On yesterday's Fox & Friends, the “fair and balanced” crew distorted President Obama’s comments about Ferguson and relations between African American communities and the police in order to suggest that he was dissing the police and encouraging violence.
After a meaningless FOX News Alert, Elisabeth Hasselbeck said, “President Obama sounding off on how we’re training our law enforcement ahead of the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson.”
Fox played a day-old, edited clip of Obama during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” In it, Obama said, “If we do a better job of training our law enforcement to be sensitive to the concerns of minority communities, then over time trust can be built. We want to make sure police are trained so they can distinguish between a gang banger and a kid who just happens to be wearing a hoodie but otherwise is a good kid and not doing anything wrong.”
In reality, President Obama’s statement was a lot more balanced and he specifically called for calm. Here’s the full question and answer from the transcript on ABCnews.com:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about Ferguson. Everyone’s waiting for the grand jury to hear, what the final word from the grand jury is. Your FBI has warned about possible violence in the wake of that decision. What is your message to the people of Ferguson and others who are looking to protest?
OBAMA: Well I think, first and foremost, keep protests peaceful. You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are. You know, part of what I have asked Eric Holder to do is to not just engage with the folks in Ferguson, but to engage nationally in a conversation between law enforcement and communities of color that often times feel as if they not being treated fairly by law enforcement officials. Sometimes their concerns are justified, sometimes they’re not justified. Law enforcement has a very tough job. But what is clear is that that lack of trust between communities and law enforcement crops up not just in Ferguson but in places all across the country–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you worried here?
OBAMA: You know, we saw during the summer the possibility of even overwhelmingly peaceful crowds being overrun by a few thugs who might be looking for an excuse to loot or to commit vandalism.
What I’ve done is called Jay Nixon, the Governor of Missouri, to make sure that he has a plan to respond in a careful and appropriate way to any potential violence. To be able to sort out the vast majority of peaceful protesters from the handful who are not.
OBAMA: But – over the — in the end, what I have confidence in is that if we do a better job of training our law enforcement to be sensitive to the concerns of minority communities, then over time trust can be built in part because minority communities typically are subject to more crime. They need law enforcement more than anybody and there are a lot of communities in my hometown of Chicago, for example, who want to actually see more police in but they want to make sure the police are trained so they can distinguish between a gangbanger and a kid who just happens to be wearing a hoodie but just otherwise is a good kid and not doing anything wrong.
The clip Fox & Friends aired had nothing to do with Obama’s thoughts on how to stop people from rioting, and Obama was not blaming the police as the show tried to suggest.
After the clip, co-host Steve Doocy asked, “Is that the correct way to address the unrest?”
The guest for the segment was former homicide detective and Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler in Ferguson. You may recall that Wheeler blamed the initial Ferguson unrest on Obama’s economic policies.
Co-host Peter Johnson, Jr. “asked” Wheeler, “Is the President making any sense? Does anything he’s talking about have anything to do with what’s going on regarding this potential grand jury indictment of Officer Wilson?”
Wheeler responded, “Well, I can put it like this. Michael Brown wasn’t wearing a hoodie when he and Officer Wilson had the confrontation so I’m not exactly sure the premise by which the President is making that statement.”
Maybe if FOX had played the whole clip, with Obama’s complete and unedited response, Wheeler would have known the premise of the president's statement.
Wheeler continued with gratuitous attacks on African Americans as well as Obama:
The President also made the statement months ago as we know in the Trayvon Martin case that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon. I wonder if the President meant to say that if he had a son he’d be wearing a hoodie!
You know, it’s not about a hoodie, guys. It’s about race and it’s about this generation of kids these days, their lack of ability to communicate properly and the fact that they have very little communication skills and I think that’s where the issue comes in. So police departments as well as the community is equally responsible for everything that we see going on here and including this situation here in Ferguson.
But Hasselbeck wanted more Obama bashing. She asked, “Do you believe those comments by the president which I think are assumed to be meant to ease tensions, do you believe that they’re doing that or making things worse?”
Wheeler responded, “Well, my opinion is that they don’t help the situation, they don’t necessarily hurt the situation but I kind of would prefer the President stay out of this because this is a local community issue here. This is an issue in which the community of Ferguson, the people of Ferguson and their police department and their elected leadership needs to sit down and get an understanding for each other and work together towards this problem. This isn’t the type of situation where we need the President or Eric Holder flying in or Al Sharpton or anybody else flying in to try to help them out with this situation here.”
The segment closed with unanimous approval for Wheeler from the hosts. Watch it below from yesterday's Fox & Friends.