Cunningham falsely claimed Hill quoted police chief warning of possible riots by Obama supporters

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Referencing an article in The Hill, radio host Bill Cunningham falsely attributed to a "police chief" the claim that "[i]f [Sen. Barack] Obama is elected, like with sports championships, people may go out and riot. If, on the other hand, Barack loses, there will be another larger group of people who will assume the election was stolen from him." In fact, the quote that Cunningham read from the article was not attributed to a "police chief" or any other law enforcement officer, but was from Bob Parks, whom The Hill described as "an online columnist and black Republican candidate for state representative in Massachusetts."

After reading from an October 21 article from TheHill.com headlined "Police prepare for unrest" during the October 22 broadcast of his radio show, Bill Cunningham falsely attributed to a "police chief" the claim that "[i]f [Sen. Barack] Obama is elected, like with sports championships, people may go out and riot. If, on the other hand, Barack loses, there will be another larger group of people who will assume the election was stolen from him. ... This will be an opportunity for people who want to commit mischief." In fact, the quote that Cunningham read from The Hill article was not attributed to a "police chief" or any other law enforcement officer, but was from Bob Parks, whom The Hill described as "an online columnist and black Republican candidate for state representative in Massachusetts." Moreover, none of the law enforcement officials or spokespeople quoted in The Hill article singled out Obama supporters as the reason they were concerned about Election Day security.

Furthermore, after stating that the "undercurrent of" The Hill article is "there's gonna be rioting on Election Day," Cunningham falsely suggested that the article claimed that "civil authorities are scared to death that all hell's gonna break loose and maybe 100 cities are going to burn." The Hill did not quote anyone asserting they are "scared to death that all hell's gonna break loose" should Obama win or lose or claiming that "maybe 100 American cities are gonna burn."

Later in the broadcast, Cunningham asserted: "[P]lease note that great Americans like myself are not saying that rioting is gonna take place. Police chiefs, police departments, the Drudge Report, they're the ones saying it ... Even if you're black, I anticipate you will act responsibly, even if your candidate loses." As Media Matters for America has noted, Cunningham himself made the baseless claim that "there will be 100 cities burning if Barack loses" on the October 10 edition of his show.

Cunningham also simply asserted that Cincinnati police Lieutenant Mark Briede was referring to "blacks" when he said, according to The Hill: "We've seen it on the Internet and we've heard that there could be civil unrest depending on the outcome of [the election,]" and "We are prepared to respond in the case of some sort of unrest or some sort of incident." Of Briede's comments quoted in The Hill, Cunningham said:

CUNNINGHAM: So that's Lieutenant Mark Briede getting prepared for blacks in the city of Cincinnati to riot if Obama loses, or if he wins. It could be time to free the hot dog vendor of some buns or to steal some nice big high-definition TVs from the local appliance store, in celebration of Barack Hussein Obama's victory, or if he loses, God -- may God save over the Rhine in Avondale should Obama lose this election. Of course, it'll be stolen

From The Hill:

"If [Obama] is elected, like with sports championships, people may go out and riot," said Bob Parks, an online columnist and black Republican candidate for state representative in Massachusetts. "If Barack Obama loses there will be another large group of people who will assume the election was stolen from him..... This will be an opportunity for people who want to commit mischief."

[...]

James Tate, second deputy chief of Detroit's police department, said extra manpower would be assigned to duty on Election Night. He said problems could flare whichever candidate wins.

"Either party will make history and we want to prepare for celebrations that will be on a larger scale than for our sports teams," Tate said.

He noted that police had to control rioters who overturned cars after the Tigers won the 1984 World Series.

"We're prepared for the best-case scenario, we're prepared for the worst-case scenario," he said. "The worst-case scenario could be a situation that requires law enforcement."

But Tate declined to describe what the worst-case scenario might look like, speaking gingerly like other police officials who are wary of implying that black voters are more likely than other voting groups to cause trouble.

From the October 22 broadcast of Clear Channel's The Big Show with Bill Cunningham:

CUNNINGHAM: TheHill.com, which is the daily newspaper on Capitol Hill by Mort Kondracke and others, have a posting today that says "Police prepare for riots": "Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest."

[...]

CUNNINGHAM: Police chiefs are quoted in here from Detroit and Oakland, all of them say that they're concerned if Obama wins or loses. If he wins, it's gonna be celebratory rioting in the black community, and if he loses, there will be serious rioting in the black community, according to the police chiefs of Detroit, Oakland, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Unbelievable.

One police officer described -- declined to describe what the worst-case scenario might look like. Other police officials are wary of implying that black voters are more likely to riot than other voting groups? Have I missed something the last few decades in America that there's a concern that Sarah Palin may lose the vice presidency, will you ladies then riot? Have I missed large numbers of suburban and neighborhood areas going up in smoke when something happens to a woman?

But the -- you see, ladies, they have to include you in this to be politically correct. The undercurrent of this is there's gonna be rioting on Election Day. If he wins, it'll be celebratory, which might be like a World Series team winning the World Series like in 1984 in Detroit when the Tigers won. Or, if he loses, then the civil authorities are scared to death that all hell's gonna break loose and maybe 100 American cities are gonna burn. Wow. We live in very unusual times.

[...]

CUNNINGHAM: I guess celebratory rioting would not be as severe as a Obama defeat, but the city of Cincinnati I guess is prepared for civil unrest, according to Lieutenant Mark Briede, who said, quote, "We are prepared to respond in the case of some sort of unrest or some sort of incident," unquote. "We've seen it on the internet and we've heard that there could be civil unrest depending upon the outcome of the election."

So that's Lieutenant Mark Briede getting prepared for blacks in the city of Cincinnati to riot if Obama loses, or if he wins. It could be time to free the hot dog vendor of some buns or to steal some nice big high-definition TVs from the local appliance store, in celebration of Barack Hussein Obama's victory, or if he loses, God -- may God save over the Rhine in Avondale should Obama lose this election. Of course, it'll be stolen. According to one police chief, "If Obama is elected, like with sports championships, people may go out and riot. If, on the other hand, Barack loses, there will be another larger group of people who will assume the election was stolen from him. ... This will be an opportunity for people who want to commit mischief."

[...]

CUNNINGHAM: And please note that great Americans like myself are not saying that rioting is gonna take place. Police chiefs, police departments, the Drudge Report, they're the ones saying it. Jeff Pennerson and I stand with those who anticipate that everyone's gonna act responsibility, even if you're black, according to Matthew Steinmann.

Even if you're black, I anticipate you will act responsibly, even if your candidate loses. But these news reports are all over the country about police departments beefing up security because of a fear of Obama losing or fear of him winning. So, we'll see what happens and I'll simply report to you objectively the truth -- however the truth might be.

Network/Outlet
Clear Channel, 700WLW
Person
Bill Cunningham
Show/Publication
The Big Show with Bill Cunningham
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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