NPR puts accuracy disclaimer on cop shooting story: ‘Facts reported … may later turn out to be wrong’

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NPR tried to preempt itself from future criticism by including a bizarre disclaimer on a widely disingenuous report it published about the shooting death of Ma’Khia Bryant that’s now being protested by activists.

Following the shooting Tuesday of Bryant, a 16-year-old Ohio girl who was fired upon by an officer when she allegedly tried to stab another girl, NPR published a write-up that included a warning that some of the “facts” contained in the story might be ‘wrong.”

This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops,” the stunning warning read.

The outlet’s original report did not mention the bodycam footage.

The story was subsequently updated once on Wednesday. As of Thursday morning, the actual story appeared accurate, though there were some issues.

For one, the lede was buried.

“A 16-year-old Black girl was fatally shot by an officer outside her home after she called the police for help on Tuesday afternoon, according to her family,” the piece began.

Not until the eighth paragraph did NPR mention that Bryant had been wielding a knife. And even then, the reporting was stunningly vague.

Instead of describing in its own words how Bryant had been wielding a knife, the outlet framed the observation in the words of Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods.

Woods said the [bodycam] video shows Bryant holding a knife as she pushes two girls. He said police believe she is attempting to stab both girls during the fight,” NPR reported.

Yet by the time NPR updated its piece Wednesday, the bodycam footage had already been released and gone viral on social media. So why did the network not just describe the video itself?

Later in the piece, NPR finally used its own words to describe some of what had transpired, yet its description seemed highly disingenuous.

As the officer approaches her, a knife can be seen close to her,” the outlet reported.

Not mentioned by NPR was the fact that the knife was “close to her” because she was literally holding it in her hand.

As for its disclaimer, NPR later issued a statement to Shelby Talcott of The Daily Caller claiming that it’s been applying a disclaimer to breaking news stories since 2016.

“NPR has added disclaimer language to developing stories since June of 2016 during the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We believe responsible news outlets should acknowledge that reports can change as stories develop and more facts become known,” a spokesperson told Talcott.

“We are thinking of our audience: we want readers to know they’re getting the best information we have at the time & that it will continue to be updated as more facts are gathered. This note is even more important now when people are inundated with information from so many sources.”

When the disclaimer was used in a Google search, 39 results popped up:

(Source: Google search results)

The network also faced criticism for the headline it used to share its story on Twitter.

“Police Released Edited Video Of Officer Shooting 16-Year-Old Black Girl,” the stunning headline read.

The headline provoked accusations that the outlet was peddling “divisive misinformation.”

Look:

NPR’s behavior fits with an invariable pattern of mainstream media outlets apparently trying to frame everything to fit a preconceived narrative, namely that all police officers are vile racists and all minorities fatally shot by the police are the victims of racism.

But the media’s disingenuous framing isn’t always so obvious as it was in the case of NPR. Over at NBC, the bias was injected so subtly that most people didn’t even notice it.

Observe (*Graphic content):

Now compare NBC’s report to CBS News’s report:

This sort of deceptive reporting matters because it has real-world consequences, including protests — and sometimes riots — based on falsehoods.

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Vivek Saxena

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