Government statements do not add up. Gaps and discrepancies sound the alarm. The elected officials do not answer questions from the public.
This is a time when journalists are needed. And a time when journalists have to do it right.
“Urgent questions about the police response to the massacre have not been answered clearly or coherently, and frustration among residents has begun to spill over onto social media,” Duvoisin said in an email Thursday evening. “The lack of information became a partisan talking point, and elected officials began demanding answers and an investigation.”
Let us quote Duvoisin in full:
“This afternoon’s briefing by a Texas Department of Public Safety official answered some questions about the police response, but left considerable confusion. Why did the school gate open? been unlocked that morning? Unknown.”
“The day before, DPS officials said a school police officer confronted the shooter before he entered the school. At today’s briefing, a DPS official said the contrary: the shooter entered the school without meeting any resistance. The police arrived a few minutes later. Why it took an hour for a SWAT team to assemble and fight their way inside: “This is a difficult question.””
“Information about the incident has been tightly controlled from the very beginning. Throughout Tuesday, Uvalde police have been tight-lipped about the number of casualties. Local hospitals as well. It’s only Tuesday late afternoon that the extent of the carnage was made public. – by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. In my experience, this is unusual. In a mass casualty event, I ‘m used to seeing the head of the main response agency brief the media, often several times a day.
Duvoisin helped provide direct coverage of the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, and at the time reporters were briefed by the city’s police chief. “They didn’t have to wait for the Governor of California to find out the facts,” he said. “I think the lack of information created frustration, and that frustration was compounded on Wednesday when Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and others traveled to Uvalde to hold a press conference. Abbott said praised first responders, expressed sympathy for the victims, and spoke in general terms about the importance of mental health care, but revealed very few details about what really happened inside. this school.
Where is Abbott now?
On Wednesday, the governor of Texas talked tough on Beto O’Rourke. On Thursday, Abbott was nowhere to be found. Questions suspended in the air at 90 degrees from Uvalde. All possible explanations only made the pain worse. The words of CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem stuck with me: She insisted that Texas authorities had originally spoken about how “worse” the attack could have been. “We hear that things could have been worse, which is always true,” Kayyem wrote. “The question is whether things could have been less bad. And I’m afraid the answer is yes.”
Maybe Friday. Abbott — who was scheduled to speak Friday at the first day of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting — is canceling his in-person appearance to attend a Friday afternoon press conference in Uvalde. He will speak at the convention virtually instead.
Erase any chance of finding common ground
I caught some criticism on Twitter for saying that the immense confusion over the timeline of the attack will make it even more difficult to find common ground, as some people will stick to the original “facts”; others will believe the new information; others will ignore it; and others will not believe all this.
I agree that common ground is anything but impossible. But what about a relatively shared understanding of the most basic facts? This week’s confusion leaves a gaping void. Conspiracy theories about the attack are already spreading among people who are inclined to believe the mass shootings are plots to seize guns. Claims of a massive cover-up are already spreading among those inclined to believe it. Journalists will get to the bottom of this, but by the time all the facts are put together, the disinfo sphere may have won…