Competing on the Amy Bishop story

Who could have reasonably hoped during last year’s angst over the future of the Boston Globe that it would still be allowed to spend money and compete with its dominant corporate sibling, the New York Times? Yet here we are, and the Globe and the Times both have long, all-known-facts takeouts today on the bizarre case of Amy Bishop.

The Times is better at explaining why Bishop didn’t get tenure at the University of Alabama at Huntsville: apparently she just wasn’t that good. The Times, though, doesn’t mention Bishop’s years in Ipswich, an episode in her life on which the Globe is strong. The Globe quotes a neighbor named Arthur Kerr: “When she moved out everyone said, ‘Those poor people in Alabama.’ Little did we know.”

The Boston Herald runs a shorter piece focused on the immediate aftermath of Bishop’s fatal shooting of her brother, Seth, in 1986. It ends with a rather astonishing piece of information: Thomas Pettigrew — whose tale of having been ignored by authorities after Bishop allegedly pointed a gun at him 24 years ago has emerged as a key element — is being ignored once again.

9 thoughts on “Competing on the Amy Bishop story

  1. ben starr

    Wondered if anyone else came away from the Globe piece and wondered if Bishop was somewhere on the autism spectrum. While it puts people on edge when crimes are explained with a disorder such as this, the consistent “failure to connect” message throughout the story was tough to ignore.

  2. Ron Newman

    I’d like to see a little more explanation of this puzzling sentence in the Times article:

    “By the time of the reports, the police had already swept every room of the science building, finding nothing but a 9-millimeter handgun in the second-floor restroom.”

    Is it normal and unremarkable to find abandoned handguns in Alabama university restrooms? Was the gun loaded? Did it belong to Amy Bishop?

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @Ron: Immediately preceding that is a section in which we learn that university officials were worried they would find evidence of biological poisoning. They were not surprised to find a gun, because Bishop had just finished shooting six people. From the context of the story, we are left to assume that it was her gun. Since no one’s finger was on the trigger, I don’t know as if it makes much difference whether it was loaded or not.

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @L.K. Even Bishop’s lawyer concedes there were direct eyewitnesses to her shooting rampage. So what is the “huge difference” that you’re referring to? I suppose we would be talking about a mysterious gun that had nothing to do with the shootings.

  3. Mike Benedict

    @Ben: That occurred to me, but my physician wife, who is an expert on such things, says probably not. Narcissistic, definitely. (She has nothing more than a passing interest in the case, btw.)

    What will be interesting to watch is how they structure the insanity defense.

  4. L.K. Collins

    Look carefully at the implications of an UNFIRED and/or UNLOADED weapon not found on the suspect. Does it belong to the suspect? Why is it where it is? Who left it there?

    Hint: Possible co-conspirator, and possible until it can be ruled out.

    Jumping to conclusions can lead to assumptions that take you down the wrong track. Asking questions is relevant only if you ask ALL of the relevant questions.

    Doing otherwise is directing a conclusion. Not good investigative or journalistic practice.

    This is not to say that considering the weapon as belonging to the suspect is incorrect; only that the alternatives need to be reviewed before drawing conclusions.

  5. BP Myers

    To dismiss the murder weapon (if it was the murder weapon) as “nothing but a nine-millimeter handgun” is indeed bizarre.

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @BP: Awkward writing and inadequate reporting, perhaps, but no evidence that investigators aren’t doing their jobs. As I said, that section was devoted to the idea that Bishop may have left some biological agent behind. Most likely police tested the gun and quickly determined that it was hers, and had been fired. The Times for whatever reason didn’t consider that to be a particularly important angle.

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