Daily Blog Buzz: Murder by Numbers
1:15 PM, Jan 15, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
On Sunday, the New York Times printed a massive front-page story about a supposedly alarming homicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan vets. The Times reported 121 cases of homicide or homicide charges and attributed them to post-traumatic stress disorder--presumably an attempt at making another case for ending the war, if we know anything about the Times's editors.
Unfortunately, the paper misreported the facts they had and left out key statistics--most importantly, a comparison of the vets' homicide rate to that of the general population--and they were quickly caught.
Yesterday, WEEKLY STANDARD contributing editor John J. DiIulio Jr. proved the Times's "wacko-vet myth" to be just that--a myth. Read it at the DAILY STANDARD. With a little investigation and some high-school math, he found that the homicide rate among vets is exceedingly lower than the general population--a detail the Times reporters missed. Pro-troop group Move America Forward and Winds of Change blogger Mark Danziger also did some math and came to the same conclusion.
As Goldfarb said here yesterday, it "makes you wonder why they ran the piece at all. Well, actually, we know why--Bush lied and people died, or came home and murdered other people. At least that's the story the Times is peddling."
Blackfive rounds up bloggers' investigations and remarks, "Sloppy work or intentionally malicious, either way the NYTimes has made a mistake...again." And John Hinderaker has an amusing suggestion for the Times's editors.
Phillip Carter at Intel Dump explains how this might have been done: "So, basically, the reporters went trolling on Lexis-Nexis and other databases to find 'murder' within the same paragraph as 'veteran' or 'soldier,' and built a front-page story around that research...And then it looks like they cherry-picked the best anecdotes out of that research (including the ones where they could get interviews and photos) to craft a narrative which fit the data. "
Of course, some bloggers are still under the Times's antiwar spell, regardless of how egregious the paper's reporting may be.