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NYT Ed. Makes Up Its Own "Facts"

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"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion," Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "but not his own facts."  The editorial writers of the New York Times didn't get the memo.  They regularly lard their editorials with misstatements of fact.  The downward spiral of the newspaper once considered the "newspaper of record" continues with this editorial on the Connecticut death penalty repeal bill.  Near the end is this whopper:

But the facts are undeniable. The death penalty does not deter crime and the long history of legal abuses is well documented.
No need to mince words here.  To state that it is an "undeniable" fact that the death penalty does not deter is a bald-faced lie. 

The academic debate continues.  There have been multiple studies showing a deterrent effect.  There have been a few criticisms of those studies.  The authors have responded to the criticisms.  Our list of abstracts is here.  If the Times finds one side of the debate more convincing than the other and wants to say so, fine.  To say that there is no debate and one position is undeniable fact is simply, obviously, outrageously false.

The comment about a "long history of legal abuses" is sufficiently vague that I can't say that is a lie, just bad writing.  If they are referring to the abuses that occurred in Chicago, that is true but of marginal relevance.  If they mean that the overlong review process is an abuse of the victims' families, that is true but fixable.  If they mean to imply there is a "long history of legal abuses" in Connecticut, that would be false, as our report last Thursday showed.

The main point of the editorial is to promote the view of some murder victims' families that the long review process in capital cases constitutes revictimization, and it would be better to just do away with it.  I certainly understand that point of view, but I do not concede that the length of review problem is unfixable.  We are close to finally implementing the federal fast track promised in 1996, and states can fix the delay in their own systems.

1 Comment

That the NYT lies is no longer news. But its lies here are particularly flagrant, and not just for the reasons Kent notes.

The Times, like many abolitionist outlets, lies by omission as much as by anything. The two most striking facts omitted here are (1) that murder victims' families support the death penalty by at least the same massive majority the rest of the country does; and (2) that the source of the emotionally draining years of delay is exactly the foot-dragging, process-uber-alles approach the Times itself so relentlessly peddles.

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