With facts and statistics staring down the New York Post's attempted defenses of the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk agenda, the Post has been forced to resort to purely emotional appeals in their attempt to maintain public support for the policy.
Over the past few months, the New York Post has published several news pieces dedicated to interrogating the friends and family members of recent New York City shooting victims. Each story features someone emotionally close to the case speculating about whether ramping up the New York Police Department's controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy could have saved their loved ones' lives. Meanwhile, the Post's editorial page has been littered with hyperbole and graphic imagery -- fear mongering designed to scare readers into believing that ending stop-and-frisk will result in “more blood in the streets.”
Several recent interviews in the news section of the New York Post have followed the above theme. Given the unconditional support for stop-and-frisk expressed by the Post's editors over past months, it's difficult to view these stories as anything more than an effort to exploit the raw emotions of their subjects in order to push the paper's political objectives in a “straight news” format. One example, from the New York Post on July 19, was an interview with a mother whose teenage son was shot and killed in July:
The grieving mother of a 15-year-old student who was shot in the head and died last week told The Post police should stop and frisk every person on the streets in order to stem increasing gun violence.
“My son is gone because of an illegal gun on the street,” said Natasha Christopher, whose eldest son, Akeal, died on his birthday.
“If they had frisked the person who killed my son, it would have been one less gun on the streets. I'm for it,” she declared.
The Post news article not only used the victim's mother to deliver the emotional case for stop-and-frisk, it also failed to mention that stopping and frisking “every person on the streets” would be illegal (not to mention impossible). Nor did the Post reporter bother to delve into a discussion of the NYPD's discriminatory enforcement patterns or the most relevant statistic -- that any link between increased police stops and the number of guns confiscated is weak at best. In fact, less than 1% of stops result in discovery of a gun, as noted by the New York Civil Liberties Union:
Worse, Post editors have established a pattern of this type of “straight news” coverage. Earlier this summer, the newspaper questioned 16- and 17-year-old football players about the death of their teammate:
A Brooklyn high-school football star's shooting could have been prevented if cops had stopped and frisked the gunmen, his teammates told The Post yesterday.
The William Grady HS students, who visited Fritz Pascal, 17, at Lutheran Medical Center, said they understand the need for the controversial police procedure with so many illegal handguns on the street.
“If they had stopped him [the thug], and found the gun before he had got there, he [Pascal] wouldn't have been shot,” said teammate Bryant Brown, 16.
“I think that stop-and-frisk is worth the while,” echoed his pal Matthew Summer 16. “It would stop incidents like this.”
In their July 11 edition, the Post questioned the parents of a hospitalized toddler how they felt:
“They need to do it more often,” Tiffiney Monajas said as her toddler son, Isaiah Rivera, recovered in their Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment from the gunshot to his leg Sunday.
Isaiah's dad, José Rivera, said stop-and-frisk “could have stopped this person, whoever did this, from having a gun.”
And on June 29, the Post published an item nearly identical to the July piece on shooting victim Akeal Cristopher, only this time they interviewed his step-father, who also claimed, “Stop-and-frisk could have helped prevent what happened to my stepson.”
On the other side of the page, in the paper's opinion section, Post editors and columnists are expounding on the gruesome details of a future without stop-and-frisk,using violent imagery and hyperbolic scenarios to make their point about a nuanced law enforcement tactic.
One editorial on May 18 declared that if stop-and-frisk opponents are successful, “the blood of new crime victims will be on their hands” and New York City will “once again become the Crime Capital of the World.”
Another editorial declared, “More stop-and-frisk. Tougher drug laws. The alternative is more blood in the streets.” And yet another opined that merely decreasing stop-and-frisk would result in “mayhem” and a return to days when “criminals ruled the street.”
The Post's resident columnists have not shied away from the graphic hyperbole, either. Andrea Peyser declared in July that “a war is being waged on the effective policy of stop-and-frisk, and it will end in buckets of blood on city streets.” From her column:
A war is being waged on the effective police policy of stop-and-frisk, and it will end in buckets of blood on city streets. It's already begun. [...]
[T]he war on stop-and-frisk is only ramping up. This is personal.
The next victim could be someone you love. It could be you.
It comes as no surprise that the editors of the New York Post are unabashedly in favor of stop-and-frisk policies. Every op-ed piece they've published on the subject in recent months vigorously supports stop-and-frisk and ignores arguments that the practice is ineffective and is being implemented in an unconstitutionally vague and discriminatory way.