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By November 8, 2013 Read More →

Drive-by-media paints cops as killers, again

When you're trying to generate hits and sell papers, what actually happened isn't nearly as important as telling people the story you think they want to hear.

When you’re trying to generate hits and sell papers, what actually happened isn’t nearly as important as telling people the story you think they want to hear.

After a justified police shooting in Iowa recently the drive-by media has sunk to new lows with the typical B.S. headlines and characterizations of cops as trigger-happy thugs. Now that the news business is a largely automated enterprise where you sell the preferred narrative instead of the facts, we can expect to see a bad situation get worse – and fast.

A pissed off and possibly mentally or emotionally unstable young man steals a pickup truck after arguing with his father.

The father calls police. Local law enforcement springs into action and pursues the kid driving with total abandon. The suspect rams an officer’s cruiser during the chase. The chase concludes as officers use their vehicles to prevent the suspect from fleeing again.

Again the suspect uses the stolen truck as a weapon against the cops on the scene and rams police vehicles with intent to injure or kill police officers.

Fearing for their safety and the safety of the public should the suspect manage to get back on the roads, officers discharge their weapons according to policy.

One might think people would be happy that there are highly-trained police officers out there risking life and limb to preserve public safety.

But here are the headlines in the days after:
“Dad calls cops to teach 19-year-old son a lesson, cops kill the kid” – Daily Caller

“Father Reports Truck Stolen to Teach Son a Lesson, Son Gets Killed” – RYOT

“Iowa police shoot teen dead after father reports stolen car to teach him a lesson”– Washington Times

“Unarmed Iowa man, 19, shot, killed by police” – Atlanta Journal Constitution.

And the most egregious headline: “Father calls cops to teach son a lesson, cops shoot teen dead instead” –

All of these headlines are designed to paint a rather dramatic picture. The media’s preferred narrative is obviously “Trigger happy cops shot kid who’s Dad just wanted to teach him a lesson.”

You have to click past the first several web pages on the story to get to: “Officials: Use of deadly force in chase shooting was justified” – DesMoines Register.

It’s the worst kind of lazy and salacious “if it bleeds it leads” approach to generating hits and selling newspapers.

Anyone that’s seen the dash-cam video of the pursuit is quickly disabused of the media’s “cops out of control!” nonsense.

The kid that stole the truck, Tyler Comstock, reacted tom his father’s refusal to buy him cigarettes by stealing a vehicle, endangering the lives of motorists and finally by trying to kill or seriously injure pursuing officers.

The kid had plenty of chances to end his rampage before police were forced to shoot in accordance with their training and use of force policies.

It’s unclear if this is just another case of suicide by cop but the truth is that there’s nothing particularly remarkable about this incident besides the way it’s being framed by the media.

It hasn’t received much attention, but there’s a growing cottage industry seeking to cash in on a manufactured narrative that cops are using deadly force at higher rates than ever.

Former tobacco lobbyist Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, is flying off the shelves and the author is selling out speaking engagements particularly in libertarian strongholds like Utah and Colorado.

There’s a filmmaker seeking donations to finish up a so-called documentary called “Puupycide.”

The filmmaker says: “When we first learned about puppycide, we assumed that these must be cases of police responding to threats on their lives from dogs trained to attack by criminal owners. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We found scores of videos and news stories about dogs who were laying down, tails wagging, even running away but still shot by officers who used lethal force as their first and only response.”

This is not news to anyone in law enforcement – media outlets portraying officers in impossible situations in the worst possible light to get the peanut gallery good and worked up.

But it’s worth taking notice when even so-called conservative news outlets jump on the bandwagon and paint cops as killers to help their advertisers sell Doritos and Viagra.

The bottom line is this –  for a website, television station or newspaper, “crazed cops kill misguided, unarmed teen,” is easy. It’s guaranteed to bring traffic, viewers and sales.

What would be useful, but probably just too much work for the media, would be asking questions.

Was the shooting within policy? Did the kid have mental health issues? What kind of sorry excuse for a father calls 911 so police can “teach his son a lesson?” Who could be so thoughtless to make such a call knowing that police are trained to respond to deadly threats with deadly force?
But the media isn’t good at asking questions. Just look at the 60 Minutes Benghazi debacle.

All the media these days is good for is pushing the angle that’s likely to get the most people worked up while giving them the least information possible.

Posted in: The Job

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