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… and not more of some author’s poor take on it. Here is the AP story on the London riots. These sorts of insertions not just drive me bananas, but they are clearly unnecessary in a “reporting” piece and they are drawing me into a place I don’t often venture – caring much about media bias. Try these on:

Some saw Britain’s economic crisis and deep cuts planned to socials benefits as a deeper underlying cause for the outburst of violence – though few rioters said it was their motivation.

Ok, so no one who is actually rioting seems to be saying that social spending cuts are the reason for it (after all, they were protesting a violent crime in their neighborhood), but of all of the possible hypotheses that could be put forth for the escalation of the problem, THIS is the only one the authors choose to share. Well, what if a whole bunch of people think the riots are happening because lots of young Brits are upset that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the tank just two weeks after toying with the idea of being in playoff contention. Seriously. And this seems to be a young group of people for whom social services spending does not seem to be that important in the first place.

Or try this:

but in a move that could raise tensions, a far-right group said about 1,000 of its members around the country were taking to the streets to deter rioters.

“We’re going to stop the riots – police obviously can’t handle it,” Stephen Lennon, leader of the far-right English Defense League, told The Associated Press. He warned that he couldn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be violent clashes with rioting youths.

Now, I know nothing of the English Defense League, but leave it to a reporter to let me know they are far right, and the implication (as you will observe if you read a little farther down) is that they are not a bunch of good people – especially when they are linked to the terrorism in Norway (not directly, merely as a group that the terrorist admires). I cannot remember the last time I read of the damage that “far left” groups may be doing, especially for taking to the streets to … you know … prevent more damage from being done.

It took TWO THIRDS of the article for me to learn exactly why the riots burst out in the first place, which is why I clicked on the AP link:

Violence broke out late Saturday in the low-income, multiethnic district of Tottenham in north London, after a protest against the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four who was gunned down in disputed circumstances Thursday.

And no, the authors do not spend the rest of the article speculating on why the incident occurred, or any of the important issues related to it. But they take one more chance to throw in their pet idea for the day – that “gutting” social spending surely must have something to do with it.

Seeking explanations for the unrest, some pointed to rising social tensions in Britain as the government slashes 80 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public spending by 2015 to reduce the country’s huge budget deficit, swollen after the country spent billions bailing out its foundering banks.

Can I remind folks that we are talking about cutting less than $35 billion per year here? And that the authors don’t tell us what important public spending is being slashed? Or how that translates into these young people rioting. Remember, this is still coming after an entire article that does not offer a single hypothesis for why the shooting happened in the first place.

What awful reporting. Could I do better? Well, I couldn’t write better, but I sure promise that the misleading suggestions would not enter in the piece, or that if they were, you would sure be clear about where I was coming from.

Did I mention that I think this is just awful reporting?

5 Responses to “I Just Wanted to Learn About the Riots …”

  1. Kit says:

    Allister Heath, the editor of London’s City-AM, gets closer to the truth:
    http://www.cityam.com/news-and-analysis/allister-heath/britain-s-crisis-the-real-causes-chaos-streets

  2. Rod says:

    On Fox News, Amy Kellogg, as reliable a reporter as there is, said the incident that sparked the riots was the shooting of a well-known gang leader. She did not know why the police were carrying guns, and she said the gang leader turned out to be unarmed.

    So he’s the father of four? What do you want to bet he’s married to those kids’ mother? Maybe he’s the father of more than four. He must be a big earner to take on the responsibility of four children. Those gang leaders in Britain must be CEO’s of their gangs, or something.

    I was surprised that 50 percent of Britain’s economy is government spending.

    Alastair Heath also points out that many of the rioters are children who are not even in the workforce: they just help themselves to the loot. Didn’t Ayn Rand have some ideas about looters?

    In the immortal words of that great philosopher and epistemologist, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

  3. chuck martel says:

    This whole thing is very interesting, media coverage of what amounts to civil war is rather subdued. Nobody wants to encourage the spread of it. Some accounts have mentioned “anarchy”. Anarchy is the absence of government. The socialist Brits have government up the wazoo so it isn’t anarchy. It’s the failure of government, a much different thing. When cell phones, smart phones, Twitter, texting, etc. were leading to the fall of Mubarak, problems for Ghaddafi, resistance in Iran and other places, the West looked on with approval, although much of it may well have been opportunistic crime. The same activity in Britain could bring about similar results and every government sees potential opposition well-armed with cyber weaponry. You can bet they’re all looking at this very closely. Strict regulation and control of electronic communication, always a goal of every government, is on the way.

  4. Rod says:

    I keep wondering if such a thing could happen here, in America. One of the things we have going for us is the right to bear arms, which enables enough of us to own guns for home protection and which gives burglars, home invaders, rioters and even tyrants pause as they consider breaking into the average American home. Yes, I know the gang bangers have guns, too.

    There is rioting going on in Philadelphia, and Michael Nutter, the black mayor, has not minced words in criticizing the barbaric behavior of Philadelphia’s black youths who are the ones causing havoc. Good for Mayor Nutter.

    Ahem. This reminds me: I have to get to the store to buy some more unbroken packs of Marlboros and to make a trip to Cabelas tomorrow to get some more ammo. If the revolution comes, I sure won’t be able to defend against rioters with wheelbarrows full of Federal Reserve Notes. The new coin of the realm: ammo for the AK-47.

  5. Tina says:

    Yes, the AP coverage was atrocious. So bad that I did something I have never done before: I wrote a letter to the AP complaining about the very first AP report, which not only found a way to mention the US Tea Party (!), but called it “insurgent right-wing politics.” Insurgent! I was flabbergasted. So I wrote my letter, then blogged it.

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