Brickbat: 'Fake News'


Mug shots

Police in Santa Maria, California, are defending their use of a false news release. The release reported Santa Maria police officers had arrested two men for identity theft and turned them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In fact, police now say, the two men were targets for assassination by rival gang members and they had taken them into protective custody.


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  1. “”Nobody should ever question a news release that comes out of our department”, Martin says, “this was an exception, we’ve never done it before””

    …but they also said they’d do it again in similar circumstances.

    1. Doesn’t revealing the tactic now risk making it ineffective in the future? You don’t reveal your bluff if everyone folds.

      1. I heard they used a cell phone to track the bad guys!!

    2. What this nation really needs is some common sense misinformation.

      1. What this town needs is an enema. — The Joker

        1. what, was there a sewage worker strike?

  2. I don’t have much sympathy for this news outlet – it seems it was only happenstance they found out the story was fake…they didn’t make follow-up calls to the police or ICE or attorneys asking “whatever happened to those guys charged with identity theft?”

    It’s almost as if the media simply posts news of arrests but doesn’t think it has much of a responsibility to do any follow-up – “OK, they arrested someone, thank goodness that story is over, let’s get a drink!”

    1. If there’s no big rush of traffic or scandal angle to bring eyes on their advertisements, what incentive is there for the news outlet to do any follow-up?

  3. Interesting comments. Some racist troll got into it with a bunch of troll-feeders which obscured things… But there was a definite thread that they should have just arrested and deported the gang-bangers who were targeted for the hit because gang-bangers who are targeted for hits are probably just as bad as the people trying to kill them.

    There was also a thread of thought that it was racist to call these guys criminals in the paper because it furthers racial stereotypes.

    But at the bottom of it, the paper stayed with the story about the fake story and didn’t dig deeper into the underlying story. Why were the two guys targeted? What is their background? What are they going to do now? What about the people who were arrested? How much evidence is there? How many other murders were there? How do we know they are gang related. – Even if they did cover all of this at some other time, posting your story on the web means you can include links to these other stories to fully flesh out your “we got used by a fake press release” story.

    All in all, strange things are afoot in Santa Maria. And at the bottom line, I’m not really sure this is as much of a brickbat as it is an interesting counterpoint to the fake, fake news controversy.

  4. Police in Santa Maria, California, are defending their use of a false news release.

    Too late. Trump got elected.

  5. Thoses guys doing the oompa loompa dance?

    1. I think the one guy is just really short and the cops were too lazy to adjust the camera or their cropping.

      1. The guy wanted to make sure that amazing hair-do got its props.

        1. It looks to me like the guy got confused about which direction he was combing and everything piled up in the middle.

          1. Sagittal crest making an evolutionary comeback.

  6. And the one time you’re actually rooting for the cops to get away with lying the media runs around butthurt about being lied to *this time* and blows the whole thing.

  7. I’ve mentioned here several times my aggravation at the news media’s crime reports that basically consist of reading off a PD press release starting with “According to police,….” and never once do you see a reporter going down to the jail, talking to the arrested and starting off a report with “According to Joe Blow, he was just standing around not doing nothin’ and the cops just rolled up on him and started hassling him for no reason, it’s all just BS.” Does this news outlet think this is the first time the cops have ever misled them by inaccurately reporting exactly what happened in a given investigation and arrest? How many other crime report press releases have ever mentioned the cops didn’t have probable cause or reasonable suspicion, roughed up the suspect a little, fudged on the warrant application, coerced witnesses, etc.? And now you’re shocked, shocked, to discover the cops aren’t perfect little angels. Instead of digging in your heels so much at this one time they have what most of us would agree is a good reason for lying, how about looking a little more critically at the details of the next press release they issue on how they caught some drug dealer or something?

    1. I’m reminded of the Baby Bou-bou incident where the cops flash-banged a baby in a crib – had the baby not been injured, would the press ever bothered to dig into the report of Our Brave Heroes busting some scumbag drug dealer enough to find out the cop lied to get a warrant, there really wasn’t some big drug operation going on, the drug task force operation was a clusterfuck from the get-go, etc.? Well, how many other reports have the press uncritically parroted involving Our Brave Heroes busting some scumbag drug dealer? I’m guessing the Baby Bou-bou one is the one single solitary instance of the press questioning the details of the PD press release.

  8. lovez me some cops & robbers stories…

    1. Shouldn’t we rename “Cops and Robbers” as “Civil Forfeiture”?

      1. how about “Tax & Spend”?

      2. or Eminent Domain?

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  10. I don’t understand how the fake press release helps them. Are they any harder for the gang members targeting them to find if they were said to be taken into custody by ICE following an arrest, rather than protective custody? They’re still wherever they are.

    Seems to be straight-up defamation.

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