The hosts of Fox & Friends went out of their way Sunday to malign civil rights leader and MSNBC host Al Sharpton. In multiple segments throughout their morning broadcast they aired videos of Sharpton at a rally in Washington, D.C. to protest the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and other victims of police brutality.
However, in a deliberate act of journalistic deceit, they spliced those videos together with a separate event in New York City where some protesters were heard disparaging the police and chanting for “dead cops.” [Video below]
The implication by Fox was that Sharpton was leading those marchers. But the anti-cop marchers were not a part of any official program connected to the New York protest and certainly not connected to the rally in Washington where Sharpton spoke. They were described by the New York Daily News as a “breakaway group” from a much larger, and largely peaceful demonstration in Manhattan.
By editing together these unrelated videos, Fox leaves the impression that Sharpton himself was calling for the death of police officers. The Fox hosts made things worse by adding their own commentary to the same effect. Here is a sampling of the dialog from the program:
Tucker Carlson (laughing): Huh. So the first clip you heard people are saying, “We want the cops dead.” And the second you heard Al Sharpton say “We’re not against the police.”
Clayton Morris: And a lot of protesters were holding signs that said “Real thugs wear flag pins.” And Sharpton saying “We’re not anti-police?”
Co-host Anna Kooiman did note that there were 25,000 people there who feel very strongly about the cause and that “largely it was peaceful.” She added that she didn’t hear any of the anti-police chanting but acknowledged that “there are always bad apples” in large crowds. At that, Carlson expanded on his diatribe.
Carlson: What they were doing as a group is making this into a racial issue, and that’s what I object to. I don’t have any problem with a conversation about police brutality. I don’t want the police looking like Delta Force. I think that’s a real conversation I’m happy to engage in. I may agree with them. What I don’t think this is about is race. I don’t think these are examples of racism, and I think it’s totally unhelpful to make this a conversation about white vs. black. And it’s ridiculous to have it led by Al Sharpton who has zero credibility at all. He’s a hustler and, I think, a criminal.
Let’s just set aside the fact that Carlson’s characterization of Sharpton is itself racist in tone and he failed to support his reckless accusation of criminality by Sharpton. Carlson’s alleged interest in a conversation about police brutality is completely disingenuous. Prior to this becoming a national news story he never sought to initiate such a conversation. And while he may want to dismiss the racial component of the crisis, the facts show that African-American men are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than white men. Ignoring these statistics makes it impossible to have an honest debate on the subject.
Next the Curvy Couch Potatoes set about to shift the discussion to another topic that better fits their prejudiced viewpoints. Like many other conservative pundits, they drift off to question why civil rights activists never address the breakdown of the family or the incidence of crime in their communities. Of course, that’s a false charge because those topics are a constant part of the dialog, but the elitist TV personalities at Fox are simply too far removed from the real world to have noticed it.
Carlson: It’s so much easier just to claim that white racism is America’s biggest problem. […] You don’t have to do anything about massive unemployment in the black community, about crime in the black community, about the destruction of the black family. Those are the real issues, but you get to ignore them when you blame it all on racism. And so it serves the purposes of a couple of people – President Obama, Al Sharpton – but it kinda shafts everyone else.
Carlson’s analysis is exactly backwards. In truth, by focusing only on unemployment or crime you get to ignore racism, which is the cause of many of the other problems faced by the black community he pretends to be so concerned about. And he makes certain not to miss the opportunity to portray the President as exploiting the race issue, because what else would a black president do?
The arrogance and condescension of these privileged TV divas is emblematic of the Fox News approach to race. They are certain that they know better than the people who are directly affected by society’s bigotry and if only those black folks would listen to them everything would get straightened out in a matter of days. And race wouldn’t have anything to do with it. But that view is unrealistic and based on their own sheltered experiences. They are demonstrating an ethic that was profoundly articulated on a sign that somehow got included in the video that Fox aired for this very segment:
That could not be a more perfect image to represent Fox News: “Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people.” And that message is ironically sitting right above Fox’s text that blatantly lies that “Al Sharpton leads protest against police.” To be clear, the protest was NOT against police. It was against unlawful use of excessive force. It is a distinctly pro-police position to advocate on behalf of the majority of officers who are lawful, decent, protectors of all citizens. Good cops don’t want bad cops sullying their reputation.
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