When a newsroom ignores the news
Not fit to print?
A federal grand jury indicted a 26-year-old California man on June 15 for the attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The man, Nicholas John Roske, had in his possession at the time of his arrest a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a screwdriver, a nail punch, a crowbar, a pistol light, duct tape, and hiking boots with padding on the outside of the soles, according to the FBI. Roske, arrested near Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, told police he was upset about the leaked draft Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, according to an FBI affidavit.
“Roske stated that he began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill the Supreme Court Justice after finding the Justice's Montgomery County address on the Internet,” the affidavit said. “Roske further indicated that he had purchased the Glock pistol and the other items for the purpose of breaking into the Justice’s residence and killing the Justice as well as himself.”
The indictment is pretty newsy, right? Right.
Someone should tell this to the New York Times. As of this writing, the New York Times has not published a single news item regarding Roske’s indictment.
This comes after the same newspaper relegated its initial coverage of the assassination attempt to the below-the-fold section of its print edition, with most of the story appearing on the paper’s 20th page. To date, the New York Times has published precisely one report dedicated entirely to covering the June 8 assassination attempt. A second report mentioned the incident only in passing.
For context, when a Kentucky high school student was wrongly accused in 2019 of harassing an elderly Native American protester in the nation’s capital, the New York Times published at least six news articles tracking the incident, according to journalist Jeryl Bier.
Also, as Bier notes, on the day that Roske was indicted, the New York Times published a news article titled, “Who Will Repair Their Birkins Now?” The story’s subhead read, “Artbag, the Madison Avenue shop that socialites and celebrities have trusted to restore their chic handbags for 90 years, is closing." In other words, it’s not as if the New York Times was swamped with significant news stories on June 15 when Roske’s indictment was handed down. It’s not as if the indictment merely fell through the cracks because the paper chose to focus on bigger, more pressing events. The decision to ignore the indictment was a choice.
It’s cliche to play the “what if” game, but it’s difficult to imagine the New York Times would behave in a similar blase manner had law enforcement officials arrested a 20-something-year-old right-wing lunatic for the attempted murder of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The New York Times would be all over the story, pumping out an impressive number of news and commentary articles dissecting every little detail and drawing disturbing and foreboding conclusions.
Yet it is apparently uninterested in the attempt on Kavanaugh's life.
The big question is: Why?