Over a period of several days, Fox News hosts and contributors demanded that Rev. Al Sharpton condemn a series of "knockout" attacks that have occurred in several cities. Sharpton condemned the attacks in a speech on Saturday, but Fox has so far failed to report on the condemnation.
The so-called "knockout game" involves young men attacking random people on the street. The violent, unprovoked attacks have sometimes resulted in death. Fox News has intensely covered these attacks, reporting on them largely as racially motivated crime committed by black youths against white victims.
At a meeting of his National Action Network on Saturday, civil rights activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton decried the attacks as "deplorable" and said they "must be condemned by all us." Sharpton went even further, as the New York Post reported:
"Kids are randomly knocking out people [from] another race -- some specifically going at Jewish people," he said. "This kind of insane thuggery -- there is nothing cute about that. There is no game play about knocking somebody out, and it is not a game. It is an assault and is bias, and it is wrong."
Despite at least seven instances of Fox News figures condemning Sharpton for not speaking out on the issue, the network has so far failed to report on his comments -- even though their corporate sibling, the Post, has. In fact, the day after Sharpton's comments, Fox host Clayton Morris asked on Fox & Friends Sunday: "Where's Al Sharpton on this?"
Since Sharpton's comments, Fox has discussed the "knockout" attacks several times, but has failed to note Sharpton's condemnation.
It is unclear just how widespread the attacks are, and if they are truly racially motivated. In an interview with the New York Times, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, "We're trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon." The Times reported that police sources in several cities where the attacks have allegedly occurred told them that "that the 'game' amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred."
Slate's Emma Roller, countering arguments from conservatives that journalists are deliberately ignoring the "knockout game," observes that "there is no hard data showing that it's a trend." The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie adds that the media panic over the "knockout game" mirrors similar scares over "wilding" and "headlight flashing," noting that "you need more than a few anecdotes to prove a trend" given the size of the population.
Here are some of the Fox News demands for Sharpton to condemn the attack:
Clayton Morris: "Where's Al Sharpton On This?" During a discussion on the attacks on the November 24 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Clayton Morris asked, "Where's Al Sharpton on this?" The chyrons during the segment read, "A Society of Barbarians?" and "Spreading Terror."
Laura Ingraham: "If The Shoe Were On The Other Foot, We Would Have Al Sharpton Out there And All These People Screaming For Eric Holder To Rush Into The Cities." On the November 21 O'Reilly Factor, substitute host Laura Ingraham said, "I think if the shoe were on the other foot here, we would have Al Sharpton out there and all these people screaming for Eric Holder to rush into the cities."
Allen West: Al Sharpton "Should Be Out There Stopping This." From the November 21 On The Record:
ALLEN WEST: This is what's going to end up happening: At some point in time, one of the people that's going to be attacked is going to have a concealed weapons license and they're going to draw down and unfortunately someone's going to get shot. Then what is going to happen you're going to hear all of the rhetoric coming out from the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons that this unarmed black teenager was shot and killed and assaulted when right now they should be out there stopping this so we don't get to this point.
Van Susteren: Sharpton Has "Been Silent," "No One's Speaking Out." In response to West, Greta Van Susteren agreed that Sharpton and Jackson have "been silent" and that "no one's speaking out" on the issue.
Bob Beckel: "If There Ever Was An Opportunity For Al Sharpton And Jesse Jackson And Others To Speak Out, It's On This." From the November 20 edition of The Five:
Van Susteren: "I Am Calling On Those Role Models -- Leaders Like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Even President Obama To Speak Out Against This Deadly Game." From the November 19 On The Record:
Bernard Goldberg: On Knockout Attacks, Figures Like Sharpton "Say Nothing" Because "It Speaks To Their Failure As Black Leaders." From the November 19 O'Reilly Factor: