Zac Kriegman, a former Reuters data scientist who was fired after performing a statistical analysis which refuted claims by Black Lives Matter
On Tuesday, we republished a column from a journalist who resigned from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because the network exhibited such extreme left-wing bias and propaganda that she couldn’t be a part of it any longer.
Today, bring you the story of Zac Kriegman, a former Reuters data scientist who was fired after performing a statistical analysis which refuted claims by Black Lives Matter, and spoke out against the company’s culture of “diversity and inclusion” which unquestioningly celebrated the BLM narrative.
As journalist Chris F. Rufo writes in City Journal: “Driven by what he called a “moral obligation” to speak out, Kriegman refused to celebrate unquestioningly the BLM narrative and his company’s “diversity and inclusion” programming; to the contrary, he argued that Reuters was exhibiting significant left-wing bias in the newsroom and that the ongoing BLM protests, riots, and calls to “defund the police” would wreak havoc on minority communities.”
Week after week, Kriegman felt increasingly disillusioned by the Thomson Reuters line. Finally, on the first Tuesday in May 2021, he posted a long, data-intensive critique of BLM’s and his company’s hypocrisy. He was sent to Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion for the chance to reform his thoughts. –
He refused—so they fired him. -City Journal
Kriegman, who has a bachelors in economics from Michigan, a JD from Harvard, and “years of experience with high-tech startups, a white-shoe law firm, and an econometrics research consultancy,” spent six years at Thomson Reuters, where he rose through the ranks to spearhead the company’s efforts on AI, machine learning, and advanced software engineering. By the time he was fired, he was the Director of Data Science, and lead a team which was in the process of implementing deep learning throughout the corporation.
Following the death of George Floyd, Kriegman described Reuters as a “blue bubble” where “people were constantly celebrating Black Lives Matter, where it was assumed that everyone was on board.”
The company asked employees to participated in a “21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge,” which promoted reparations, academic articles on critical race theory (on which Rufo has written extensively), and instructions on “how to be a better white person.”
The materials were both patronizing and ‘outright racist,’ writes Rufo. The Reuters workforce was told that their “black colleagues” are “confused and scared,” and are barely able to show up to work. They allegedly felt pressured to “take the personal trauma we all know to be true and tuck it away to protect white people,” who are unable to grasp the black experience because of their own whiteness. To right the wrongs of slavery and systemic oppression, white Reuters employees were told to let themselves get “called out” by minority colleagues, and then respond with “I believe you”; “I recognize that I have work to do”; “I apologize, I’m going to do better.”
Ultimately, white people are supposed to admit their complicity in systemic racism and repent for their collective guilt, because “White people built this system. White people control this system,” according to a learning module from self-described “wypipologist” Michael Harriot. “It is white people who have tacitly agreed to perpetuate white supremacy throughout America’s history. It is you who must confront your racist friends, coworkers, and relatives. You have to cure your country of this disease. The sickness is not ours.”
Kriegman came to believe that the company’s “blue bubble” had created a significant bias in the company’s news reporting. “Reuters is not having the internal discussions about the facts and the research, and they’re not letting that shape how they present the news to people. I think they’ve adopted a perspective and they’re unwilling to examine that perspective, even internally, and that’s shaping everything that they write,” Kriegman said. Consequently, Reuters adopted a narrative that promotes a naïve, left-wing narrative about Black Lives Matter and fails to provide accurate context—which is particularly egregious because, unlike obviously left-leaning outlets such as the New York Times, Reuters has a reputation as a source of objective news reporting.
A review of Reuters coverage over the spring and summer of 2020 confirms Kriegman’s interpretation. Though early articles covering the first days of the chaos in Minneapolis were straightforward about the violence—“Protests, looting erupt in Minneapolis over racially charged killing by police,” reads one headline—Reuters’s coverage eventually seemed like it had been processed to add ideology and euphemism. Beginning in the summer and continuing over the course of the year, the newswire’s reporting adopted the BLM narrative in substance and style. The stories framed the unrest as a “a new national reckoning about racial injustice” and described the protests as “mostly peaceful” or “largely peaceful,” despite widespread violence, looting, and crime. “More than 93% of recent demonstrations connected to Black Lives Matter were peaceful,” Reuters insisted, even as rioters caused up to $2 billion in property damage across the country. The company’s news reporters adopted the syntax of BLM activists. A May 8 story opened with the familiar “say their names” recitation, ignoring the fact that the first named individual, for example, had attacked a police officer, who was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing: “Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Their names are seared into Americans’ memories, egregious examples of lethal police violence that stirred protests and prompted big payouts to the victims’ families.” Even as Seattle’s infamous “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” descended into lawlessness and saw the brutal murder of two black teenagers, the newswire’s headlines downplayed the destruction, claiming that the Seattle protests were “diminished but not dismantled.” -City Journal
According to Kriegman, Reuters ‘data-based fact checks’ were also biased – and always in favor of BLM interpretations. In one instance, the wire service’s “special report” claimed that “a growing body of research supports the perception that police unfairly target Black Americans. They are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than their white compatriots. They also are more likely to be killed by police.” Reuters dedicated just two short paragraphs to refute the viewpoint, which it quickly dismisses to continue advancing the pro-BLM argument.
Reuters made an evidence-free claim that qualified immunity – which is protected by the Supreme Court – is “rooted in racism.” The company also hosted a panel with left-wing pundits to discuss criminal reform, which ended up uncritically promoting such policies as “defund the police,” and who suggested that “hundreds” of unjustified police killings of black men “fail to win victims any redress.” As usual, no facts backed up their claims.
The company’s data reporting consistently re-contextualized accurate information about racial violence and policing in order to align with Black Lives Matter rhetoric. In a “fact check” of a social media post that claimed whites are more likely to be killed by blacks than blacks are to be killed by whites, Reuters concedes that this is factually accurate but labels the post “misleading”—in part because it doesn’t show that police kill black people at a higher rate than their share of the overall population, a completely unrelated claim. Likewise, when President Donald Trump accurately pointed out that police officers kill “more white people” than black people each year, Reuters immediately published a story reframing the narrative. Though the report admitted that “half of people killed by police are white,” the writers pushed the line that “Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate” and then used a quotation from the American Civil Liberties Union to paint the president as a “racist.” -City Journal
“I did look through Reuters’s news, and it was concerning to me that a lot of the same issues that I was seeing in other media outlets seemed to be replicated in Reuters’s news, where they were reporting favorably about Black Lives Matter protests without giving any context to the claims that were being made at those protests [and] without giving any context about the ‘Ferguson effect’ and how police pulling back on their proactive policing has been pretty clearly linked to a dramatic increase in murders,” Kriegman told Rufo. “At a certain point, it just feels like a moral obligation to speak out when something that’s having such a devastating impact is being celebrated so widely, especially in a news company where the perspective that’s celebrated is having such a big impact externally.”
Kriegman took two months off from Thomson Reuters to ‘grapple with the statistical and ethical implications’ of how the company was reporting on the BLM movement and related riots. While on leave, he embarked on a careful statistical investigation comparing BLM’s claims on racism, violence and policing with hard evidence.
The result: a 12,000-word essay, titled “BLM is Anti-Black Systemic Racism,” that called into question the entire sequence of claims by the Black Lives Matter movement and echoed by the Reuters news team. “I believe the Black Lives Matter (‘BLM’) movement arose out of a passionate desire to protect black people from racism and to move our whole society towards healing from a legacy of centuries of brutal oppression,” Kriegman wrote in the introduction. “Unfortunately, over the past few years I have grown more and more concerned about the damage that the movement is doing to many low-income black communities. I have avidly followed the research on the movement and its impacts, which has led me, inexorably, to the conclusion that the claim at the heart of the movement, that police more readily shoot black people, is false and likely responsible for thousands of black people being murdered in the most disadvantaged communities in the country.” Thomson Reuters, Kriegman continued, has a special obligation to “resist simplistic narratives that are not based in facts and evidence, especially when those narratives are having such a profoundly negative impact on minority or marginalized groups.” -City Journal
The essay debunks three key claims of BLM activists and their media supporters.
- That police officers kill blacks disproportionately
- That law enforcement ‘over-polices’ black neighborhoods
- That policies such as “defund the police” will reduce violence.
Rufo breaks down Kriegman’s arguments:
First, Kriegman writes that the narrative about police officers systematically hunting and killing blacks is not supported by the evidence. “For instance, in 2020 there were 457 whites shot and killed by police, compared to 243 blacks. Of those, 24 of the whites killed were unarmed compared to 18 blacks,” he writes, citing the Washington Post database of police shootings. And though the number of blacks killed might be disproportionate compared with the percentage of blacks in the overall population, it is not disproportionate to the level of violent crime committed by black citizens. “Depending on the type of violent crime, whites either commit a slightly greater (non-fatal crimes) or slightly smaller (fatal, and serious non-fatal crimes) percentage of the total violent crime than blacks, but in all cases roughly in the same ballpark,” Kriegman writes. However, according to the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey data, “there are many more whites killed by police, even though whites account for a similar absolute number of violent offenders. Thus, if the number of potentially violent encounters with police reflects the violent crime rates, then the raw statistics suggest that there is actually a slight anti-white bias in police applications of lethal force.” To round out his case, Kriegman concludes with a study by Harvard’s Roland Fryer, which, according to Fryer, “didn’t find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime.”
Next, Kriegman takes up “over-policing.” Black Lives Matter activists and Reuters reporters had pushed the idea that police officers focus disproportionate attention on black neighborhoods and, because of deep-seated “racial bias,” are more likely to stop, search, and arrest black Americans “than their white compatriots.” While this might be true on its face, Kriegman writes, it misses the appropriate context: black neighborhoods are significantly more violent than white neighborhoods. If police want to reduce violent crime, they must spend more time in the places where violent crime occurs. Kriegman points out to his colleagues in Thomson Reuters’s Boston office that “the reason that police have more confrontations in predominantly black neighborhoods in Boston is because that is where the great bulk of violent crime is occurring,” with nearly all the annual murders happening in predominantly black neighborhoods such as Dorchester and Roxbury—far from the homes and offices of his colleagues in the professional-managerial class at Reuters. And Boston is hardly an outlier. According to Kriegman, the most rigorous statistical analyses demonstrate that violent-crime rates and policing are, in fact, highly correlated and proportionate. He quotes a Justice Department report which “found that for nonfatal violent crimes that victims said were reported to police, whites accounted for 48% of offenders and 46% of arrestees. Blacks accounted for 35% of offenders and 33% of arrestees. Asians accounted for 2% of offenders and 1% of arrestees. None of these differences between the percentage of offenders and the percentage of arrestees of a given race were statistically significant.”
Finally, Kriegman addresses the policy implications of “de-policing.” Contrary to Reuters’s sometimes glowing coverage of the “defund the police” movement, Kriegman makes the case that de-policing, whether it occurs because of the “Ferguson Effect” or because of deliberate policy choices, has led to disaster for black communities. His argument, building on the work of City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald, follows this logic: after high-profile police-involved killings, such as those involving Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Black Lives Matter movement and the media have demonized police departments and caused many officers to reduce proactive policing measures and to pull back from situations out of fear that they might need to use force. The result, according to data from a range of academic literature, is an increase in crime and violence. Kriegman again cites Fryer, who concluded that the Ferguson Effect led to 900 excess murders in five cities he considered, and the University of Utah’s Paul G. Cassell, who found that the “Minneapolis Effect” led to 1,520 excess murders in the United States. Thus, BLM’s signature policy solution—“defund the police”—would likely lead to incredible carnage in black communities. -City Journal
Instead of his essay winning hearts and minds at Reuters, where he hoped it would help his colleagues move beyond “the blue bubble” and see “how devastating Black Lives Matter has been to black communities,” Reuters HR panicked and took down Kriegman’s post.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I expected the reaction to be intense,” said Kriegman. “And it was.”
He says a “team of HR and communications professionals” were called in to manage the situation, which they told him they were “reviewing.”
When he asked multiple times about the company’s decision to remove his essay, he was told that it was too “antagonistic” and “provocative,” and that he needed to work with their head of diversity and inclusion, Cristina Juvier, if he wanted to pursue the matter further.
Read the rest of the report here.