This Politico story finishes solidly, but man does it ever start off badly. I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything different, but the newspapers’ obsession with an imagined era of dispassionate objectivity is now less charmingly eccentric than it is indicative of a distressing disconnection from the fundamental nature of reality. Anyway, Ezra’s take is both smarter and, hopefully, will allow those truth-and-justice-believin-in newspapermen a way to mentally sidestep the dreaded question of partisanship.
In other MSM-bashing news: man, I had a hard time writing the morning roundup today. The latest details from the UVA lacrosse player murder were clearly one of the day’s most prominent stories, and I found myself trying to thread the slim gap between condemning the coverage and failing to condemn the murderer.
To be clear: Huguely, having reportedly confessed to the crime, can’t be considered anything other than a monster. But I can’t help but recoil at the way the Post’s editors handled this story. I mean, take a look at this. It’s cartoonish. If you read the story it’s clear that the reporters were unable to turn up any really damning quotes about Huguely from anyone who actually knew him or his victim. So instead they hang their case for his obvious villainy on a drunken run-in with the cops where he seems to have mouthed off, then engaged in some violent behavior before or in the course of getting tasered. That’s not the mark of a model citizen by any measure, but it’s also not an outrageously unusual thing to find on a fraternity member and varsity athlete’s resume.
The story goes to even more ridiculous lengths, actually underscoring in the text the disparity between the victim’s lovely class photo and Huguely’s bedraggled mug shot.
I’m not at all anxious to rehabilitate the image of a murderer. But I do think the Post is doing everyone a disservice by playing up this guy as some sort of transparent villain, skulking through the UVA campus until his dark and brutal nature finally, inevitably, claimed a victim. That sort of laughable oversimplification doesn’t help anyone except those who enjoy clucking their tongues and patting themselves on the back — as if they don’t know anyone who could ever perpetrate or fall victim to domestic abuse.
Far more useful would have been an effort to tell the story that seems to be implied by the scant quotes people who actually knew the couple: that all too often people fail to anticipate these tragedies before they occur. Unfortunately, even monstrous human beings rarely appear to be the sort of villainous caricatures that sell newspapers. It’s worth taking that idea seriously more seriously than the Post did.