We frequently have some fun with the Washington Post’s “fact checking” department and their Pinocchio rating system for things that various politicos say from time to time. Heck, some of them actually turn out to be fairly valid, such as their take on some school shooting numbers which Ed covered this week. But we try not to get too wrapped up in these sidebar articles because they frequently turn around in a matter of hours and do something like this.
Mike Huckabee went on stage to give a speech at a law enforcement conference this week and made a version of a claim that he’s been hitting fairly hard on the trail this season. He was talking about changes in law enforcement tactics and the rising crime rate we’ve been seeing in urban centers.
In New York, where a new mayor decided that some of the policies of previous mayors — which have been very effective in dramatically reducing murders and violent crime — he thought that their methods were too heavy-handed so he reversed them. And shootings are up 20 percent in New York City from just a year ago.
That’s a very politically unpopular thing to say in polite company these days, so the Post was all over Mike quick like a bunny. In their usual efficient way, they decided to tear the comment apart and came up with a Four Pinocchio rating… the near equivalent of Pants on Fire. Let’s see how they arrived there.
It is unclear exactly which policy Huckabee is talking about; his spokesman did not respond to our request for comment. The main policing policy criticism of de Blasio is his reining in of the controversial “stop and frisk” program, according to several experts and a review of news coverage…
He did not specify exactly which policy he is referring to under de Blasio, but the one policy that the mayor has been blamed for “reversing” is stop-and-frisk.
You will note, looking at Huck’s comments, that at no time does he mention stop and frisk. Nobody has been arguing Stop and Frisk at a high level for a while now. And that’s not exactly the “policy” which has been in the news since the #BlackLivesMatter thing got rolling last summer, now is it? But no matter… WaPo merrily dives in and starts comparing crime rates before, during and after the most intensive uses of the policy. This comprises one half of their analysis as to the fallacy of Huckabee’s comments. So a shorter version of that would be to say, “Huckabee was clearly lying about the effects of Stop and Frisk even though he wasn’t talking about Stop and Frisk.”
But let’s get to the other half. They deal with the Governor saying that crime was up 20% in the last year.
Huckabee says shootings are up 20 percent from a year ago, in June 2014, but that is not correct. On June 28, 2014, there were 145 murders and 594 shooting victims in New York City. The day of Huckabee’s speech, there were 161 murders and 633 shooting victims in New York City. So the number of shooting victims is up 6.6 percent from a year ago.
Earlier this year, there were reports that murders and shootings were up 20 percent, in March 2015, compared to March 2014. Shootings in June 2015 are up 20 percent from June 2013, but 2013 was a historically low year, the Times reported.
Come on, people. At least make us do a little bit of work here. We don’t even need to go look up any supporting crime data from the FBI or anywhere else for that matter. You’ve already done all the documentation work for us. The violent crime rate in June is “only” up 6.6% from June of last year. But you admit yourself that in March it was up by 20% from the previous March. And shootings in June of 2015 are still up 20% from two years earlier in the same month. So while Huck was making the comments in June of this year, at no point did he actually say, from this month last year. He was citing statistics which the WaPo themselves repeated from only a couple of months earlier. Congratulations. You found a thirty day window where that data wasn’t correct, but in general that complaint is laughable by the numbers. (Literally by the numbers.)
So for all of this – citing a policy Huck didn’t mention and finding a month where the previously published data didn’t match other months – the Washington Post has arrived at a rating which essentially states that Huckabee is lying through his teeth. Well done, guys.
For the record, it was obvious what Huckabee was talking about in New York City. He was referencing the failure of City Hall to actively support their cops in the face of protests and marchers calling for the murder of police, the pullback from Broken Windows, and the criticism of cops going after people in low income areas for “minor crimes.” All of that has resulted in the cops being far less enthusiastic in doing their jobs and the criminals becoming correspondingly more enthusiastic about doing theirs. But I suppose that wouldn’t make for a very good headline at the Washington Post, eh?