Philadelphia Inquirer Pimps for Philly Cop Chief
When I was starting out as a reporter back in 1972, working for a little family-owned daily, the Middletown Press in central Connecticut, I had editors and a publisher who demanded the best from us. If I was covering a story -- whether it was a police blotter report, a town meeting, or a controversial decision by a local zoning board -- and I failed to ask an important question, I inevitably got a call from the editor telling me to get it answered and inserted into my article.
These days, leaving important questions unasked is not just commonplace, it has become the norm. This is particularly true when it comes to not questioning the assertions of government authorities.
A few days ago, I wrote about how the New York Times has been simply parroting, unquestioned, the official Washington line concerning Russia and President Vladimir Putin in its reports on the crisis in Ukraine, where a US-backed coup last year ousted the elected government and installed a bunch of fascists and corrupt oligarchs.
Now we have the once-celebrated Philadelphia Inquirer, which in the wake of a spate of police murders of unarmed blacks in Los Angeles, Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY and Cleveland, OH, shamelessly pimped for the brutal and murderous Philadelphia Police Department and its complicit Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
In a Saturday banner headline over a pair of articles, the Inquirer declared “HOMICIDES DOWN,” over an article that was sub-headed “Changes in police approaches are seen as key to a safer city.”
For starters, the headline was misleading. Homicides in Philadelphia were not actually down in 2014 from the prior year. We learn in the article itself that in 2013 there were 247 people killed in the city, while last year, the number killed was 248 -- an increase of one. Both years do represent a 7% decline from 2012, but that decline is old news, hardly meriting an all-caps banner headline this year, particularly as close to 250 murders in a city of 1.5 million represents a lot of killings (New York, with 8 million people, had 328 murders in 2014, and considered that total horrific). The number of non-fatal shootings in Philly, to be sure, was down to 1047 this year, compared to 1128 in 2013. But again, that is hardly a number to boast about in a city of 1.5 million. In any case, it probably has more to do with the marksmanship or lack thereof, of the shooters, and the luck of the victims in getting to a hospital quickly, than with the quality of policing or changes in policing policies.