There were a couple of items that came across the transom yesterday while I was locked out from my main computer (my wife was doing grades for the final progress report of the year) and so I responded on Twitter, rather than here. The first example, an article by Ian Miles Cheong at The Post-Millennial, is the far more serious of the two. The second is a simple illustration that even conservative leaning journalists swim in a milieu that is our liberal culture and it is difficult not to reuse some of their biased phrasing when it is universally described that way. For all of my criticism of the mainstream media, conservative media has issues too.
Maybe I should give the guy a break. I mean he's Canadian.
In an otherwise interesting and important article highlighting potential juror misconduct in the police brutality case of Derrick Chauvin that resulted in the death of George Floyd, Cheong makes an accusation that his evidence doesn't support.
Juror #52, Brandon Mitchell, appeared on a morning show and encouraged people to serve on juries not because it is an important civic function or because we need to ensure fair trials, but "to spark some change." You can listen to the audio below.
Here’s the moment Juror #52 (Brandon Mitchell) from the Chauvin trial talks about jury duty as a means for societal change. pic.twitter.com/xewZitQXvq
— Janet (@janetburke27) May 2, 2021
Needless to say that sparking change isn't one of the roles of juries in this country. If Mitchell went into the jury selection process with that goal in mind, then he was less than honest when he told the judge that he could be an impartial juror. This admission, combined with an earlier interview with one of the alternate jurors in the same case where she said she feared rioting and/or being confronted at her home if the jury came back with the "wrong" verdict, provides some evidence that Chauvin may not have received a fair trial.
But this isn't the primary argument made in the Post-Millennial piece. Instead, Cheong weaves together a misread tweet by Fox 9 reporter Paul Blume and a photograph from Mitchell's Facebook page to accuse him of perjury during the voir dire process.
First the tweet:
Judge Cahill asked Juror #52, whether he heard anything about the #GeorgeFloyd civil case. He says, no. He explained hearing some basic info about trial dates, etc from the news in recent months, but nothing that would keep him from serving as impartial juror. #ChauvinTrial
— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) March 15, 2021
The key word to focus on here is "civil." Mitchell was asked if he had heard anything about the civil case, the lawsuit by Floyd's family against the city of Minneapolis. If you climb to the top of Blume's Twitter thread for that day, you can see that the civil case was on top of everyone's minds because just three days earlier, on March 12, the Friday before the trial started, the Minneapolis settled with Floyd's family for $27 million. That sort of admission by Minneapolis on the eve of the trial is certainly something that could sway jurors. Looking back, it's moderately shocking that the trial judge didn't reconsider his ruling to hold the trial in Minneapolis and move it elsewhere based on that announcement alone.
Cheong then moves onto a Facebook post by Mitchell's uncle, Travis, that featured this photo:
Cheong takes the image above, which obviously demonstrates, at a very minimum, cursory knowledge of Officer Derrick Chauvin's actions that day, with his answer during voir dire that he hadn't heard of the civil case, and concludes he's lying.
In a Facebook post dated August 31, 2020, Brandon Mitchell was pictured (seen below) wearing a shirt with the words “Get your knee off our necks” and “BLM,” which is short for Black Lives Matter. This would directly contradict his claim that he had no prior knowledge of the case.
But he never claimed he had no prior knowledge of the case. In fact, the next Tweet from Fox 9 reporter Paul Blume makes it clear he did know about the incident that resulted in Chauvin being on trial.
Juror #52 wrote in his jury questionnaire that he wondered why other police officers at the scene did not intervene in #GeorgeFloyd deadly arrest. He recognizes the historic nature of the case. Defense says he is an acceptable juror. So state's turn to question. #DerekChauvinTral
— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) March 15, 2021
In his jury questionnaire, Mitchell wondered why other officers at the scene did not intervene.
There's no contradiction between ignorance of the civil case and/or the $27 million settlement, and his obvious knowledge of the contents of the video of George Floyd's death.
It's been nearly 24 hours since I urged Cheong on Twitter to correct the record; he has not. These sorts of mistakes—ones that are easily identifiable on a close reading of the article—don't inspire confidence or trust in the author for other pieces he's written.
This is the worst problem for journalists regardless of their politics: A failure to honestly and forthrightly acknowledge mistakes. It's rampant no matter their politics, or the history and perceived prestige of their employer.
As I was reading a Daily Wire article over the weekend on the exodus of "woke" employees from software company Basecamp after the company directed employees to do politics on their own time, I came across this brief bit of background on "woke" tech deep in the story by Luke Rosiak.
In 2014, Mozilla’s co-founder and CEO was forced to step down when activists made an issue of political speech outside of work six years prior. In 2008, Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to a ballot initiative that banned gay marriage, an initiative that passed, meaning his position was not only mainstream but the majority position at the time.
I realize it's been more than a decade since Proposition 8 was on the ballot here in California. But describing it as "banning gay marriage" adopts the anti-Prop. 8 position that was championed by California's then-Secretary of State Jerry Brown. The petition that more than a million registered voters signed was titled simply "Limit on Marriage" and read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Prop. 8 supporters sued over Brown's phrasing, arguing that it was "inherently argumentative and highly likely to create prejudice."
Yes, functionally it banned gay marriage. It also banned bigamy and polygamy. While gay marriage supporters pooh-poohed that possibility at the time, lawsuits are continually being filed using the logic in Obergefell v. Hodges, to try to overturn state laws banning those practices.
I don't mean to criticize Rosiak over this characterization. I have been guilty of similar things in the past. I can still remember the fallout the day after President Bill Clinton's State of the Union address in 1999 or 2000 when we mischaracterized the GOP response as an "attack" or a similarly loaded term in the headline of that sidebar story. I was the guy most politically opposed to Clinton, and it never crossed my mind that that was not an accurate or fair description of the GOP response that night.
When so much of what you read, see and hear portrays reality in one fashion, it can be difficult to break out of that paradigm.
*UPDATE 5/7/2021* A comment I left on the Post Millennial story pointing out the error and linking to this post has been deleted from their website. Sadly, this sort of behavior is not uncommon at news media sites that still allow comments no matter what their political bent. Journalists are amongst the most thin-skinned people in the world.