The Many Failures of Scott Israel

Michael Geiger

One of the main problems in the left’s analysis of mass shootings is their haste to take a macroscopic view of the event. Minutes after news of a shooting breaks, before all the facts can be confirmed, social media platforms are plastered with fiery takes about America’s societal gun problems. Media organizations play into this snap-judgement culture by tripping over themselves while reporting in the immediate aftermath of these tragedies.

For example, less than 24 hours after the Parkland shooting took place, New York Magazine incorrectly linked the shooter to a white supremacist group, giving free publicity to a reprehensible organization. This false report created a narrative that many people latched onto, coloring their opinion of the whole event. But New York Magazine weren’t alone in their mishandling of the events that followed the shooting.

The most egregious attempt to frame the Parkland shooting to fit an agenda came from the man most responsible for preventing the tragedy in the first place: Sheriff Scott Israel. Just days after the shooting, during a CNN Town Hall debate, Israel called for more extensive gun control legislation, stating to the crowd of students present, “My generation, we did not get it done. You will get it done.” Instead of taking any blame for the shooting, Israel deflected the criticism onto the shoulders of Dana Loesch and Senator Marco Rubio, two people who had nothing to do with the shooting whatsoever.

A few days after the town hall, Israel made it clear during an interview with Jake Tapper that he wasn’t done grandstanding. When asked by Tapper if he would take any responsibility for what had taken place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Israel responded, “Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency.” 

Later on in the interview, after Tapper cited the department’s failure to act on the 23 calls they received regarding the shooter, he asked Israel, “Do you think if the Broward Sheriff’s office had handled things differently, this shooting might not have happened?” Israel responded, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, yeah know, uh, OJ Simpson would still be in the record books.” Tapper than slammed Israel by saying, “I don’t know what that means. There’s 17 dead people and a whole long list of things your department could have done differently.” 

Tapper is 100% correct in this exchange, as Sheriff Israel inexplicably refuses to recognize any poor judgement on his part in the time leading up to the shooting. The entire 28 minute interview is available here, and I would advise anyone willing to defend the sheriff to view it in its entirety. 

Scott Israel failed. He failed as a sheriff, as a public figure, and as a man. Instead of facing up to these failures, he decided to sidestep all blowback and slander his political enemies. Israel deftly crafted a narrative that kept the heat off of him, using the emotions of those most impacted by the shooting to benefit his personal agenda.

In the aftermath of a tragic event such as the school shooting in Florida, the media has a responsibility to report accurately, and the public has a responsibility to judiciously examine the facts before contributing to a public forum. It’s clear that for the most part the press and the powers that be have abdicated their responsibility; it’s critical that we don’t abdicate ours.