After repeatedly attempting to inject race into the story of a recent killing, Fox News falsely accused President Obama of injecting race into the Trayvon Martin case.
On the August 26 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to reports that the killing of a World War II veteran was not motivated by race by saying: "Let's not make it about race. Let's not make the kid shot in Oklahoma about race either, but also let's not make the Trayvon Martin case about race either because it wasn't about race as well. But President Obama and Eric Holder decided to make that one about race." Bolling later claimed that "us on the right" were only discussing recent murders "in the context of Trayvon Martin" because "President Obama clearly put a race spin on" the case.
Bolling is downplaying Fox's campaign to make race a factor in the Oklahoma death of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane. On Fox News' On The Record, District Attorney Jason Hicks explained that there was no evidence to indicate that the killing of Lane "was related to either his race or to his nationality." Hicks repeated his findings in an appearance on Fox News Sunday. But Fox commentators have repeatedly ignored the evidence.
Even after hearing Hicks' comments, Fox guest Chris Plante claimed that "There's an obvious racial component here." The day after Hicks' On the Record appearance, Bolling himself described the shooting as "a racially charged story," adding that the crime was "likely motivated by race." Fox News Watch, Fox's media criticism show, aired an on-screen graphic during the segment which asked "Are The Media Ignoring The Race Issue?" while host Jon Scott wondered if the media should "be reacting in this case like they did in the Trayvon Martin shooting."
Bolling is also wrong that Obama "put a race spin" on the Trayvon Martin case. Obama spoke about the Martin case nearly a month after his death and was responding to a reporter's question at an unrelated press event. During those comments, Obama pointed out that he had limited ability to speak about the case because of an ongoing investigation, but expressed sympathy for the parents, adding "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened." In July, after the case had been decided, Obama addressed questions of institutional racism that had been raised by the case, offering his personal insight into "context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling":
The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a -- in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works.
But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away.