Patterico's Pontifications

11/1/2020

Big Media Uncritically Repeats False Narrative that Trump Fans Tried to Force a Vehicle Off the Road (UPDATED)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:45 pm



This is a story of two sides behaving badly, and two sides driving unreasonably, leading to a thankfully minor collision on a Texas highway. However, it is being falsely portrayed by Big Media as a situation where evil Trump fans deliberately tried to run some poor innocent Biden supporters off the road. That narrative is false, based on the evidence available to date.

I will first lay out the Big Media narrative, and then painstakingly explain what happened, with all of the available video evidence of which I am aware. I will say at the outset — just as I said when I first discussed this with people yesterday — that additional information can always change my conclusion. In fact, I have learned additional information since yesterday morning that solidifies a suspicion I had that the Trump fan acted unreasonably to a degree. However, I continue to believe that the Biden staffers likely bear primary responsibility for the collision, although it is impossible to know this with certainty. As we will see, the local police agree with me that the Biden vehicle was likely the at-fault vehicle.

First, the Big Media narrative. The New York Times headline reads: Vehicles flying Trump flags try to force a Biden-Harris campaign bus off a highway in Texas.

Multiple vehicles bearing Trump flags and signs surrounded a Biden-Harris campaign bus heading from San Antonio to Austin on Friday, forcing campaign officials to scrap two campaign events, according to reports by Democratic officials on Saturday.

The vehicles surrounded the bus on busy Interstate 35 and appeared to be attempting to slow it down and force it to the side of the road, according to social media posts from witnesses and accounts by party activists. In one instance, the vehicles pulled in front of the bus and tried to stop in the middle of the highway.

Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, tweeted that Trump supporters also “ran into a person’s car, yelling curse words and threats.” The bus was occupied by campaign staff workers, who notified local law enforcement, which assisted the vehicle in reaching its destination, party officials said.

I have read multiple articles about the incident and have yet to see a scrap of video evidence supporting the notion that anyone tried to force the bus to the side of the road, but I am open to the idea that such video exists. I have seen nothing showing cars trying to stop the bus on the highway, but again I am open to such video evidence existing.

What I am concentrating on in this post is the allegation that Trump supporters “ran into a person’s car.” This is based on Big Media’s uncritical acceptance of a tweet from Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo:

Here is the Daily Mail‘s wholly fictitious account:

At one point in her video, a white car, later identified as belonging to a Biden staffer, can be seen colliding with a black truck that was closely tailing the Biden bus.

Video shows the truck pushing against the white car, forcing it over the lane line.

As we will see, the white car was already over the lane line. The Daily Mail version suggests that the black truck swooped up next to a white SUV that was totally in its own lane, and pushed it out of the lane over a line. Even though I had people telling me with a straight face on Twitter yesterday that this is what happened, it is not remotely true.

I have seen the one video of which I am aware showing the collision, and several related videos showing surrounding context. While both drivers act unreasonably, I believe the SUV is primarily at fault, as it persists in encroaching into a lane fully occupied by the truck bearing Trump flags, just before the collision.

Most of the analysis begins and ends with this video:

Especially if you watch it only once, you could easily come away with the impression that the truck is trying to ram the SUV. The more you watch it, the less certain you become — and the more videos you watch, the more it ends up looking like two very stubborn road-ragey type drivers, with primary fault going to the white SUV that insisted on occupying two lanes even when there was a vehicle fully within its own lane just inches away.

Here is my summary reply:

But let’s back up and look at the whole event in full context. This was a caravan of loud and proud Trump supporters. They were there in force ahead of time, waiting on the side of the highway:

Their intention appears to have been, at a minimum, to aggressively escort the Biden/Harris bus out of town, or to put it less charitably (and more in line with the way the activist themselves characterize it), to run the bus out of town — to “run his ass out of there”:

“Riding them out of Texas” is the way the lady who videotaped the collision described it, and while she found it “hilarious” I think it is not cool and I do not support these people in any way.

The next video shows a white SUV apparently containing Biden staffers straddling lanes behind the bus, which is not legal. It appears to drift left, perhaps into its own lane, as a black truck with Trump flags drives up in its own lane behind the bus. The white SUV resumes straddling lanes with the black truck just inches away:

At this point, we know that the white SUV, filled with Biden staffers, was straddling lanes. That is unreasonable. You are not allowed to drive down a highway straddling lanes. You may move from one lane to the next, but it is unreasonable to persistently occupy two lanes at once.

Then the black truck with Trump flags pulls next to the SUV while in its own lane. The black truck is tailgating the bus, as is the white SUV. Both acts of tailgating are dangerous and unreasonable. (Dangerously close tailgating, by the way, is much more common on Texas highways than on Los Angeles freeways. Take it from someone who has driven both quite a bit.) The white SUV resumes its illegal act of straddling lanes, with the black truck inches away.

I believe both vehicles are acting unreasonably here, likely both operating under mental conditions of road rage mixed with politics. Under normal circumstances, the truck is perfectly entitled to drive in its own lane. But if someone is straddling lanes in front of you, I believe it is unreasonable to drive up right next to that vehicle. But it is completely 100% unreasonable for the white SUV to refuse to stop straddling lanes, and to veer over towards the black truck, which is fully within its own lane. You don’t get to drive down a freeway straddling lanes while there is a vehicle right next to you in one of the lanes you are straddling.

Given that the white SUV was now acting very unreasonably, the black truck acted unreasonably in bullheadedly continuing on at the same speed, with a dangerously driven SUV inches to its left. You could try to argue that the black truck was within its rights to drive within its lane, but a) it’s tailgating the bus (as is the SUV) and b) your primary responsibility is to drive reasonably and safely. The black truck should have slowed down. But the driver was on a mission. (Some allege that the driver is a fella who has had his issues with lefty protesters before but I don’t see how he could have caught up with the bus given this video, so I think the driver of the truck may have been someone else.)

Now, the collision. Here is the video again.

The following screenshots are from my tweet above, but I want to blow them up for you so you can see how badly the white SUV is encroaching into the black truck’s lane. First is a screenshot from the very beginning of the video:

Video 1

This is from about 16 seconds in, just before (or at?) the point of first contact. You can see how far the white SUV is over the lane line:

Video 2

Followed by these two screenshots:

Video 3

Video 4

These are to show you how far over the line the SUV was during this whole time.

Another view of the time immediately before the collision can be seen here. To me, this video is less instructive but I intend this post to be as completist as possible.

The relevant part is about 25 seconds in, until about 42 seconds in.

So: We know that the vehicles contacted. We know this happens while the white SUV is encroaching into the truck’s lane. We also know that the truck swerves left at one point, either causing more contact or the initial contact. That part is not clear.

Again: I cannot tell if the black truck swerving left caused the initial contact, or resulted from a collision caused that had already been caused by the white SUV (collisions can cause swerving). If the former, it might have been aggressive or defensive (feeling like he is being run off the road).

Before you mock the idea that the swerving could have been caused by a collision, let me tell you a personal story. I was once in a collision where, after my car collided with another car, the other car drove a good 50-75 yards down the road, swerving all over the road, eventually running up a median and into a tree. (The occupants of the car were OK, thank goodness.) I believe the collision was my fault and that the crazy swerving I observed after the collision was simply the result of the driver trying to regain control of the vehicle and failing to do so. Before that experience, I would have been far less likely to believe it possible that the swerving I see on the video could be the result of a collision. After that experience, I can easily believe it. If you have experienced or witnessed something similar, you’re far more likely to be able to understand the phenomenon than someone who has not.

Some people look at this evidence and see a white SUV innocently trailing the bus in its own lane, and then a Trumper racing up and running the SUV out of its lane. I think that interpretation ignores the aggressive and very dangerous decision by the Biden staffer driver to straddle lanes even with a vehicle right next to the SUV. A video that I saw but that has been deleted showed the SUV straddling lanes behind the bus while operating its flashers, while the lady taking the video commented that the SUV had just caused an accident. It looks to me from that deleted video and all of the context that the SUV was straddling lanes for miles with flashers. They felt entitled to take up two lanes, apparently.

San Marcos police have declined to attribute fault conclusively, but state that the video evidence suggests the white SUV may have been at fault:

San Marcos police said the Biden-Harris bus requested a police escort, but due to excessive traffic officers were not able to catch the bus before it left the jurisdiction.

The police department also said it has researched the crash and watched online video. It said the “at-fault vehicle” may be the Biden-Harris staffer’s car, while the “victim” appears to be one of the Trump vehicles.

“The at-fault vehicle may be the white SUV and the victim appears to be the black truck,” a statement from SMPD reads.

“Calls to the driver of the white SUV have gone unanswered and SMPD has not been contacted by the driver of the black truck. Since SMPD has not spoken to either driver at this time, additional investigation would be required to fully ascertain who was at fault.”

That strikes me as exactly right.

It’s not quite what Big Media told you, though, is it?

UPDATE: I have changed wording about the alleged driver to indicate some skepticism about whether he really was the driver.

UPDATE x2: Nope, reading all of the posts in this Twitter thread, I am convinced it is indeed him. He appears to have admitted it, too:

If the driver truly admitted “slamming that fucker” that would constitute new evidence suggesting that he did swerve maliciously. I said up front that “additional information can always change my conclusion” and here, I am convinced that the driver of the truck is certainly also at fault. It doesn’t change the fact that the SUV was driving unreasonably in straddling lanes, but it puts a whole new spin on the sudden swerve leftward by the truck.

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 107

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:51 am



It is All Saints Day. Today’s Bach cantata is “Was willst du dich betrüben” (Why would you grieve):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 5:1-12:

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Why do you wish to trouble yourself,
O my beloved soul?
Abandon yourself to loving Him
who is called Emmanuel!
Trust in Him alone,
He will make all things good,
and see to your affairs,
so that they come out happily for you!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.


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