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FOX News Bigotry And Bias In Black And White

Reported by Ellen - June 18, 2006

FOX News must have decided the legal system is for other people. When it comes to the cases its conservative pundits care about, their decisions rule, not those of a judge or jury. It’s a pretty simple system. White conservatives: Not guilty. Black Democrats: Always guilty.

The disparity in treatment could not have been plainer than in the zillionth rehash of the second-most important legal case in the FOX News hierarchy (after the Duke lacrosse case), Cynthia McKinney’s scuffle with a police officer. There were two FOX News alerts during Friday night’s (6/16/06) Hannity & Colmes to let us know the gravity of the decision by the grand jury not to indict Cynthia McKinney. It was almost but not quite as important as the decision not to indict Karl Rove. But whereas Rove’s non-indictment was saluted as an outright acquittal (despite the fact that there has been no official statement), the decision not to indict McKinney was treated like a grave miscarriage of justice. Meanwhile, the investigation into FOX News’ regular guest Ann Coulter’s possible voter fraud, tax fraud and allegations of plagiarism has gone largely unmentioned during any of her numerous recent appearances plugging her new book.

The sole guest for the latest McKinney discussion was Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson is a black man who can always be counted on to accuse a black liberal of racism and worse. Not surprisingly, he’s a FOX News favorite on racially sensitive matters. Peterson didn’t disappoint this time.

During Sean Hannity’s portion of the interview, Peterson said he was “outraged about this decision.” He said he had written a letter to the grand jury “asking them to punish this woman to the fullest (sic) of the law.” He added, “I am sure without a doubt that the only reason that Cynthia. McKinney is getting away with this is because she’s black, she’s female, she’s a Congresswoman.”

Hannity, who habitually points the finger at someone else as a cover for doing the same thing, himself, complained that McKinney “immediately… turned this into a race issue.”

Peterson chimed in, “You have racist people like Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover along with young children standing with this racist black woman…”

Before Peterson finished, Colmes interrupted to begin his turn. He started by chiding Reverend Peterson for calling people racists. “It’s interesting,” Colmes continued, “Karl Rove is not indicted, you’d think it’s the best day that had ever happened in Washington.”

“He didn’t punch a cop,” Hannity interrupted peevishly from his side of the table. As if playing a role in compromising national security were a much lesser offense! In fact, self-appointed legal expert (and college drop-out) Hannity declared earlier in the week on H&C “There’s no underlying crime.” But even if it’s not a crime, Rove’s role in the CIA leak raises a number of ethical concerns that you’d think a network whose CEO likes to say “We like America” might raise. But nobody on FOX News is calling for Rove’s resignation or revoking his security clearance or asking any of the questions so aptly laid out by Media Matters.

Instead, as Colmes said, “Liberals are told to just be quiet about it, it’s over. Cynthia McKinney, it turns out, does not commit a crime and you’re all upset and you’ve decided she’s guilty anyway. So it’s quite a double standard here.” Colmes could not have been more right. You can read the transcript of the discussion about Karl Rove, called “Analysis of Decision Not To Indict Karl Rove in Valerie Plame CIA Leak” on FOXNews.com. There’s no transcript of the McKinney discussion there but the near-constant banner on the screen read: No indictment for Rep McKinney for hitting a Cap Hill police officer. Then there’s “Ann Coulter’s Triumph” (video and transcript) an official FOX News salute to her rise to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The three titles, alone, say a great deal about FOX News’ bias.

Peterson claimed, “Whenever it’s a white on black situation, these black liberals are allowed to get away with it.” Peterson then trotted out the number one legal case on the FOX News hit parade, Duke lacrosse, (raked over the FNC coals nearly every night on H&C, rather than allowing the legal system to take its course) as a purported example.

“Let it be adjudicated in a court of law,” Colmes said. “If a grand jury decides that there’s no case, as is what happened with Cynthia McKinney, why are you so insistent that there is. Do you have information that they don’t have?”

Peterson tried to change the subject, by saying, “We saw the same thing with the Tawana Brawley situation.”

“You’re not answering my question,” Colmes said. “What do you know that the grand jury doesn’t, Reverend? What do you know that they don’t know?”

Peterson didn't, of course, so he said that McKinney hit a cop.

“And she apologized,” Colmes said.

“Some poor, pathetic apology that was forced upon her by the Democratic Party. It wasn’t a real apology, Peterson claimed.

“She got away with it,” Hannity declared.

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