Washington Post Hit Job on Giuliani Comes Up Short

Philip Bump, a New York reporter for the Washington Post, went after former Mayor Rudy Giuliani yesterday for a few statements made during a Meet the Press discussion with Professor Michael Dyson, one of the  Ferguson flamethrowers with a regular spot on NBC and MSNBC. 

Bump tries to detract from Giuliani’s use of stop and frisk, and any success he achieved in reducing New York City’s murder rate.

The claim from defenders of stop-and-frisk, including Giuliani and Bloomberg, was that it was responsible for the city's drop in crime -- a drop that began before Giuliani and continues to this day.

In fact, neither Giuliani nor Bloomberg ever asserted that stop and frisk was the sole reason for the enormous reduction in murder rates in the city while each served as mayor.  Giuliani also introduced the “broken windows” approach to arrests, and the city became the national leader in using statistics (tracking where crime was occurring) to determine where to allocate police forces.

All kinds of other factors have been suggested as also contributing to the reduction in the murder rate in New York and other big cities in the last two decades.  These have included the end of the crack cocaine epidemic, the end of use of lead paint, and the introduction of legalized abortion.  None of these factors is useful in explaining why New York City’s murder rate cut was so much faster and steeper than that in any other city.

But Bump’s bigger lie is to argue that the murder rate was falling before Rudy took over, so he deserves no credit.  Here are the facts.  The four highest years for murder in New York City’s history were the four years before Giuliani took over – the years when David Dinkins was mayor.  While it is true that the number of murders dropped from his first year (the all-time high at 2,245) to his last at 1,945, even his last year had more murders than the year before Dinkins took office.

In Dinkins’s four years, there were 8,340  murders, the highest four-year total ever.  In the four years before he took office, there were 7,055 murders. 

In Rudy’s first four years, the number of murders was 4,491.  In his second four-year term, the number was 2,626, fewer than a third of the number in Dinkins’s four years.  But according to Bump, Giuliani achieved nothing.  Give credit to Dinkins.

For the record, in Bloomberg’s last four years, the number was 1,795.  Hey, but let’s give credit where credit is due, to David Dinkins for starting the murder rate reduction.  More accurate would be to credit Dinkins with overseeing America’s only pogrom, in Crown Heights .

Bump has a second distortion: he dismisses Giuliani’s argument that 93% of  blacks are killed by other blacks, and this is a bigger deal than the number of blacks killed by white police.  Bump agues that most whites who are killed are killed by whites, so same-race murder means nothing.  Here is what does mean something – not only are 93 percent of blacks killed by blacks, but blacks are seven times as likely to be murdered as all Americans who are not blacks.  In other words, blacks are murdered far more often than other Americans, and blacks are committing those murders.  If blacks in the inner cities are unsafe, the huge problem is crime by other blacks, not random shootings by white cops.

In retrospect, Rudy Giuliani saved a lot more black lives by bringing New York City’s murder rate down so quickly than all the charlatans of the “racism explains everything” school.  In fact, it is unclear that the race merchants ever saved any lives.