USA Today: Fact-checking the Fact-checkers

Through deceptive and manipulative reporting, Camille Caldera of USA Today is guilty of lying to her readers. From a “fact check” article from September of 2020:

Fact check: Rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black crime are similar

The claim: There are significant race-based disparities in civilian homicide rates, but not in police homicide rates.

A viral meme purports to list homicide statistics by race in the United States, as follows:

Whites killing Blacks — 2%

Police killing whites — 3%

Whites killing whites — 16%

Blacks killing whites — 81%

Police killing Blacks — 1%

Blacks killing Blacks — 97%

So far, so good. If the claim being debunked is that 81% of white homicide victims are murdered by blacks, then we should all agree; this claim is false. Most white homicide victims are murdered by other whites.

And the article goes on:

Though the numbers differ year-to-year, the stark difference that the viral post attempts to portray between the rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black homicide — which it puts at 16% and 97%, respectively — is inaccurate.

Yes. If we compare the rates of INTERRACIAL homicides to the rates of INTRARACIAL homicides, then there’s not that much of a difference – but what this “fact check” fails to point out is that the overall number are VASTLY different when we compare black homicide rates to white homicide rates. Therefore, the raw numbers of black-on-white homicides are much higher than the raw numbers of white-on-black homicides. The article appears to intentionally give the impression that this is not so; it does so by negligently omitting this fact. I’d be willing to wager that the average reader would interpret this article as saying that the black homicide rate is about the same as the white homicide rate. Of course, this is NOT what the article is saying – but I believe that it purposefully gives this impression.

The article concludes with the following:

Based on our research, all six purported homicide statistics in the viral post are FALSE. The significant race-based disparities are also false. In reality, rates of white-on-white and Black-on-Black homicides are similar and remain within 10 percentage points of each other, around 80% and 90%, respectively. Likewise, rates of Black-on-white and white-on-Black homicide remain within eight percentage points of each other, at around 16% and 8%. And police kill Black people at disproportionate and much higher rates than they kill their white counterparts.

I’ll conclude with the following:

While this USA Today fact check is technically correct, insofar as the claimed interracial crime statistics are false, by failing to note that black homicide rates are much higher than those of other ethnic groups, it gives the false impression that there is no such disparity at all. Let’s take a look at the number one source cited by the USA Today article itself (US Dept. of Justice):

Blacks were disproportionately represented as both homicide victims and offenders. The victimization rate for blacks (27.8 per 100,000) was 6 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000). The offending rate for blacks (34.4 per 100,000) was almost 8 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000) (table 1)…

While two-thirds of drug-related homicides were committed by black offenders (65.6%), black offenders were less likely to be involved in sex-related killings (43.4%), workplace homicides, (25.8%) or homicides of elders age 65 or older (41.9%) compared to their overall involvement as homicide offenders (52.5%).

As for interracial homicide, the same source provides this graph showing that in raw numbers, there were about twice as many whites murdered by blacks as there were blacks murdered by whites:

A glance at USA Today’s second cited source (FBI – Crime in the US) confirms that this disparity increased in 2018, with 514 whites murdered by blacks – but only 234 blacks murdered by whites.

It’s wildly inappropriate and irresponsible to address the topic of interracial homicide without even bothering to bring this up; it’s lying by omission.

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