Posted on December 23, 2016

CNN Fans More Hatred of Cops, in Touting Flawed Study

Heather Mac Donald, National Review, December 21, 2016

CNN is making a desperate pitch to further enflame the ideological war on cops while it still has a sympathetic ear in the White House. The CNN website is promoting a laughably incomplete study of police use of fatal force under the headline “Black men nearly 3 times as likely to die from police use of force, study says.” Utterly ignored in the study and in CNN’s write-up is any mention of violent-crime rates, which vary enormously by race and which predict officer use of force. Absent such a crime benchmark, analysis of police actions using population data alone, as this latest study has done, is worse than useless; wielded as a bludgeon in the current anti-cop crusade, it is dangerously irresponsible.

James Buehler, a public-health professor at Drexel University, found documentation in public records for 2,285 civilian deaths at the hands of the police from 2010 and 2014. Of those deaths, 96 percent were among males. This gender disparity is magnitudes greater than any racial disparities in officer use of force, but no cop-hater ever complains that males are massively overrepresented in police-civilian interactions. The reason for this double standard is that when it comes to males, it is acceptable to acknowledge, however implicitly, the vast gender disparities in criminal offending; it is not acceptable, however, to acknowledge racial disparities in criminal offending. {snip}

Buehler’s public-health-data sources presumably contain no information on the circumstances around the deaths–whether the decedents had been attacking the officer, for example, or threatening another civilian. Nor does he suggest that such information would be relevant. He simply reports that even though non-Hispanic white males account for the largest number of deaths at the hands of the police, the number of deaths per million of population was “2.8 times higher among black men and 1.7 times higher among Hispanic men, respectively.”

This finding, CNN tells us, is “disturbing.” CNN is apparently not “disturbed” at the fact that blacks die of homicide at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. Who is killing them? Not the police, and not whites, but other blacks. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined. Black males between the ages of 18 and 24 commit homicide at 9.3 times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The elevated black death-by-homicide rate is overwhelmingly a function of the astronomical black homicide-commission rate; in fact, a much smaller proportion of black homicide victims (4 percent) die from police shootings than the white and Hispanic homicide victims (12 percent) who die from police shootings.


CNN and its left-wing academic sources can come up with only two possible explanations for the Buehler findings: racism or poverty. Jack Glaser, a public-policy professor at UC Berkeley, opines that it is almost impossible to “generate an explanation” for Buehler’s results that “does not include an influence of racial bias.” Glaser invokes “implicit bias” shoot/don’t-shoot lab experiments, in which civilian subjects are quicker to shoot armed black targets than armed white targets. Glaser does not mention the fact that police officers do not exhibit such alleged “implicit bias.” Buehler himself tells CNN that poverty may be the explanation for racial disparities in death-by-officer rates. But black violence far exceeds that of other ethnic groups that are similarly poor, such as recent Asian immigrants.