cell phones, video recorders, tweets and scanners. (4.)Set up a command center for peace keepers and use that command center to get out the vote on every election from school boards meeting to special election.(5.) Let's face it the outcome for justice for Mike Brown is less than 50/50. The only thing the Brown Family and the citizen of Ferguson ask for was to be an open and transparency in the investigation and that's been block by Robert McColluch and his secret grand jury.(6.) Ferguson has the chance to be the model for the new civil rights leaders on how to fight back when your local gov't classified you as public enemy #1. Don't let us down and good luck Ferguson.

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