CNN drew backlash over an article claiming that worries over the recent murder of Bob Lee, a prominent technology entrepreneur and founder of CashApp, in the city of San Francisco do not account for the fact that other cities have worse crime rates.
Lee, who was the 43-year-old chief product officer of cryptocurrency startup MobileCoin upon his demise, was visiting downtown San Francisco when he was stabbed in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He is survived by two young daughters and was mourned by coworkers upon the news of his death.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and former UFC champion Jake Shields were among the well-known individuals who criticized San Francisco leadership over the death of Lee.
CNN published an article on Friday noting that violent crime rates in San Francisco “are well below that of many other cities of a similar size.”
“San Francisco now falls in the lower middle of the pack when compared with several cities of a similar population,” the article said, adding that cities such as Jacksonville, Columbus, and Indianapolis have higher homicide rates. The number of arrests in San Francisco has decreased 29% amid a drop in violent crime of 14% between 2019 and 2022.
George Tita, a criminal justice professor at the University of California Irvine, told CNN that Lee’s prominence as a technology entrepreneur garnered undue attention to his death. “When a very high profile tech person is murdered, it is just going to get more publicity than if it was an impoverished person in a neighborhood of color,” Tita contended. “It’s just low-hanging fruit. Nobody wants to look at actual statistics. Most of the states and counties with the highest level of crime statistics are in red states versus blue states.”
Conservative commentators argued it was absurd to brush off violent crime in the city by merely saying that other cities are even less safe. Even as violent crime diminishes, certain property crimes such as car thefts have risen dramatically.
“I was in SF back in February and saw signs in popular areas warning of having my car burglarized if I left things inside,” Townhall contributor Gabriella Hoffman remarked. “My best college friend, a longtime SF resident, now even refers to his city in unkind terms. That’s not the hallmark of a safe city, sorry. Sad what’s happened to this once-beautiful city.”
“It seems to me where and how violent crime occurs matters a lot,” RealClearInvestigations senior writer Mark Hemingway added. “Maybe Jacksonville has more murders per capita, but as a random law-abiding citizen there’s no question you feel much less safe spending an afternoon in downtown SF.”
Another social media user quipped that the death of Lee was a “mostly peaceful homicide” in the eyes of CNN, which gained notoriety for a news chyron three years ago that described a Black Lives Matter riot in Wisconsin as “fiery but mostly peaceful.”
Other social users commenters recalled that CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah was recently a victim of a robbery outside San Francisco City Hall. Thieves broke the window of her team’s rental car while they were reporting about rampant street crime and stole multiple bags despite the fact that the vehicle was protected by private security.