Accuracy in Media

Because the Washington Post wants to obscure the basic reality of the situation, we believe that visitors to the nation’s capital should be warned that there is a crime emergency in effect, sparked by a sharp increase in homicides, and they are potential victims.

The fact is that white tourists are being injured and killed by roving black male gangs, who are even showing up in exclusive areas such as Georgetown where some rich reporters live behind iron gates. The Post, however, has a policy of deliberately keeping the public in the dark about the real nature of the problem.

In D.C., it appears, you’re not supposed to talk about the racial aspect of the problem. Black police chief Charles H. Ramsey temporarily reassigned a white police commander who warned residents to be aware of suspicious black people in a section of the city where a white man, a British citizen by the name of Alan Sennit, was murdered by having his throat slit by a group of black male thugs. Ramsey considered his comments racially offensive, even though they were true.

The commander, Andy Solberg, had said, “This is not a racial thing to say that black people are unusual in Georgetown.” Georgetown is the fancy and affluent area of the city that was described in a July 16 Post headline as “a virtually all-white enclave.” While Solberg was reassigned for drawing attention to the potential threat posed by groups of black males wandering through white areas of the city and killing people, Courtland Milloy of the Post in a July 12 column quoted Ramsey himself as saying that “Young black males, in groups of five to six, ages 13 to 15, are displaying handguns and beating their victims.”

When the black police chief says this kind of thing to a Post columnist, that’s apparently acceptable and newsworthy. But when a white police commander makes the same kind of statement at a community meeting, in order to warn the public at large and provide information that might help save their lives, that’s a punishable offense.

Solberg was reassigned for simply pointing out the basic truth that groups of black males wandering around Georgetown were a potential threat. Solberg identified the perpetrators of the brutal murder of Alan Sennit as black. The attackers, two of whom had criminal records, including drug offenses, also tried to rape Sennit’s female companion.

In an on-line discussion sponsored by the Post, one person said, “I’m a black male adult, and the statement that Solberg made to the audience might have been a politically incorrect statement to make, but I have to agree with what he said. It may be profiling, but the man is 100 percent correct in my opinion about the guys walking around in that section of Georgetown at 2:30 in the morning. They have a right to be there, but if I saw them, I would be on alert.”

Over at the Post, whose chairman Donald Graham is a former D.C. police officer, ombudsman Deborah Howell defended the paper’s policy of not reporting the racial characteristics of alleged criminals. While the Post did publish a photo of the alleged killers in the Sennit murder, she wrote, “The curiosity of readers about race is understandable, but, practically, what help is it to know that a suspect was black or mixed-race or a whiter shade of pale if there aren’t enough details to be able to identify a suspect and call the police? Or if it’s not pertinent to the crime. Will knowing the color of a person’s skin make you feel any safer?”

Post policy, she noted, is that “race and ethnic background?should be used in crime stories when we have enough specific identifying information to publish a police description of a suspect who is being sought.”

In other words, the fact that alleged criminals are black is not sufficient to warrant publication. Rather than let the readers decide what is important, the Post makes that decision for them, withholding information because it might stigmatize a certain minority group.

Howell is not a true “reader advocate.” She is an apologist for a politically correct policy at the paper that could cost lives. Maybe she’ll change her mind when she’s mugged.




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