Editors Note/Correction: Zac Kriegman held no editorial or journalism functions at Thomson Reuters as originally reported.
A former data analyst for Thomson Reuters asserts that he was fired because he crunched and shared numbers that revealed the Black Lives Matter narrative about police shootings was wrong, if not outright false.
On Thursday, Zac Kriegman, who was the director of “data science” for the Thomson Reuters news syndicate, maintained in a Substack article posted Thursday that his career ended after his analysis stumbled upon a story “Reuters didn’t want to tell.”
In his piece, Kriegman says that he was with the company for six years and before he left, was in charge of a unit that analyzed tax, legal, and news data.
In 2020, he said, a “new ideology” took root. An internal platform called the Hub was awash in stories critical of white people with articles shared with titles like “Habits of Whiteness” and “How to Be a Better White Person.”
“There was fervent and vocal support for Black Lives Matter at every level of the company. No one challenged the racial essentialism or the groupthink,” Kriegman wrote.
“This concerned me,” he added, noting he had followed the academic research on BLM for years, which led him to conclude “that the claim upon which the whole movement rested—that police more readily shoot black people—was false.”
“The data was unequivocal. It showed that, if anything, police were slightly less likely to use lethal force against black suspects than white ones,” Kriegman wrote.
He noted that, based on The Washington Post database of police shootings, cops shot and killed 39 percent more whites than blacks. But since there are about six times as many whites as blacks in America, the number should be 600 percent.
But that simplistic formula failed to account for the specifics of each individual case. When you controlled for the variable, Kriegman wrote, white were “disproportionately” shot more often than blacks. Other analysts supported that finding.
Yet, Kriegman noted, “For many months I stayed silent. I continued to read Reuters’ reporting on the movement, and started to see how the company’s misguided worldview about policing and racism was distorting the way we were reporting news stories to the public.”
As examples, he noted Reuters coverage of the police shooting of Jacob Blake failed to mention that cops shot Blake after he grabbed a knife and lunged at them. In another instance, Reuters declared there was a “wave of killings of African-Americans by police using unjustified lethal force,” even though the entire number in 2020 was only 18 unarmed black people, and there was no indication all were “unjustified.”
He added, “Reporters and editors would omit key details that undermined the BLM narrative. More important than reporting accurately was upholding—nurturing—that storyline.”
But, he noted, “At some point, the organization went from ignoring key facts to just reporting lies.”
Kriegman said he was troubled by this because Reuters, while not the biggest syndicate, has a national reach and “influences our perception of reality.”
He began working on an article explaining his findings. It mattered because the effect on police practices and budget, which also affected black neighborhoods.
“The BLM lie had led to the murder of thousands of black people. To drive home my point, I included this striking statistic: On an average year, 18 unarmed black people and 26 unarmed white people are shot by police. By contrast, roughly 10,000 black people are murdered annually by criminals in their own neighborhoods,” said Kriegman.
He finally posted his piece in May 2021. And within two hours, it was gone, removed by the company for being deemed “antagonistic” and “provocative.” The company’s human resources unit refused to repost it.
The article was reposted after it was changed to suit the company’s internal diversity police. And the condemnation rolled in – with no response from HR, Kriegman noted. In fact, the company appeared to condone the attacks with its silence.
“After enduring waves of abuse, I emailed H.R. to express my concern about these attacks on me and their chilling effect. They responded by removing my post—and shutting down the conversation. I was told that, if I discussed my experience on any internal company communications channel, I would be fired,” Kriegman wrote.
Eventually, because he pressed the issue again, he was fired.
“Most of us don’t understand how deeply compromised our news sources have become. Most of us have no idea that we are suffused with fictions and half-truths that sound sort of believable and are shielded from scrutiny by people whose job is to challenge them. This is true, above all, of my fellow liberals, who assume that only Republicans complain about the mainstream media. But this is not a partisan issue. This is a We The People issue,” Kriegman argued.
“Thousands of black Americans are dead, in part because too many people are still unaware of basic facts about policing since their trusted news sources meticulously obscure the truth,” he concluded.
“The job of journalists is to report the stories that don’t comport with the prevailing or popular narrative. We desperately need them to do that again.”