Lee Camp: Let Me Fix That For The New York Times – Police Kill Another Innocent Man

By Lee Camp, the host and head writer of the comedy news show “Redacted Tonight” that airs every Friday on RT America and at YouTube.com/RedactedTonight. He’s a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post

I decided to fix some of the awful reporting by the NY Times. What you see below is a random sample. I only looked at one page of the NY Times before I picked an article to correct. It’s high time we started seeing our most respected media outlets for what they really are. 

A few days ago police in Kansas were called to a house by a prankster. They shot and killed the man who came to the door. He knew nothing about the prank call. (The term for such pranks is “swatting.”) This New York Times article would have you believe that what really matters in this murder was the fact that the cops were called by a prankster. But in truth, that should be nothing but a side note.

Police get called to scenes they don’t need to be at all the time. It’s not uncommon. Whether it’s because someone thinks their neighbor’s music is too loud or because a mentally ill man is peeing in a fountain. A lot of what the police are SUPPOSED to do is show up somewhere and NOT shoot whoever they see. In fact, that’s MOST of their job. But what the NY Times won’t tell you about policing in America could drown a small town.

In this article, the NY Times won’t tell you that the police in many states receive less training than hair stylists or electricians or just about any skilled jobs. This is one of the reasons they always seem to be killing, injuring, and maiming innocent people. Another reason – which the NY Times won’t tell you – is that many cops (perhaps as high as 25% in cities) are using steroids. And the side effects of steroid abuse are EXACTLY the traits you DON’T want police to have. “The stunning succession of recent front-page examples of police officers who exhibit rage, aggression and/or poor judgment (all symptoms of possible steroid abuse) in confrontations with citizens should ring alarm bells, experts say.”

Yet the NY Times reporter goes with the government/police line that the REAL problem is the pranksters who call the cops. Sure, we shouldn’t like pranksters calling the cops. BUT the real point is – it SHOULDN’T MATTER. If the cops are called to the wrong place, they should be rational enough to figure out, “Hey, there is no crime going on here. Let’s not kill anybody.”

This is the equivalent of a patient dying on the operating table because the surgeon took an hour lunch break in the middle of the procedure. And then afterwards, the hospital said, “We have to increase the punishment for patients who come in during lunch time.”

Pranks will happen. Police will end up at the wrong location at times. That will never change. In fact, police are now being called to houses BY SMART HOME DEVICES! What needs to change is the willingness and/or eagerness of cops to MURDER people whenever they show up somewhere.

The NY Times also does not mention throughout this article that US police killed over ONE THOUSAND people in 2016 (the most recent year with data). If you want something to compare that to, German police killed TEN people in 2015. Your response may be, “Well, the U.S. has more people than Germany.” This is true, but America has only 4 times as many people. So even if you account for the population difference, U.S. cops should’ve killed 40 people in a year. Instead they kill OVER A THOUSAND. They generally murder more people in a week than German cops kill in a year.

The Times reporter also leaves out that police who kill unarmed innocent people, sometimes even unarmed children like Tamir Rice, generally do not get convicted or go to prison. Our police have been militarized and given a license to be judge, jury, and executioner. Furthermore – also ignored by the Times – when the police are caught doing something illegal, they usually arrest the person filming them

A recent study – which unfortunately was ALSO missed by the NY Times reporter – shows that there are simple steps the police could take to stop murdering so many innocent people. Also, leaked documents show that police unions help protect bad cops even when they continually commit police brutality. The unions have guarantees from the states that police officers will not be disciplined or will only be disciplined lightly. …I guess the NY Times missed that small detail.

They also “missed” perhaps the biggest point when it comes to “swatting.” These prank calls rest on the knowledge that when cops or SWAT teams come to your home – they wreak havoc on your life. There’s a pretty high likelihood they will break down a door and maybe a window, detain you and your family while they question you, possibly arrest you without cause or tackle you if you talk back to them. And god help you if they smell marijuana or see a bunch of beer cans or find out that someone in your family is undocumented. If we had an adult, functional society, police would ONLY be there to help those in need – not to upend the lives of the citizens they have sworn to protect. The sole reason pranking someone by calling the cops on them even works in the first place is because most of us realize how terrible it is to have the cops thrust into your life – whether you’re a lawful citizen or not. Mainstream media outlets intentionally ignore or paint over all of this context.

We are witnessing a bloodbath on our own streets and hack, context-free reporting, like this example from the NY Times, is why Americans are not informed enough to stand up against it.

Keep fighting,

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  1. Peter Phillips

    Lee is spot on with his analysis. What is germane to the death of that totally innocent Wichita citizen is the nature of the relationship that now exists between the USA’s militarized police force and its citizenry.

    “Serve and Protect” as a guiding principle of policing is a thing of the distant past now. The citizens of the USA are now face to face with an institution, populated by poorly trained personnel and as noted by Lee imbibing substances that increase their aggressiveness and impair their judgement..and that deems them the citizenry, in my opinion, to be “the enemy”. When facing one’s enemy of course, the guiding principle is not ”serve and protect” but ‘kill or be killed”.

    1. dee P

      Where did the slogan to “serve and protect” go? Its not on th cop cars any more. If they are on steroids, this must stop! Drug test the hell out of them all. This is criminal and we are all paying for it! God help us.

    2. TimH


      The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation.

      Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_of_Castle_Rock_v._Gonzales

      In a nutshell: Police role is to detect perpetrators of crimes, not prevent crimes.

      1. pretzelattack

        unless the perps are cops. sometimes i think they don’t care who the actual perps are, either, as long as they get an arrest.

  2. Tomonthebeach

    Mr. Camp’s article is unnerving. Poor training can be fixed. Steroid use can be fixed. What? Police do not do random urines anymore? Although speculation, Camp is correct that over-zealous law enforcement as opposed to keeping the peace, can be exacerbated by steroid use. We have seen instances of police pumping bullets into a suspect after a high-speed chase even when the suspect as crashed and is injured – not a threat. People on steroids are more likely to enrage when threatened. Armed, that rage gets people killed.

    An additional concern is the tribal culture of most police forces – in fact – even across police forces. As every cop sooner or later will have a lapse in judgement, the us-vs-them mentality seems to encourage rationalizing protection of their own because; “Some day it could be my fat in the internal investigation fire.”

    Now that Trump is flooding DOJ with rentaprisons, one can only wonder about prison guard competencies. Then there is the hoard of border patrol officers Trump is recruiting despite studies showing adequate staffing. Just chuck more warm bodies into uniforms, give them guns, and point them at the border. What could go wrong?

    1. Roddy Pfeiffer

      Yes, the police do random drug tests, but because of an agreement with the police union, they don’t test for anabolic steroids. WTF?

    2. fresno dan

      January 2, 2018 at 4:26 am

      From the article:
      “A lot of what the police are SUPPOSED to do is show up somewhere and NOT shoot whoever they see.”
      The sole reason pranking someone by calling the cops on them even works in the first place is because most of us realize how terrible it is to have the cops thrust into your life – whether you’re a lawful citizen or not. Mainstream media outlets intentionally ignore or paint over all of this context.
      Considering the facts, it seems to me the evidence is that the police are suppose to shoot whoever they come upon.
      OK, that is hyperbole. But if there was video of this instance, I would bet that the warning (if in fact given at ALL) was either too brief or not of sufficient volume that someone could comprehend what was going on. Should the police HAVE to wait till a loaded firearm is pointed at them before the police shoot….no, but maybe shoot first should not be the defacto policy.
      AND AGAIN – the victim was UNARMED. And yet, the legal/police complex will assure there are no meaningful repercussions (so the taxpayers, who did not shoot anybody, may foot the bill in a wrongful death suit… which dissuades exactly how many police from acting the way they act?)

      AND – just to prove I am trying to be dispassionate in my analysis of the police, Fresno police confronted someone with an AR-15 in a neighborhood where shots were fired without shooting the man dead.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Check Youtube for the category “police in russia” and you will find all kinds of examples of police encounters with drunk, deranged and often armed Russians, in which the police display restraint and courage and understanding and de-escalation skills. Are Russian street cops ex-military? To look at the general physique of Russian cops in the videos, one sees pretty muscular and physically competent uniformed fellows. Do they use steroids, or are they just “better stock?” Ex-military? The Russian military compares just how to our own Imperial military? It’s an oligarchy over there too, and surely Russians look to have their share of problems and burdens. But I’ve been looking for a while, at cop encounters here and there, and there seems to be a very large difference in police behaviors and outcomes. Russia ain’t no bed of roses, in part because of US fudging of that nation’s economy in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet looter’s empire. But in this area, at least, the mopes over there, with all the drunkenness and aggressiveness of both males and females and the corruption and thuggery one sees in the video bits, seem to have less to fear from arbitrary killing by their “serve and protect” types than we do.

        Small comforts, a bit of benefit at the margins, and humans are still bent on species suicide, but still…

        Anecdotes are not data or categories, but still, there’s a lot of evidence of the behaviors that are so different from what happens way too commonly in our Exceptional Imperial Collapsing State.

        1. fresno dan

          January 2, 2018 at 8:36 am


          The video portion is at the very end of the link. I’m not going to claim some great insight as police misconduct is well documented for those with eyes to see:
          But if there was video of this instance, I would bet that the warning (if in fact given at ALL) was either too brief or not of sufficient volume that someone could comprehend what was going on.
          I don’t think it would be possible to have better evidence of irresponsible shooting.

          1. JTMcPhee

            SWAT Porn. I wonder what the rest of the video, cut off at the moment the shot was fired, would show. Like the “arresting” of the dead guy’s family, their interrogation in separate squad cars, whether the cops made any effort to provide medical care, all that. I wish I had any confidence that the shooter might have to pay some consequence, or that the “public” would have to pay some blood money to the family. Maybe an “apology,” even one of those “strategic nopologies” that front the Thick Blue Curtain ™ when stuff like this happens and the cops can’t choke off the facts and evidence? “We deplore what happened, if mistakes were made we regret it, sorry for your loss but he did not respond correctly to police directions…” “It was a good shooting.”

            We can blog away about all this, about the imperial horrors being dumped on so much of the rest of the planet by the looters. But what, actually, can any of us mopes do to wind all this down? It’s the Age of Impunity, and the ruling religion is Futilitarianism. Which, as an offshoot of Calvinism, a nice description of which is here, http://www.religioustolerance.org/calvinism.htm, teaches us that human efforts to be better and improve our condition are futile, but that we are bound to keep trying. “We,” the many intersecting and disparate sets of humans, do not have anything close to a statement of purpose or mission or “organizing principle” that the mass of us could agree to, where “we” could all agree to pull the same direction on the same end of the rope. Instead “we” in pursuit of our interests are getting better and better at thantogenesis — so many new ways to die: https://www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/15881137

            “Don’t just stand there, Sisyphus! Keep rolling that rock back up that hill! Time’s a-wasting!”

            Oh, and Happy New Year to All of “We.”

        2. djrichard

          … in which the police display restraint and courage and understanding and de-escalation skills.

          From what I can tell from the videos in the US it looks like the exact opposite tactic is taken: “let’s escalate the situation so that only life-and-death decisions are possible.” “And hey, if those are the only options, how can you blame me for taking a culprit’s life to protect my own?”

          1. troublemecca

            Many years ago I was arrested for a misdemeanor DUI… No less than 6 officers were present. At one point, with my hands cuffed behind my back, they encircled me and had the only female officer screaming at me, accusing me of being a “mama’s boy” and a “big pussy”. At the time I was perplexed, but now I realize they hoped to provoke another charge.

            My entire experience dealing with the justice system from there on showed me it is more about making sure you never get out of that system, than “rehabilitation” or even “justice”.

        3. Jamie

          For starters, I am very unhappy with police behavior, so I am not apologizing for them. However, when facing an obviously armed and dangerous person, it is not surprising the police act with caution and restraint. It is also not surprising that rage, fear, suspicion and the unknown sometimes lead officers to take innocent lives. More training might help, but ultimately only a change in mission and discipline will solve the problem.

          Officers who cannot keep cool in uncertain circumstances ought to be relieved of duty, not protected by the fraternity. But ordinary citizens also need to realize that policing has been captured by the property owners and bent to the protection of property above all else, not the protection of life and liberty. That mission will only change when citizens demand that it change. And that will not happen without many other things lining up, such as gun control, full employment and equitable sharing of wealth.

        1. Wukchumni

          Bakersfield exists so that Fresno won’t have an inferiority complex, or was it the other way around?

          1. Jean

            Nearby Lerdo, California exists so that both cities can feel superior.

            “Lerdo” means “Stupid” in Spanish.

    3. marym

      We need to be careful not to attribute to “Trump” policies long supported by both parties at all levels of government. He and his administration have put a particularly harsh face on those policies, but the problems are systemic.

      1. worldblee

        Hear, hear. It’s very convenient (and entirely safe to do so) to act as all these governmental and social ills are only the result of Trump rather than being the result of a two-party system that exclusively favors the oligarch class at the expense of ordinary people.

        1. Procopius

          Agreed. From their beginings in the 19th Century, American police have been particularly prone to violence and killing. I read somewhere that when King Rama IV first instituted a police force for Bangkok, one wealthy citizen complained that they were all thugs and thieves. They have been caught committing outright murder (and acquitted in court), but generally they do not kill many people each year.

  3. Bukko Boomeranger

    Sometimes the police will even murder you if you’re the person who called to report trouble.

    Australians are up in arms (pun intended) about the case of a middle-aged Aussie expat who called the Minneapolis police last Northern Hemisphere Fall to report a suspected sexual assault that was taking place in the alley behind her home. When the police cruiser rolled up, she came out, dressed in a nightgown, to speak with them. Before she could say a word, the officer who was riding shotgun (pun intended again) leaned over his partner in the driver’s seat and shot through the window, killing the woman who rang about the suspected crime. Nothing except some paid holiday time has happened to the gun-slinging copper, of course. This story has gotten a lot of critical coverage in the Down Under media that Lee Camp would approve of. That might be because it took place in a known-to-be-violent country far away. It’s hard to say, because there aren’t a whole lot stories here about officers who kill peaceful civilians. (Deadly brutality against Aboriginal arrestees is another matter…) But overall, for all their faults, the local police don’t seem to regard the citizenry here as enemy berserkers who should be slaughtered if they look at an officer crossways. Imagine that, Americans — a country with police who don’t think you’re scum!

    1. Filiform Radical

      No no no, you don’t understand. The officers were startled! By a loud sound! There was no reasonable choice but to shoot her, really.

  4. ambrit

    The police are problem enough without bringing in the myriad of ‘rentacops’ we have galavanting about. The ageing strip mall where the Chicken Palace resides has a regular patrol “private security professional” now. To keep the shoppers safe from muggers, panhandlers, and assorted deplorables I assume. These bastions of Law and Order are all armed. They make low wages. They get minimal training, if any. They generally self associate with the power elites, mentally at least. The one or two I’ve met who finally saw through the facade quickly got out of that line of work. So, the population of rentacops is self selecting for authoritarian thinking individuals. A recipe for disaster.
    Privatization on steroids. What could go wrong?

  5. efschumacher

    At over 1,000 a year there should be enough statistical coverage to draw a map, state-by-state, rich versus poor, rural – urban – metropolitan, to see if there is a pattern of who is most likely to get hit. I’m pretty sure it’s not happening in Potomac, Maryland, for example.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It doesn’t happen in Corvallis, Oregon, either, and that is no accident. City government has made sure the chief manages the police properly. He actually belongs to a national organization I should remember the name of (I’ll come back later – have to call a former city councillor I know to get that name), that promotes responsible policing.

      Part of the problem is the unions. In general, I’m very pro-organized labor, but not for the police. It turns them into heavily-armed street gangs, because they have too much power to start with.

      The bigger picture, because this is clearly a national problem: yes, police state. They’re gearing up for when people finally catch on.

  6. The Rev Kev

    I was reading a US soldier’s account of him watching the body-cam films of a police SWAT raid and to say that he was underwhelmed was an understatement. He said that the sort of stuff the cops were doing would just not be tolerated in Iraq where this soldier undertook many raids. Real gung-ho amateur hour stuff that would never be tolerated by professional soldiers.
    Had the same with SWAT police in the Martin Place siege (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Sydney_hostage_crisis) in Sydney three years ago with the police ignoring the Australian Army Tactical Assault Group’s advice about tactics and weapons. Result was a woman was killed and several were injured because the police thought that they were better than they were, even better than professional soldiers. Too much “Urra” and not enough humility.

  7. oh

    I have found some policemen to be arrogant and rude and those people need to be thrown off the force; I wonder if these are the ones that are trigger happy?

  8. EoH

    “Panic shooting” by police is what I see in many of these deaths.

    Stopping steroid abuse would seem to be essential. It promotes violent traits while exacerbating the feelings of vulnerability that often drive excessive weight lifting.

    More training seems essential. But it should be civilian policing training, not thinly repurposed military programs that train occupation troops to respond violently to an angry, “enemy” population. That is, stop training police to view their neighbors as the enemy. Stop training police to assume worst case scenarios. That should never be the first or preferred response in civilian policing. Occupation troops might get away with that priority (ugly enough), but it can only lead to greater violence. That would lead to greater defensiveness by police and greater lawlessness.

    Lastly, Camp is exactly right in criticizing the media for focusing on the wrong issue. The Wichita example is perfect. Police violence is the problem, not the prank call. The incident illustrates another longstanding media problem. That is, is is quick to call civilian acts dangerous, threatening or violent. It never similarly characterizes police conduct. Excessive violence is always described as what police respond to, never what they deal in. That needs to change. After the NYT, we could fix the coverage by MSNBC, which isn’t any better.

    1. Procopius

      After the NYT, we could fix the coverage by MSNBC, which isn’t any better.

      Hahahahahahaha! You make the comedy. The media are doing what they are supposed to do, support The Oligarchy™, divert citizens’ attention, and sell advertising.

      1. EoH

        You can’t trademark an idea, let alone an observation from years ago. See, Alex Carey, “Taking the Risks Out of Democracy”; Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, “Manufacturing Consent.”

  9. Kurtismayfield

    So what can I, as a citizen learn from this? I don’t want this happening to me, so what should my response be in this situation? Should I just lay down with arms and legs stretched and scream out “I am not threatening or resisting, please come arrest me.”? At this point we should be educating everyone on how to deal with the police so they will not be shot, because the police aren’t dealing with it effectively.

    Every citizen in the country needs to be asking the police in their town this.

    1. RUKidding

      Good point. Clearly I have no clue, either.

      It’s definitely getting worse, and while undoubtedly AA citizens (and other minorities) have it the worst, it really doesn’t matter anymore what gender or race or even which class you belong to. We are all ready-made targets for Cops Gone Wild these days.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Cops have always been nice to me.

      Then again im a 33yrold White Male from the Suburbs….

      1. Kurtismayfield

        All it takes is for them to screw up an address, or to get a falsified tip to be knocking down your door. Now I would be interested to see if the ZIP code and average house price of a neighborhood affects how they respond to a falsified tip.

      2. UserFriendly

        As a fellow 33yo WM, you clearly aren’t trying hard enough. I’ve met nice cops and cops that trumped up BS charges on me for nothing (driving with a loud car stereo in a non residential area).

    3. Procopius

      Wouldn’t help. There was a guy who did just that, trying to protect an autistic kid. The police shot and killed him anyway. Of course, he was black, so his act of raising his open hands high above his head and then lying face down on the ground frightened the police officer into fearing for his life.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Actually, the ending was happier than that: he was shot but not killed. A person prone on the ground makes a difficult target.

        I think the cop (only one fired) saw it as mockery. They get to kill people if they’re annoyed.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          I found details of this shooting, and they are sickening:

          shooting of Kinsey wiki

          The citizen was protecting an autistic citizen, the toy was identified as a toy, and the officer still shot him. This man did everything right, laying down holding his hands up. The best part was that the ambulance took 20 minutes to show up and the officers didn’t apply first aid. (Almost as if they didn’t want him to live and tell the tale, but there were cameras on the scene)

          The officer was charged with attempted involuntary manslaughter, and is awaiting trial.

          Judging from this case, it seems even if you are the most non threatening person on Earth you still can be shot.

  10. JohnnyGL

    Interestingly enough, I actually heard my congressional rep on NPR this morning, talking about the “swatting” issue.

    I just called her office and said it was a real missed opportunity to talk about “police accountability” and “police culture”. It really should not be that easy to make one phone call and create a situation where an accident can happen and people can get killed.

    1. False Solace

      Meanwhile there are millions of angry voters, mostly on the right wing but plenty of Dems, who consume a steady diet of local news and Fox, who would come down hard against any politician who criticized the police under any circumstance.

      DAs are soft on police murders for a reason. Police union support and being viewed as “tough on crime” is a ticket to higher political office. Is it any wonder we ended up with lethal idiot police given all the incentives?

      1. witters

        So the general stance over there is anti-state, personal arms and all fealty to the murderous cops? And Resistance is a hashtag? I’d say it is a system of self-sustaining helots.

  11. PKMKII

    Minor quibble: Police unions, like all public employee unions, protect their members generally. They don’t distinguish between “bad” members and “good” members because then they’re making an arbitrary, often political, distinction; If a police officer engaged in whistleblowing and the municipality proceeded to take legal action against them based on a technicality of how they accessed documents, I’d want the union protecting that officer. So they fight for the interest of the member until the member is legally removed from the represented position.

    The real problem is the attitude in the force towards bad actors with badges. Even if most cops are “good” with regards to their own conduct, the blue code of silence mentality that pervades officer culture means that when they see other cops engaged in unethical or illegal behavior, they look the other way rather than reporting it to internal affairs or one of the outside investigative agencies (there’s a reason police union member placards for dashboards sell on ebay). In additional to structural changes, the internal corruption needs to be rooted out.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      You and I might want the union protecting whistleblowers, but I’m not so sure that the union does protect those officers. If they did, you’d think there would be a lot more ‘bad apples’ losing their jobs from other officers coming forward to testify against their crimes.

      But maybe it isn’t the unions hanging whistleblowers out to dry. It could be the bad officers themselves – nobody wants to wind up being set up like Frank Serpico so instead they toe the thin blue line.

    2. Tim

      Long term the only way to get what you want is through earned trust, acting in good faith so to speak.

      As a taxpayer and voter, I currently don’t want to give these police unions anything.

      End of discussion. No passes given, sorry.

  12. Doctor Duck

    While in complete agreement with the need for better police training and accountability, and with placing the blame for this more squarely on the officers and management involved — I have to quibble with the premise of this post.

    What we should want from the press is not front-page advocacy, which is what Camp seems to want, but a clear recounting of the facts. It looks as if the NYT provided that. The ‘bias’ here would be that the article didn’t hammer away at a point of view favored by Camp. For that I’m grateful — not because I have a different POV, but because I’m a thinking person who can draw my own conclusions from the facts, and I believe that other NYT readers can do the same.

    1. tegnost

      while perceiving yourself as a thinking person is probably a positive for the perception of ones personal well being, propaganda such as it is still operates by reinforcing bias’ that any subjective being has, no one is objective no matter how one describes the red wheelbarrow.
      The order of the content included in the headline reinforces the bias’ of the nothing to see move along variety. When the headline includes the number of the person killed by the police, i.e. “the thousand and first person killed by the police in wichita, who was the victim of a prank call, was unarmed” or something along those lines might be closer to objectivity and you would still be free to exercise those fabulous grey cells on that information just as well as in the referred to case.

      1. Doctor Duck

        Your subtle digs aside, I still feel we’re just as well served by the original version as the Camp-revised one. Sure, we all have biases and blind spots. I just don’t think substituting mine for yours, or the inverse, improves anything.

        There’s a place for advocacy and outrage in print, but front page headlines aren’t it. I’m outraged enough by a relatively dispassionate presentation of the facts. What Camp believes ‘doesn’t matter’, matters to me.

        1. False Solace

          The point is that the NYT entirely avoided the much larger, much more important point: swatting is only an issue because of how dangerous the police have become. That’s the elephant in the room and the NYT served no one by ignoring it, instead serving up a platter of conventional pablum which reassures people like you.

          1. Harold

            Generally speaking the problem with mainstream media these days is what they leave out, not what they say.

        2. animalogic

          Some stories lend themselves to a greater degree of objectivity, some, such as this one, less so.
          The writer has a headline & lead para to grab the reader. With contentious subjects, this almost guarantees a “bias” of some degree.

          1. pretzelattack

            how so? the cops went to the wrong house, again, and slaughtered or badly injured one of the innocent residents. where’s the bias?

    2. Peter Phillips

      DD, you contend that we ought to give the NYT points for eschewing “front page advocacy” and leaving it up to the “objective viewer” to establish their own POV based on a simple “reporting of the facts”.

      I would respect that approach to news reporting if it was balanced with reasonable analysis of the wider issues of the impact of such matters as the militarization of the police force, poor police training and police drug taking.

      Lee’s point I think is that none of that features in this article. Instead we concentrate on the “swatting” and leave aside the possibility that an innocent citizen’s life may have been forfeited based on the poor judgement of a possibly drug hyped law enforcement officer making a god awful split second decision in a massively fraught scenario.

      The news article certainly did not give any prominence to the possibility that a formerly law abiding citizen, peacefully at home with family one minute, then confronted by multiple squad cars, armed police and shouted directives, failed, probably as a result of adrenalin induced flight and fright reactions, confusion and disorientation, to keep his hands away from his waist band, and hence forfeited his life.

      As other commentators have observed….”What is one to do in such a scenario?”..Damned if you do damned if you don’t seems to be the outcome when faced with the boys in blue in full “kill or be killed” mode.

      1. John

        Even crawling on the floor towards them begging and sobbing at them not to kill you will not save your life…as Daniel Shaver found out.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Let me preface by saying this is not a personal criticism of you, for the simple reason that you have many, many companions who likewise find criticism of the mainstream corporate media uncomfortable. And yes, Lee Camp isn’t known for subtlety; but given how he has been personally attacked by said corporate media—and can show in detail just how they skillfully channeled the narrative to undermine his integrity—I think we might give him a break in this instance.

      The best propaganda is, by its very nature, subtle, and the New York Times has had 60 years of practice. You aren’t going to see the kind of outrageous headlines and rabid prose of, say, Breitbart. Instead, you’ll have a daily stream of precisely the kind of clever manipulation of words and sentence structure noted by Camp. And like it or not, he’s absolutely right. No self-respecting journalist would have written that headline for the very reason he cites.

      I have a background in journalism, and given I had just such a ploy used to turn a story I wrote about a hospital’s remarkable recovery from a mountain of debt corrupted by a headline and a changed lede that said just the opposite, I have a particular sensitivity to how easily the theme of the narrative can be corrupted if those in charge want it to be. The corporate media are doing it on a daily basis, and unsuspecting, very intelligent people are having their ideas of how things are twisted to suit what will keep the status quo in place. It’s no reflection on them, just as this in not meant as a reflection on you.

      However, the only way to not be taken in is to train oneself to pause and reflect on what message we take away from an article or broadcast as well as what information has been provided. And the caliber of that information also needs to be considered, because one of the most-used tools in the mainstream media is the careful omission of context and verifiable sources. Yes, I know—it’s a lot of extra work. However, our future may depend on our doing the job ourselves the fourth estate is supposed to be doing—and isn’t.

      1. Procopius

        … the New York Times has had 60 years of practice.

        Minor quibble, the New York Times was founded in 1851, so they’ve had 167 years of practice.

        1. pretzelattack

          true, i expect they pimped the spanish american war, and custer when he was in full slaughter mode.

    4. Robert

      I agree.

      If anything the article makes it clear that we are all vulnerable to the police and can’t really get away with blaming the victim.

      From my increasingly paranoid perspective I feel like the Redacted rant strongly echoes the efforts to deligitimize journalism and spread the malignant concept of “Fake News”

      I increasingly believe that just as most Americans don’t really understand scientific inquiry, we also don’t understand journalism and think it is all supposed to be bloviated opinion making.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, you are defending what is clearly pro-police spin. My major in college was effectively the close reading of text in English and French.

        Look at the first text image that Camp included above.

        1. The cops are explicitly depicted as being responsible for surrounding the house. Other accounts have included a fact that the Times curiously omits: that the call may not have given a street address, or if there was an address, it did not match a specific house:

        Livingston, the deputy police chief, would only provide the block number of the home where the shooting occurred, not the specific address. Police were seen in the front yards of two houses across from each other at the corner of Seneca and McCormick.


        The fact that the police went to two houses suggests the call did not clearly specify one house.

        2. The story says the man who was shot opened the door and put his hands up, and “moments later” was shot. The normal logical transition from that would be to deal with the obvious “WTF, the cops shot a man who was no threat to them?”

        Instead, it immediately shifts reader attention to: “the encounter” (as opposed to “the unjustified police killing of an unarmed man with his hands in the air”) was due to a hoax. And the next para, the quote from a policeman, doubles down on blaming the swatters for the death, when the swatters were responsible only for getting the cops to surround the house, and not the decisions and actions they took when a man in the house opened the door and put up his hands up when the cops asked him to.

        3. The article did not adhere to the fetishized standards of fairness and balance by including a comment from an expert questioning the police response. Instead, it closes with “police are investigating” and “of course, police have to make spilt second decisions”.

        It does not even bother to give the point of view of the victim’s family, who regard the shooting as a police murder. All you have is a teeny caption in small greyed-out type that many readers would miss: “Lisa Finch blamed the police for her son’s death. “That cop murdered my son over a false report,” she told The Wichita Eagle.” The fact that the Times quoted the Wichita Eagle suggests they hadn’t bothered speaking to the family, when they had time to find out that “The state and local authorities were also investigating…”? Yet you defend this heavy-handed pro-cop reporting as fair and objective?

        This blog is all about promoting critical thinking skills. You appear resistant to that orientation and instead prefer to demonize those who challenge slipshod or artfully misleading MSM stories.

        1. Robert

          I disagree with your characterization that I am resistant to an orientation towards critical thinking and your assumption about my preferences with regard to demonization. However, since you only know me from 3 sentences of comment on your blog I must conclude I make a bad impression.

          I don’t believe that anyone who is reading this has had any difficulty understanding from the Times piece that this was foremost a case of violent police incompetence. The only reason that it made it into the paper was because of the swatting hook. The swatting emphasizes the indefensible nature of the homicide. The ordinary run of the mill incompetent violence rarely sees the light of day unless there is a cell phone video of it.

          I do not think it is demonizing to be skeptical about performers characterizing the press as fundamentally deficient given the fact that the evaporation of its credibility in the eyes of many voters has been a deliberate tactic of Cheeto in chief and his allies and certainly helped him win. I do not consider myself to be a credulous fool, and I am skeptical of most things, I do not park that skepticism because I hear something I agree with, especially given the rather terrifying room of mirrors that technology now builds for us.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Oh, come on.

            1. Police shootings, particularly (one hates to say it) of white people do get media coverage when there is a controversy over the death.

            2. It is just as likely that the Times touted this story because it came in the Christmas-New Year period, a dead news week (pun intended).

            3. As readers above indicated, many would not get past the headline. And if you actually read the story in full, you see no consideration whatsoever of the idea that the killing was not justified and every effort to defend the cops.

            4. “You can’t attack the press because Trump is doing that” is simply not acceptable as an excuse for biased reporting. It was the Clinton campaign, not Trump, that brought the term “fake news” into widespread use. And as we have chronicled, even though we are not fans of Trump, he does have a point as far as the reporting on the Russia scandal is concerned. It has been pure unadulterated propaganda. Even card carrying Putin opponent, the Russian emigree Masha Gessen, as calling out US reporting on the supposed Russia scandal as being so transparently ginned up that it is hurting the US abroad and helping Putin.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Do you read every single Link? Nor do I, or much of anybody except our hosts. You choose which ones to read based on the headline, maybe helped out by a comment. That’s true in the newspapers, too; most people never get past the headline, and maybe the first paragraph. That’s why reporters are supposed to put the key stuff in the first paragraph. If it’s paragraph seven, it might as well not be there.

      So editorializing in the headline, which is what they did, matters a lot. Granted, there’s an innocent reason for it: anything silicon-related leads. It’s more sensational than police shootings – those are, unfortunately, ho-hum. But it is not a neutral headline, even though it’s technically factual.

  13. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Great Article!

    Just Posted it to my Facebook Group Page, Louisiana Socialist Network!

    On this 300th Year of New Orleans being stolen from the Native Americans, Let Us Engage In A Little Common Sense!

    Happy New Years, Lee N Yves N Lambert N Jerri!

  14. RUKidding

    File under FWIW, but a local Sacremento free newspaper published a story about a cop, who killed a harmless but mentally ill minority man, who wanted to tell his side of the story.

    Our local DAs have bascially refused to file criminal charges against killer cops, who all have, so far, gotten off pretty much scott-free. Possibly until now.

    Many locals got mad at the SN&R for printing what they felt was an article too sympathetic to the cop, but it may lead to his prosecution. Finally! Maybe we’ll see justice served for a change.

    The article – which the cop freely sought to tell his side of the story. It’s a story of a cop, who may have been well-intentioned enough (maybe) but who grew increasingly violent over the years, likely drank too much, and abused his wife. The PD, of course, did next to nothing to address his violent and increasingly erratic behavior.

    And finally there’s this recent article about shoddy training for cops in how to deal with and handle the mentally ill. A poor training exercise, which the Sac PD continues to utilize despite it being worthless.

    Great, just great.

    1. JBird

      I have noticed that cops actually aren’t given much support, covering up criminal activity yes, but mental health, extra training, and other support that can help in a stressful job? No. Also Whistle blowers and reformers are ostracized, even endangered, falsely accused, and forced out.

      I don’t like the police and will condemn them all day, but really neither the brass or the unions are truly acting in the average cop’s well being. Sometimes I think police officers are also being victimized. Shut up, be good little thugs. To Hell with your conscience, your family, or if you’re no longer useful, even you.

      Without having read the story, I would guess the cop is rightfully complaining about the lack of he received. In fairness, the leadership lack of support for such is also partially responsible for the death.

  15. Jeremy Grimm

    Here in the USA the number of police grows out of proportion to the population and the threat of crime. Communities use traffic tickets to fund more police and judges effectively undermining respect for the law and those who enforce it. The quality of many of the persons hired to serve and protect appears less than impressive. They lack basic discipline — and worse — lack self-control. Police forces collect military weapons as they devolve into bizarre paramilitary organizations. What exactly are those who rule us thinking? I’ve lost sight of whatever logic or rationale motivates the creation of such a police force. What could those who rule us expect from these unreliable organizations equipped with heavy weapons?

  16. rd

    A huge issue that makes the US completely unlike every other developed country is the proliferation of weapons. The police have to assume that the very person they encounter is armed to the teeth. This makes the issue of police training much more important than any other developed country. Unfortunately, our police seem to often get much less training compared to other countries. Untrained police with an expectation of encountering firearms is a recipe for many more police shootings, which is exactly what we are getting. unfortunately, police shootings have been normalized in the US at rates that are unimaginable in the rest of the world.

    1. Procopius

      Moreover, much (most?) of the available training focuses on the assumption that at least half the time the suspect will be armed, hostile, and planning to kill the officer at the first opportunity. It teaches cops to be on hair trigger alert for sudden moves and to interpret them as mortally dangerous.

  17. Sluggeaux

    I personally can’t stand the way that the NYT has to slant every headline and story to fit their editorial narrative, but I completely disagree with Lee Camp’s paranoid and hysterical speculation about swarms of police officers crazed by steroids. Why anyone would choose to be an under-paid, under-trained, and sleep-deprived police officer required to respond to calls for service in a culture such as ours, inhabited as it is by hundreds of thousands of gun-toting, drug-addled, narcissists who feel entitled to blow-away their spouses, their neighbors, their co-workers, or scores of random country music fans, is beyond me.

    I’m seriously disappointed that not a single commenter has referred to another police shooting in recent days that may suggest to an objective reader why many of our police seem to be more trigger-happy of late:

    The gunman who killed a Douglas County deputy and wounded four law enforcement officers Sunday ambushed them after they responded to a domestic disturbance call at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.

    “He knew we were coming,” Spurlock said. He said the gunman used a rifle and fired at least 100 rounds. The gunman, identified as a 37-year-old former soldier and lawyer, was killed in a shootout with officers.

    Four deputies arrived together at the gunman’s home in the Copper Canyon Apartments, a collection of two-story brick buildings near County Line Road. After the officers entered the suspect’s apartment, he barricaded himself inside a bedroom and then unleashed a volley of gunfire. All the officers were wearing bulletproof vests but were struck in unprotected parts of their bodies.


    1. JBird

      Americans have been a well armed and violent society since before some of the original colonies were founded. We are talking damn near four centuries. The excuse of being a heavily armed and violent society is just that. An excuse, and far too many completely unarmed (or if armed, a gun not in hand, or a knife) men, women, and children. The militarization of the police only happened in the last forty, with serious effect in the last twenty. And who knows why a quarter are steroid users and when did that happen?

      The average number of police deaths have been declining for forty years, while the number of police has doubled, so the rate has dropped very strongly. And the deaths include car and motorcycle accidents. Also the occupation is not even in the top ten of dangerous American occupations.


    2. Filiform Radical

      hundreds of thousands of gun-toting, drug-addled, narcissists who feel entitled to blow-away [sic] their spouses, their neighbors, their co-workers, or scores of random country music fans

      So, to be clear, you’ve done some polling and found that there actually are hundreds of thousands of people (who are also simultaneously drug-addled, gun-toting, and narcissistic) claiming that entitlement, yes? I mean, you’re not just cynically trying to spread collective guilt for the actions of a few whackjobs in order to justify a police culture of outright brutality, right?

      I’m seriously disappointed that not a single commenter has referred to another police shooting in recent days that may suggest to an objective reader why many of our police seem to be more trigger-happy of late:

      The police gunning people down gratuitously has been an issue since long before the extremely recent incident you cite. To successfully make the claim that violence against police officers is a major driving force for violence by police officers (and not, say, vice versa), you’re gonna need to demonstrate the existence of a broader trend that predates the current rash of murders by the police.

      Also, on a personal note: You seem to have quite a bit of contempt for large portions of the American public, to the extent that you’re comfortable with any member of the public being summarily executed through no fault of their own. Do you apply that to yourself (I take it by the phrase “culture such as ours” that you are an American) as well? If someone were to “swat” you and the officers on the scene shot you as soon as you opened your front door, would you die without any sort of animosity toward them?

    3. Peter Phillips

      Sluggeaux in response to your “serious disappointment”. I was aware of the reports of the Douglas County incident, but I feel some commentary is called for.

      Let me contrast the situations in the two events.

      In both of them a life was lost. Yes that is tragic for both individuals and families involved. But in Wichita a law abiding, innocent, unarmed man went onto his front porch..and was within moments dead as a result of a law officer’s actions/decisions. In the Douglas County scenario multiple armoured, armed and trained officers went to a potential crime scene and one of those officers was killed as a result of a criminal’s actions (barricading in bedroom and releasing a volley of gunfire).

      The officers in Douglas County were fully aware that they were entering into a potentially high risk scenario. Indeed, every officer attending such a scene would have a high awareness of potential risks.

      Acceptance that your profession has a high risk factor involved and that you may encounter ‘gun-toting, drug-addled, narcissists” on arrival should not in any way justify one adopting “trigger happiness” as a risk mitigation strategy.

      This is what I infer from your analysis of the Douglas County incident, and I cannot agree that that is the appropriate way of thinking about the reported incidents.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Say it again: being a cop is NOT anywhere near as “risk zone” dangerous as compared to a whole host of other occupations, though of course cop actions are maybe making it more dangerous– another self-licking ice cream cone.

  18. foghorn longhorn

    If you want to see policing today, check out Live PD on A&E, 265 on DirecTV.
    It is the video version of your local police scanner.
    My local PD, very rural, less than 10k residents, have gone to blackout style cars, SUVs, with barely observable graphics.
    To protect and serve, is not a player, more like may dog have mercy on your soul.

  19. Attila the Hun

    Some people are easily frightened. When they are frightened they react inappropriately. People who become police officers should have cool, calm natures and good judgement. A person with a “cool head” generally can avoid panicky action when faced with what may or may not be a threatening situation. Proper recruitment and training is necessary to minimize these tragic mistakes.

    1. Lambert Strether

      One thing we should not be doing is optimizing the hiring process for ex-military. It’s one thing to handle a gun in a war zone; and another to handle it in a civilian context. Unless you want your police to be an occupying force, of course [cough].

      1. JBird

        Yeah that’s right , “our” police is there to protect and to serve the us, the “public.”

        More seriously, the military seems to put a lot more effort and training on how to not kill people in these kinds of situations. The thought of the people who use death and destruction as less dangerous than the people who are supposed to not…is disturbing. If they hired the right retired military, maybe there would be some improvement?

      2. cripes

        “It’s one thing to handle a gun in a war zone; and another to handle it in a civilian context.”

        Maybe, but others have noted that the brute force used by domestic law “enforcement” against civilians would not be tolerated in combat theater, and would subject rules of engagement violators to military justice in similar circumstances.

        Except when it doesn’t.

        Israeli po-lice training, however, is designed to produce an occupying force modeled on their hugely successful Palestine Project.

  20. Reini Urban

    This killing would stop if the police murders would be held accountable. It’s a collusion with the justice apparatus. Just jail them, as in democratic countries.

  21. PrairieBear

    I agree 100 percent with everything you say about excessive policing. The only thing is, in this particular case at least, does it have to be an either/or question? It seems like it is being framed that way by many, maybe or maybe not in this post. The police bear the brunt of the responsibility, but the “swatter” has some, too. Whatever charges are applicable, he should get the book thrown at him.

  22. EoH

    The swatter pulled a malicious prank, but the police receive prank calls all the time. Whatever crime he might have committed does not appear to be an unlawful killing. The police appear to have done that through poor procedure and the excessive, seemingly automatic use of lethal force.

  23. HippoDave

    I mean, I thought I wrote a critical reply of Lee Camp re: description of “swatting” as a “prank” but can’t find it now. Maybe it was removed. Who knows? I thought this site wouldn’t do some stuff like that. Or maybe it would. Or maybe I can’t find it due to my own incompetence.

    Get well and recover Robert Parry. Also: stop describing “swatting” as a “prank” Lee Camp.

    Hopefully this reply will exist.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment was not “removed”. It was in moderation and not approved because it violated our written site Policies, which you did not bother to read. And you are again straw manning Camp, yet another violation of our Policies. And trying to get a comment approved by inserting an off-topic remark earns you more troll points.

      I letting this through only to tell you your comments will not be approved unless you shape up. It was the Times that called the swatting a prank. Are you utterly incapable of reading or just hopelessly intellectually dishonest? Camp is merely taking up the Times’ own description, which is clearly shown in his screenshot of the Times’ headline.

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