In a Thursday item about urban gentrification at its "Upshot" blog which also appeared in its Friday print edition, Emily Badger at the New York Times took a gratuitous shot at Donald Trump over a mid-2016 statement which was true at the time — and, contrary to her insistence that it's now false, is still true.
Badger, as currently seen at the Times, has written that "Mr. Trump claimed during the (2016) campaign that the homicide rate in his new home in Washington rose by 50 percent, apparently citing the previous year’s crime statistics." Gee, that was because those stats were the latest available. But because it is 2017, and preliminary info for 2016 is now available, Badger originally wrote that Trump is wrong, because "In fact, it fell by 17 percent in 2016." Perhaps in reaction to being called out by the Weekly Standard's Ethan Epstein for trashing Trump for not having a crystal ball, the Times has stealth-edited Badger's related paragraph.
The Weekly Standard is where one now finds Badger's original "In fact, it fell by 17 percent in 2016" sentence, as the related portion of Badger's blather at the Times has been revised. Here is what Epstein captured (links are in originals throughout this post):
"Another end-of-year fact-check, while we're at it: Mr. Trump claimed during the campaign that the homicide rate in his new home in Washington rose by 50 percent. In fact, it fell by 17 percent in 2016," she wrote."
Note that Badger called it an "end-of-year fact-check."
Now let's back up. As Badger notes, Trump made his assertion during the campaign. Specifically, it appears, during the Republican convention, which occurred in July of 2016. As it happens, between 2014 and 2015, the murder rate in Washington did rise by 54 percent. In other words, the then-candidate was simply citing the most recently available data. That the murder rate ultimately fell in 2016 does not mean that something Trump said in the past was then false. Badger's "fact check" looks even worse when one takes into account the context of Trump's assertion. Here is what he said (emphasis mine):
Homicides last year increased by 17% in America's fifty largest cities. That's the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation's capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore.
It's clear, in other words, that he was referring to "last year's" statistics—those that were most recently available.
In his (Republican convention) address, Trump also noted that Barack Obama is president. After January 20, does that statement become a lie or does it merely reflect the reality as it was when he gave the address?
The relevant section at the Badger's piece at the Times now reads as follows:
(Another end-of-year reality check, while we’re at it: Mr. Trump claimed during the campaign that the homicide rate in his new home in Washington rose by 50 percent, apparently citing the previous year’s crime statistics. At the time, though, the rate in the city was already falling, and by year’s end, it was down by 17 percent.)
Trump wasn't "apparently" citing the previous year. He specifically cited the previous year, aka "last year." Badger's new statement introduces doubt where there is absolutely none.
"At the time," which was mid-July, the linked story at "already falling" in Badger's text reported that the murder count in DC was running 9 percent below the same period in 2015. With over 5 months remaining in 2016, it would have clearly been premature to forecast that the full-year rate would decline. That same linked story contains a statement from DC's mayor, in Trump derangement mode, claiming that what the candidate had done was "cherry-pick the numbers." 2015 was the most recent whole "cherry" available.
On the third business day of 2017, Badger told readers of the actual 17 percent drop in 2016, a figure which is still subject to revision if wounded victims die or police discover new victims who clearly died last year. But assuming it holds, a) it does nothing to render Trump's statement about 2015 false, and b) the 2016 result would still be about 28 percent higher than 2014 (a 17 percent drop from 1.54 works out to 1.278), and certainly nothing to crow about.
Finally note, since her "facts" have been blown up, that Badger's "end-of-year fact check" is now an "end-of-year reality check."
The only "reality" that I see is that of a seemingly Trump-deranged reporter who wrote a dishonest paragraph trying to cover her tracks dishonestly, who would rather die than admit that Donald Trump was completely right in this instance about what he said, when he said it — and a newspaper which doesn't have the integrity to tell its readers that it made a "correction" which still isn't correct.
This is apparently what the Times now considers "Real Journalism."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.