SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2003
CASE STUDY: Today, a brilliant case study from Goldbergs Arrogance, so you can see how its author tackles Big Issues. If youre interested in todays topic, by the way, check out Tim Lamberts work at his Deltoid site. Lambert has presented work on todays topic, and has reported many other gun issues.
Meanwhile, E-Mailer Joe from Thursdays HOWLER was Joe Moran, the Quaker in a Basement. To visit Joes terrace-level lair, you know what to dojust click here.
BERNIE GET YOUR GUN: Again, heres the sad thing about Goldbergs clowninga real attempt to examine his issues might produce useful knowledge. For example, how does the mainstream press cover guns? The NRA claims that mainstream scribes have anti-gun attitudes that color their reporting. Is that true? Its surely worth knowing. But you dont get knowledge from Bernie Goldbergyou get clowning, and fakery, and disinformation. Consider the volley of blanks he fires when he targets liberal bias on guns.
In Arrogance, Goldberg devotes an entire chapter to gun reporting. Much of the chapter concerns a shooting at a rural Virginia law school. The shooting occurred on January 16, 2002. Heres how Bernie kicks off his chapter:
GOLDBERG (page 185): A student at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia storms through the campus, clutching a handgun.Bernie notes that CBS and NBC aired similar reports. At NBC News, Kevin Tibbles said the students overpowered the gunman and held him until police could arrive.
So whats supposed to be wrong with this picture? According to Bernie, the Post and the nets left out one tiny, little fact. Two of the students who pounced on and tackled and overpowered the gunman also had guns. (Bernies italics.) They had them in their cars, he writes, and when they heard the gunshots and learned what was happening, they got the guns and used them to subdue the killer. Bernie then rants, throughout the chapter, about the way this fact was ignored by the press. According to Bernie, anti-gun bias was the only plausible reason for failing to mention the rescuers guns. The coverage raised [media] groupthink to a whole new category of duplicity, Bernie says. This was group lying, he thunders.
In fact, Bernie was so upset about this matter that he broke every rule in his book. According to Bernie, he read some reports about the coverage of this incidentreports which tallied the number of stories which failed to mention the rescuers guns. Then, Bernie did what he just never does. Bernie Goldberg conducted some research!
GOLDBERG (page 186): None of this sounded like it made any sense. Yes, Im a critic of how big news organizations slant the news, but even I couldnt believe these numbers. All of them struck me as so incredible that I finally decided to run my own Nexis search.Say what? Trust uswhen Bernie conducts a Nexis search, he is deeply involved in a topic! After all, he could have spent his valuable time penning insults about Dan Rather. He could have telephoned Andy Rooney and thrown off assorted rude comments. Instead, Bernie logged on, and was soon hard at work. Heres where his hard travelin took him:
GOLDBERG (page 186): I sampled one hundred news sources, which included the major TV outlets and most every big city daily in the country. And what I found stunned me. Sure enough, only a few papers in the whole country reported that the rescuers had guns. I counted a grand total of six out a hundred. Six!As youll note, Bernies a bit rusty at research. First he says that he sampled one hundred news sources. Three sentences later, he changes his tale; now he reports what he found in a hundred newspapers. (Yes, it makes a difference. Keep reading.) But no matter! Bernie rails for page after page about the way the American press suppressed the fact that the rescuers had guns. But giving credit where its due, he names the six papers that did cite the guns. [T]he papers were the New York Times, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Charlotte Observer, the Asheville Citizen-Times, and the Roanoke Times and World News, Bernie admiringly says.
For the record, even an amateur will note a few things about Bernies list of good papers. Five of these papers hail from the law schools geographic area; these are local newspapers, papers that gave the Appalachian killings oodles of coverage. For example, are you surprised to learn that the Roanoke paper provided more detail than the Seattle Times did? This is hardly surprising (details below). And even a novice will note something else. According to Bernie, the New York Times did mention the guns; by contrast, the Washington Times did not. In a story alleging liberal bias, this may strike you as a bit odd. Oh yes, one more point. Although Bernie knew enough not to say so, at least one network TV show did mention the use of the guns. On the morning after the shootings, the Today show interviewed one of the students who subdued the killerand yes, the students guns were mentioned. So lets see: Katie Couric and the New York Times mentioned the guns. But the Washington Times did notand neither did Brit Humes Special Report, which reported the story that night. Weird, isnt it? According to Bernie, Hume and the Washington Times showed liberal bias; Couric and the New York Times did not. Do you see how strange reality gets when Bernie Goldberg begins firing in the air?
But a wider look at the news reporting shows how fake Bernies work really is. According to Bernie, anti-gun bias was the only plausible reason for failure to mention the rescuers gun. But that statement by Bernie is simply untrue. And Bernie G surely understood that. Why didnt newspapers mention those guns? There seem to be several obvious reasonsreasons Bernie dumped from his book.
Why didnt newspapers mention the guns? How about this: How about the fact that the rescuers guns seem to have played no role in the rescue? A bit of background information will help: By March of 2002, the NRA was complaining about the gun-free coverage of this incident. In response, the Kansas City Stars Rick Montgomery did what Bernie refuses to do; he actually conducted a full investigation, and he reported a full range of facts. In particular, Montgomery interviewed two of the students who tackled the killer; he also interviewed the Virginia State Police. And the story that emerged from Montgomerys research is quite different from the claptrap in Arrogance. Did students get the guns and use them to subdue the killer? On balance, it seems they did not. Heres the part of Montgomerys piece where he begins to examine this question:
MONTGOMERY: A nagging wrinkle figures into the law-school shootings: Whose version is true?So two different students told two different stories! In Arrogance, of course, Bernie only mentions Bridgesthe students whose story he likes. Meanwhile, Montgomery spoke to the State Police too. And the State Police contradict Bernie:
MONTGOMERY (continuing directly): Police spokesman Mike Stater said the armed students did assist after Besen and another student, Todd Ross, tackled the gunman. Bridges sat on the suspect while Gross, also armed, provided handcuffs he had gotten from his car.Whose account is correct? We simply dont know. But according to the State Police, the armed students arrived on the scene after Odighizuwa was tackled. Why were unarmed students able to subdue him? His gun was out of bullets, Stater saida point which no one disputes. By the way, even Bridges didnt mention his heroic gun-pointing until several days after the incident. See his full statement below.
So why didnt newspapers mention the guns? One possible reason is obviouswhen they interviewed students and the State Police, no one thought the rescuers guns had played any role in the rescue. But there are other clear reasons for the absence of guns from most newspaper stories. Why didnt newspapers mention the guns? Duh! For most newspapers around the country, this was a quite minor story. Were not sure how Bernies search allowed him to sample a hundred newspapers; at present, Nexis archives show far fewer papers reporting the shooting incident. (We count only 46 in the first five days post-event. This includes such giants as the Fremont, California Argus, which devoted about 100 words to the story.) But at any rate, for most newspapers which mentioned the story, it was a very minor item. Remember the Seattle Times, for example. Here was their next-day report:
SEATTLE TIMES (1/17/02):That was it! The Times ran a few dozen words from the AP report. The next day, the Times ran an update:
SEATTLE TIMES (1/18/02)That was it! Youd never know it from reading Arrogance, but most papers gave this story extremely limited coverage, or gave it no coverage at all. Given the length of the papers dispatches, is it really surprising that the Seattle Times failed to mention the rescuers guns? No, it isnt surprising at all. Bernie doesnt mention this because he knows that it kills his fake story.
So according to the State Police, the rescuers guns played no role in the capture. And many newspapers only devoted a couple of lines to the story. But theres another reason why most newspapers didnt mention the guns, a reason Bernie omits from his piece so he can vent in full fury. Why didnt newspapers mention the guns? Most newspapers which covered this story did just what the Seattle Times didthey ran some small part of the AP report. And since Roger Alfords January 16 AP report hadnt mentioned the rescuers guns, its hardly surprising that these far-flung papers didnt mention them either. But you know Bernie! He pretends to have pawed through the nations newspapers, then he expresses his sense of shock at their repeated failure to mention the guns. But in the case of most of these papers, he is simply counting the same AP story again and again, getting angrier each time he reads it. Yes, this is a case of high clowning. But then, thats how this phony man works.
So lets see. According to students and the State Police, the rescuers guns played no role in the capture. And most newspapers wrote brief reports, clipping from an AP report which hadnt mentioned the guns. But Bernie picks and chooses his facts, then rants about the corps grotesque conduct. This was group lying, he angrily says. He rants and rails about the corps liberal biashiding the fact that Fox and the Washington Times showed this bias, while Couric and the New York Times didnt.
Readers, can you see why Special Report and the Washington Times didnt mention the rescuers guns? And can you see the truth about the fake, phony Goldberga man determined to fool his readers, a man with contempt for your discourse?
BUILDING BRIDGES: Did Tracy Bridges point his weapon at Odighizuwa and ordered the suspect to put his own down? Ted Besen and the State Police both dispute that heroic accountand even Bridges didnt seem to be making this claim on the day after the incident. On January 17, 2002, Bridges appeared on the Today show. Here was his account of the way Odighizuwa was subdued:
COURIC (1/17/02): I know the shooting broke out around 1:30, I guess, in the afternoon. Can you describe what you witnessed?On Today, Bridges said nothing about pointing his weapon at Odighizuwa and ordering him to put his own down, the account he later gave to Montgomery. On that days CBS Morning Show, meanwhile, Bridges and Besen appeared togetherand Bridges didnt even mention the guns. It wasnt until a few days later that he began to describe his gun-toting heroics. Interviewed by his hometown paper (the Charlotte Observer), he now began to tell the story of pointing his gun and making Odighizuwa relenta story which Besen and the State Police were still disputing two months later.
Lets state the obviousin another situation, Bridges gun might have made all the difference. If Odighizuwa hadnt run out of bullets, it might have taken a gun to subdue him. But that doesnt seem to be what happened at Appalachianalthough youd never know it from reading Arrogance. In real time, even Bridges didnt seem to say that he pointed his weapon at Odighizuwa and ordered him to put his own down. Is it surprising that newspapers didnt present this account? We think the question answers itselfunless you read Bernies fake book.
THE PERILS OF RESEARCH: Yes, Goldberg knows there are different accounts of the incident. As Tim Lambert notes, when Bernie appeared on CNBCs Russert last week, he referred to something in Montgomerys story. But if Bernie read Montgomerys report, he knows that the State Police dispute Bridges story. But dont look for facts like that in Arrogance. The book exists to tell approved talesand to show its contempt for your discourse.
SLANDERING ROBERTS: Right at the start of his chapter, Bernie singles out CBS John Roberts for failing to mention the rescuers guns. But here was Roberts full report, delivered on the CBS Evening News on January 16, 2002:
ROBERTS: A doctor who responded to a shooting at a Virginia law school today says when he arrived, there were bodies lying everywhere. It happened at the Appalachian School of Law in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Grundy. Three people were killed, including the schools dean, and three others wounded before students tackled the suspect. He is described as a student from Nigeria, angered over poor grades.That was it! Roberts gave 67 words to the story. Despite that, Bernie battered Roberts, by name, for his appalling anti-gun bias. But you know Bernie! Repeatedly, he trashes scribes in this fake, phony waythen complains when they wont invite him onto their network news programs.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Yes, its news when Bernie conducts some research. As you may recall, Bernie did almost no research when he wrote Bias; he tossed off endless empirical claims which he made no attempt to confirm. But finally, somebody asked him about it! Why had Bernie done no work? To enjoy a bit of clowning clownistry, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/1/02.