Once again, Bill O’Reilly used the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the riots that followed, as little more than a pretext to question the behavior of the black community. In this case, O’Reilly adjudged the local NAACP not guilty, Al Sharpton guilty and Brown’s father wrong but not guilty due to grief. The rest of the black community? Not so good.
Instead of discussing the shooting death of Michael Brown, why it touched a nerve in the Ferguson community and beyond or the recent spate of police killings of citizens not posing a mortal threat to officers, O’Reilly immediately honed in on questioning the African American reactions, as I predicted out Monday night. That seems to be the only important issue to O’Reilly and his aged, white viewers.
O’Reilly used the same tactic with the Ferguson shooting he has used when “discussing” President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. There, he repeatedly gave brief lip service to his endorsement of Obama’s program then quickly moved on to lecturing African Americans for not handling their problems the way he thinks they should.
In this case, O’Reilly gave brief lip service to sympathy for the African American community’s outrage, brushed it off by saying “we have to wait and see how the system handles the situation” and then moved on to making judgments about the African American community.
Don’t get me wrong. I vehemently oppose looting or violence of any kind. But to use a tragedy like this to scrutinize one side only smacks of just the kind of racial resentment O’Reilly sniffs around for in others.
Also, check out the racial barbs and antipathy dropped into the conversation:
O’REILLY: The death of the 18 year-old is now being investigated by local, state and federal authorities. But that has not stopped rioting and looting in the area.
We saw a clip of Brown’s father saying if there’s no justice there will be no peace. What was the point, if not to suggest that he’s got thuggish violence on the brain?
O’Reilly made a point of noting that he has “100% confidence” that Attorney General Eric Holder will make sure there’s a prosecution “if that’s what the facts dictate.”
O’Reilly asked guest Dr. Ben Carson, “Then, how do we process people coming into the town of Ferguson and looting, burning, disrupting all in the name of justice? How do we process that?”
Translation: Why isn’t a sympathetic black attorney general enough for those shiftless ghetto blacks?
Carson was condescending as well. He said, “Well, unfortunately, I think these people perhaps have not studied history. The reason that Dr. Martin Luther King was so effective is because he quelled the temptation toward violence. And, in fact, brought a lot of attention to the injustices that were being done.” As if King were not vilified during his lifetime. Can there be any doubt that if Fox had been around during King’s life, the network would be trumpeting the FBI’s suspicions and investigations across its broadcasting lineup?
If an injustice has been done - “and we don’t know” if that’s the case because “we’ve got to let the process take place” – O’Reilly whitesplained, “by rioting, by hurting people who have nothing to do with the incident, the people engaged in that are actually detracting from the actual injustice that was done. So they’re not helping this family. They’re not helping this young man’s memory by what they’re doing. And I hope that there will be some leaders who will point that out to people.” It's not that O'Reilly's so wrong in this assessment of the looting and violence but his scolding tone was unhelpful, to say the least.
Then O’Reilly issued his African American report card. He noted that the local NAACP chapter “did do that today… and we give them credit for that. However, there are other people, like Al Sharpton, who have come to Missouri demanding this and that, agitating the situation. We’ve seen that over and over and over again. I don’t even want you to comment on it. I just want to point out that he’s there and that’s what he does. People can make up their own minds.”
Next question from O’Reilly to Carson: “As a society, what do we do? Do we weigh in as the boy’s father and if it were my son, I probably would have said the same thing. But he’s obviously talking through an emotional prism. His son is dead. He believes, probably – I know he believes – that it was an injustice, done for nothing, it was a murder. And many, many African Americans believe that without knowing the facts. Do we criticize them or do we remain silent?”
Notice any options missing? Like trying to understand their upset? Looking for ways to defuse the anger without invalidating or dismissing it? Airing the problems between the police and the African American community? Discussing the recent spate of deaths of unarmed citizens by the police?
Carson did say, “We need to understand” why the Ferguson police officer decided “to shoot to kill (Brown) instead of shoot to stop.”
But there was no indication that will be appearing any time soon on Fox. O’Reilly said, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. …You’re gonna have the one side that has suffered a terrible loss and the other side is not going to say anything and that’s what we have to process.”
Watch last night's condescension below, via Media Matters.
“My point was not that O’Reilly mischaracterized him but how insensitive and contemptuous O’Reilly is toward African Americans.”
Naturally Ellen, because in the IMMORTAL words of Paul Dooley (aka “Jim Baker” from that classic 1984 comedy “Sixteen Candles”):
“When you’re given things easily in life, it’s hard to appreciate them”
And BOR is there in his little studio whitesplaining, being condescending and sending out racist dog whistles to his FOX “news” audience – and that’s what he does.
But hey, Sharpton — the unrepentant racist and anti-Semitic hustler — has done this for years. The only difference now is he wears an expensive, shiny suit, to go along with his haircut and unatural weight loss. But his mouth is still very loud, and often bellicose.
I would not be surprised to learn that Sharpton has gone to LA before the week’s end, now that we have another questionable shooting there.
At least he’s far away from NYC, for a few days anyway. He’ll be back on the 23rd for his big protest on Staten Island. But for now, a few days of peace for the mayor. And de Blasio is probably so glad, considering some of the reports out there:
He’s a better pic of that earlier “round table”… proof that photos can be worth a thousand words:
Any suggestions for a caption? The easiest one is “Who’s really in charge here?”