Geraldo Rivera is once again citing alleged appearance as a mitigating factor in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, evoking footage of Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie to contextualize potential police motive for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
While newly released video footage purports to show 18-year-old Brown robbing a convenience store prior to his death, Ferguson police have emphasized that the suspected crime is entirely unrelated to the police stop and subsequent shooting that resulted in Brown's death. According to the town police chief, Brown was stopped because he was "walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."
This fact did not stop Fox News host Rivera from citing Brown's appearance in the video as potential evidence to the justification of Brown's death.
In an August 15 editorial for Fox News Latino, he wrote that even though police don't link the alleged robbery to Brown's police stop, "At the very least, watching the surveillance video of Brown allegedly robbing the convenience store should alter our perception of the victim. According to Rivera, "The portrait of the kid as an unarmed, innocent, college-bound youth ruthlessly shot in the back while trying to surrender seems incomplete at best." A few days later in a Fox News appearance, Rivera predicted that "menacing" footage of the unrelated robbery could lead to the acquittal of the officer who shot and killed Brown:
RIVERA: The white jurors will look at that convenience store surveillance tape. They will see Michael Brown menacing that clerk. The white jurors will put themselves in the shoes of that clerk. They'll say, of course the officer responded the way he did. He was menaced by a 6' 4", 300-pound kid, 10 minutes fresh from a strong-armed robbery. The officer was defending himself. The white jurors will put themselves in the white officer's place. The black jurors will see Michael Brown, despite his flaws, as the surrogate for every black youngster ever shot.
In both instances, to illustrate his point, Rivera invoked the appearance of Trayvon Martin. Citing surveillance video of Martin, a black teenager wearing a hoodie in a convenience store prior to his shooting death at the hands of George Zimmerman, Rivera wrote that the teen looked "like every 7/11 robbery suspect ever caught on tape."
Martin's appearance led to the acquittal of his killer, Rivera claimed, because "the jury of six women, five white and one Hispanic ... saw the young man through Zimmerman's eyes, threatening and dangerous."
The Fox host gained notoriety in 2012 for blaming the shooting death of Martin on his hoodie, what Rivera deemed "wannabe gangsta," "thug" attire. And despite promising in early 2014 to discontinue using the phrase "thug," which he conceded was akin to "the new n-word" following Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's explanation that the words carried the same racial connotations, only four months later Rivera returned to using the pejorative on the Fox News airways.
Take a look at Rivera's record of using appearance as an explanatory variable when it comes to the shooting deaths of black teens:
Media outlets are uncritically reporting the false claim in a new attack ad from the National Rifle Association that gun safety advocate Michael Bloomberg wants to "ban ... your guns." In fact, Bloomberg supports the right to own a gun.
The NRA is launching an ad campaign against Bloomberg due to the former New York City mayor's position as a chairman of gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety and his pledge to spend $50 million this election cycle in support of gun safety measures.
Although he is not a candidate for office in 2014, the NRA plans to run an ad in Senate battleground states attacking Bloomberg over his support for gun safety proposals.
In the ad a narrator states, "Bloomberg tries to ban your snack food, your sodas and most of all, your guns." But neither Bloomberg nor Everytown for Gun Safety are proponents of general gun bans, a fact that some media outlets covering the NRA ad are leaving out of their reports.
The Washington Times editorial board accused Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter of concealing his support for LGBT equality in order to win over the state's voters, ignoring Carter's own words offering his full-throated support for marriage equality and mounting evidence that gay rights are decreasingly a wedge issue with voters, even in traditionally conservative states like Georgia.
In an August 19 editorial, the Times alleged that when it comes to his opinion on "homosexual demands," Carter "dodges, weaves, and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia." Writing that Carter can't win his closely contested race against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal if he embraces "the full rainbow agenda," the Times asserted that Carter is hiding behind statements from his spokesman and supporters in the gay rights community:
Jason Carter wants to follow in his famous grandfather's footsteps. Mr. Carter, a Democrat, is running for governor of Georgia, a position Jimmy Carter held for a term before moving on to the White House. Jason Carter is willing to say pretty much whatever it takes to win. When someone asks his opinions on homosexual demands, he dodges, weaves and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia. But his gay supporters are saying it for him.
Georgia remains committed to traditional marriage. The left-leaning Public Policy Polling discovered last year that 6 of 10 Georgia voters want to keep the thousands-of-years-old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. If Jason Carter yearns to come out in support of the full rainbow agenda, he knows better than to do it before the election.
The pro-homosexual website Project Q Atlanta doesn't like the sneaky approach, either. "Jason Carter collects gay cash, but stays mum on LGBT issues," the site noted earlier this month about a fundraiser held for Mr. Carter. The event, organized and hosted by homosexual activists, raised nearly $90,000 for the Carter campaign. Reporters were barred from the fundraiser, lest the secret leak.
One man's pragmatism is another man's dishonesty. Voters deserve to know, loud and clear, what they'll get if they put another Carter in the governor's mansion on Nov. 4. Gov. Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent running for re-election, should pressure Mr. Carter to say unequivocally whether he would be prepared as governor to fully defend Georgia's state constitutional amendment, enacted by the people, that defines traditional marriage.
It's true, as the Times noted, that some gay rights activists in Georgia expressed unease with Carter's previous relative silence on LGBT issues during the campaign. But the Times conveniently omitted the fact that this month Carter addressed those concerns head-on, affirming his longstanding support for marriage equality. This, by the Times' standards, apparently constitutes "dodg[ing], weav[ing], and deflect[ing]" on marriage equality:
The lament has spread all across the media spectrum this week, as the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri unfolds and people search for answers to the police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
"Obama Should Go To Ferguson, Pronto," urged a Businessweek headline, beseeching the president to fill a leadership vacuum on the ground in Missouri. "Obama, can't you see black anger in Ferguson?" asked Marc Lamont Hill in a CNN essay. Writing at Daily Beast, Stuart Stevens lamented that Obama had "lost faith in his voice in Ferguson"; that he was "increasingly uncomfortable with the role of healer-in-chief," while the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach urged Obama to give another "national address" on race because that's what the crisis demands.
Maureen Dowd's New York Times column today's mocks Obama as a "the most ordinary of men" with a "bored-bird-in-a-gilded-cage attitude" who is unwilling to engage with the issue of racial strife.
Most of the of the do-something commentary has adopted the same premise: Obama could help the Ferguson crisis by giving a speech about race or addressing the situation more forcefully, but he won't. He won't use his powers. (See: The Green Lantern theory that Obama could convince a recalcitrant GOP Congress to pass legislation if he only tried.)
That premise though, and most of the commentary, completely ignores the corrosive role of the right-wing media in America, how it has spent years trying to silence and intimidate Obama on the topic of race, and how it's used some of the most offensive, guttural rhetoric and personal attacks to do so.
Through Obama's two terms, most of the Beltway press has remained strangely silent about the astonishingly ugly race baiting that now passes for mainstream conservative media commentary. That same press corps is now turning a blind eye to the tangible damage that kind of rhetoric has done to public debate, or the chance of public debate, and how the right-wing media has tried to implement a heckler's veto on Obama; to effectively shout him down.
It's fine for pundits to yearn for open dialogue and rhetorical leadership from the White House. It's less helpful for them to ignore the unpleasant realities of nasty partisan politics in the age of Obama. It does no good to pretend race baiting hasn't become a badge of honor and a professional path to success for lots of right-wing pundits.
For Obama to aggressively insert himself into the Ferguson story now is to invite a right-wing media hurricane that would likely rage for weeks. How do we know? Because again and again we've seen President Obama's attempts to engage on similar issues act as a lightning rod for these angry voices, quickly making it impossible to focus on the pressing issue at hand.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove distorted comments made by President Obama in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, suggesting the president downplayed the acts of violent rioters and refused to distinguish between peaceful protesters and "outside agitators." But Obama unequivocally denounced violent protests during a statement about the ongoing demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb.
On August 18, Obama delivered remarks on the progress of airstrikes in Iraq and violence in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was allegedly shot by a St. Louis County police officer. On August 19, Rove condemned Obama's remarks on Fox's Happening Now, claiming that the president failed to draw a strict line between the "peaceful protesters" and the "outside agitators" in Ferguson. Rove also accused Obama of creating a "moral equivalency" by placing the police and violent protesters on "the same level," concluding that Obama's statements were "not worthy of the president."
However, in Obama's remarks on Ferguson, he drew a line between the peaceful protesters and rioters when he condemned violence of any kind, explaining that "It undermines rather than advancing justice":
So, let me close just saying a few words about the tensions there. We have all seen images of protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It's clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What's also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not.
While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice.
Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded: especially in moments like these. There's no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully.
John Dean, former aide and counsel to President Richard Nixon, denounced right-wing media for "rewriting" the history of Watergate in order to attack President Obama, calling comparisons of current events to the historic scandal "nonsense" and "absolutely silliness."
August marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation in the wake of Watergate, a vast scandal that The New York Times explained included, "wiretapping, money laundering, destruction of documents, payment of hush money, character assassination, disinformation and deception -- all perpetrated by people at the highest levels of Government."
Dean served as Nixon's White House counsel during Watergate and is promoting a new book on the subject. In an interview with Media Matters, he slammed Republican officials and right-wing commentators who have compared Watergate's historic criminality to various supposed Obama administration scandals, with some going so far as to call for the president's removal from office.
"It's absolutely silliness," Dean said. "The conservative media just doesn't seem to understand the impeachment clause. It is not designed to ... besmirch a president with, and that's all they're doing with it."
"They don't understand it, they don't have a clue what happened during Watergate, do not have a clue," he added. "They want to distort that history, rewriting it, ignore it and then use it. That's the conservative media."
Dean's book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (Viking 2014), is based on hours of tapes from Nixon's years at the White House, many of which were never catalogued, he said. It attempts to set the record straight on the scandal and Nixon's involvement, arguing the president's actions had broader implications than previously understood.
Today, however, Dean noted that conservative media "know" an Obama impeachment "can't prevail in a trial," and that "even talking about it is nonsense and there's no high crime. For them it's a high crime to be a Democrat and serve as president."
Citing conservative media's attempts to compare Watergate to a never-ending litany of supposed "scandals," including the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the IRS targeting investigation, Dean said, "I told my publisher that they should send a copy of my new book to every Republican in the House so they can understand what impeachable behavior looks like." Dean later declared: "It does not work at all, in fact they don't even raise to the level of scandal ... both Benghazi and IRS."
Fox News' Special Report characterized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speaking contract requirements as outrageous, in an attempt to paint Clinton as an out of touch "diva," but Clinton's requirements are typical of contracts made by high profile politicians.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the details of Hillary Clinton's speaking contract for her upcoming October fundraiser for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, including Clinton's speaking fee as well as a number of stipulations ranging from private jet transportation, luxury hotel accommodations, and travel arrangements for aides.
On the August 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier and Fox correspondent James Rosen seized on the report to paint Hillary Clinton as a "rock star diva" with outrageous demands. Baier introduced the segment claiming "Hillary Clinton has a list of demands that critics say would make a rock star diva proud." Rosen detailed Clinton's "demands" which included a private jet, a luxury suite, and travel stipends for Clinton's aides:
Fox radio host Todd Starnes accused President Obama of "orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy" and claimed the administration is "in cahoots" with Al Sharpton.
In an August 18 Facebook post, Starnes asserted that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into Michael Brown's death was proof that "the Obama Administration may be orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy." Starnes also accused the administration of being "in cahoots" with Al Sharpton, who he called "a bona fide race hustler" (emphasis added):
The uncivil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri continues -- and it appears the Obama Administration may be orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy.
NBC News is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder and Valerie Jarrett are the administration's point persons going so far as to arrange a federal autopsy.
It was Holder who tried to convince the Ferguson Police Department not to release the video purportedly showing Brown involved in a strong-arm robbery.
He also ordered local authorities to stop using armored tanks -- even though officers were fending off Molotov cocktail bombs. It was a decision that in essence led to government sanctioned lawlessness.
The LA Times reports Jarrett and Holder have been discussing their game plan with the likes of Al Sharpton.
So while President Obama whacks golf balls and dances the two-step in tony Martha's Vineyard, his administration is in cahoots with a bona fide race hustler.
National Review Online contributor Heather Mac Donald falsely said there is no evidence "that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison or arrest statistics is a result of criminal justice racism," while on NBC's Meet the Press. In fact, studies have found "conclusively" that disproportionate incarceration for African Americans is attributed to "racial bias."
Mac Donald has a history of racially inflammatory comments, including claiming that young African-American males have a "lack of self-discipline"; that it is "common sense that black students are more likely to be disruptive" than white students; and that black men possess a "lack of impulse control that results in ... mindless violence on the streets."
Still, the August 17 edition of Meet the Press turned to Mac Donald to discuss fallout from the fatal shooting of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. In a taped segment, Deadspin.com's Greg Howard argued that "It's physically easier for a police officer to weigh what a black man's life is worth and to end up feeling that he is justified in pulling the trigger." Mac Donald was then presented as a counterpoint, to claim there is no evidence of racial bias in the criminal justice system:
MAC DONALD: The criminology profession has been trying for decades to prove that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison or in arrest statistics is a result of criminal justice racism. It is black crime rates that predict the presence of blacks in the criminal justice system, not some miscarriage of justice.
Due to a lack of information from local authorities it is still unclear what, if any, crime the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown believed Brown was committing, and whether such use of force was a necessary or appropriate response. However, research indicates that nationally, African-Americans are arrested and incarnated at rates that cannot be explained by crime rates.
The Washington Post reporter Dan Balz portrayed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as a key figure who can help GOP outreach to racial minorities, following Paul's criticism of Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement and their role in the Michael Brown killing. But Balz ignored Paul's previous opposition to the Civil Rights Act, despite having reported on it in 2010.
In his August 14 article, Balz highlighted Paul's opinion piece in Time decrying the response of Missouri police to protests in the wake of the police shooting of the 18-year-old Brown. Paul acknowledged in his piece that race skews "the application of criminal justice in this country" and criticized the "militarization of our law enforcement" -- which Balz characterized as "a shift away" from typical conservative rhetoric. According to Balz, Paul's acknowledgement of racial disparities in particular "sets him apart from others in his party," allowing him to help expand the GOP's base (emphasis added):
Paul is a prospective 2016 presidential candidate and the leading proponent of libertarian philosophy among elected officials. In Ferguson, he has found circumstances almost tailor-made to advance his worldview. In doing so, he continues to set himself apart from others in the Republican Party with the hope of expanding the party's coalition and advancing his own political future.
In this case, he blames the militarization of local police on big government and especially Washington's willingness to provide such materiel to local communities. His comments on race mark another moment in which he is trying to show an openness to the issues affecting African Americans that sets him apart from others in his party.
But in 2010 Balz himself reported that Paul had "embarrassed the GOP establishment" by "questioning parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act."
In an interview while running for his Kentucky Senate seat, Paul had said that while he supported portions of the Act, particularly in regards to ending discrimination by the government, he also believed "in freedom" and "private ownership." When asked if "it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworth's," Paul responded that such action would be "abhorrent" but implied he would support the private owner's right to discriminate.
Racial discrimination by private actors is prohibited by both Title II and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.