The following is a news analysis.
Reuters News data expert found:
- Trump was correct when he stated that 'police kill more whites than blacks.'
- Reuters repeatedly published false information saying the opposite.
- Police kill white suspects at a 7% higher rate than blacks.
- Among armed suspects, police shoot whites at a rate 70% higher than blacks.
- On an average year, police shoot 26 unarmed white people and 18 unarmed black people.
- Roughly 10,000 black people are murdered each year by criminals in their own neighborhoods.
It is an apt comment on the state of news.
News organizations are now frequently used as tools to further certain narratives and propaganda, letting their employees know that any that are facts off-the-narrative are unwelcome.
I tracked this trend at CBS News prior to asking to leave my contract midstream due to the disturbing trends.
Similar stories have now been uncovered at many major news organizations where the news is too often not about facts and public interest but is a carefully curated product of corporate and political interests.
Now, comes the account from the former director of data science at the news agency Reuters.
Zac Kriegman says he stumbled on a huge story that could save lives. It was about "black Americans being gunned down across the country and the ways in which we report on that violence."
I had been following the academic research on BLM for years (for example, here, here, here and here), and I had come to the conclusion that the claim upon which the whole movement rested—that police more readily shoot black people—was false.
But Kriegman says his information flew in the fact of the narrative the Black Lives Matter narrative the agency was bent on advancing both internally and to news consumers. He was fired.
Below is his story.
I was fired for showing police do not kill more black suspects
By Zac Kriegman
Until recently, I was a director of data science at Thomson Reuters, one of the biggest news organizations in the world. It was my job, among other things, to sift through reams of numbers and figure out what they meant.
About a year ago, I stumbled on a really big story. It was about black Americans being gunned down across the country and the ways in which we report on that violence. We had been talking nonstop about race and police brutality, and I thought: This is a story that could save lives. This is a story that has to be told.
But when I shared the story with my coworkers, my boss chastised me, telling me expressing this opinion could limit my ability to take on leadership roles within the company. Then I was maligned by my colleagues. And then I was fired.
This is the story Reuters didn’t want to tell.
I had been at Thomson Reuters for over six years—most recently, leading a team of data scientists applying new machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to our legal, tax and news data. We advised any number of divisions inside the company, including Westlaw, an online legal research service used by most every law firm in the country, and the newsroom, which reaches an audience of one billion every day around the globe. I briefed the Chief Technology Officer regularly. My total annual compensation package exceeded $350,000.
In 2020, I started to witness the spread of a new ideology inside the company. On our internal collaboration platform, the Hub, people would post about “the self-indulgent tears of white women” and the danger of “White Privilege glasses.” They’d share articles with titles like “Seeing White,” “Habits of Whiteness” and “How to Be a Better White Person.” There was fervent and vocal support for Black Lives Matter at every level of the company. No one challenged the racial essentialism or the groupthink.
This concerned me. I had been following the academic research on BLM for years (for example, here, here, here and here), and I had come to the conclusion that the claim upon which the whole movement rested—that police more readily shoot black people—was false.
The data was unequivocal. It showed that, if anything, police were slightly less likely to use lethal force against black suspects than white ones.
Statistics from the most complete database of police shootings (compiled by The Washington Post) indicate that, over the last five years, police have fatally shot 39 percent more unarmed whites than blacks. Because there are roughly six times as many white Americans as black Americans, that figure should be closer to 600 percent, BLM activists (and their allies in legacy media) insist. The fact that it’s not—that there’s more than a 500-percentage point gap between reality and expectation—is, they say, evidence of the bias of police departments across the United States.
But it’s more complicated than that. Police are authorized to use lethal force only when they believe a suspect poses a grave danger of harming others. So, when it comes to measuring cops’ racial attitudes, it’s important that we compare apples and apples: Black suspects who pose a grave danger and white suspects who do the same.
Unfortunately, we don’t have reliable data on the racial makeup of dangerous suspects, but we do have a good proxy: The number of people in each group who murder police officers.
According to calculations (published by Patrick Frey, Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County) based on FBI data, black Americans account for 37 percent of those who murder police officers, and 34 percent of the unarmed suspects killed by police. Meanwhile, whites make up 42.7 percent of cop killers and 42 percent of the unarmed suspects shot by police—meaning whites are killed by police at a 7 percent higher rate than blacks.
If you broaden the analysis to include armed suspects, the gap is even wider, with whites shot at a 70 percent higher rate than blacks. Other experts in the field concurthat, in relation to the number of police officers murdered, whites are shot disproportionately.
There has been only one study that has looked at the rate at which police use lethal force in similar circumstances across racial groups. It was conducted by the wunderkind Harvard economist Roland Fryer, who is black, grew up poor, had his fair share of run-ins with the police and, initially, supported BLM. In 2016, Fryer, hoping to prove the BLM narrative, conducted a rigorous study that controlled for the circumstances of shootings—and was shocked to find that, while blacks and Latinos were likelier than whites to experience some level of police force, they were, if anything, slightly less likely to be shot. The study generated enormous controversy. (In 2018, Fryer was suspended from Harvard over dubious allegations of sexual harassment.)
Unfortunately, because the BLM narrative was now conventional wisdom, police departments, under intense scrutiny from left-wing politicians and activists, scaled back patrols in dangerous neighborhoods filled with vulnerable black residents. This led to soaring violence in many communities and thousands of needless deaths—otherwise known as the Ferguson Effect.
For many months I stayed silent. I continued to read Reuters’ reporting on the movement, and started to see how the company’s misguided worldview about policing and racism was distorting the way we were reporting news stories to the public.
In one story, Reuters reported on police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting a black man, Jacob Blake, in the back—but failed to mention that they did so only after he grabbed a knife and looked likely to lunge at them.
In another story, Reuters referred “to a wave of killings of African-Americans by police using unjustified lethal force,” despite a lack of statistical evidence that such a wave of police killings had taken place. (In 2020, 18 unarmed black Americans were killed by police, according to The Washington Post database.)
And in yet another, Reuters referred to the shooting of Michael Brown as one of a number of “egregious examples of lethal police violence,” despite the fact that an investigation conducted by the Justice Department—then run by Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder—had cleared the police officer in question of all wrongdoing.
A pattern was starting to emerge: Reporters and editors would omit key details that undermined the BLM narrative. More important than reporting accurately was upholding—nurturing—that storyline.