scene of shooting
Scene of the shooting

Tragedy multiplied

| Yesterday a gunman walked up to a patrol car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of New York City and shot the two patrolmen sitting inside at point-blank range, killing both.

I became aware of this event when I turned on the television at 5pm for my weekly binge of Big Bang Theory; the TV had been left on MSNBC, and they were in full "breaking news" mode. I checked back at 8pm when the BBT marathon was over, and MSNBC was till breaking news. I have no idea how long it had been going on before 5pm nor how long it went on after 8pm. It was just remarkable because on weekends, MSNBC stages its own prison video marathons.

NYC police line up to salute bodies being taken away from hospital
NYC police lined up to salute the bodies being carried away from the hospital

This shooting is a tragedy, without doubt. It is a tragedy for the officers and for their family and friends. And it will certainly make bad matters worse in a city already tense from demonstrations after the choking death of Eric Garner and the failure of the grand jury to bring any indictments against the officers involved.

But non-stop, national "breaking news" coverage for at least 3 hours? Not even close. Nothing was actually happening to merit coverage, and the airtime was filled with "experts" and "analysts" and "contributors" babbling on just to fill up the time. Meanwhile, the question that I immediately had when I happened to tune in — What happened, where, and why? — remained unanswered for many minutes. The "five Ws" are the essence of news reporting and were totally ignored. If cable is going to do wall-to-wall coverage, the least they could do is use the banner across the bottom of the screen for the salient facts, not repeating quotes without context!

The article in this morning's NY Times included astonishingly incendiary quotes from Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association: “There's blood on many hands tonight — those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor” (NYTimes, Dec 21, 2014).

Patrick Lynch, head of Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in NYC
Patrick Lynch, head of NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association

This Lynch guy is an idiot. He doesn't seem to know the difference between protest and violence. He seems to have no clue why anyone would find it objectionable for several police officers to gang up on a guy and choke him to death for allegedly selling loose cigarettes! He would have a lot more credibility if he had shown a scintilla of compassion and understanding. He is the one sowing discontent by adhering to a "police can do no wrong" attitude when they have clearly done wrong and when a criminal justice system fails so many of our citizens.

Claiming that the major has "blood on his hands" is preposterous. He further claims that Major de Blasio "is not running the city of New York. He thinks he's running a f-----g revolution" (NY Daily News, Dec 19, 2014). And he wonders why people are upset with police?

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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