On the O’Reilly Factor last night, host Laura Ingraham exploited the arrest of two journalists in Ferguson, Missouri to attack President Obama. How, you may wonder, did she tie them together? By suggesting the journalists were looking for trouble and that President Obama wrongly criticized the police for arresting them. For extra Fox points, she even worked in a swipe at Michelle Obama. But you’ll have to read further to find out how.
As Ingraham noted, two reporters, one from the Huffington Post and one from the Washington Post, were arrested the night before in Ferguson when they were slow to leave a McDonald's – and recorded the police actions after being told to leave. One reporter got slammed into a soda machine. Both were released without charges. On the same night, an Al Jazeera America news crew was hit with tear gas by the police.
Earlier yesterday, in a measured statement calling for calm and restraint, President Obama said, “Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”
I guess Fox couldn’t attack Obama for saying, “There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.” As much as Fox loves divisiveness, they can’t publicly condemn this statement, either: “But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest, a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us, and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.”
So, voila! Obama’s too partial to his henchmen the press!
Ingraham announced, “Some are claiming that these journalists aren’t just there to report a story. They’re looking for trouble to gain fame and perhaps notoriety.”
She never said who claimed that nor pointed to a single thing that any reporter did to indicate they were looking for trouble.
Ingraham argued that the police officer in McDonald’s was young, probably inexperienced and stressed out. She said the officer, “sounded like a Michelle Obama workout video: Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s move! Let’s move!”
Fortunately, guest Howard Kurtz smacked down the whole premise:
These reporters weren’t grandstanding. They were covering a story and they were hanging out in the hamburger joint. Now I might have gotten my butt out of there a bit quicker if the police asked me to leave but they were packing up… and these charges were so trumped up, Laura, that the police chief …immediately threw it out.
Kurtz also condemned the slamming of the reporter’s head into the soda machine. “It was just so totally out of proportion to the situation where they weren’t causing any trouble.”
According to Ingraham, the police merely "overstepped a little bit." Then she revealed her intent to malign President Obama:
It’s not a systematic attempt to stop the First Amendment reporting of reporters. I think they were just trying to clear people out, maybe inexperienced cops got involved. But I think it was a bit of an overstatement by President Obama.
Actually, Obama never said it was any kind of "systematic attempt" to stifle reporting.
Kurtz said the Ferguson police did display “sort of an anti-press attitude, at least among some members. …I mean, firing tear gas at a camera crew that’s setting up. Whatever you think of Al Jazeera… that’s an attack on journalism.”
Ingraham insisted she’s really not a police apologist. No, she’s an Obama and “liberal media” attacker. She said, “In some cases here, the journalists themselves are all hopped up. Everybody’s looking for a confrontation.”
Again, Kurtz batted her meme away. He said he didn’t see any evidence of a reporter looking for trouble such as sneaking into a cordoned off area. However, Kurtz said he’s troubled by the way the media “kind of feast on these racially charged cases.” After a jab at Al Sharpton, Kurtz cautioned, “We’re getting one side” because the police report has yet to come out. “I think the media has to be careful in not rushing to judgment.’
You might be surprised to know I agree with that. But here’s the heart of the matter that Kurtz and Ingraham and Fox News seems intent on ignoring. This is not just about Brown’s death. This is about the overuse of force by the police, especially with people of color. It happened in Los Angeles and New York recently. It’s a big issue in Albuquerque, too.
But watching Fox’s coverage, you get the impression this is one (over) reaction to an isolated tragedy.
Watch Ingraham try to blame the press for being brutalized below, via Media Matters.
Actually that’s what the Fox talking heads like Ingram do! But real journalists gain fame by doing their job as professional journalists-not by being TV personalities. I’m not surprised Ingram doesn’t know the difference.