CSotD: Media Scrum in Smalltown America

Steve Breen (Creators) sums up everything we know so far about Uvalde: Children were murdered, parents were devastated and we’re hearing a lot of same-old same-old from the top.

As noted here the other day, President Biden did step up with a masterful, furious speech demanding to know when we were going to finally do something.

But, as Rob Rogers notes, President Johnson had done the same 56 years ago, when a gunman opened fire from a tower on the University of Texas campus, killing 14.

Change is possible: Just a few years earlier, Congress had passed a law against selling guns by mail order, because that was how Lee Harvey Oswald had bought the rifle with which he killed JFK.

But the fact that there are still people who don’t believe Oswald did it is our topic for today. In freshman year philosophy, we all learned that Socrates was wise because he claimed to know nothing, but we’d already learned from Hogan’s Heroes that Sgt. Schultz also claimed to see nothing and know nothing because he was helpless to stop it and wanted to avoid getting in trouble.

One is false modesty, the other self-preservation, and ofttimes the twain indeed do meet.

There are things we know, but there’s a lot we don’t know, and won’t know for a while yet.

I say that based on some years of reporting and some other years of having a first-responder in the family. Even simple events take time to sort out, never mind a major catastrophe like this.

And the Kennedy Assassination is a good example of what happens when people chase men with umbrellas over grassy knolls.

It’s hard to get the facts straight once honest confusion and inevitable rumors have been set in stone.


I know that Uvalde is a small city of 15,200 people, about 90 minutes from San Antonio, so it might as well be on the Moon for all that it benefits from a major city. I’ve written for major metros, but my days as a daily reporter in the newsroom were in a small city of 19,000, then as an editor in a town of 7,592 and again as an editor in a small city of 14,300.

I think I’d like Uvalde.

Others don’t seem to. Today’s Reliable Sources newsletter has link after link of fury from reporters, and I respect their anger but I have to wonder how many of them cut their teeth at small papers, and how many went straight from J-school to a major metro or a national network?

Some apparently have gone the old-school route. Some clearly haven’t.

But here’s a good thread on the media scrum, from someone who belongs there.


F’rinstance, with all due respect to Lalo Alcaraz (AMS), we try not to use 911 out here if we don’t have to, because it’s rerouted through some distant, regional call center where they couldn’t find us with two hands. We call the local cops who know us.

I also know that small rural areas do well to get all their emergency responders on a single radio system. Most have fixed this in recent years, but there are still places where this fire company can’t talk to that police department and so forth.

So when I hear about the police doing nothing despite the 911 calls, my first question is to ask if they even knew the calls had happened.

It’s possible that the information was flowing that fast, but I’ve had enough experience that I think the smart play is to sit back and wait to see who knew what when.

I do know for sure that I was aghast when I learned the incident commander was the head of the school district’s police. As someone who has known some tremendously well-qualified rural police, I resent Andy-and-Barney jokes, but come on, man.

Since Uvalde has a SWAT team, they also should have had a plan and rehearsed for this moment, and maybe the head of the school cops is also the head of that SWAT team. It could happen in a small town.


Unfortunately, what I know for sure is that some rural police and fire departments get that equipment from the feds and plunge into deep, professional training and planning, while others simply think having it is the same as knowing how to use it.

But I don’t know how it works in Uvalde. And neither do you.


Drew Sheneman is not the only one to point out the rudimentary weapons technology that prevailed when the 2nd Amendment was written.

I refute him thus.

Even Scalia — who misinterpreted the intent of the 2nd Amendment — wrote that there is no Constitutional right for civilians to possess military grade weapons.

Who here thinks “Freedom of the Press” should apply only to 18th Century hand-set, single-sheet print?


Meanwhile, Ann Telnaes suggests a possible motivation behind Cancun Cruz’s brilliant solutions.

Cruz didn’t duck out to Mexico this time. He went to Houston to speak at the National Gun Nut Convention, where he reminded them that “the elites who dominate our culture tell us that firearms lie at the root of the problem.”

Predictably, he didn’t have the good sense to stop there.


In any case, I’ve been astounded to learn that I seem to be the only person on social media who knows that doors can be locked from the outside and still easily opened from the inside.

Not only have schools used a single, secured entryway since Columbine, but they’ve been required to have adequate working fire exits since the Our Lady of the Angels school fire.

I don’t know how many people have not been in a school building since 1999, but there can’t be many who have not been in a school since 1958.

I’d also bet that, among the people who advocate arming teachers, the percentage who have ever been in a live shooter situation is astonishingly low.

What I do know is what Tim Miller at the Bulwark wrote in a furious entry: Shit happens, and, while we have a right to be angry over all the foul-ups that contributed to this horror, we need to maintain focus.

All this chatter, all the rumors, all the guessing, all the blame-gaming, is a distraction:

It’s the guns, stupid.

Don’t let yourself be distracted.




2 thoughts on “CSotD: Media Scrum in Smalltown America

  1. 1. Go read Heart of the City from the past few days. It makes an important juxtaposition with

    2. Heather Cox Richardson’s observation that the door to the school was propped open.

    It’s tempting to suppose that the shooter had inside help, but Steenz shows us that doors get propped open in schools for the stupidest of reasons.

    Another quick note on Guns and Republicans. Its easy to say that they love their NRA money, but it’s a cop-out. As we saw on January 6th, these gun nuts comprise an all too well organized militia ready and eager to put themselves in the service of thise who are seeking to destroy our democracy. They have no incentive to disarm their standing army.

  2. In some schools, the doors get propped open when it is blazing hot and there needs to be a breeze. Not likely in south Texas though, huh ?
    Also, the School Resource Officer apparently saw a teacher and thought she was the shooter. A bit mor efficiency and there could have been three dead faculty members.

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