The public knows very little about Miriam Carey, the woman who Capitol Police identified as the person who rammed her black Infiniti into a White House barricade last Thursday.
We know little about Carey thanks in part to a distracted District press corps, who’ve obliged readers with terse, routine reporting about her death so that they can get back to crafting their shallow insights into the government shutdown instead.
As politics take the place of governance in Washington, journalists have stopped asking why; instead, they favor what, merely recapping that fact that something did happen while freeing themselves of the responsibility of telling readers how things arrived at the current state of affairs.
This is true of political reporting, and is also true of stories like Carey’s, which exists in the margins, lacking the highlight-reel quality of political bloodsport.
When the press corps learned that Carey had no ties to extremist organizations, when her story was simply that she was a mom who had issues with mental health, she disappeared from prominence on major news websites, tucked away in the corners in an “in other news” sort of way.
No one really cared to ask why she was gunned down; they did enough to satisfy the required notation that she had been. Lacking the melodrama of international terror, everyone went home.
But Carey’s family has done what journalists have not. Her sister, Amy Carey-Jones, spoke with Anderson Cooper about Carey’s postpartum depression diagnosis, that she’d received a mental health evaluation and took prescription medications used to treat her psychosis.
Others associated with Carey have also mentioned a serious fall that lead to a significant head injury and hospitalization.
In the press corps recap, the public has learned that Carey was unarmed when police fatally shot her.
They have not explained why police applied deadly force.
The press corps has told us that her daughter, a toddler, was just feet away from her mother when she died, unbeknownst to the shooting officers at the time.
But reporters have not said anything about how the warnings of being shots fired at the Capitol were mischaracterized as coming from Carey.
The Secret Service and Capitol Police killed an unarmed woman in a public space in broad daylight.
The woman never left her vehicle.
Because of them, a little girl is without her mother.
And no one seems to be asking why.
Carey's actions, while erratic, did not justify the use of deadly force. Learning that she’d had mental health issues makes the actions of the Capitol Police and Secret Service police even more important to question. As the story of Miriam Carey’s death gets pushed out of the news cycle without demand for accountability or explanation, it’s just one more reminder of the important work that isn’t getting done on Capitol Hill.