There’s an amusing but annoying phenomenon whenever a blogger or journalist gets a reputation for reporting on certain issues. If one comes up and they don’t comment on it, their critics say “A ha! You didn’t cover story X, and that means (fill in the blank).” Balko is getting it right now for not writing about the Trayvon Martin case yet.
I’ve received quite a few emails, Tweets, and comments asking why I haven’t yet written on the Trayvon Martin case. These have ranged from polite inquiries as to what I think about the case, to not-so-subtle implications about what my “conspicuous silence” says about me, to demands that I drop everything and investigate, to a weird rush of emails a couple days ago screaming (as much as an email can scream) that I haven’t covered the case because Martin is black and I only care about the civil liberties of white people. Given the narrow time window in which that last batch of emails arrived, I’m fairly sure they all came from the same blog post or discussion board, though I wasn’t able (and didn’t put up much of an effort) to track down the source.
All of this rings similar to the accusations I started getting from people who didn’t think I was sufficiently angry about and/or devoted to covering the police abuses at the Occupy protests. The implication was that I simply don’t care when lefists get beaten by police. Which, if you’ll look through my archive, is just as absurd as suggesting I only care about white people.
It’s the same “argument” that my idiot troll mrbongo uses here routinely — “OMG, you didn’t write about (insert Muslim atrocity, usually in another country), which proves that you just don’t care about Muslim barbarism and just want to bash Christians.” But as with Balko, even a cursory glance at my writings over the years shows how moronic that claim is. And Balko explains why he hasn’t written about Martin yet:
(1) I’m working on a number of other projects that I can’t just drop in order to jump into another story, particularly since we have reason (4).
(2) I’m writing a book. This will leave considerably less time for me to opine, investigate, weigh in on crime stories in the news.
(3) Given points (1) and (2), I also do occasionally enjoy doing things that aren’t work-related.
(4) Lots of other people are doing a great job covering the story, including my HuffPost colleague Trymaine Lee, the guy responsible for bringing it to national attention.
(5) I don’t feel compelled to offer an opinion on every big story connected to my beat unless I have something useful to add to the conversation. Because I haven’t been doing any reporting on the Martin case, and because it doesn’t appear to involve any issues about which I have some specific expertise, I haven’t yet felt I’ve had anything useful to add.
(6) Somewhat related to the other points: I don’t like to comment on a story until I’m read up on it. There’s a hell of a lot of reading to stay on top of in this case. More every day. And again, I have other things going on. There are times when it’s just not possible to get caught up with a case in time to comment about it immediately.
None of which will stop the trolls from their saintly work, of course. I haven’t commented yet on the Trayvon Martin case either. You know why? Because I don’t really know much about it. I’ve been extremely busy all week getting ready for this long road trip and multiple events, so I haven’t had the chance to do any reading about it. I’ve seen isolated snippets of news reports, of course, but that’s about it.