By George E. Curry
Fox News, which mislabels itself as “fair and balanced,” was anything but in 2014, according to MediaMatters.org, the independent media watchdog group. The way that the right-wing network covered the deaths of police officers in 2014 is a case in point.
“The politicization surrounding the killing of two New York Police Department officers over the weekend was amazingly swift. Fox News led the right-wing media charge, immediately claiming Democratic elected officials were somehow responsible for the gun rampage… ,” the MediaMatters analysis observed.
“On Fox, hosts and guests were sure who was to blame for the tragedy; not the gunman necessarily, but political and community leaders like President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mayor Bill de Blasio and MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. Why? Because the men, to varying degrees, have spoken out about the troubled relationship between law enforcement and the black community, and raised concerns about two recent high-profile cases, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, in which unarmed black men were killed, and police officers responsible were not indicted.”
The watchdog group continued, “…former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told Fox News, ‘I personally feel that Mayor de Blasio, Sharpton and others like them, they actually have blood on their hands.’
“’Let’s talk about the president as well,’” responded Fox’s Jeanine Pirro, suggesting Obama and Mayor de Blasio were to blame. “’The two of them have undoubtedly created racial tensions that worsens, not betters the situation for law enforcement.’”
“Appearing on Fox News, former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani insisted the message from recent Obama ‘propaganda’ was that ‘everybody should hate the cops.’ (No such Obama ‘propaganda’ actually exists.)”
MediaMatters noted, “Yet in stark contrast, as Media Matters has documented, Fox News has routinely paid very little attention to breaking news stories that feature right-wing, or anti-government, gunmen who target law enforcement officials as a way to deliver their warped political messages.
“And critically, when they have touched on those deadly attacks, Fox talkers have stressed that it’s not fair to blame politics. Note that in 2013, after racist skinhead Michael Page started killing worshipers at an Oak Creek, WI., Sikh temple, and then murdered a police officer, Fox’s Andrea Tantaros stressed that the killing spree was an isolated event that didn’t have any larger implications. ‘How do you stop a lunatic?’ she asked. ‘This is not a political issue.’
“At Fox, that has been the pattern: These kind of deadly right-wing attacks are treated as isolated incidents that are mostly void of politics. Instead, the perpetrators are portrayed as lone gunmen (and women) who do not represent any cultural or political movement.”
To buttress its assertion, MediaMatters stated:
“On a September night this year, 31-year-old marksman Eric Frein was allegedly laying in wait outside the Blooming Grove police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, preparing to assassinate state troopers. That night, state police officer Bryon Dickson was shot and killed as he walked towards his patrol car.
“…In the two weeks after the shooting, as a massive manhunt unfolded in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Fox programs mentioned Frein’s name in just six reports, according to Nexis transcripts. One of the reports mentioned Frein’s hatred of law enforcement, but none mentioned Frein’s vocal anti-government leanings.
“When Frein was finally captured in late October, Fox News covered the stories a handful of times. Again, there was no emphasis on his possible anti-government motivations and why the “survivalist” set out to assassinate law enforcement officers.
“Another police assassination attack unfolded in June. Claiming to be acting under the bloody ‘banner of Liberty and Truth,’ Jerad Miller and his wife Amanda entered a restaurant Las Vegas executed two local policemen while they ate lunch.
“…Fox News primetime hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity both ignored the shocking cop-killer story the night after it happened; Megyn Kelly devoted four sentences to it.
Fox has plenty of company on the right.
According to MediaMatters, the “Worst 2014 Smears From Right-Wing Websites” included:
The Daily Caller suggested that Obama’s statement expressing his condolences to the parents of Michael Brown was calculated to boost Black turnout in the midterm elections.” [Media Matters, 8/12/14]
In November 2014, Breitbart.com criticized the media for not mentioning that President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, “was one of the Clintons’ Whitewater defense attorneys.” But Breitbart.com targeted the wrong Loretta Lynch – the woman they named, a defense attorney for the Clintons, is a California based attorney who has worked on several prominent political campaigns, and is White. The nominee Loretta Lynch became a federal prosecutor in 1990, two years before the other Lynch participated in the Whitewater investigation, was appointed by President Clinton as a U.S. Attorney in 1999, and is Black.” [Media Matters, 11/9/14]
Yes, Black lives matter. And so does the truth.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.