Kwame Rose, the Baltimore resident who confronted Fox News' Geraldo Rivera over media's biased coverage of the city, responded to Rivera's personal on-air attacks in an interview with Media Matters. Rose reacted to video of his interaction with Rivera going viral, discussed the media landscape in Baltimore, and highlighted racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
National media has swarmed to cover the Baltimore protesters who have taken to the streets to voice concerns about the criminal justice system following the shocking death of Freddie Gray, a young Baltimore resident whose spine was fatally severed while in police custody. Fox's Rivera was among those pundits reporting on the protests when Rose confronted the Fox personality and expressed frustration that the network failed to spotlight Gray's death in favor of hyping the unrest that ensued, an exchange that quickly found a large audience online.
Rivera later used his platform on Fox News to bash Rose as a "vandal," "annoying," and an "obstructionist" on-air. He accused Rose of displaying "exactly that kind of youthful anarchy that led to the destruction and pain in that community."
Rose has responded to Geraldo and to the video's popularity, in an email exchange with Media Matters.
"I want people to know that this issue is bigger than some clip of me, it's about Black Lives," said Rose, after emphasizing that being featured in a viral video was never his intention. His frustration lies with establishment media and its depictions of Baltimore in the wake of the unrest.
"I have been out protesting for almost two weeks now without being on one camera," Rose explained. "After Monday night when the media started pouring in, I sat at work and watched how the media basically forced people to believe that Baltimore was some Third World city. I just wanted to set the record straight and let it be known that this generation refuses to be misinterpreted."
Rose noted how the media paid attention to the violence in Baltimore, but failed to cover the community's efforts to unite and clean up the city.
"I sat and watched the media set up their camps in front of boarded up homes ... while we were cleaning up the streets as one community. The cameras weren't rolling, nobody cared. Outside agitators such as Fox News came onto the scene trying to exploit the situation. I don't care about the people watching Fox News, but I will not let you report lies about the people of this city."
From the April 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relied on numerous falsehoods to claim that President Obama will move to ban sales of all firearm ammunition before he leaves office, thus making "the very real nightmare of every single gun owner in this country" a reality.
In the May issue of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre wrote, "President Barack Obama is setting the table to ban your ammunition -- all of it," and claimed that "the remaining two years of Obama's term pose the greatest threat ever to the Second Amendment and our freedom."
LaPierre imagined a ludicrous scheme where "two fatal turns of events" would lead the EPA to ban all lead ammunition and, subsequently, the Obama administration to ban all non-lead ammunition. According to LaPierre, "The president's bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are partnering with private enviro-radicals to ban lead projectiles -- including all hunting bullets -- as hazardous."
Despite the fact that the EPA has given no indication that it is preparing regulations on lead ammunition, LaPierre insisted that the agency is still seeking a ban.
The facts prove him wrong. In December 2014, FoxNews.com reported that "[i]n a decision favorable to gun enthusiasts," a federal court ruled against environmentalists who argued that the EPA has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. According to FoxNews.com, "The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA's side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations." (The EPA does not believe it has authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.)
Media are parroting conservative lawmakers' and activist groups' characterization of the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) as an "abortion law," an inaccurate portrayal the GOP is pushing in its effort to repeal the legislation. The law actually provides women vital protection from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, like assisted pregnancy and even premarital sex.
Fox News' Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a Baltimore resident frustrated by the network's history of biased and incendiary coverage of racial issues. Rivera responded by retreating before going live on-air where he described the young black man as a "vandal," yelling at him, "you're making a fool of yourself!"
On April 28, Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a young black Baltimore resident as he prepared to report on the unrest in the city following the death of Freddie Gray. The resident explained his frustration with Fox News' failure to spotlight Gray's death while hyping the unrest that ensued. The young man explained to Rivera, "I want you and Fox News to get out of Baltimore City, because you are not here reporting about the boarded up homes and the homeless people under MLK. You're not reporting about the poverty levels up and down North Avenue. ... But you're here for the black riots that happen. ... you're not here for the death of Freddie Gray." Watch:
National Review Online is calling on the Supreme Court to uphold states' rights to ban same-sex marriage because, in its view, recognizing marriage equality would redefine the institution to favor lesser "emotional unions" and adopted children over married procreation.
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that could finally allow same-sex couples to marry in every state or, at minimum, require states that ban same-sex marriage to recognize the legality of same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere. During arguments, Mary Bonauto, the lawyer representing the same-sex couples challenging state marriage bans, asserted that such bans "contravene the basic constitutional commitment to equal dignity" and that "the abiding purpose of the 14th Amendment is to preclude relegating classes of persons to second-tier status."
Several justices were receptive to Bonauto's argument, including conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is widely expected to cast the deciding vote in the case.
But NRO is less convinced. In an April 28 editorial, the editors called on the justices to "refrain from taking [the] reckless step" of recognizing that the fundamental right to marry should be extended to gay couples. The editorial also rejected the idea that gay couples who can't get married are routinely denied the same dignity that "traditional" married couples enjoy, and argued that the "older view" of marriage -- which prioritizes "the type of sexual behavior that often gives rise to children" -- is "rationally superior to the newer one":
An older view of marriage has steadily been losing ground to a newer one, and that process began long before the debate over same-sex couples. On the older understanding, society and, to a lesser extent, the government needed to shape sexual behavior -- specifically, the type of sexual behavior that often gives rise to children -- to promote the well-being of those children. On the newer understanding, marriage is primarily an emotional union of adults with an incidental connection to procreation and children.
We think the older view is not only unbigoted, but rationally superior to the newer one. Supporters of the older view have often said that it offers a sure ground for resisting polygamy while the newer one does not. But perhaps the more telling point is that the newer view does not offer any strong rationale for having a social institution of marriage in the first place, let alone a government-backed one.
From the April 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The National Rifle Association used riots in Baltimore to promote controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws by citing an article from conservative website Breitbart.com that claimed such laws "are an antidote for brazen in-your-face attacks on city streets."
In fact, several pieces of academic research indicate that "Stand Your Ground" laws increase the incidence of homicides. More generally, research has shown that allowing guns to be carried in public increases crime, particularly aggravated assault. "Stand Your Ground" laws have also been criticized due to research indicating that the laws are applied to minorities in a disparate manner.
On Facebook, the NRA wrote, "Videos of rioters wreaking havoc in Baltimore and photos of them risking the lives of innocents by punching, throwing objects, and, in one instance, drawing back a knife with which to stab a bystander were reminders that Stand Your Ground laws are an antidote for brazen in-your-face attacks on city streets," borrowing language from a Breitbart.com article that the Facebook post promoted:
The NRA helped draft the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which was enacted in Florida in 2005. "Stand Your Ground" subsequently spread through legislatures nationwide due to efforts by the NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council. In 2012, the law became highly controversial after the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The law would then play a substantial role in Zimmerman's acquittal on murder charges.
Fox News' Special Report cherry-picked Justice Antonin Scalia's religious freedom concerns from the Supreme Court's oral arguments on constitutional protections for same-sex marriage to question whether clergy may "be required to conduct same-sex marriages." But this selective reporting ignores the fact that Scalia's line of questioning was immediately debunked by his fellow justices as well as the pro-marriage equality lawyer.
On April 28, the court heard landmark arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex marriages, or at least requires them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it's legal.
During the April 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier highlighted a dubious line of questioning between Scalia and Mary Bonauto, the lawyer representing the same-sex couples, that suggested a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would require clergy with religious objections to perform those ceremonies. Baier reiterated Scalia's question to The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, who agreed and argued that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would leave religious liberties vulnerable:
BAIER: There's one more thing. If states license ministers to conduct marriages, would those ministers -- if it is constitutional -- then be required to conduct same-sex marriages?
HAYES: Right, and then you go to the religious liberty argument. I mean, this is one area where I think conservatives are shifting their focus now, in a sense almost conceding that the gay marriage debate for all intents and purposes in the political realm is over, but can they sort of protect those religious liberties that, you know, certainly I would argue that the founders intended.
From the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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A new commentary feature in the National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom included sexist descriptions of an Obama administration official and a racial slur that is used to describe people from India or the Middle East.
The NRA's revamped website for its print and digital magazine America's 1st Freedom includes a new feature called WarriorWire. According to its description on the NRA's website, "'WarriorWire' is our conduit for the unvarnished, unedited reactions of law enforcement and military personnel to the mainstream media's spin. This space gives them the opportunity to set the record straight, correct inaccuracies and just plain vent."
In an April 28 WarriorWire column, NRA Life of Duty correspondent Chuck Holton wrote that State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is a "spokesperson barbie [sic]," suggested that her viewpoints on terrorism had been negatively influenced by a women's studies program, and described her as a "clueless, poorly accessorized mouthpiece."
Holton was reacting to a comment made by Harf in February during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball that linked a lack of economic opportunity in the Middle East to terrorism. Even though a similar viewpoint had been expressed by the Bush Administration, Harf was inundated with often-sexist attacks by conservative media for her statement.
From the April 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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"What is the cause of this unrest" in Baltimore?
Fox News' attempt to tackle this question dismissed the role that anger over police brutality played in sparking the protests and riots that broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- a black man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries obtained while in police custody. Instead, the network blamed the unrest on "parental neglect" and "hip hop culture," among other factors.
The April 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now highlighted growing violence in Baltimore, and host Jon Scott asked network political analyst Juan Williams for his thoughts on what sparked the unrest: "Is there any one cause? Is it a collaboration of poverty and parental neglect?"
Williams blamed "family breakdown" as the "core part" of the Baltimore protests, adding that high unemployment, drug culture, and "dysfunctional behavior" also contributed. Some mistakenly blame frustration over police brutality for the unrest, Williams suggested, arguing that in fact the problem is a society "asking police to do things they're not trained to do":
WILLIAMS: What you have here is a situation where, I think, you have poor people, who feel that they have a grievance -- a difficult situation across our country in terms of how police deal with the dysfunction that is in this neighborhood, but deal with it in every community in America. We are asking our police to go in and to deal with people who are extremely violent, disorganized, families in chaos, and say to the police, you're our front lines. And when the police fail in handling the situation, then we say, it's a matter of police brutality. I think it's a matter of society, often times, asking police to do things they're not trained to do.
Baltimore, of course, has a marked history of police brutality -- As The Baltimore Sun documented in a searing 2014 report:
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.
Mistrust of cops in Baltimore has been "long-simmering." A similar riot broke out in the city in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Since then, racial tension and inequity has resulted in "a troubled history between the police force and its residents."
Others like The New York Times trace the "broken relationship" between Baltimore residents and the Baltimore Police Department back to 1980, when the NAACP called for a federal investigation into police brutality. The tensions continued into the past decade "with a crime-fighting strategy known as 'zero-tolerance policing' that led to mass arrests." The Times noted how city leaders have attempted to reform the police department "that has a history of aggressive, sometimes brutal, treatment of black men," a history, "which helps explain the long-simmering anger that boiled over" with the death of Freddie Gray.
Conservative media figures responded to riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- an unarmed man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries while in police custody -- by recommending that participants in the riots be shot, and blaming the outbreak of violence on Democratic leadership, President Obama, public schools, welfare, and single-parent families.
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow blamed President Obama and his administration for violence in the wake of the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering an unexplained injury while in the custody of Baltimore police officers.
On April 19, 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of a reported spinal cord injury that he mysteriously suffered after being arrested on April 12 by police officers. After Gray's funeral on April 27, the governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and activated the National Guard to respond to violence and looting in the city that resulted in injury to at least 15 police officers.
On the April 27 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox host Lou Dobbs responded to the events by blaming the violence against the police on Obama, asserting that "there is a war on law enforcement" that is being "corroborated if not condoned by this administration."
Later during the show, Dobbs invited Fox contributor Keith Ablow to comment, and he also blamed Obama for the violence, adding that people who want to tear down the system like the people in Baltimore "might be taking [their] cues from this president" (emphasis added):
DOBBS: I'd like to begin with what drives, in your judgment, a police department and a mayor, who basically have given a free pass to those who are tearing up property, and injuring others, including law enforcement?
ABLOW: What drives them is a lack of respect for the foundation of governing and foundation of law upon which this nation rests. Contempt for such things and a kind of tacit acceptance, that protests can be violent because people are so frustrated. But the bottom line Lou, is that if you want to change things, you work within the system, that is the way it has always been. If you want to tear down the system, you might be taking your cues, by the way, from a president who has given the appearance that there is every justification for any level of anger at our country because we're such despicable people.
While reporting on the protests earlier in the day, Fox News' Shep Smith urged his colleagues to report on the protests objectively by "for now, just covering what happens," instead of indicting the community.