After Sean Hannity spent numerous segments highlighting – some might say obsessing over - licentious and even criminal behavior during spring break in Panama City Beach, Florida, opponents of the crackdown that resulted are suing the city and accusing Fox News of stoking the racial animosity that fueled the new restrictions.
As The Washington Times explains, legislation passed in the wake of Fox News’ coverage includes banning liquor-drinking on the beach and in commercial parking lots during March and sales of alcohol after 2 AM. In response, some businesses and patrons are suing the city, claiming its actions were racist. The plaintiffs had been denied permission to show the jury Fox News’ coverage as proof that it stoked racial animosity in city officials. But now a federal judge has ruled that the jury should be allowed to view it:
Beach businesses and patrons upset with laws meant to crack down on the rite of spring have been suing the city, accusing local lawmakers of illegal and prejudiced actions, which they blame on Fox News coverage.
A federal judge with the Northern District of Florida has agreed to let a jury decide whether they are right.
“Plaintiffs’ characterization of the Fox News coverage as focusing disproportionately on African-Americans at Spring Break is probably a stretch, but it is by no means ‘objectively false,’” Judge Mark E. Walker wrote in a four-page order this month denying the city’s request that Fox News’ spring break coverage be withheld as evidence of racial animus.
“Particularly where issues of race and gender are involved, the same video footage may be interpreted quite differently by different people. For this Court to decide that the Fox News coverage did not, as a factual matter, focus disproportionately on African-Americans would be an inappropriate usurpation of the role of the jury.”
I have long written about Hannity’s despicable race baiting. The reporter for the spring break segments, Ainsley Earhardt, once helped him go to bat for segregation in Westchester County and she more recently complained about being “so tired of protecting" minority rights. However, I did not personally find the coverage racist, per se.
But there are several questions whose answers could change my mind: Why did Hannity focus only on Panama City Beach and not spring break in various locales? Does Panama City Beach have a particularly high concentration of minority revelers? Were the black-crime cases Hannity highlighted anomalies that got disproportionate attention while white crimes were ignored? And how much crime is there in other spring break spots?
You can view a good sampling of the Fox coverage we wrote about in the links below:
From Fox News:
Was the coverage racist? I report, you decide!
The Stop Hannity Express applauds these businesses and patrons for their effort to expose these Fox “News” frauds.
NOTE TO PANAMA CITY BEACH PLAINTIFFS
You have a strong chance to win this case if you get Hannity, his producers, and the executives involved in the coverage to testify in court. We advice it. We recommend it. We encourage it.