By George E. Curry
Fox News blowhards will never admit that in covering the racially-charged swimming pool incident in McKinney, Texas, they blew it. But that’s exactly what they did. And rather than acknowledge that they went overboard in defending the misconduct of the police officer involved – conduct that the chief police later described as “out of control” – some of the network’s personalities are attacking those who pointed out that they messed up.
Fortunately, there was videotape of the unfortunate June 5 incident at a swimming pool in Craig Ranch, a predominantly White subdivision in McKinney, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas.
The video, which has received more than 11 million views on YouTube, shows a police officer identified as Cpl. Eric Casebolt attempting to throw Dajerria Becton, a slim, 15-year-old, bikini-clad African American, to the sidewalk.
“He told me to walk away and I did,” Becton told KDFW-TV. “Next thing I know I’m on the ground.”
The video, shot by a White teenager, shows Casebolt throwing Becton to the ground as she starts to walk away, yelling to her, “On your face.” He is seen grabbing her by the hair and placing his knee in her back while she was pinned to the ground under the weight of his body.
At one point, Casebolt drew his revolver and pointed it at two Black males until two of his fellow officers intervened and restrained him.
More than a half -dozen Fox commentators defended Casebolt, despite the video. One guest, Bo Dietl, was allowed to speculate about what one of the teens might have told the officer. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs asked, “what in the world” are police supposed to do when people “refuse to obey” their orders?
Fox News Host Megyn Kelly said “the girl was no saint either. He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger. And when the cop tells you to leave, you get out.” Kelly added, “I’m not defending his actions, let me make that clear.”
After mediamatters.org, the watchdog group, reported her remarks, Kelly took to the air to charge that “some of the left-wing press continue to use this incident to dishonestly push their own agenda.” However, she neglected to note that even some conservatives had criticized her.
For example, Reason.com stated, “Some conservatives, unfortunately, are falling over themselves to defend the police – the one kind of public employee who can do no wrong in the eyes of all-too many people on the right.Media Matters compiled a disheartening list of Fox News personalities raising baseless hypotheticals that could (maybe) justify Casebolt’s rash actions.”
Meanwhile, Casebolt’s behavior was so abhorrent that he has resigned and apologized for his actions.
Police Chief Greg Conley said, “Our policies, our training, our practice doesn’t support his actions. He came into the call out of control, and as the video shows was out of control during the incident.”
Fox News wasn’t the only offender.
It noted, “You are all familiar with this story. A young boy is playing in the park, a police car pulls up and in less than two seconds, 12-year old Tamir Rice is on the ground, bleeding from what would prove to be a fatal gunshot wound. For more than six months the investigation(s) into this videotaped killing has languished. Now, coincidentally, two days after a judge found probable cause that the police officer who shot Rice should face murder charges, and the Associated Press was presented with the opportunity to run a hit job on … Tamir Rice. And, boy, oh boy, did they run with it.”
Below are some excerpts from the AP story, written by Mark Gillispie, with Daily Kos commentary in italics.
AP headline: “Boy with pellet gun warned by friend before police shooting”
Comment: That’s right! Tamir was warned! No word if Tamir was warned that he would be shot without warning for the crime of being in a public park, because the only quotes in this article come from the prosecutor, an unnamed FBI agent and the shooter’s lawyer.
AP: Investigators were told that Tamir used the airsoft gun, which shoots non-lethal plastic projectiles, to shoot at car tires that day.
Comment: Not only non-lethal, but non-able-to-shoot-out-a-freaking-tire. Not to mention, that’s not why the police confronted Tamir.
AP: The video appears to show Tamir reaching for the pellet gun, which is tucked in his waistband, after he was shot.
Comment: It does? The only thing I see is Tamir reaching for his his stomach when he’s shot.
The reason I became a journalist was because I subscribe to a quote that has been attributed, with some variation, to both journalist Finley Peter Dunne and social activist “Mother” Mary Jones: “The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
In this instance, Fox News and the Associated Press got it backwards.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and BlackPressUSA.com. 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 previous columns at http://www.georgecurry.com/columns.