Donald J. Trump is breaking the mold as President of the United States in so many ways. Among the latest: He thinks there isn’t enough reporting of crime, specifically terror attacks. That makes him the first elected official I can remember who says the news media is downplaying–deliberately, he suggests conspiratorially–violence in society.
The usual claim–and one I heard for years as a newspaper police and court reporter–is that the press gives far too much attention to such unpleasantries, especially since criminal acts, including those classified as terror, statistically remain the exception rather than the norm. The traditional complaint has been that the media are undermining civilization by playing up such bad stuff to get eyeballs.
Trump’s stated notion that terror news is under-reported has been widely debunked. I personally think his position is silly. But if Trump really wants more coverage of bad acts, he ought to spend more time around Las Vegas, where the tallest non-casino hotel, befitting his half-ownership, bears his name.
The local media here can’t serve up enough crime news.
From what I have seen since becoming New To Las Vegas, that old TV mantra, “If it bleeds, it leads,” is alive and well in Sin City–and often true of the second and third story, too. The leading daily newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal–the only big-city paper in the country to endorse Trump, who nevertheless lost Nevada–brims with crime coverage; I counted 11 such stories in the local news section today alone. Las Vegas TV station text alerts about the latest shooting or whatever sound on my cell phone a half-dozen or more times a day.
Of course, one reason for the prevalence of crime news in Las Vegas might be the relative prevalence of crime in Las Vegas, an area that actually has an institution, popularly known as the Mob Museum, to highlight one element of its gory past. By my reading of FBI crime statistics, the serious crime rate in the Las Vegas Valley is about two-and-a-half times the national average, and higher than many major cities. The local sales tax was just boosted to pay for more cops.
Property crimes, like burglaries and car prowls, are no better. On a regular basis, TV station newscasts air home-security footage of thieves stealing packages left on front porches. In a belt-and-suspenders move, I see many homes in gated subdivisions with barred windows and doors.
Still, for me, although the Las Vegas area just had a near-record year for murder, this is overreaction. Having spent time as a war correspondent in places like Beirut, and having lived in other places with crime issues, I don’t get all that worked up about crime rates. In the U.S., at least, crime has been on a steady decline for years. Even around Las Vegas, fewer than one out of every 25 residents a year becomes a crime victim. Sure, the rate is too high. But things should be kept in perspective.
We all know Trump has a switcheroo background, So I wouldn’t be too surprised if one day he decides/says/tweets–maybe after being in office too long to blame the previous administration–the media are devoting far too much attention to the dark side. Then, cribbing a famous book title from Hunter S. Thompson, it would be fear and loathing in Las Vegas,