Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Birds of a Feather

The editorial writers of the Baltimore Sun decided early on that neither facts nor fairness could impede their view of what happened to Freddie Gray last year.  

They lauded State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her hasty criminal charges, despite the objective view of professionals who recognized the incompetence of her process.

They defended her every step of the way, even as her cases fell apart.  They thought it just fine to ruin the lives and careers of six police officers and threaten their freedom in order to "air out" facts that would have been better explored through proper use of a grand jury.  They failed, from beginning to end, to acknowledge the duty of a prosecutor to follow the facts and the law wherever they led, a failing they shared with Mosby.

And now, in today's editorial, they essentially call for Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to fire, as quickly as possible, the Baltimore Six. Here's why:

  • Three of them were honored by a right wing media group.  
  • All six caused Gray's death through their "callous" actions.  
I thought newspapers were supposed to be bastions for freedom of speech and association, but I guess that only applies to liberals.  Do I find the Media Research Center offensive?  Yes, I do.  Do I understand why the three attended?  Probably because their lives had been a living hell for more than a year.  Probably because they were driven towards a group that didn't hate them, as they had been hated for so long by so many.  

As for their responsibility for Gray's death, they were exonerated by Judge Barry Williams, who did not find evidence of misconduct let alone homicide.  The Sun doesn't know what Sgt. Alicia White did or didn't do, since she never came to trial.  But the Sun wants her fired, too, along with William Porter, who tried to assist Gray, and van driver Caesar Goodson, who checked on Gray multiple times.  None of these three were feted by the Media Research Center, but apparently don't deserve to be "patrolling the streets of Baltimore" either.  

If the Sun wants to take the position that the Police Department as an entity was callous, I get it. Police leaders could have ensured working cameras in vans, better restraint equipment and practices, and consistent enforcement of procedures.  Improvements like these always seem to get done after tragic accidents, hindsight over foresight.  One might also ask, where were the Sun's investigative reporters and crusading editors before Gray's death?  Why did they wait until he died to dig up evidence of inconsistent seat belt practices and defendants arriving injured at Central Booking? Because the media, like most of the world, is reactive, responding with reforms only after tragedies. But the media gets to act holier-than-thou, the first to seek out who to blame.  

The Sun demands its pound of flesh from these six even though the evidence was clear that they acted reasonably within the context of their training and actual experience. It could have been any officer acting that day with the same result.  Hurry up, the Sun demands of Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, even though outside police agencies are the ones investigating the officers.  It can't "fathom" what is left to investigate.

Neither could Mosby, when she sensationally announced her charges.  No wonder the Sun approved her actions.  The two make a perfect pair.  In their zeal for social justice, the "justice" part doesn't matter.

More Bad Journalism

Wil Hylton's article for the NY Times Magazine, referenced in the Sun's editorial, represents another example of bias disguised as journalism.  Entitled "Baltimore v. Marilyn Mosby" it could more appropriately be entitled, "Mosby's Lame Explanation Unchallenged."  Hylton hob-nobs with the Mosbys, so much so that they let themselves into his home and pour themselves some of his wine. Yet he purports to write a journalistic piece about Mosby's  decision to charge the Baltimore Six, treating us to a self-justifying Mosby narrative that blames police obstructionism for her actions. Even if true (which I doubt), Mosby had the grand jury at her disposal to properly investigate the case herself. 

Hylton's main disagreement with Mosby centers on Gray's injuries: he diagnosed Gray (from a video) as being injured before he got into the van.  Ironically,  the one point on which Mosby and all the experts seemed to agree upon is that the injury occurred inside the van.  But Hylton's personal, unscientific diagnosis led him to the same conclusions as Mosby - and his wholly sympathetic, uncritical treatment of her.

Disclosure:  Hylton called me while working on the piece. He didn't use a thing I said, other than that the attrition rate from Mosby's office is high.  But he did leave a clue as to how he writes.  When I was trying hard to stick to facts and statements that I could support, he told me not to worry, that the standards for magazine pieces were looser. 

And so he delivered a lazy, chummy piece gobbled up by those with the same point of view as Hylton. But the real Mosby shone through anyway, exposing the same arrogance and temperament we saw when Mosby ranted after dropping her cases. A Mosby who, during the riots that followed Gray's death, called up, reamed out, and hung up on Baltimore's mayor.

But Dan Rodricks tells that part of it better.  Check it out


  1. Right on, Ms. Page! There is a major failure to communicate between the Sun's editors and its own reporters, like Justin Fenton, Justin George, Kevin Rector, and so on, who know what's happening on the lethal streets of Baltimore. Marilyn Mosby has entered Full Meltdown Mode--the tough thing is that she'll be State's Attorney until at least the end of 2018. By that time she'll be so paranoid that she'll be arriving at her offices in an armored car. The upside of the Wil Hylton profile is that Marilyn outed herself to him as emotional, unstable, and utterly out of her depth.

    I was disturbed by one other story today, the disciplinary finding against Officer Alice Carson-Johnson, a 19-year veteran, for the egregious offense of failing to attend a meeting with Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe, one of the leading prosecutors of the Freddie Gray Six. Carson-Johnson testified at her hearing that she'd expected to be meeting with young John Butler, one of the junior members of Bledsoe's team. When Carson-Johnson learned from Butler that Bledsoe would be taking his place, she felt "uncomfortable," and didn't show up. If Carson-Johnson suspected Bledsoe of being out for the blood of another Baltimore City police officer, she was entirely justified. I know of a junior prosecutor who resigned from the State's Attorney's Office last year when Bledsoe threatened her with the grand jury, for doing the right thing. Samantha Mildenberg testified this past July in the trial of Molly Webb, a former prosecutor accused of helping her police officer boyfriend to collect overtime pay for a day when she and her boyfriend went out of town. Webb brought Mildenberg some police overtime slips she wanted Mildenberg to sign. Mildenberg declined to do so, and reported the incident to her own superior in the State's Attorney's Office. Under cross-examination, Mildenberg testified that, when Webb first approached her, Mildenberg thought "Jan Bledsoe is going to drop from the ceiling, and say, 'You signed a slip!' I had no idea what this administration was capable of." When Webb brought the overtime slips to her, Mildenberg said, she thought she was being "set up." After properly bringing the solicitation to the attention of her supervisor, Mildenberg was rewarded with a confrontation with police Internal Affairs investigators--and with Bledsoe. Bledsoe threatened to take her to the grand jury, "and embarrass me." "That was the nail in the coffin," Mildenberg said, as far as her willingness to work for Marilyn Mosby was concerned. She has since found another job as an assistant state's attorney--in Anne Arundel County. I should hasten to add that Webb was acquitted by Judge Dennis Sweeney in a trial without a jury. The whole affair draws yet more attention to the incompetence and vindictiveness of the Mosby regime.

  2. No other evidence is needed beyond this editorial to prove the sun--they don't deserve upper case--is the biased opposite of what a newspaper following journalistic standards should be...just disgraceful.

  3. "Do I find the Media Research Center offensive? Yes, I do."
    Why do you find this organization offensive? Most people in this country have never heard of MRC? I googled the org. I checked out the company's website. I saw nothing offensive. Maybe not your cup of tea politically. But offensive? If the site is offensive, then what of the people that read the site? Are they offensive too?

  4. Oh Page,
    Mosby says,
    " I’ll sit in the courtroom and make sure that the jury sees me and that you get the maximum sentence,” she told me"

  5. "To my mind, the more troubling aspect of the trials is the litany of small, strange choices that aggregated until you had to wonder what prosecutors were thinking. For example, in Maryland, a criminal defendant has the right to decide whether he wants to face a judge or a jury. When a police officer is charged with a criminal offense, she enjoys the same basic rights. Pretty much anyone in Baltimore can tell you that a cop will get more sympathy from the average judge than the average jury, so it was no surprise when most of the officers asked for a bench trial. Except that it did appear to bother Mosby, who has insisted that the officers shouldn’t be allowed to make that choice. Mosby told me she believes that the right to a trial by jury is so basic to the American system that the defense and the prosecution should have to agree before it can be waived. That’s how the system works in federal court and some other states. If the Freddie Gray case had taken place in Atlanta, for example, a prosecutor could have forced the police officers to face a jury. As it happened, the trials took place in Baltimore."


    Page you have to read this and please write an article.

  6. Page,
    I left you a link to the NY times re: Mosby.
    Please, I am begging you to write about it. Please and thank you. Everyone is wrong but Mosby according to Mosby.

    By the way, when you do write about it, you should submit it to newspapers also.

    Thank you!