New York Times overcounts NYC shootings by 300 in a column praising Adams, bashing progressives
A veteran New York Times journalist suggested shootings increased 23 percent in 2021 by mixing up the number of incidents with the number of victims.
Update: The New York Times added a correction on February 1st: “An earlier version of this column misstated the number of shooting incidents in New York City in 2021. There were 1,562 shooting incidents, not 1,877; the second number refers to the number of shooting victims.”
In a column published last week, New York Times reporter Ginia Bellafante commends Mayor Eric Adams’ blueprint to end gun violence. “The Mayor’s Crime Plan Is Loathed by Liberals. But It Might Work,” declares the headline.
The column proceeds to throw shade at out-of-touch, rich liberals ensconced in their fancy little neighborhoods while the rest of the city burns.
Just look at the numbers!
“In 2020, the number of shootings in New York more than doubled to 1,531 over the previous year; then they climbed again, to 1,877 in 2021, the highest figure in decades.” The problem for Adams, she adds, is “… that these statistics are not imprinted on all New Yorkers — particularly those still working at home in moneyed neighborhoods to which they have more or less retreated, untouched by the recent disturbances.”
Many wealthy New York City liberals do live in neighborhoods with more BLM signs than Black residents. It’s undeniable and a real problem. But, to the credit of all of the out-of-touch kombucha-swilling Park Slope moms, another reason they might not be familiar with these statistics is because the numbers Bellafante cites are wrong.
“In 2020, the number of shootings in New York more than doubled to 1,531 over the previous year; then they climbed again, to 1,877 in 2021, the highest figure in decades,” writes the New York Times journalist, who’s covered the city for decades.
That would be a 23 percent increase in shootings from 2020—the deadliest year this decade—and 2021, even though most metrics point to a decline in most serious crimes in the city. Does Adams strike you as a politician who is shy about boosting information that helps justify his policy priorities? You’d see that stat on airplane banners flying over Coney Island.
According to the New York Post : “In 2021, the NYPD recorded 1,562 incidents of gun violence with 1,877 victims, a 101 percent and 103 percent increase from 2019.” (These numbers are also reported by the Daily News, CNBC, Yahoo finance, using the NYPD as a source).
So it looks like the Times mistook the number of shooting victims for the number of shooting incidents, wrongly reporting more than 300 shootings in 2021 than actually occurred that year, according to the NYPD’s own numbers. As Rebecca Blair of Fair and Just Prosecution, a nonprofit focused on sentencing, noted, this would require nearly four times the yearly average up to November, occurring in just the month of December.
“There had been 1441 shooting incidents year to date by the end of Nov 21, so there would have had to have been 436 incidents in Dec, after an average of 131 a month for the first 11 months of 2021, for that number to be right.” I alerted Belafonte to the error and she said she’d look into it, but hours later there’s still no correction.
I’m sure it’s a simple numbers mix-up and I can’t count times a smart editor or factchecker has saved my ass from crimes against math. But it’s also telling that Bellafonte, a great reporter with decades of experience, wouldn’t see a red flag here, for the reasons outlined above (e.g. that Adams didn’t personally knock on your door to shove the 23 percent increase stat in your face). The NYT’s error here seems indicative of a major blindspot on crime and crime policy. And because they are trusted by the very white, urban liberal readership they slag in the story, their impact is a different and more pernicious one than that hysterics of the tabloids.
The tabloids pump out red meat stories that suggest you can’t leave the house without getting shot. The New York Times seems to be subtly nudging their readers into regressive opinions by hyping crime with (fake in this case!) numbers, while playing on their liberal guilt. Neither bodes well for the future of smart, justice crime policy in New York City.
*Correction: This post originally said the New York Times column was published Monday, January 31st. It was published on January 28th.