A wordle
by Steve Timmer
Jan 3, 2021, 3:30 PM

The grievance and resentment are strong in this one

Here’s a letter in the Star Tribune today (Sunday morning, January 3rd):

The purpose of journalism is to help readers to understand the truth about current events. In order to do that, a variety of viewpoints need to be presented and some attempt at objectivity made.

The lengthy article “George Floyd’s search for salvation” (special section, Dec. 27) was not objective, nor did it present a variety of viewpoints. It presented the views of George Floyd’s friends, family and supporters. His behavior was put into the best possible light with quotes from his friends and family. Although he had been convicted of armed robbery, the article minimized it by quoting a friend who said he didn’t think that George did it. The article also minimized the likelihood that Floyd passed counterfeit money by quoting another friend. Another friend says that his fentanyl overdose on the day of his death should not be considered as contributing to his death. His friends are also quoted as saying that the police can murder Black people and get away with it.

Naturally, his friends and family have very positive opinions of him, but the public needs to understand the facts about what happened and why. That article presented a biased view of the man. It isn’t the job of the newspaper to act as an advocate for certain citizens; it’s your job to provide us with information that we can use to understand what happened.

James Brandt, New Brighton

Mr. Brandt has a blinkered view of the scope of journalism. The Star Tribune has profiled the officers involved in the death of George Floyd many times. Derek Chauvin’s career as a police officer was reported extensively, and the story included quotes from his friends.

The New York Times did a lengthy story about Black police officer J. Alexander Kueng, one of the officers involved in the Floyd case, quoting his friends, and explaining why Kueng, new to the Minneapolis Police Department, became an officer: improving a broken law enforcement system. It explained that Kueng was a probationary officer — on just his third shift — and not exactly in charge of the scene.

I wonder if Brandt thinks that was inappropriate to report?

Perhaps Brandt yearns for the days when Megyn Kelly was on Fox “News” and would shake her head and say, every time some unarmed Black person was killed by police, “He was no boy scout,” or “She was no angel.”

As if it makes the killing acceptable.

The editorial which sat cheek-by-jowl with Brandt’s letter has it right — really right — though: George Floyd lived a life that mattered. In describing the truth in the story that Brandt complains about, the editorial says:

Black lives matter.

Compassion should not depend on familiarity. It should not require such painstaking journalism to make us realize that Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed, had a life. But Rao and Gonzalez add details and context that make him come alive in the imagination. He loved and was loved. He was capable of seeing the best in others and of helping those less fortunate than himself. He was convicted of breaking the law and did his time. His life was far from perfect.

His life mattered.

I’ve described the problem as one of switched off empathy genes or missing mirror neurons. It seems baked into some individuals, like our Mr. Brandt here, who can read a deep dive of great journalism and then just get up and pour himself another glass of bile.

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