NEWS & ANALYSIS

To Tell the Truth: Reporting of Increasing "Hate Crimes" Against Asians Leans on Narratives Instead of Numbers

MSM again seems focused on stirring emotions instead of sorting facts


To Tell the Truth is Human Events News’ press analysis series. These stories will focus on “news” being reported by either The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, NBC News, or CBS News. Despite 24-hour cable broadcasts, and an untold number of internet sources, these established, mainstream platforms continue to influence the majority of American citizens and their political opinions.

The “news” generated by these press outlets is better regarded as “opinion” crafted in a way designed to discourage skepticism and critical thought on the part of the audience. To Tell the Truth will be Human Events News’ periodic effort to help address this bias and restore the skepticism necessary on the part of all Americans to maintain a free society.

You have likely heard about the recent spike in Anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide. Perhaps you have heard that President Trump injected xenophobic rhetoric into the discourse causing mass attacks on innocent Asian-Americans. At the very least, you probably know that this is a reality of the current landscape — a “surge” in race-based attacks on American citizens of Asian descent. But have you taken a look at the data informing this claim? Neither have we.

The recent Atlanta Spa Shootings whose victims included six Asian women were immediately weaponized by the mainstream media to promote a narrative of such a “spike” in anti-Asian hate crimes. It fit well into the existing discourse around the topic that has been pushed constantly over the past year: that ignorance surrounding COVID-19 has caused xenophobic hate crimes against Asians to spike nationwide.

The “fact” of a rise in Anti-Asian crime has been written in our Newspapers so frequently in recent months, that many have begun to accept it as truth. But a close look at news reports shows that America’s major news outlets rarely point to any actual evidence when they repeat the refrain. When they do cite a study or data — it doesn’t support their claims.

Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism,” reports the Washington Post. Its coverage stated “The gunman’s intent seemed crystal clear to Asians living in Atlanta and across the nation who have long had to confront stereotyping, hateful harassment and even violence — and who say things have gotten even worse amid the coronavirus pandemic,” without pointing to any concrete evidence.

A CBS report backing up Democrat lawmakers’ characterization of the supposed spike in such attacks at a Thursday House Judiciary hearing, cites a report from a San Francisco State University effort to quantify “incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying” against Asian-Americans.

“The hearing comes amid a spike in assaults on Asian Americans nationwide. A report released this week said the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents, including verbal harassment, shunning and physical assault, from March 19, 2020, to February 28 this year,” CBS reports.

But the SFSU effort formed in response to COVID-19, and as such has only been tracking such data since March 2020. With no comparative information, the report cannot demonstrate a spike in the rate of such incidents.

CNN cites the same report as evidence of a spike. So does the LA Times. And USA Today. The list goes on.

The public deserves some clarity around this, and it is being purposely muddied. The New York Times seems to be one of the largest offenders — (The paper of record also covered the prove-nothing study Wednesday, by the way.)

In the age of online reporting, it is traditional for hyperlinks to in some cases function as citation. Words included in statements of fact will ideally lead the reader to a source backing up the assertion. An attempt to find a source in the The New York Times pointing to the supposed anti-Asian hate crime epidemic, will instead land a reader in an endless web of links to anecdotal accounts of crimes in which the victims happen to be Asian in New York.

A new York Times article recently updated in light of the Atlanta Shooting asserts that “The number of hate crimes with Asian-American victims reported to the New York Police Department jumped to 28 in 2020, from just three the previous year, though activists and police officials say many additional incidents were not classified as hate crimes or went unreported.”

Here the Times directs the reader to another Times piece titled “Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges So Rare?” It is in this piece that we finally come across some data — a university analysis of incidents reported to police. The analysis reveals that while overall hate crime reports have decreased, reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have increased in “major cities.”

The data does demonstrate that the number of suspected hate crimes reported to police has increased in certain cities — most notably with New York’s additional 25 incidents. But this at best proves that reports have increased. It provides no information about hate crime charges, convictions or otherwise. If it were indicative of an issue, it would only be so for the city of New York. Not to mention other potential factors.

Consider the possibility that the NYT‘s incessant characterization of crimes committed against Asians as being racially motivated has made the citizens of New York sensitive to the issue.

Consider the possibility that organizations like SFSU’s Stop AAPI Hate have conflated hate crimes with things like “shunning.”

Aside from the fact that the Times makes baseless claims of a supposed spike in such crimes, it assigns motivation to such crimes, and presents it as fact. Consider the following excerpt from NYT piece “After Georgia Attacks, Asian-Americans Demand Serious Action on Bias”:

“For most of the last year, Asian-Americans have sounded the alarm over the rising discrimination they have experienced and witnessed, fueled in part by racist language and false claims about the coronavirus by former President Donald J. Trump and other public officials. Celebrities, activists and influencers on social media have implored people to stop the hate against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

The above sentence was presented with no citation.

NYT and other media outlets also claim these supposed race-based attacks are spiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. One such article from NYT references an incident in Oakland, California’s Chinatown in which an elderly man was shoved to the ground, and a similar incident that led to the death of another elderly San Francisco man. Like the plethora of incidents cited in similar articles, there is no indication from local news reports that either of these attacks were racially motivated. Nevertheless, the New York Times presented them alongside the following framing:

“The attacks quickly reinvigorated simmering outrage, fear and hurt over a wave of anti-Asian violence and harassment that community leaders say was spurred earlier in the pandemic by the rhetoric of former President Donald J. Trump, who insisted on calling the coronavirus ‘the China virus’ or the ‘Kung Flu.'”

Thursday, a story of a literal “bum” beating up an elderly Asian woman is being circulated as another supposed example:

36 percent of San Francisco County residents are single-race Asian, according to recent Census data. This does not include individuals who are both Asian and at least one other ethnicity.

Police have said the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but in a largely Asian-American community, an attack by a man whom the victim characterized as a “bum” seems to be more of a testament to the increasing homelessness/crime problem in SF — something for which we do have clear documentation. Do we have a racist bum epidemic or was there a 1 in 3 chance that a victim of a random act of violence would be Asian?

Hate crime FBI data isn’t available past 2019 — yet the MSM continues to publish wave after wave of articles about individual crimes that happen to victimize Asian individuals and include this unproven “rise” in the framing of almost every such article.

But CNN says the data doesn’t even matter anyway, because we have so many such stories:

“Why hate crime data can’t capture the true scope of anti-Asian violence” – CNN

“Police have said it is too early to know the shooter’s motive, but the attacks come at a time of increased reports of anti-Asian racism and communities sounding the alarm about a wave of violent incidents. The true scope of the problem, though, is difficult to quantify because of poor data collection and low rates of reporting.”

The NYT also blatantly tells readers not to worry about the numbers — all but saying it is the feelings of Asians that determine whether an incident is racially motivated:

“On a cold evening last month, a Chinese man was walking home near Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood when a stranger suddenly ran up behind him and plunged a knife into his back.

For many Asian-Americans, the stabbing was horrifying, but not surprising. It was widely seen as just the latest example of racially targeted violence against Asians during the pandemic.

 But the perpetrator, a 23-year-old man from Yemen, had not said a word to the victim before the attack, investigators said. Prosecutors determined they lacked enough evidence to prove a racist motive. The attacker was charged with attempted murder, but not as a hate crime.”

 To Tell The Truth: Human events has not come across any data disproving the claim that there has been a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, “hate incidents,” child bullying, “shunning” or whatever other metric there may be. But the media’s repeated insistence to the public that such a situation exists “nationwide” does not come with any supporting data, but instead an explanation of why such data is not needed. “Trust us– look an Asian man was attacked in San Francisco today,” seems to be the standard argument framework. It is pushed alongside an assumption that all crimes against Asian-Americans are racially motivated, and has successfully molded a narrative in which the baseless statement of fact has become accepted by the every day news consumer.

 

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