Friday, August 23, 2013
ZACHARY PLEAT/Media Matters For America
Fox News has recently engaged in racebaiting by baselessly claiming that a Florida student's beating on a school bus and the shooting of an Australian college student in Oklahoma were racially motivated. But police and a prosecutor involved in these cases debunked these claims during interviews on Fox.
In early August, a video of three teenagers beating another student on a school bus in Florida spread across national news outlets, and an August 6 report from the Orlando Sentinel noted that the attack was in retaliation for the victim notifying school officials that the three teens tried to sell him drugs. But Fox News took a different angle. Since all three of the alleged perpetrators are black, and the victim is white, Fox repeatedly claimedthat race was the motivating factor for the attack. On August 9, Fox host Steve Doocy bragged that it was Fox News that brought race "to the forefront" of the story.
But the day before, Fox had interviewed the police chief of the town where the beating occurred. During the interview, Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent said: "The race difference between the victim and the defendants in this case is purely coincidental, there is absolutely no indication that race was a motivator in the attack."
Instead of learning from their mistake, Fox News hosts also baselessly insisted race was a factor when reporting on the tragic death of Christopher Lane, an Australian attending college in Oklahoma. Because Lane was white and two of the three suspects charged in connection with his shooting are black, Fox presented this crime as having a racial bias. On the August 21 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts demanded to know why President Obama, Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson hadn't commented on the case, an attempt to connect this crime to the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Once again, an official involved with the case debunked the network's assertions that race was a factor in this crime. On August 22, Fox News host Greta van Susteren interviewed local District Attorney Jason Hicks, who said that with all of his evidence for the case, he had nothing to "indicate that the killing of Christopher Lane was related to either his race or to his nationality."
How many more crimes will Fox News falsely charge are motivated by race?
MATT GERTZ/Media Matters For America:
In an attempt to promote stereotypes of African-Americans as violent and dangerous, Matt Drudge is featuring on his website the photos of two black teenagers who allegedly killed an Australian athlete, leaving out the photo of their alleged white accomplice.
On August 16, Australian baseball player Christopher Lane was shot and killed while jogging in Oklahoma. Two black teenagers have been charged with first-degree murder in the case while a white teenager has been charged as an accessory for allegedly driving the getaway car. Conservative media have suggested that the shooting was racially motivated, despite the fact that one of the alleged perpetrators was white and that the local district attorney said he has seen nothing to "indicate that the killing of Christopher Lane was related to either his race or to his nationality."
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, who has a long record of bigoted commentary, claimed during a Fox News appearance that the murder is part of a societal trend in which "interracial violence is overwhelmingly black-on-white." Drudge is featuring that commentary under photos of the two black teens charged with murder, leaving out their alleged white accomplice.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
ARI RABIN-HAVT/Media Matters For America:
Wednesday morning, Benghazi whistleblower attorney Victoria Toensing appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends as part of a long standing campaign among conservatives to discredit the findings of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report on the Benghazi attacks, authored by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
Toensing delivered what has become the standard conservative myth -- the claim that the ARB report was a "corrupt cover-up to protect Hillary Clinton." She asserted:
Because they were not thorough. There are all kinds of people they didn't interview. They made false statements and they framed four State Department employees to take the blame away from the higher-ups. They did not interview Hillary. They did not interview her top deputy for security, Pat Kennedy.
That is a lie. Pat Kennedy was interviewed by the ARB, a fact Pickering, one of the authors, has made clear. On May 12, Pickering explicitly told CNN's Candy Crowley, "We interviewed Pat Kennedy." This was also pointed out during the May 8, 2013 House Oversight hearing on Benghazi. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) addressed the room, stating:
By the way, defend in statements that Undersecretary Kennedy was not interviewed by the ARB by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen. That is a misstatement of fact. He most certainly was. You can look it up. It is documented. He was interviewed, and he provided evidence. And that evidence was evaluated.So it is not true that Undersecretary Kennedy was not part of that process. He most certainly was, and I would ask Mr. Chairman that the record so reflect.
In fact, Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren tweeted out this exchange:
So why tell such a blatant lie?
Because Toensing thinks she can get away with it and the right needs to discredit the ARB. Prepared in the aftermath of the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, the report detailed more than two-dozen recommendations on improving security for our State Department personnel overseas. It did not cast blame on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama nor did it conform to the narrative conservatives and their allies on Capitol Hill -- namely Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) -- have been selling to the media about Benghazi.
Because both Pickering and Mullen are public servants with reputations beyond reproach, the right has had to work overtime trying to discredit their report.
The simplest way to attack the ARB is to claim their work was incomplete because they failed to interview specific witnesses.
And because the complete list of witnesses who spoke with the ARB remains classified, most often there is no way to respond to these accusations, unless a name was at sometime placed in the public record. Conservatives will continue to make claims about the ARB process, but without citations, the media should keep a watchful eye on which sources they trust.