Shooting shows how news can mislead


Reports on Oct. 3 from multiple sources seemed misleading about the “shootings on Capital Hill.”

Without doubt, security around government buildings should be tight, but the way this story was reported made the situation seem like a terrorist attack.

Those following the news viewed images of civilians rushing to find cover. Video and audio clips focused on gunfire while the main details were initially neglected.

On Oct. 3,’s video catching the incident was captioned, “Capitol Hill car chase, shooting.” The video showed a black car driving away as viewers could only hear, but not see gunshots.

That day, The New York Times captioned a photo, “Shots fired near the capitol” and in the proceeding article wrote, “By the time the ensuing chase ended, dozens of shots had been fired and two officers were injured.”

It’s plausible that many believed there was a gunfight due to vague videos and captions like these. The warning should have pertained to a reckless driver leading a car chase, not a shooting. The hurt officers sustained their injuries due to the vehicle pursuit, not from bullets.

The following day, CBS announced that there was one fatal victim, Miriam Carey, 34, who was gunned down by police after she “ran her car into a barricade near the white house and led officers on a high-speed chase.”

As it turns out, the only shooting that took place was by the police. According to the Chicago Tribune earlier that day, “All the shooting appears to have been done by police. Law enforcement sources said the suspect did not shoot a gun and there is no indication she had one.”

By Oct. 5, Carey’s image had transitioned from a threat to our government to a depressed mother who didn’t deserve to be killed.

The Chicago Tribune announced that the victim suffered from post-partum depression and was not a harmful person. Valarie Carey, the victim’s sister and former New York police sergeant stated, “Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn’t have to be.”

However, this portion of the story, which defends the victim, was only citing the perspective of her sister, making the story article very subjective.

In situations like this, it is difficult to distinguish the relevant details versus subject matter presented to catch a viewer’s attention. The mixed news coverage makes stories like this confusing. It is important not to make quick assumptions from breaking news; not everything we see is definitive.

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