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?