Thursday, October 25, 2007

Everybody PANIC! No, let's not

Fox News's coverage of the California fires gets a nice slapping-around over at CJR (brought to the world through Romenesko's vigilance). Here's the punch line, though the setup is even more fun:

So, to recap Fox News’ analysis:

A 2003 memo from FBI’s Denver office + suggestion made by a commentor on a blog + “guy” spotted in California by “hovering helicopter” and picked up on suspicion of arson = Al Qaeda set fire to California!

Yep. That's about it. But the fun continues, as you'll note from the first reefer item below the main hed here: "Suspected Wildfire Arsonist Killed Fleeing Cops."

Well, that's a relief, innit? Here's the whole story:

Suspected CA Wildfire Arsonist Killed While Fleeing Police
PHOENIX, Arizona — A California coroner has identified an Arizona man shot and killed by police who chased him because they thought he was a possible arsonist.

The San Bernardino County coroner says the man was 27-year-old Russell Lane Daves of Topock, a small town along the Arizona-Nevada border.

Daves was shot Tuesday night following a chase that ended when he backed his car into a police cruiser and an officer opened fire.

The chase started after campus security officers at California State University, San Bernardino, found Daves inside a car in a brushy area near campus. Police say the officers were concerned and wanted to make sure he wasn't trying to start a fire. When they approached, he drove off.

Wow, that balloon went flat in a hurry, didn't it? One problem, of course, is the sleight-of-hand with hedlinese. Since heds don't usually use articles, we're free to infer "the" arsonist just as readily as "an" arsonist. Of course, Fox is careful to call him a (or the) "suspected" arsonist. But the cops -- um, found him in a car in a brushy area! From which he drove off! Wonder if we can get any more details?

Over at the LA Times, he's an "arson suspect," but at least we get this from Dogberry & Co.:

"We don't know whether he was an arsonist," Patterson said. "What was related by the Cal State police was that they tried to contact him as a suspicious person in a brush area. Things being how they are, there was a suspicion that he could be an arsonist."

Still not much hint on how he could a "suspect" in a crime that, at least by the cops' account, seems not to have been committed. Be sure you all hold your breath for the update, there.


Blogger Strayhorn said...

Did this guy look like Kal Penn in "Harold & Kumar 2" with the blue turban and kicky Taliban beard? Or was he just darker than Tony Orlando?

And why were the cops fleeing when they were killed?

9:53 AM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger fev said...

Inquiring minds are still waiting for the link to the guy spotted from NewsChopperFox or whatever it was.

2:15 PM, October 26, 2007  

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