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NYT: Planned Parenthood shooter “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts”

Not such a gentle man
Not such a gentle man

Here’s a question that would seem to have a simple, obvious answer: When is it ok to describe an alleged multiple murderer with a history of violence as a “gentle” man?

The correct answer is of course “never,” but the New York Times managed to get this question wrong in a profile of alleged Planned Parenthood killer Robert Lewis Dear over the weekend.

Here’s the opening of the story, preserved for posterity by journalist Jack Mirkinson:

Yep. A “a gentle loner,” except for all that violence and murdering. It’s a bit like calling someone a “Good Samaritan — who sometimes throws babies into traffic.”

After assorted folks on Twitter pointed out that “gentle” was perhaps not such a good adjective, describing-an-alleged-violent-murderer-wise, the editors quietly removed “gentle,” ultimately replacing it with “itinerant.”

But as Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) points out, this was not the only way in which the Times seemed to be weirdly giving a pass to Dear. Times writer Richard Faucett managed to work some strangely exculpatory descriptions of Dear into a profile of the shooter, as remembered by his ex-wife.

As Naureckas notes, we find the word “gentle” once again applied to a man who was, by all accounts, anything but gentle.

She recalled a big man, well-groomed, gentle and pleasant, but not much for chitchat.

The original headline to the piece,

Ex-Wife Recalls Colorado Gunman as Imperfect but a Good Man

And then there was this bit, echoing one of the standard ways in which people try to excuse domestic violence:

Mr. Dear could be angry at times, she said, sometimes angry with her. But he was the kind who usually followed a flash of anger with an apology.

Yeah, because THAT’S HOW ABUSE WORKS. Phony remorse is one of the primary ways abusers hold onto those they abuse. Hell, it’s one of the freaking stages in the Cycle of Violence:

Cycle-of-ViolenceWhile the Times has changed the headline of this piece, the rest of this language remains in the story, unchanged.

Naureckas makes the obvious but necessary point:

Needless to say, the New York Times is not in the habit of going to the family members of people accused of committing terror in the name of Islam and reprinting their fond recollections. Nor is that the treatment given to African-American men accused of killing cops. In fact, African-Americans killed by cops are more likely to get the “he’s no angel” treatment from the cops.

Yep.

 

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ColeYote
ColeYote
5 years ago

Goddammit, New York Times, you’re a real journalism, you should know better!

Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist

Yeah, “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts” is a contradiction in terms.

Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

White people committing murder, are drug dealers, etc= Adorable, misguided, good loners who only needed hugs and mental help.
Everyone else= thugs, terrorists, war on Christians and white people!

More evidence
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/01/when-white-girls-deal-drugs-they-walk.html

idledillettante
5 years ago

The times went to print way before they got the facts in. A subsequent article by the times shows that Dear was anything but “gentle”, he was a philandering abuser:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/us/robert-dear-planned-parenthood-shooting.html?_r=0

katz
katz
5 years ago

With notably rare exceptions, Dear was a gentle person.

Judas Peckerwood
Judas Peckerwood
5 years ago

@ColeYote — “Goddammit, New York Times, you’re a real journalism, you should know better!”

Unfortunately, the Times has been living off its reputation for years and is a mere shadow of it former journalistic self. The best one can say is that at least they haven’t fallen as far as The Washington Post.

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
5 years ago

Oh good, now that Dear has been established as a gentle person when not being violent, he should be put to death. There’s no question that he killed 3 people, why bother with the delay of a trial? So what if that’s not how the justice system is supposed to work, what his childhood was like, why he had no friends and his relationships with women failed is irrelevant to the fact that he murdered three people and that’s a death penalty offense.

*snorks* Yeah, dear is totally a gentle person…when not MURDERING three people or being otherwise violent.

Josh Hayes
Josh Hayes
5 years ago

A friend of mine notes that the same paper described the murdered Freddie Gray as “the son of an illiterate heroin addict”. Gentle? Who gives a crap: he’s obviously got BAD GENES.

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

This reminds me of the many people commenting that they’re “glad he killed those people at Planned Parenthood because every life is sacred.”

That headline… I can’t even…

Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

“glad he killed those people at Planned Parenthood because every life is sacred.”
http://m.quickmeme.com/img/c3/c3f2c13ca2e4dcfa551ce8e502c1f88a49e3e759e345fa71979a627cc107ea11.jpg

Judas Peckerwood
Judas Peckerwood
5 years ago

@Josh Hayes — “A friend of mine notes that the same paper described the murdered Freddie Gray as ‘the son of an illiterate heroin addict’”.

That was actually in an article published yesterday by CNN, another paragon of journalistic virtue.

bluecatbabe
bluecatbabe
5 years ago

Even the most phenomenally violent person could not be violent the whole time. I mean, they must have been “gentle” when they were asleep, at least, and probably also while drinking a hot cup of coffee or eating linguine.

How odd the expectations. We have a white guy be seriously, fatally violent to 3 people and life-changingly violent to 9 people at least once, and serially violent or abusive quite a few other times that didn’t make the papers. But he gets those times that he was gentle memorialised in print.

Whereas… just random example, y’know… a black teen who gets killed walking outdoors gets remembered for some photo put on Facebook of himself making peace signs – I mean, gangsters use peace signs, don’t they?

I’d bet that if you asked the folks at NY Times what they were thinking they’d say something about “balance” or “a rounded picture.”

Yeah, he was lovely, except when he wasn’t.

Orion
5 years ago

David,

are Richard Fausset and Richard Faucett different people?

newbie
newbie
5 years ago

For anyone who believes that NYT is the real journalism, two words: Judith Miller. For example.

reymohammed
reymohammed
5 years ago

And Carly Fiorina inspired him with her false theatrics about “baby parts”. But the facts are as follows:

What Ms. Fiorina described as a “baby” being cut up for “parts” was an expiring four-month fetus, the product of a miscarriage, whose few postnatal moments of biological process (he never breathed) were posted on facebook by his parents. The pictures themselves were sickening: a tiny, vaguely human form with sealed eyes, no functional lungs, and… as yet… no skin, which they forced one of their living children to hold for the photos. As if such a terrible and pathetic exposure, and such a trauma inflicted on a child, were not hideous enough, when these images were appropriated by the “documentary” and given a dubbed voiceover, “Walter’s” parents consented to the fait accompli, because they believed in the “pro-life” cause… of inciting the murder of living adults and the orphaning of living children.

Dan Kasteray
Dan Kasteray
5 years ago

I remember in the movie Men in Black they mocked the new York times as a lousy source of journalism. I didn’t believe them until now

Regulus Arcturus Black
Regulus Arcturus Black
5 years ago

Reminds me of the song “Hitler Was A Sensitive Man” by Anal Cunt.

newbie
newbie
5 years ago

What we see here is the typical trivialization of domestic violence and violence against women in general.

Dear physically assaulted and raped one woman, and physically assaulted two others (his wives). Never paid for it in meaningful ways. And he is described as a decent man on top of that.

If his previous victims were men, we’d likely not see his violent past so easily disregarded.

Cerberus
Cerberus
5 years ago

Wow, that really serves as a nice punctuation to how white terrorists are treated versus even victims of color. Oh, are you an abusive, animal abusing, murdering fuck with a control streak a mile wide who wants to make women scared of you and scared of getting health care? Oh, so gentle, misunderstood, tortured, boy next door.

Are you a kid of color who someone decided to snuff out? Well, I heard someone muse that you could have theoretically smoked a joint once, so clearly you deserved to die.

It’s like the best night and day demonstration of how white terrorists are supported and excused and white terrorism is reinforced by a society that condones their actions and condemns their victims.

ljy2008
5 years ago

This just reiterates to me that sociological studies should be a fundamental part of journalism degrees. Many journalists have a startling lack of understanding of the underlying causes of certain issues in society, and for their contribution to the status quo mentality.

suffrajitsu
suffrajitsu
5 years ago

Meanwhile on CNN, Freddie Gray is identified as “the son of an illiterate heroin addict.”

suffrajitsu
suffrajitsu
5 years ago

Gah, I somehow missed Josh Hayes and Judas Peckerwood!

amandajane5
amandajane5
5 years ago

He only assaulted his wives! How very gentle of him! What a sweetheart, that’s an indicator of his deep love for women, no?

Tessa
Tessa
5 years ago

a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts towards neighbors and women he knew.

So how often did these occasional unleashing of violence happen? “He was totally gentle except for all those times he’d attack people.” How was that allowed to be published?? Much less put into the opening paragraph.

Tessa
Tessa
5 years ago

Gah! Mammothed… And I saw the lack of / in the second tag immediately after I clicked “Post comment”

a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts towards neighbors and women he knew.

So how often did these occasional unleashing of violence happen? “He was totally gentle except for all those times he’d attack people.” How was that allowed to be published?? Much less put into the opening paragraph.

Catalpa
Catalpa
5 years ago

Criminy, what other kinds of taglines does this guy write?

“He was a stalwart vegan who occasionally had giant meals of steak, turducken, and whole roast pig.”
“He was a celibate man who only occasionally partook in mass orgies.”
“He was a comitted firefighter who occasionally committed arson.”
“He was a devout Christian who occasionally sacrificed goats to the Dark Lord Beelzebub.”

Those all make more fucking sense than calling a mass murderer a ‘gentle man’.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
5 years ago

Would they print “he was a violent man, who enjoyed petting kittens”? Clearly not, since that’s both absurd and leading with the violent part primes you to ignore the kittens (side note: never ignore kittens)… so instead they lead with gentle and go all I PRIME YOUR BRAINZZZ with that so the impact of the “violent acts” part of the sentence is lessened.

Advertising loves that shit, seeing NYT highlight it like that… smh

Tangentially, this is why ads for pads and tampons open on women in meadows and such — you like meadows, you’ll like the thing we are selling. Forget that things like absorbency and comfort are the actual product selling points.

So yeah, I’m not buying for a second that this wasn’t intentional.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
5 years ago

“He was a comitted firefighter who occasionally committed arson.”

Considering that this happens more than most people think, that one they probably would. It’s like munchaussians by proxy for firefighters — set fire, stop fire, HERO!!

raysa
raysa
5 years ago

Here is what I hear:

Sure, what dear did was uncalled for, BUT………………………
PP shouldn’t have been selling baby parts and murdering babies and servicing slutty, nasty, disgusting, easy women………

This was my husband’s summary of Fiorna on our local news this morning. Thankfully, I was asleep at the time.

Doesn’t matter that the selling of baby parts was totally made up. She is still saying it. She has blood on her hands.

And I think this whole thing, and incidents like it, is leading up to “well, we have to outlaw abortion for the safety of everyone because all that baby murder makes completely gentle, nice, loving people commit murders that they otherwise wouldn’t commit.”

freddymurray
freddymurray
5 years ago

Yeah, gentle… like the Fixer from “Holy Terror.”

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
5 years ago

@Argenti Aertheri

Those meadow scenes do nothing to lessen the slight urge to commit mayhem I get each month when I buy a box of things that are damn expensive when you add up how much one spends on such necessities because, *woman*. Not only do they get us with clothing prices and whatever one uses for skincare and cosmetics, they have to make those pink razors more expensive and the cherry on top is that we have to buy ourselves a monthly box or two of blood absorption devices for oh…roughly 40 years. Makes this Katie want to run rampaging in the feminine care product aisle throwing things off the shelves and screaming like a completely unhinged feeeeeeeeeemale. I refuse to buy anything but the brand I like unless I’m literally bleeding on clothing with no alternatives and the only store for 10000s of miles doesn’t have that brand – why not when I’m the one paying for them at a not-insignificant price.

@raysa

Maybe she should find a different brand or quit using her hands every month? 😉 I bet she’s not terribly convinced by those commercials with meadow scenes either.

lkeke35
5 years ago

Catalpa: The irony? All those examples really do make more sense than what the NYT wrote about Dear.

katz
katz
5 years ago

Those meadow scenes do nothing to lessen the slight urge to commit mayhem I get each month when I buy a box of things that are damn expensive when you add up how much one spends on such necessities because, *woman*.

I tried the depo shot and never looked back.

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

And I think this whole thing, and incidents like it, is leading up to “well, we have to outlaw abortion for the safety of everyone because all that baby murder makes completely gentle, nice, loving people commit murders that they otherwise wouldn’t commit.”

Oh my goddess. You’re right. That’s it, I quit the world.

http://petenelson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/rage-quit.gif

A Land Whale
A Land Whale
5 years ago

It would only be news if the NYT were actually on point with something…..

kfreed
kfreed
5 years ago

“a gentle loner” – baloney.

JudgyBitch:

“Censorship for thee, but not for me: the feminist battle cry”

December 1, 2015 By Janet Bloomfield (aka JudgyBitch)

“The recent shooting at the Colorado Springs abortion facility Planned Parenthood has left feminists wailing and stamping their feet with typical, toddler-esque demands that reflect their principle concept of reality: make the bad people go away, Daddy! My purpose today is not to discuss abortion or vigilante justice or what constitutes a person, but rather to examine the feminist reaction to the shooting.”

The “feminist” reaction to the shooting… by which she means the reaction of normal people everywhere. It’s past time to cut the crap. And so-called “progressives” need to get their heads out and stop rubbing elbows with Libertarian wingnuts:

My comment at Bloomfield’s hate blog. The left needs to see it as well:

Bloomfield, you are one sick puppy:

“The New, Ugly Surge in Violence and Threats Against Abortion Providers-
The deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic is part of a disturbing trend.”
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/violence-abortion-clinics-planned-parenthood-colorado-springs-shooting

Normal people refer to what you and your Tea Party cohorts are doing as domestic terrorism… which has absolutely nothing to do with feminism.

It’s yet another instance of right-wing Tea Party douchenozzles justifying murderous violence against those who oppose them politically. That’s all: http://csgv.org/issues/guns-democracy-freedo/insurrectionism-timeline/

End game: terrorize, win: “Senate Republicans launching bid to repeal ObamaCare, defund Planned Parenthood” (based on those same edited videos): http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/12/01/senate-republicans-launching-bid-to-repeal-obamacare-defund-planned-parenthood.html

On the Libertarian Party Platform: target Planned Parenthood: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/koch-brothers

“Suspect in Planned Parenthood attack said ‘no more baby parts’ after arrest”
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/29/suspect-in-planned-parenthood-attack-said-no-more-baby-parts-after-arrest

Based on an edited video produced by… you guessed it, another right-wing anti-women hate group masquerading as “pro-life”:
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/255004-lets-be-honest-about-the-dishonest-attack-on-planned-parenthood

It’s not about concern for zygotes, it’s the usual GOP Tea Party politics instigating and condoning hate and violence against political opponents.
On the bright side, you’ve been outed as a sociopathic Tea Party wingnut not at all concerned with men’s rights or anyone’s for that matter. Congrats. It looks like your abusive tactics, not censorship, got you booted from Twitter: https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/01/01/janet-judgybitch-bloomfield-tries-to-lie-her-way-out-of-a-twitter-suspension-heres-proof-of-her-targeted-abuse/

In your world, rape survivors are “whores” according to your Twitter feed. Speaking of “whores,” Bloomfield… whose are you? Your fundie undies are showing, by the way: Ted Crua and Rand Paul demonizing women and reproductive rights for “Hod”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q3fyBC4HFo

End comment at JudgyBitch.

Liberals need to wrap their brains around the fact that Libertarians are not the “socially liberal” bunch they claim to be: “Rebels with a far right cause”
“a gentle loner” – baloney.

Judgybitch:

“Censorship for thee, but not for me: the feminist battle cry”

December 1, 2015 By Janet Bloomfield (aka JudgyBitch)

“The recent shooting at the Colorado Springs abortion facility Planned Parenthood has left feminists wailing and stamping their feet with typical, toddler-esque demands that reflect their principle concept of reality: make the bad people go away, Daddy! My purpose today is not to discuss abortion or vigilante justice or what constitutes a person, but rather to examine the feminist reaction to the shooting.”

The “feminist” reaction to the shooting… by which she means the reaction of normal people everywhere. It’s past time to cut the crap. And so-called “progressives” need to get their heads out and stop rubbing elbows with Libertarian wingnuts:

My comment at Bloomfield’s hate blog. The left needs to see it as well:

Bloomfield, you are one sick puppy:

“The New, Ugly Surge in Violence and Threats Against Abortion Providers-
The deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic is part of a disturbing trend.”
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/violence-abortion-clinics-planned-parenthood-colorado-springs-shooting

Normal people refer to what you and your Tea Party cohorts are doing as domestic terrorism… which has absolutely nothing to do with feminism.

It’s yet another instance of right-wing Tea Party douchenozzles justifying murderous violence against those who oppose them politically. That’s all: http://csgv.org/issues/guns-democracy-freedo/insurrectionism-timeline/

End game: terrorize, win: “Senate Republicans launching bid to repeal ObamaCare, defund Planned Parenthood” (based on those same edited videos): http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/12/01/senate-republicans-launching-bid-to-repeal-obamacare-defund-planned-parenthood.html

On the Libertarian Party Platform: target Planned Parenthood: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/koch-brothers

“Suspect in Planned Parenthood attack said ‘no more baby parts’ after arrest”
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/29/suspect-in-planned-parenthood-attack-said-no-more-baby-parts-after-arrest

Based on an edited video produced by… you guessed it, another right-wing anti-women hate group masquerading as “pro-life”:
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/255004-lets-be-honest-about-the-dishonest-attack-on-planned-parenthood

It’s not about concern for zygotes, it’s the usual GOP Tea Party politics instigating and condoning hate and violence against political opponents.
On the bright side, you’ve been outed as a sociopathic Tea Party wingnut not at all concerned with men’s rights or anyone’s for that matter. Congrats. It looks like your abusive tactics, not censorship, got you booted from Twitter: https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/01/01/janet-judgybitch-bloomfield-tries-to-lie-her-way-out-of-a-twitter-suspension-heres-proof-of-her-targeted-abuse/

In your world, rape survivors are “whores” according to your Twitter feed. Speaking of “whores,” Bloomfield… whose are you? Your fundie undies are showing, by the way: Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on the anti-women bandwagon for “God”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q3fyBC4HFo

End comment.

mildlymagnificent
mildlymagnificent
5 years ago

Mentioned this to mrmagnificent.

We’ve concluded that Joan Sutherland was a very quiet person who only sang when she was on stage.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

Good, I was hoping David would cover this clusterfuck, considering the abuse apologia and sanctification of abusers reminded me of the way the media reports white men committing crimes basically always. After all, aren’t misogynistic school shooters just “troubled youth?”

When I first read the headline, I couldn’t decide whether my flabber was gasted or whether the course was par for. With major newspapers in such a sorry state, no wonder I’ve gotten very interested in the topic of journalistic integrity lately.

@katz

Ahaha, that comment thread was hilarious. And the blog reminds me to think about the possibility of starting my own blog sometimes in the near future perhaps. By the way, with notably rare exceptions, I never procrastinate.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

Won’t anyone think of all those times when Marie Curie wasn’t discovering things? Or when Alexander of Macedon wasn’t conquering places? They were massively maligned people too.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

@EJ

Now that you mention it, all this reminds me of an old Finnish comic strip joke about a fairly dimwitted character who had finished a job assignment and was getting his verification of employment from his employer. Upon reading it, the main character exclaims angrily: “What is this supposed to mean? ‘Occasionally, the employee has been doing stupid things’? Why, it should be quite the opposite!” The employer then agrees and proceeds to revise the letter. Proudly, the main character brings the letter home to show to his wife, who reads the corrected version: “Occasionally, the employee has not been doing stupid things.”

Garen Truscott
5 years ago

Apart from all the killing and violence, he was a gentle man.

Tyra Lith
Tyra Lith
5 years ago

Not sure where else to post this, so I’ll just leave it here:
In other “news”: http://www.salon.com/2015/11/25/it_officially_sucks_to_be_female_on_the_internet_95_percent_of_online_abuse_is_aimed_at_women/

Who’s surprised?

Holytape
5 years ago

You see he was a white middle-age male shooter and therefor ‘gentle’, as opposed to unarmed black teen who would be an obvious ‘thug’.

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

@Tyra Lith – There are already a bunch of people in the comments section denying that the statistic is accurate, arguing for free speech, and claiming that disagreeing with someone is not violence. Because of course they are.

Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
5 years ago

Once again the NYT goes to bat for a violent man. My introduction to this phenomenon was a story describing the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl by 18 boys and men in Cleveland, Texas. The author focused on the impact on the rapists and threw the victim under the bus. There was so much backlash that the public editor wrote about it.

What sealed it for me was the decision to give Woody Allen space on their opinion pages to refute Dylan Farrow’s article about her molestation by him.

@kfreed

Good for you.

mockingbird
mockingbird
5 years ago

Whereas… just random example, y’know… a black teen who gets killed walking outdoors gets remembered for some photo put on Facebook of himself making peace signs – I mean, gangsters use peace signs, don’t they?

Was he also wearing a hoodie?
Or baggy clothes?
He could have been hiding anything in there!
Who knows what he may have been up to.

Better safe than sorry, amirite?

/s

mockingbird
mockingbird
5 years ago

Dear physically assaulted and raped one woman, and physically assaulted two others (his wives).

Oh, come now – I’m sure they did something to provoke him.

You know women.

/s

bluecatbabe
bluecatbabe
5 years ago

“Who knows what he may have been up to?”

Public flaunting of a darker skin tone?

God, it really isn’t funny. This is the bitter laughter of despair. 🙁

Oh well… storytelling tonight and silly hats will be worn.

JoeB
JoeB
5 years ago

While I’m always tempted to say “journalism is dead” at stories like this, knowing the history of it, there was no golden age of fair, responsible journalism, at it’s best it’s had massive blindspots in it’s ethics.