Dallas Morning News opposes Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston, and black witnesses to murders by white cops
But what it really hates is fact checking
If you trust the Dallas Morning News, you should oppose Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston in this week’s election, as its board has instructed you to do. But today I’m going to show you why its board, its managing editor, and certain of its reporters don’t deserve your trust.
The screenshot above is from the only social media account that Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger failed to scrub the day after she killed her black neighbor Botham Jean in his own apartment. In such a context, the anti-Black Lives Matter memes she’d been so fond of were clearly newsworthy — but not to the Dallas Morning News, which, as I noted at the time, decided early on to portray anything that contradicted law enforcement’s shifting, contradictory, but always pro-Guyger accounts of what happened as “misinformation” — while at the same reporting claims by Dallas Police Association head Mike Mata as factual. “Guyger has received threats online and through her phone,” one reporter wrote then, based on Mata’s claim of what Guyger had told him.
That level of trust didn’t extend to the witness, a black female whose account contradicted the two versions Guyger put out that contradicted each other. When that witness reported receiving threats, the News didn’t report it as fact — they used it to attack her credibility. After all, reporter Jennifer Emily couldn’t verify that the witness had reported these threats to Dallas police — which she never said she had. (Actually it’s pointless to report threats to either DPD or the News if both consider the real threat to be you yourself, as we’ll see in a moment)
Oddly enough, that reporter’s skepticism seemed not to apply to Guyger herself, when her second account of how she came to kill her neighbor was made public via a Texas Rangers manslaughter warrant that attorneys and former DA staffers quoted at the time were universal in characterizing as a suspicious document that looked as if it had been written by the defense. Despite its inclusion of bizarre errors — like referring to Jean’s apartment in which he was killed as belonging to Guyger, presumably by right of conquest — Jennifer Emily was sufficiently convinced that she told readers that this deferential account based on the latest version provided by the killer was, in fact, “what happened”.
In most circumstances it would be unfair to hold an entire newspaper responsible for the poor judgement of a single reporter. But in most circumstances, that reporter’s colleagues and editor wouldn’t simply hide when being asked about why this was appropriate.
For this and a surprising array of other reasons, the Botham Jean shooting was a low point for the 21st century Dallas Morning News — but not even necessarily the lowest. Other contenders include its publication of an op-ed in opposition to diversity by a local man who was discovered — by researchers outside of Dallas, of course — to be the man known as “Spectre,” host of a notorious white supremacist podcast. Even before this was revealed, forcing the News to disavow him, that anti-diversity screed which the paper’s op-ed editors found so compelling had been reprinted at the prominent “white nationalist” website American Renaissance. Separately, the article had been defended by other News staffers against allegations that a white guy who’s so bothered by diversity might well be a racist. He was also other things, as would be discovered from his alt-right alt-accounts. Perhaps more telling was the assortment of Tweets he was in the habit of posting under his own name, such as a remark to one woman reading, “I like what’s between your legs”. Other examples were published by my former editor at D Magazine, who’d had to deal with this ubiquitous local press fixture himself, and so tagged a post about his latest book with the phrase “Racists and Misogynists”. This was in 2012, some seven years before the News was forced to admit that this might not have been the right fellow to have covering the race relations beat or anything else.
There was also the time when then-Dallas Morning News editorial board member Jay Caruso — a former executive with Best Buy or Home Depot or one of the other big box outlets that don’t appear to be newspapers, but who qualified for the position by virtue of having friends at National Review- publicly argued that National Review contributor Kevin Williamson hadn’t actually made clear that he believed women who obtain abortions should be executed by hanging.
Other than writing like Dr. Doom had Dr. Doom worked as a mid-level exec for Home Depot and wore ball caps indoors (a sure mark of a scumbag), Caruso had a bit of a problem with honesty, libel, and cowardice; while still on the board, he accused me of somehow misrepresenting Williams even though I’d quoted the guy in full, which Williams didn’t even do in his own Washington Post op-ed about why he shouldn’t have been fired from the Atlantic for a quote he was suspiciously reluctant to actually quote but which he insisted didn’t say what all those lying liberals had said he’d said. Unfortunately, what he’d said had been recorded and broadcast by National Review itself: “Someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, ‘If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide.’ And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging.”
[Update: Caruso has replied below; I hesitate to even summarize what he says]
There was also that time when the News had to pull their endorsement of a candidate who turned out to have written a will disinheriting his children if they married outside the “white race”. Oops! This wasn’t in 1970, by the way; it was last year.
On another occasion, a local journalist was arrested by a SWAT team without any charges having been filed. Naturally the paper decided to improvise by telling the world that he’d “claimed responsibility… for the attacks on Visa and MasterCard…” That journalist was me. I was also depicted as having “claimed responsibility for taking down the Church of Scientology,” an exaggerated take on an incident in which I wasn’t involved in the least, and being “spokesman” for Anonymous, a falsehood they repeated for years, and which remained on their website until 2016 or so. Upon getting out, winning a Folio award for “Best Local Coverage,” and discovering how the paper had sabotaged my defense in a case that endangered press rights, I asked for a correction. Indeed, I asked seven times.
This was a bit naive on my part, since this is a paper whose managing editor gleefully attacked me over my story on their subservience to police in the Botham Jean shooting, because my editor and I had agreed to remove a portion that couldn’t be proven, wherein I’d noted that aside from a photo showing her mother in an “All Lives Matter” shirt…
… Guyger had also deleted one in which her brother-in-law flashes what looked to me and a couple other journalists (and my fellow ex-cons) like white supremacist gang signs…
… and naturally we’d been unable to ask the fellow for an alternate explanation since DPA president Mike Mata had told him not to talk to me, as he noted to my editor later on. Instead, Mata had them talk to… Jennifer Emily, who had already proven her reliability.
As I noted then, the alternate explanation — that it was Guyger’s fathers’ 69th birthday, and he was flashing “69” — does sound plausible, and so I was fine with removing that part from my article. I was less fine with Jennifer Emily not asking for evidence. I’ve since grown even less fine with it, now that we’ve seen the same reporter demand evidence that the black witness to a police shooting has received threats, after her paper reported claimed threats to Guyger as fact without asking for any evidence whatsoever, as we saw above — and especially given that this was the same reporter who publicly told her readers that the second bizarre explanation Guyger provided through a layer of police union officials and complicit Texas Rangers was “what happened”…
… and, like her colleagues and editors, have refused to explain why she said this despite some seven months of inquiries from readers, other journalists, black Dallas residents who are correctly suspicious of double standard… and who is probably wise to try to drop the issue, given how little sense it makes to attack the credibility of a witness to a murder on the grounds that she may not have reported those threats to the police department that tried to cover up that murder before smearing the victim over his possession of a small amount of marijuana — and whose own officer killed her neighbor in his apartment, provided two different contradictory accounts of why, and is still deemed credible by the Dallas Mornings News — if not by Dallas prosecutors, who have quietly begun dropping those cases in which Guyger was involved as the story that incompetent News staffers deemed factual continues to fall apart.
If you want an ethical city that works for its citizens, ignore the bullshit paper owned by its kleptocrats. Elect Scott Griggs for mayor and re-elect Philip Kingston to city council.