News Story Changes When “Thug” Is “Officer”

The language of a news story shifted in amazing ways from the earlier version before we learned the attacker was a cop!

He was a “hulking brute.” He was a “thug.” And he did things: he attacked, he grabbed, he shoved, he “grabbed her in an unprovoked attack,” and then “he ran away, smiling.”

But that was before the paper learned who the attacker was.

In the later story in the New York Daily News, it became mostly passive voice. The victim “was put into a bear hug,” was “thrown to the floor,” and was “choked.” No thug is mentioned anymore. No hulking brute is described.

What changed?

The attacker was a cop. He has turned himself in and is being investigated, though no charges seem to be pending even though such an assault is supposed to be a Class D Felony.


The cop’s version of what happened does give some interesting information, if he is to be believed.

The officer said he fought with the conductor after she cursed at him for asking when the next train would arrive. When he demanded her ID and took out his phone to take a picture of her, she grabbed it, prompting a struggle, he alleged.

But considering the cop’s size difference and his over the top reaction, as well as his attempt to keep quiet about the incident, I suspect at best they would both be charged. This would be a case of two “public servants” both feeling they have a privileged position that allows them to be violent with lesser beings.

And the way the media changes how the events are described is quite telling. It shows how their mindset allows them to practice a double standard in how they report non-cop alleged crimes as opposed to crimes alleged to have been committed by cops.

As Robby Soave writes for,

To be clear: These are two different stories. The first is here and the update is here. And it’s fair, of course, to present the accused person’s side of the story, as the News does in its second piece. But the stark differences between the two make clear the incredible double standard of reporting on the public’s misdeeds vs. reporting on police misdeeds. Many in the media possess an overriding presumption that everything the police do must be justified—even when police actions would be considered horrifying if carried out by anyone not wearing a badge.

It would be great if the media could try to impose on itself the discipline of describing criminal allegations the same way no matter who the suspect is.