Last week, Barvetta Singletary was arrested and charged with shooting at her Capitol Hill Police boyfriend with his service weapon in a domestic dispute. Her boyfriend was uninjured, thank goodness, and fled the home where she had allegedly lured him with the promise of sex. Singletary is also a special assistant to the president and legislative liaison in the Obama White House, where she reportedly makes $125,000 a year— at the upper end of White House salaries.
After engaging in intercourse, Singletary, 37, asked the officer about another female he was dating, according to charging documents. The officer then asked Singletary to walk outside towards his vehicle.
Once outside and in the vehicle, Singletary asked the officer where his cell phones were. When the officer refused to reveal that information, Singletary reached into the officer’s bag and grabbed two cell phones and his service weapon, according to charging documents.
The officer then ran back inside the home, followed by Singletary. Once inside, police say the officer pleaded with Singletary to return his gun while she demanded the passwords for his phones.
After some time, Singletary then fired a shot in the direction of the officer, who then fled the residence, according to charging documents.
Singletary, a White House aide, is charged with first and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
A staffer in the White House assaulting a member of a federal police force with his stolen service weapon just a month or two after her boss had given an impassioned speech about the need for more gun control? My, that sounds like a news story if I’ve ever heard one. A national news story, even, especially in the month of August when political news is famously slow. This year, it seems the August news doldrums have been cured by Trump and Trump alone, and there is nary a word or moment to be given to a White House staffer assaulting a member of a federal police force with his stolen service weapon.
This despite a compelling quote from the police report on top of the compelling story: “You taught me how to use this, don’t think I won’t use it.”
In the week since the incident, there has been almost nothing beyond first day coverage, and most of that was confined to local news packages (a notable exception was a thorough CNN package with Jake Tapper). No questions about Singletary’s proximity to the president on a daily basis given her conduct or the vetting process that got her a job in the White House in the first place, or how the president feels about a member of his own staff engaged in gun violence. Most people, if they ever heard the story have forgotten about it and probably never heard Singletary’s name to begin with.
In the wake of the alleged shooting, the White House gave a brief statement, placed Singletary on unpaid leave, and the Capitol police put the officer on leave as well, pending investigation of the incident. Her court date is Sept. 2.
Perhaps on September 2, the national press could give Singletary’s legal proceedings the attention of, say, Elizabeth Lauten, who last Thanksgiving committed the grave sin of criticizing the Obama daughters on her private Facebook page. Dave Weigel sums up the coverage of this incident in a column entitled, “The Week the Media Broke.”
And the press covered this like Lauten had stuffed the Obama girls in the trunk of a car and driven into Mexico. As Alana Goodman documented at the Washington Free Beacon, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today Show both gave precious time to the Lauten resignation, and two news trucks parked outside her parents’ home. The three main evening news broadcasts, on which time is even more precious, all covered Lauten. The fate of a GOP staffer who blurted about the president’s daughters was judged to be important enough to take up four and a half of the 66 minutes the networks were using to describe everything that happened on Earth that day.
The national media staked out the parents of a Republican staffer and dug up dirt on her teenage years for writing something it didn’t like on her personal Facebook page. Lauten was a national news story, social pariah, and everyone’s favorite subject for water-cooler smugness for more than a week.
Here’s the same metric for Singletary a week into the story:
That’s one staff-written story on the day of the incident and one wire story on a White House staffer accused of assaulting a Capitol Police officer with his stolen service weapon in a domestic dispute. There was no excuse for so much interest, and frankly abuse of, Lauten and there’s no excuse for so little coverage of Singletary. I guess some things are more fun to be outraged about than others. But let’s wait for Sept. 2 when I’m sure coverage of her hearing will be breathless.