Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Math is hard. Let's go framing!

Pause for a second and think about what whole number it could be that, increased by two, makes for a rise of 53 percent. Then see what the hed writer tried to mean:

Sunday’s slaying of two Las Vegas policemen raises to 23 the number of law enforcement officers killed by gunfire this year, a 53 percent increase over the tally at this time last year, which is spurring concern about the influence of radical groups.

Yes, yes, Washington Times, but what kind of radicals? Did they wave Kalashnikovs and shout "Allahu Akbar"?

After shooting the policemen at point-blank range, the husband and wife killers took the officers’ weapons and reportedly covered them with a Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag, which depicts a coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The officers’ killers — Jerad Miller and his wife, Amanda — had been at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during his standoff with federal officials in April, though the rancher’s family said Monday the two had been chased away.

Not the kind who dress up like movie characters either? Well, I guess you had to lead with something.

These are interesting framing choices (that's the New York Post at right above), mostly because of the insistence of (hem) some (kaff) news outlets on making sure you specify up front what kind of terrorism -- a pretty fair description of the kind of violence-aimed-at-the-people-watching that happened in Las Vegas -- you're talking about. Here's a Post columnist from January 2010:

The source of the problem is Obama's stubborn refusal to see and say the full truth about Islamic terrorism. We are under attack and it is a war, whether he likes it or not. Just because George Bush said it first doesn't make it wrong.

It's not hard to figure out what WashTimes writers think of analyzing mass-casualty terrorism as a form of technological ("man-caused") disaster, or what the Fair 'n' Balanced Network thinks of "overseas contingency operation." I'd even suggest that most of the on-the-surface motive force behind BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is less that the president didn't say "terrorism" -- which he did, rather quickly -- than that he didn't say "OMG WORLDWIDE SALAFIST CONSPIRACY JIHAD IRAN TERRORISM BIN LADEN LIVES BUY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD AND FREEZE-DRIED FOOD" at the outset.

In that light, isn't it interesting how long it takes the Gadsden flag and the Bundy ranch to show up? You might conclude that in storytelling terms, sometimes it's very important to jump to conclusions and other times not.

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