If you’ve watched Fox at all this week, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the beating of a white student by three black older students on a school bus in Florida. Fox has seized on this story and, with sickening enthusiasm, used it for no other reason than to gin up racial animosity in its lily-white viewers.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the facts of the incident as follows:
The dispute began on July 9 when one of the three boys tried to sell the younger boy marijuana while the two were in a bathroom at their drop out prevention school, prompting the younger teen to notify school officials, according to WFLA.com.
Later that day, Joshua Reddin, Julian McKnight and Lloyd Khemradj were on the bus when they confronted their peer about the incident and began beating him while the school bus driver 64-year-old John Moody began to panic and call for help.
Not only does the Orlando Sentinel not indicate that race was the motive for the beating, Fox News’ own reporting said that the incident was about drugs.
Sadly, that did not stop the “fair and balanced” network from just assuming that race was involved or else insisting that it should be. For example, a FoxNews.com article was headlined, “Civil rights activists remain silent on Florida school bus beating video.” Yet the same article also reported, “Police say the three youths, all African-American, attacked the boy after he told officials at their dropout prevention school that one of them had tried to sell him marijuana.” There are no reports of racial epithets nor unfair treatment of the white victim because of his race. The same is true in a later FoxNews.com article called, “Critics blast Jackson, Sharpton over silence on Florida school bus beating,” which reported, “Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent told Fox News the attack does not appear to be racially motivated and was due to the younger boy reporting that one of the assailants had tried to sell him marijuana.”
But not only did Fox chide civil rights leaders for not somehow jumping in to defend the white kid anyway, they teamed up with George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert – who has a history of real, documented racism – to make race-baiting attacks on Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. From FoxNews.com:
Robert Zimmerman Jr., who vociferously defended his brother against charges the shooting of Martin was racially motivated, also chimed in, taking Sharpton and Jackson to task for staying silent on the beating.
“It’s time 2 “unplug” their mic if U ask me...“@JimmieFleek: @rzimmermanjr @TheRevAl @RevJJackson apparently racism only works one way?” Zimmerman tweeted.
The fact that Fox News assumed that racial animosity just had to be involved or that black leaders should just act as though it were, regardless, speaks volumes about the network’s own racial hostility.
But even if race was involved in the beating, there’s nothing to make the case especially noteworthy from a racial standpoint. Does Fox really think that civil rights leaders have workers sitting in some “grievance” headquarters, like NSA data miners, making sure to catch every single racial incident in order to blow it up into a big effing deal?
If Fox really thinks that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or any other black leaders should be out there condemning the attack, just because it involved a black person, then why isn’t Fox out there reporting on all the white-on-black crime and considering those racial implications? The fact is, as Fox may prefer to forget, the network largely ignored the Trayvon Martin shooting as the story began to unfold. Unlike the bus beating case, the Trayvon Martin case involved larger issues surrounding race and justice from the get-go. As I wrote at the time:
Martin had no criminal record but the shooter, 28 year-old George Zimmerman, did.
The tragedy is not just the race element - Zimmerman was apparently “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” But there are also questions of vigilantism and law enforcement. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain where residents felt threatened by crime. Zimmerman has not been arrested and was not tested for drugs or alcohol after Martin was killed. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law places the threshold for self-defense so low that you need little more than your word to show that your life was in danger.
In contrast to the Zimmerman case, the Florida bus beaters were arrested shortly after the crime occurred. It’s hard to think what racial elements are involved in the bus case other than thuggery while black.
Media Matters’ Ari Rabin-Havt further noted in his post about the way the right has used the Florida school-bus case:
In the month since the attack, no one has excused the actions of the attackers, no one has suggested the victim deserved a beating, no one has rooted through social media accounts in an attempt to blame the victim, and no one suggested that he had it coming because of his choice of clothing. Conservatives engaged in all of these actions during the 46 days between the killing of Trayvon Martin and the arrest of George Zimmerman.
Are you sensing a pattern here? I am. It's called, "Heads, blacks are guilty; tails, whites are innocent."
But wait, there’s more. Fox never seems to tire of saying that the Trayvon Martin case was not about race (while ignoring how Zimmerman’s chief defender is a virulent racist), and that the “grievance industry” was merely using the case to gin up animosity. If that’s truly the case, then why should they get involved now? Because it’s always racial when a white kid is the victim regardless of what the police say?
Media Matters put together a mashup video (below) of Fox News race baiting over the Florida bus beating. I’m sure it won’t surprise many of our regular readers to find out that many of the chief shriekers in the video have very dubious racial records of their own. I guess they think they’ll camouflage it via that old adage, the best (racial) defense is a good (racial) offense.
UPDATE: While I was drafting this post, our own Priscilla wrote up a detailed breakdown of the bus beating on The Five earlier this week. Although, ultimately, she arrived at similar conclusions, she included some unique details worth checking out, such as "sociologist" Greg Gutfeld's analysis of the brawl as "the consequences of a dying morality and a break-down of family."