While 2020 started off normal, it went off the rails pretty quickly. First, there was that whole COVID thing and the associated lockdowns then protests about the lockdowns–which were “bad”–followed by protests about police brutality, including in places where the police did nothing wrong–those were “good”–and then things went really sideways.
Homicides started spiking.
This followed a period of left-leaning officials announcing all the ways they were going to take it easy on criminals at the start of the year. The efforts, touted as “criminal justice reform,” were heralded as a more humane way to treat those accused of crimes. After all, there’s that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing.
Then, following the protests–the supposedly good ones–we saw police departments get their funding cut all over the country as part of an anti-police jihad.
Unfortunately, this was followed by the aforementioned spike in violent crime.
Now, it seems reasonable to at least suppose that letting criminals back out on the streets in a post-arrest revolving door and cutting funding for police departments might have had something to do with it.
Unless, of course, you’re Media Matters.
Following the release of the FBI’s 2020 crime report, right-wing media immediately tried to blame last year’s sharp increase in homicides on “left-wing policies on policing,” even though no direct evidence supports that claim.
On September 27, the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report, which showed that the rate of nonviolent property crimes including burglary and larceny dropped by 8%, while the violent crime rate actually increased by 5%. Aggravated assaults increased slightly, but the number of homicides in the country jumped by a staggering 30% from 2019 to 2020, and over three-quarters of those were committed with a firearm. Though the actual murder rate is still lower than what it was in the 1990s, this is the largest single-year increase in homicides since the FBI began keeping national records in the 1960s.
After the report’s release, however, right-wing media predictably pounced on the findings and tried to blame the murder increase entirely on “left-wing policies on policing” and “massive campaigns against the enforcement of the rule of law.”
This is, of course, in a report titled: “Right-wing media erroneously use FBI crime report to blame murder spike on police reforms.”
Now, they cite several right-leaning commentators for making such statements, but all are opinion commentators. None of this is presented as hard news, as established fact. They’re stating their opinions, which is what sites like The Federalist do. It’s what broadcast commentators like Tucker Carlson do.
Yet Media Matters likes to bill itself as a watchdog. They keep an eye on the evil right and “pounce” whenever they’re wrong. They are pretending to speak absolute facts, not opinion.
And yet, here, they’re claiming these commentators made erroneous statements attributing so-called police reform for the increase in violent crime while presenting absolutely no evidence that they’re wrong.
Oh, they argue the UCR isn’t really complete data–a valid fact, to be sure–but since people like Media Matters don’t blink at using that same data when it serves their purposes, that argument doesn’t sway me.
Their only other evidence, such as it is, is a report from 2020 that claims police spending has no impact on crime statistics. However, the anti-police efforts went well beyond just funding. There was a psychological impact on both the officers and the public. Especially as more and more people were accused of racism for calling the police. All of this would have an impact that came after that 2020 report was written.
They wrap up by saying it may take years to know the details of what led to this spike, but I find it funny how they can admit that while dismissing every claim they simply don’t like as “erroneous.”
Then again, the only Media that Matters to them is anything advancing the correct narrative.