Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
On March 31, a South Bend grandma brought her grandson to the hospital. The 11-month-old baby boy had been shot. His grandmother’s car had also taken fire. It was another early morning in South Bend.
Around the same time, Mayor Buttigieg, was toting up the $7 million in donations from his charm offensive as his bid for the 2020 Democrat nomination got underway. The national media never bothered reporting the shooting of an 11-month-old boy in the city he was supposed to be running, but instead confined its coverage of South Bend matters to a publicity stunt wedding officiated by Buttigieg.
The horrifying shooting of an 11-month-old boy on the millennial mayor’s watch was not an unusual incident. In the last few days, even as the media was gushing over Buttigieg’s presidential ambitions, two Indiana University South Bend players were injured in a shooting on Notre Dame Avenue, a blind date ended in a shooting, and yet another shooting added to the bloody toll in the real South Bend.
Those are quite a few shootings for a city of barely 100,000 people. But South Bend is a violent place.
While Chicago is notorious for its murder rate, in 2015, Buttigieg’s South Bend actually topped Chicago’s 16.4 homicides per 100,000 people with a homicide rate of 16.79 per 100,000 people. Those numbers put Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s city on the list of the top 30 murder capitals in the country for the year.
In January, three shootings in one week killed two teens and left a woman paralyzed from the waist down. In one summer week, the casualties included a 12 and a 13-year-old. Last year, a man shot 6 people when he opened fire on 50 partygoers in a house and was sentenced to 100 years in jail.
By 2017, shootings had risen 20% on Mayor Buttigieg’s watch. Rapes increased 27% and aggravated assaults rose from 183 in 2013, the year before Buttigieg took office, to a stunning 563 assaults.
It’s hard to know which are flying faster, bullets in South Bend or dollars into Buttigieg’s campaign.
Some of these stories, particularly the recent shootings of two baseball players which shocked Indiana University, should have been covered by the national media, which instead chose to broadcast Buttigieg’s publicity stunt of officiating at a pregnant woman’s wedding in a hospital. Had the media stuck around, it could have reported on the trail of shooting victims making their way into the hospital.
But reporting on an 11-month-old being shot in their hot new candidate’s city wouldn’t be as much fun.
The media’s bias has never been subtle, but its disinterest in a presidential candidate’s track record has never been this blatant. Mayor Buttigieg’s candidacy is being covered as if he weren’t the mayor of an actual city with actual problems. Instead his prospects have been covered purely in terms of his identity, a gay millennial, his past career before taking office, and his current witticisms and applause lines.
At no point in time does the media stop to tell the viewers and readers it is regaling with stories of Mayor Buttigieg’s charm that he runs the most dangerous city in Indiana, recently rated as one of the “worst cities to live”, where nearly half the residents live at the poverty level, and even the water is bad.
These are significant data points in the track record of a politician aspiring to run the entire country.
The media keeps asking Mayor Buttigieg which of its wishlist of radical socialist policies he’s willing to sign on to, the Green New Deal, eliminating private health insurance, and freeing more convicts, rather than asking him which policies he used to try and solve problems in South Bend. And how they worked.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has tried to pass off South Bend’s crime problem as a national issue. But South Bend’s violent crime rates, double the Indiana and American average, run counter to national trends.
Buttigieg responded by doubling down on Group Violence Intervention, a trendy community outreach strategy to gang members, which despite being widely touted by the media, doesn’t work. Gimmicks, ranging from AI to wonkery, were rolled out and the shootings, the rapes and assaults have continued.
Mayor Buttigieg excels at buzzwords and gimmicks. He’s just terrible at actually running a city.
That’s why property crime in South Bend is rising. It’s why the city is overrun with gangs. It’s why South Bend is poor, blighted and miserable. Violence is just one of the many symptoms of Buttigieg’s failures.
South Bend’s top employers are the local schools and hospitals, and the local government. And a local casino. Unemployment and taxes are higher than average. Meanwhile the average income is below $20,000. The poverty rate is 25%. African-American poverty rates are double. Hispanic poverty rates are 10% higher than the national average. And even Asian-Americans are poorer than usual in South Bend.
Buttigieg’s failed city is a tragic counterpart to Lake Wobegon where everything is below average.
The media has ignored the reality in South Bend while touting Buttigieg as a rival for the hearts of Rust Belt voters. But Buttigieg hasn’t won by winning over traditional Rust Belt voters. South Bend’s white population has dropped steadily on his watch and the city is on track for majority minority status. The remaining white population is skewed toward a white lefty elite coming for its educational institutions.
South Bend isn’t a typical Rust Belt city. It’s a typical blue city, divided sharply between poor minorities and a leftist elite without any of the culture or tech industries that keep New York or Los Angeles going. Its traditional population has been leaving steadily and that departure only accelerated during Buttigieg’s disastrous time in office.
Much has been made of Buttigieg winning reelection by 80%. This isn’t a testament to his unique charisma. Democrats have had a lock on the mayorality in South Bend for two generations.
The media cheers that Buttigieg won 80% of the vote. It neglects to mention that it was 8,515 votes. That’s about the 8,369 votes that came in during the primaries. Buttigieg raised $337,161 dollars while his Republican opponent, Kelly Jones, had raised $584 dollars. The millennial wunderkind needed $40 bucks a vote while his unknown Republican opponent managed at around a quarter a vote.
Like South Bend’s poverty and crime statistics, these are figures that the media doesn’t report because it would reveal that their shiny new candidate is a hollow façade with nothing inside except spin.
Mayor Buttigieg isn’t winning 80% because he’s universally beloved. That percentage isn’t a testament to his popularity, but to a political system in which hardly anybody except a few lefties bothers to vote.
The truth about “Mayor Pete” is that he’s the son of a Marxist prof working in Notre Dame who used the death throes of a dying city to polish his brand and then jump into the 2020 race over dead bodies.
South Bend is a human tragedy. And while Buttigieg isn’t solely responsible for his woes, he has exploited it, instead of trying to fix it, using buzzwords and gimmicks to build a national brand.
That’s something he has in common with fellow failed hipster mayor and 2020 candidate, Cory Booker.
But Senator Booker was at least clever enough to put a little distance between his tenure in Newark and his 2020 bid. Mayor Buttigieg is betting that the national media won’t bother looking at South Bend.
So far he’s been proven right.
The media keeps touting Buttigieg’s Ivy League credentials, his identity as a gay politician, and his charm. When it mentions South Bend, it’s only to claim that he “turned it around” and that he won his last election by 80%. South Bend hasn’t been turned around. Downtown has gotten a hipster revamp, while the rest of South Bend chokes on crime, violence and misery. But Buttigieg knows that the national media will never bother doing more than reporting on new bike paths and an organic grocery.
The 11-month-old boy who came into the hospital with a wound in his shoulder won’t catch their eye. But as Mayor Buttigieg keeps raising money hand over fist, South Bend continues to bleed and die.
And Buttigieg is hoping that he can sneak into the White House before the blood gets on his hands.
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