Today brings a new incident of senseless violence that rips at the heart of the nation’s conscience. Six police officers were shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this morning, three of whom were killed. As usual in these circumstances, words are insufficient to convey the sour combination of sorrow, sympathy, and fury.
The motivation of the shooter(s) has yet to be determined as investigators are still trying to piece together the slowly unfolding evidence. President Obama spoke with passion and grace as he condemned the shootings and called on all Americans to be united in offering condolences and determination to end the cycle of violence. At times like these the least helpful contribution to the painful drama is irresponsible speculation and self-serving assignment of blame. So naturally, that’s what Fox News devoted itself to for most of the day. And it didn’t take them more than a few minutes to launch into a tirade of offensive and baseless allegations.
Long before any verifiable information was available, Fox was on the air condemning the shooting as a deliberate attack on law enforcement. Never mind that there was no evidence from either the police department, witnesses, suspects, or any other source affirming that conclusion. At Fox “News” facts just get in the way of the right-wing sensationalism that is the core of their narrative. Particularly when they are determined to cast blame for the crimes on their ideological foes.
Within minutes of the first reports, Fox News had drawn a conclusion about the shooter’s motives without having any proof. Host Harris Faulkner stated as fact that “This is an ambush of epic proportions.” Then she reached out to Fox’s trusty roster of knee-jerk conservatives for analysis. They included Steve Loomis, a police union official who embarked on a feverish rant about President Obama’s culpability for the shootings saying “the president of the United States has blood on his hands that will not be able to come washed off.” Then former FBI agent Steven Rogers asserted without foundation that the White House “added flames or fuel to the flame of racism.”
Fox’s own host Jeanine Pirro agreed with the Obama-blamers saying that “the killing of cops is now becoming normalized. It’s now becoming legitimized.” That’s a nearly delusional comment that defies reason. She went on to say that “I agree with your other guests to say that it starts at the top.” So Pirro believes that the President is legitimizing the killing of cops and, of course, no one on Fox asked her to validate that deranged and unsupported point of view.
Not to be left out, Donald Trump posted his reaction on Facebook and characteristically turned it into a self-serving political comment that also took aim at Obama: “We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order.” He followed that up with several alarmist tweets that focused on negativity and division. Contrast that with the statements by Obama and Hillary Clinton who called for unity in the face of adversity.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The blatant manner with which Fox endeavors to malign the President, and more generally the #BlackLivesMatter movement, despite the absence of any evidence, is a testament to their innate prejudices. But worse, it is a perversion of the most basic tenets of ethical journalism. Rather than waiting for confirmation of what occurred, Fox jumped straight to spinning their favorite fables of an exploding anti-cop epidemic and the total breakdown of civil society. It’s a stance that conveniently fits with their hatred of all things Obama and their advocacy of Donald Trump. But it is not how professional journalists conduct themselves, not that Fox cares about that.