"You think rising cell phone thefts are bad? Wait till car thefts soar back over 100,000 a year. Wait till you start hearing about mushrooms and learn that the word refers to children who have been struck by stray bullets."
So opined the editorial board of the New York Daily News in response to public scrutiny of the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy -- a controversial program that last year alone resulted in over 685,000 stops of primarily black and Latino residents (only 12% of persons stopped were charged with a crime). This week, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin granted class action status to a group of victims of the policy who are bringing suit against the city for what they argue is a discriminatory and unconstitutional practice. The Daily News, as well as the New York Post, viewed the ruling -- which they inexplicably believe risks the existence of the "stop-and-frisk" practice altogether -- as nothing less than life-threatening.
In the aforementioned editorial, titled "How to kill New York," the Daily News editorial board ominously predicted that If the program is reformed, 'the body count will start rising.'
The NY Post's editors weighed in as well, attacking outspoken critics of the program whom the editors say "won't rest until the murder rate skyrockets":
They're playing with fire -- all of them.
Indeed, if they do manage to weaken the program, the blood of new crime victims will be on their hands.
So: Will the city once again become the Crime Capital of the World?
Alas, so it seems.
While discussing the Secret Service prostitution scandal, Bill O'Reilly said he sympathized with police officers who don't view sex workers as people with legitimate human rights. Talking to sex workers' rights advocate Sienna Baskin, O'Reilly stated that he understood police who "don't put a top priority on ladies who are engaged in prostitution because it is a crime," and added:
O'REILLY: It's like a drug dealer saying I got ripped off, you know. And they're going to say, "that's too bad, don't deal drugs." It's the same thing -- theoretically, from the police's point of view.
Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York, was criticizing the "criminalization system" in the United States, which often makes sex workers "afraid to go to the police when they are themselves victims of crime." She called for legalizing prostitution as a way to reduce crimes against sex workers.
While O'Reilly agreed that there "would be harm reduction" with legalization, he also said that his "beef" with "legalizing prostitution is basically the same thing about legalizing marijuana -- that it sends a message that this is OK. And I know you represent some of these ladies, but I think that selling your body is -- diminishes a human being. It diminishes that person. And it -- and it does harm to them." He continued:
O'REILLY: In my reporting over 35 years, I've seen that almost 100 percent of the time in this industry, and I'm sure you have, too. Do you really want to say it's OK to do this? And that's what you would be doing by legalizing it.
O'Reilly later stated that the "message to society is, hey, look, if you want to be a hooker, go ahead. And we, the society, there's nothing wrong with it -- but there is. There is something wrong with it." He went on to ask: "Why do they have to sell their bodies to make a living? Why can't they get a legitimate job like 99 percent of the population?" O'Reilly concluded: "You can wait tables and drive a cab anytime you want in this city."
From the April 23 edition of Cumulus Media's The Mike Huckabee Show:
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From the April 11 edition of CNN Newsroom:
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One of the more macabre elements of the conservative response to President Obama's comments on the Trayvon Martin case has been the surge of what-about-ism. After the president gave his statement on Martin (which was primarily one of empathy for the slain boy's parents), the right began combing the obituary pages to find examples of recently killed young Americans and demanding to know why the president weighed in on one Florida teenager's death but not other murders. ("He commented on Martin, but what about...")
The point of the exercise is not to promote awareness of the violence epidemic plaguing the inner cities or the disproportionate number of young African Americans who find themselves victims of violent crimes. It's to use these tragedies as a weapon against the president.
Breitbart.com served up a particularly gross example of this phenomenon yesterday, highlighting the shooting death of 6-year-old Aliyah Shell in Chicago to attack Obama: "No mention of Aliyah from the president. No public outpouring for a young mother who sat untangling her daughter's hair as shots rang out. Nothing."
They argue that this can be explained -- and I'm not joking here -- by Saul Alinsky:
The right-wing media response to the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin has veered into even uglier territory. Following initial silence on the story, conservative media began to weigh in when President Obama addressed Martin's shooting by saying that if he'd "had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." It was their perfect opportunity to wade into the conversation -- not by focusing on the issues raised by the incident, but by smearing Martin and attacking the president, while ignoring the inconvenient fact that the man who killed Martin has so far avoided arrest.
Lurking in the background of this conversation has been the right's fixation with the New Black Panther Party, a hate group "whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The conservative Daily Caller and Glenn Beck's website The Blaze have lavished attention on this fringe group in their coverage of the Martin tragedy. Today, CNN's Dana Loesch tried to paint them as a mainstream "progressive" group, while Rush Limbaugh tried to link Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), a former Black Panther, to these extremists.
Today, Rush donned a hoodie on the House floor, in violation of its dress code, to demonstrate that "just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum." (Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed.) Discussing the incident, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: He showed up wearing a hoodie. Well, he got what he wanted. He got all the attention. And tried to make a case now the hoodie is a fashion statement. Now, Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther. You should know that. He's a former Black Panther.
Limbaugh then transitioned to talking about an appearance on Fox News by J. Christian Adams, of whom he stated: "J. Christian Adams worked in the Obama Justice Department. He was handling the case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia, when Eric Holder basically shut down the case." He added that Adams "wrote a book and explained what was going on. And he basically said that the Obama Justice Department had determined they were not going to pursue black defendants. Just weren't gonna do it. It was payback time now." (No, that's not what happened at all.)
But throughout his subsequent discussion of Adams' appearance on Fox & Friends, Limbaugh never once made the distinction that Rush's Black Panthers are not the same as and are in no way connected to the so-called New Black Panther Party.
From the March 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News' Geraldo Rivera is attempting to clarify comments he recently made about the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. On two separate occasions on Fox News, Rivera claimed that Martin's outfit, which he likened to that of "a wannabe gangster," was "as much responsible" for his death as George Zimmerman, the man who pulled the trigger.
On March 23 on Fox & Friends, Rivera claimed, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman," adding that Martin "wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way." Later that night on The O'Reilly Factor, Rivera denied blaming Martin for his own death, but nevertheless advised young minority men to avoid dressing "like a wannabe gangster," because "some knucklehead is gonna take you at your word and the tragedy is gonna result."
In an email to Politico today, Rivera attempted to explain those comments, saying, "I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager." However, he also suggested his comments were a "very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies."
Politico reported in a March 27 article:
"I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my 'very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies,'" Rivera said in an email to POLITICO Tuesday.
Rivera said that "by putting responsibility on what kids wear instead of how people react to them I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager," and that he was offering a "heartfelt apology" to anyone he may have offended in his "crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in gangsta style clothing; like hoodies."
Rivera reportedly added: "[M]y own family and friends believe [that] I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police. And if that is true, I apologize."
UPDATE: On April 1, Rivera hosted Trayvon Martin's parents on his Fox News show and apologized to them personally, saying, "I never intended to hurt your feelings." He stated:
RIVERA: A week ago, I ranted against hoodies like the one worn by Trayvon on the evening he was shot dead by George Zimmerman, because in Zimmerman's words, Trayvon looked like he was up to no good. I said then that Trayvon's hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did.
Now, what I was trying to do was caution parents that allowing their kids to wear hoodies or similar clothing in certain circumstances, particularly if they're minority young men, could be dangerous. But I never intended to hurt anyone's feelings and certainly, Sybrina and Tracy, I never intended to hurt your feelings. I want to personally convey my deepest apologies to both of you. I am sorry if anything I said, Tracy, added to your misery.
There are an untold number of issues to ponder when discussing the media's coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing. The Poynter Institute, for example, recently examined some of them, including looking at how the photos of Martin that media outlets are choosing to show can unconsciously reinforce certain stereotypes. But of all the issues surrounding the coverage of the killing, Fox News' media criticism show, Fox News Watch, chose to focus on this question today: "Was this a story for the national media?"
Host Jon Scott added: "No doubt a tragic story -- does it deserve the attention of national media?"
As this question demonstrates, Fox News Watch is not a serious media criticism program. This is the same program that repeatedly fails media ethics 101, whose host once reproduced a GOP press release -- complete with typo -- and passed it off as his own research. The program regularly ignores Fox News' own ethical problems in favor of bashing other news outlets.
But asking whether the Trayvon Martin killing is a national story must be the program's most amazing failure to date.
From the March 24 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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From the March 24 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera is standing by remarks he made today regarding the killing of 17-year-old black teen Trayvon Martin. On Fox & Friends this morning, Rivera claimed that "the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman."
Tonight, appearing on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show to talk about New York's stop-and-frisk practice -- a tactic employed by the New York City Police Department to curb crime that critics say unfairly targets young minority men -- Rivera again highlighted attire, including the "hoodie," as the reason most young men of color are branded as suspicious. He went on to repeat his advice to young minority men, including his own sons, to avoid dressing "like a wannabe gangster," because "some knucklehead is gonna take you at your word and the tragedy is gonna result."
He stressed, however, he was not "blaming the victim for his own demise" in Martin's case, saying that "it is reality" that minorities wearing hoodies "could attract the attention, not only of the cops, but of nutjobs apparently like this George Zimmerman." He added: "And when they see and respond -- it is a stereotype, it is repugnant, it is all the things that offend us, but it is real life."
He concluded by saying: "I care about saving the lives of minority youngsters."
On the March 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera reacted to the killing of 17-year-old, unarmed Florida resident Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman by claiming, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman."
Rivera said: "I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted" but went on to claim Martin "wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way." From Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Let's talk about the Trayvon Martin case and what's going on in Florida right now.
GERALDO RIVERA: Well, I have a different take, Brian, on that. I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted. But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.
JULIET HUDDY (guest-host): What do you mean?
RIVERA: When you, when you see a kid walking -- Juliet -- when you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles. Take that hood off, people look at you and they -- what do they think? What's the instant identification, what's the instant association?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Uh-oh.
RIVERA: It's those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it's a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta, you're gonna be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace. That's what happens. It is an instant reflexive action. Remember Juan Williams, our colleague? Our brilliant colleague? He got in trouble with NPR because he said Muslims in formal garb at the airport conjure a certain reaction in him or response in him? That's an automatic reflex. Juan wasn't defending it. He was explaining that that's what happens when he sees these particular people in that particular place.
When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation. Trayvon Martin's you know, god bless him, he's an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hand. He didn't deserve to die. But I'll bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that -- that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way.
DOOCY: What about the fact that -- I mean, the people of New York, a couple of nights ago, they had a "Million Hoodie March." You're not helping.
RIVERA: You can not rehabilitate the hoodie. You're not going to -- I understand that the reaction might be overzealous or even irrational in some extent, I mean, when you look at the statistics. It may be. But you're not going to rehabilitate the hoodie. You're not going to --
DOOCY: Just stop wearing it.
RIVERA: Stop wearing it! Don't let your kid -- you know the old Johnny Cash song, don't take your gun to town, son. Leave your gun at home. There is some things that are almost inevitable. I'm not suggesting that Trayvon Martin had any kind of weapon or anything, but he wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way and if he had been dressed more appropriately, I think unless it's raining out, or you're at a track meet, leave the hoodie home. Don't let your children go out there.
HUDDY: Perception is reality.
Update: Politico reported that when asked later whether he would retract his statement, Rivera replied "absolutely not." From Politico:
Asked whether he would take back his earlier comments on Fox News in light of the criticism, Rivera told POLITICO in an email, "Absolutely not," while citing his recently published column on Fox News Latino called, "Geraldo Rivera: Trayvon Martin Would Be Alive but for His Hoodie" that makes the similar arguments that the Fox News host made on the air.
From the March 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Attorney General Eric Holder apparently struck a nerve yesterday when he accurately called out the Daily Caller for effectively creating a movement of congressional Republicans seeking his resignation. Both editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson and reporter Matthew Boyle have since done damage control with extremely friendly media outlets, claiming that they are acting legitimately and attacking Holder for his criticism.
Boyle has led the website's reporters in a month-long effort to find Republicans willing to take a free shot at the Obama administration by calling for Holder's resignation, with the stated rationale being the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. The campaign has led to nearly two dozen articles featuring calls for Holder's resignation from 51 low-level members of Congress, Republican presidential candidates, Sarah Palin, and congressional challengers, among others.
Carlson stopped by Fox & Friends' curvy couch this morning, accusing Holder of being "Nixonian" and saying that "we are not in control of the legislative branch." When co-host Gretchen Carlson asked the Daily Caller editor whether he thought Holder "had that reaction to your reporter because it hasn't been covered as much by the mainstream media," he noted that "our reporter Matt Boyle has written a number of stories on this," but never acknowledged the character of that reporting.
Boyle sounded similar notes in an appearance on NRA Radio (the NRA has called for Holder's resignation). He told host Cam Edwards: "To assume that we're 'behind' the calls for his resignation, I don't know how he can think that. All I'm doing is calling up congressmen and senators and asking them, and then whatever their answer is I print it."
He went on to say that "if he thinks that I have the ability to control what they say and what they don't say, that's unbelievable," adding, "I'd love to know what other conspiracy theories the attorney general can come up with about the media."
Boyle, demonstrating his trademark inability to stick to facts, went on to falsely accuse Holder of previously attacking a Daily Caller article: