Anwyn has an excellent post today from the “Facts You Don’t Need to Know” file of the Los Angeles Times.
Anwyn chose to focus on a story the paper recently ran on the prosecutorial record of Fred Thompson. I read that article and meant to comment on its flippant dismissiveness of Thompson’s stint as an AUSA. Some of the lines in the article are blatantly designed to elicit cheap snickers from leftists, like this one:
But Thompson’s charm did not work on U.S. District Judge Frank Gray Jr., who presided over nearly all of his cases. A liberal Democrat who had worked on presidential campaigns from Al Smith’s to Estes Kefauver’s, Gray had little patience for fools, and even less for Republicans.
Get it? The implication is that Republicans are worse than fools. Ha, ha! Don’t it just make you giggle?
But the main point of the article was to portray Thompson as a lightweight prosecutor, who was barely competent and mostly handled trivial cases like moonshining.
[A] review of the 88 criminal cases Thompson handled at the U.S. attorney’s office in Nashville, from 1969 to 1972, reveals a different and more human portrait — that of a young lawyer learning the ropes on routine cases involving gambling, mail theft and, in one instance, talking dirty on CB radio.
There were a few bank robbers and counterfeiters. But more than anything, Thompson took on the state’s moonshiners and a local culture, rooted in Tennessee’s hills and hollows, that celebrated the independent whiskey maker’s battle against the government’s revenue agents.
Anwyn digs much deeper — searching for the actual facts surrounding Thompson’s actual record. She asks: what were the actual statistics on his cases? What other cases did he prosecute? What was his win-loss record?
After searching through several official channels, she got the information she was looking for . . . from the reporter! You see, he had that information. He just didn’t think it was relevant to include in an article about Thompson’s record as a prosecutor.
I’m going to make you go to Anwyn’s post for the statistics themselves. But I will say that they seem pretty standard for someone of his experience level. Thompson did plenty more serious cases, like bank robberies, and he won most of them.
The statistics are not overwhelmingly impressive. They don’t make you think Thompson was any kind of star. I agree with Anwyn’s characterization of the stats: “These numbers suggest that Thompson was a completely solid, if not shining, prosecutor.”
At the very least, the numbers tend to undercut the article’s portrayal of Thompson as a bumbler who botched many of his cases, most of which were minor anyway.
Why didn’t the reporter include the numbers? The reporter explained in an e-mail to Anwyn that the numbers “don’t tell you much” because most federal prosecutors win most of their cases. In other words, it’s not relevant to report Thompson’s success rate, because it is typical of those in his profession.
But what about Thompson’s errors? Are they typical of other prosecutors at the time? What about the fact that his case load consisted largely of low-level cases? Is that fact also typical of other federal prosecutors in the same office at the same time?
The article doesn’t say. The only hint we get is that some judge — who sounds like a real prick, by the way — thought that Thompson’s entire office was incompetent. That tells me more about the judge than it tells me about Thompson or his colleagues.
You see, according to the mindset at the L.A. Times, Thompson’s successes don’t have to be reported, because they are typical of those in similar circumstances. But his failures should be reported — even though they are also probably typical.
Again, Thompson’s conviction rate, and the fact that he prosecuted 17 bank robbers over his relatively short stint in the office, comes under the category of Facts You Don’t Need to Know. Especially when the facts might undercut The Narrative — and as we know, in Big Media generally (and the L.A. Times especially), The Narrative trumps everything else.
Kudos to Anwyn for getting those facts out in the public eye. Because, no matter what the folks at the L.A. Times think, these facts are things that the public really should be told, to present the full picture.
You should know these facts — even if the L.A. Times thinks you shouldn’t be told about them.
If you haven’t read Anwyn’s post, please do so now, by clicking here.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.
Another reason to avoid the L.A. Times can be found here.