August 9, 2019

BYRON YORK: Has anyone actually read the El Paso manifesto?

Much discussion was spurred by an article in the New York Times with the headline, “El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language.” The story quoted just 28 words of the nearly 2,400-word manifesto. It noted that Crusius specifically wrote that his views “predate Trump.” And it warned that “linking political speech, however heated, to the specific acts of ruthless mass killers is a fraught exercise.” Nevertheless, the Times declared that even “if Mr. Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society.”

Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native, was much more blunt. “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism,” O’Rourke tweeted to the president.

So what did Crusius actually write? The Times story did not link to the manifesto, nor did many other media accounts. Most news organizations decided that even though the manifesto is clearly part of the El Paso story, they should not give Crusius the exposure he sought by linking to its full text. So many stories have included just a few snippets from the document. (The Washington Examiner has also decided not to link to the manifesto, but it can be easily found on the internet.)

But since the manifesto has become such an important part of the moment’s political debate, it is worth looking at the whole thing. And the impression one gets after reading the manifesto is quite different than some press accounts.

Shocking, that. I think that it’s unprofessional to simultaneously not link to the manifesto to deny it attention — and then talk about the manifesto a lot, especially in a misleading way. But then, “unprofessional” is what journalism is all about these days.

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