The current question for political commentators seems to be “Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?”
Adam Zyglis drew this cartoon before SCOTUS handed down their abortion decision last week, but it’s a good marker of where we’re at, because, amid all the uproar over that story, there has been a complaint that other major issues are being ignored.
It’s a bit unfair, and smacks of “Stop caring about what you care about and care about what I care about,” but it’s also largely based on not knowing how things — particularly social media — work.
Everything is being covered, though there’s an element of triage involved, in which a heart attack gets more immediate attention than a broken leg.
The broken leg also gets treated.
Similarly, the news stories that are getting the most public reaction rise to the top, but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t being covered. You just might have to do a Google News search rather than relying on Facebook and Twitter to spoonfeed you.
None of the things Zyglis noted have gone away, and if they’re absent from your newsfeed, that may be because of the dubious algorithms involved, but it’s also a reflection of how well you’re curated your pages.
And, BTW, you can always set up one account where your rabid cousins can vent and you can post pictures of what you had for dinner, and then create another for rational discussion of current events.
In any case, neither Ukraine nor the Stock Market nor other SCOTUS decisions have disappeared, and we’ll get to them, too.
But let’s start with Uvalde, since our favorite slightly chunky soccer mom and gubernatorial candidate has promised to “make sure that when a kid is in the womb, they’re as safe as they are in a classroom.”
Juxtaposition of the Day
There have been cartoons accusing the police at Uvalde of cowardice, which I would classify as grossly unfair, but Bramhall and Bennett are quite on target in questioning why their response took so long.
We’re seeing one answer emerge that was apparent from the start, which is the issue of having the school district’s head security officer acting as incident commander.
The Thin Blue Line has blocked a lot of that discussion, but let’s start there, because now his attorney says he didn’t know he was in charge and it appears nobody knew who was.
It’s unfair to blame “the Uvalde Police.” There were units from a variety of forces, which is part of the problem. Whatever — if any — level of actual training for such an incident they had gone through together, they should have arrived with a firm sense of who was in charge.
Apparently, they didn’t, in which case chaos is the obvious, predictable result.
Perhaps the Uvalde Police should have seized control, rather than deferring to the district, but touching off a pissing match wouldn’t have improved things.
We do know that town officers entered the school at 11:36, two minutes after the shooter, and were wounded by gunfire.
It also appears that they came under the impression that he was barricaded in an office, not a classroom:
11:40: The chief received a report from an unknown officer that the shooter was “contained in this office,” suggesting that the subject was barricaded or that a hostage situation — not an active shooter — was in process.
And here’s how all that chaos shook out 20 minutes into the incident:
“I was just following orders” has become a standard for immoral non-excuses offered up at the Nuremberg Trials, but there the actions being justified took place over months and years.
Following orders for an hour is a different matter, particularly when the person giving (or not giving) those orders (for a non-action) is not in your normal chain of command.
And for all the refinements of the time line since the first day, we still don’t know who knew what.
We don’t, for instance, know if those 911 calls were being relayed to the officers at the scene and, if so, how quickly and to whom?
Were all these responders on compatible radio frequencies? And why wasn’t the Incident Commander even carrying a radio?
I like Pat Bagley‘s take, because he demonstrates both the chaos of the moment and the shutdown that seems to have followed.
That left panel, however, raises another question of fairness: We were all inspired by the woman who defied police to go pull her child from a classroom.
But what if they’d just let her go and she’d been shot and killed?
Police smashed windows in the other classrooms and evacuated kids and teachers. Wouldn’t her daughter have been among those they were able to safely rescue?
And should firefighters now start letting people run back into blazing buildings?
Put down your stones. This story is far from over.
And then there’s this
In last night’s Reliable Sources Newsletter, Brian Stelter makes a point related to the SCOTUS coverage:
He provides several good local pieces on the topic, but his overall remark applies to everything.
Tip O’Neill said “All politics is local” because people care about their own problems and their own communities, and that’s also what made local newspapers strong, before vulture capitalists took them over.
As much as I like Bagley’s cartoon, it’s not just that the police are refusing to answer reporters’ questions. They don’t need to stonewall questions nobody knew enough to ask.
Case in point: Coverage of Uvalde keeps mentioning that the cops wanted a “hooligan” to break down the door. The tool is a “Halligan,” as any reporter on the first-responders beat should know.
But nobody has time to learn the basics of their beat today, assuming they’re even allowed to develop one.
I worked in a newsroom of some 20 reporters in 1987. Corporate has cut it in half. We had four bureaus in distant parts of our coverage. They’re long gone.
There are no “beats” at local papers anymore. Everybody is a generalist, with a daily quota of stories to get on-line and a video podcast to shoot and social media to update.
The cops don’t need to stonewall us.
Bad Captain Madman at Corporate has done it for them.