The Conversation

The NY Times' Shifting Standards on Mixing Murder and Politics

In response to SPLC's "Hate" Map Doesn't List FRC Shooter:

Here's the NY Times story on Christopher Dorner. The authors devote a little space to his "manifesto":

The 6,000-word manifesto was bristling with anger and explicit threats, naming two dozen police officers he intended to kill. Mr. Dorner laid out grievances against a police department that he said remained riddled with racism and corruption, a reference to a chapter of the department’s history that, in the view of many people, was swept aside long ago.

No mention whatsoever of the political and media commentary that made up a significant portion of his manifesto. Is it relevant that Dorner wanted to smash George Zimmerman's head in or that he was a fan of MSNBC and CNN? Apparently the Times thinks it is not.

But the Times' standards were a bit different in January 2011. The day the Tucson shooting happened the paper published a story titled "In Attack's Wake, Political Repurcussions." The story included this paragraph which was quoted in several places including Huffington Post and the American Thinker:

During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin's map.

Was that relevant the day of the killings? Apparently the Times felt it was. 

So the rules are these: Vague and unsubstantiated political connections to mass murder are fair game if they connect to Sarah Palin. However, in a nod to fairness, if it turns out the insinuations of guilt are completely unfounded the paper will silently retract them without apology or explanation. You see, if you click over to that story as it exists on the Times' website now you'll discover that paragraph has vanished without even a note explaining its absence. All the news that's fit to...Down the memory hole!

But when some nut goes on a murder spree and pens a long encomium for President Obama, Joe Biden Hillary Clinton and the hosts at MSNBC, that's not relevant because...? Well, it's just different somehow.


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