Crime has risen in the U.S. since the pandemic began, but things in the past have been much, much worse. In New York City this year, 115,000 crimes have been in the most violent categories tracked by the New York Police Department through the end of November: assaults, car thefts, rapes, burglaries. There have been about 391 murders, reports the Washington Post. In 1990, near the peak of the city’s worst period of crime, there were nearly 530,000 crimes that fell into those most-violent categories, including more than 2,200 murders. That was at a point when the city’s population was 14 percent smaller than it is now. Why do so many people think it and other cities are hopelessly dangerous? The New York Times interviewed residents of Long Island, just east of the city, and asked them why they voted so heavily for Republican candidates in a very blue state. One answer that kept coming up: crime, particularly as exemplified by New York City.
Others, often in less densely populated areas, have waved away the idea that cities are anything but crime-infested hellholes. A political candidate from Texas declared in September that “there isn’t one major city that we would feel safe taking our children to visit.” Rural and urban Americans live in very different political worlds. If rural residents don't spend a lot of time in cities, they may be susceptible to overwrought presentations of what’s happening in them. When protests over police treatment of Black men and women began in 2020, Fox News spent an enormous amount of airtime covering vandalism and looting that occasionally spun out of the protests. In July 2020, Fox News talked about cities in the context of crime or violence at least 1,000 times. In 2022, the network has talked about cities in the context of crime in more than 2,750 segments. One person who spoke with the New York Times attributed her concerns to the headlines she’d seen about “crazy stuff” going on — a central component of Fox News coverage and New York Post covers, which she admitted she read. Crime is up now, but it’s up in rural areas as well as urban ones. There are fewer random subway attacks in rural Iowa than New York City, but there are also more random, observed acts of violence in a large city that make the news because there are more people around to interact and to observe what happened. Murder is down in New York City this year, though you wouldn’t know it from the coverage on Fox News.