A hike in the incidence of violent crime nationwide sounds scary until the amount of the increase is mentioned--a nominal 1.3%. All three networks assigned a reporter to the statistic but none translated the percentage into actual deaths: how many more people were murdered in 2006 than in 2005 as a result? Furthermore, if homicides are up 6.8% in large cities, a statistic ABC's Dan Harris (subscription required) cited, and the overall murder rate is up by little more than 1%, that means that in most suburbs, small cities and rural areas, the homicide rate must be falling. Nationwide, CBS' Bob Orr pointed out, "rapes, assaults and property crimes are down."
Still the focus was on things that are getting worse. CBS' Orr ticked off cities that saw an annual increase in killing: Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, Houston, Orlando, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Oakland. His police sources blamed "gangs, guns, increasingly violent teenagers and budget cuts" for police from the federal government. And Harris' unidentified criminology sources found another way to make the data look gloomy: "If the government does not move quickly, what is now a gradual increase in violent crime could get much worse…we may some day look back at today's numbers and say: 'Those were the good old days.'"
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