Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fox News Baltimore Fakes Story, Stokes Tensions (Video) --
Now Featuring Fox 45's 'Sorry'!

UPDATE:  On its evening broadcast, Fox 45 apologized to Tawanda Jones, the woman leading the chant in the video and interviewed her. They repeated multiple times that they were "mistaken" in how they represented the protesters' video and Jones.

David Zurawik at the Baltimore Sun wrote an opinion about the apology and said:

"The Sun is seeking an explanation as to how such an egregious and potentially inflammatory change in the meaning of the protest chant was made without anyone raising questions in the editorial process.

“Honest misunderstanding” would seem to warrant such an explanation rather than asking viewers to accept it [the apology] on faith." 

I agree. If you look at the original C-SPAN video you see how long that chant went on and how clearly Jones enunciated her Ts through most of it. So, I still believe that while it may have been an error in judgment to produced the segment, the false reporting was not an error.

Previous Report

FOX News corporation affiliate WBFF TV, FOX 45 of Baltimore, has falsely reported that protesters at the "Justice for All" march on December 13 in DC called for people to "KILL A COP." I do not believe this was an honest error on the station's part, but an intentionally callous piece of yellow journalism. According to Mediaite.com, the Baltimore station has run the phony story three times already.

C-SPAN filmed protesters chanting a call for police who've killed unarmed people to go to jail. However, Fox 45 misrepresented the chant. Wait, no, they lied about the chant.

The protesters were really saying the following:
"We won’t stop.
We can’t stop.
Till   KILLER cops.
Are in cell blocks."
You can watch the original clip right on C-SPAN, but I've also embedded a video capture of it right after this paragraph.

In its broadcast, FOX 45 cuts the video before the fourth line of the chant, and then the the anchor tells the audience that the protesters are saying the following:
"We won't stop.
We can't stop,
SO KILL A cop"

Here is the story from the Baltimore station's broadcast:

After misrepresenting what the protesters say, FOX 45 footage switches to scenes from New York about the murder of the two police officers, attempting to tie peaceful protesters to the recent "execution-style" murders of NYPD officers Liu and Ramos by a mentally disturbed man from Baltimore.

Discussing the Fox 45 lie, Mediate and Gawker also connect the station's sleight of hand to smearing the young woman who was helping to lead the chant, Tawana Jones of Baltimore. Jones has been a thorn in the side of the Baltimore Police Department.
. . . Jones is the sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore City Police on July 18, 2013. The West family's quest for justice for this crime has been overwhelmingly ignored by the city of Baltimore – after 73 weeks' worth of "West Wednesday" actions, the family has still not even been given Tyrone's full autopsy report.
Gawker has video of the young woman speaking about her brother. It also published a screen grab of the response she posted to her Facebook page regarding the spurious Fox News story.

The Baltimore FOX affiliate will probably claim it was an error, but the station is following the practices of its national network, FOX NEWS, which has edited video in misleading ways and and leaves its anchors to add commentary or supposed reports that ensure its audience believes what network wants it to believe.

By cutting the fourth line of the chant that would make a listener realize that she or he may have misunderstood what was said, the station shows that they knew the report was false.

I hope there's away Jones can sue sue FOX 45 for slander.

That report seems to serve as a support beam for propaganda from the Baltimore Police Department's union regarding the protests about police overreach and brutality. Its leader, along with Pat Lynch of the NYC police union,  appears hell bent on labeling label anti-police brutality movement as violent. Its rhetoric is an obvious attempt to sway the public to believe various progressive leaders have somehow incited protesters to violence and to calls for violence and that the young people themselves are calling for the deaths of officers. None of this, however, is true.

In its statement about he New York murders, the Baltimore union leader blames New York City's mayor Bill deBlasio, Al Sharpton, President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder for the "bloodshed" that the union histrionically predicts will continue even though it's clear that Brinsley, the killer, acted alone and had a personal beef with police because he'd been arrested at least 20 times, reports the New York Times. It is also obvious that he was mentally ill.

Via the New York Times:
Mr. Brinsley had also suffered from mental problems. Relatives told the police he had taken medication at one point, and when he was asked during an August 2011 court hearing if he had ever been a patient in a mental institution or under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, he said yes. He had also tried to hang himself a year ago, the police said.
All the leaders mentioned by the Baltimore union's statement have done, though, is say they understand why protesters are angry and that the rift between the police communities of color must be mended. It's frightening that these unions aren't willing to sit down and rationally and compassionately discuss ways in which they may be failing the citizens they serve.

Given the volatile climate in America now regarding race, these union spokesmen and Fox 45 as well as any other media outlets that fail to check facts are doing this nation a disservice. The antagonistic rhetoric of the unions and the biased and false reporting of some of the media are putting not only police at risk but also citizens exercising their right to free speech in the public square.

I can almost hear Pat Lynch whining right now that we should be more concerned about the protesters rhetoric than his. But he and the Baltimore union are mistaken about their roles here. Police officers are public servants, so the public has the right to criticize them mildly or harshly. When police unions respond to criticism, as organizations representing public servants they should be held to a higher standard for how they answer. What is their logic in all this, that government workers should protest against citizens who object to government treatment?

I still can't believe police and their supporters thought the "I Can Breathe" response to protest was helpful. How tone deaf can they be?

In light of all this tension, the Fox Baltimore report is extremely irresponsible. (Related: Mayor de Blasio tells reporter that the media is part of the problem.) Also, a retraction from the Fox affiliate will not be enough, if it even offers one. Anybody who's been in journalism knows that a retraction doesn't undo the damage of a false report. Truly despicable!

If you fare angered by WBFF, Fox 45 TV, pouring gasoline on this heated situation, then please find time to complain to the FCC about their reporting. It's dangerous. It's furthering the "war" rhetoric police departments and unions have been using regarding protesters.

The Broadcast Information Specialists can be contacted as noted below:
If the inquiry relates to a radio station:
Toll-Free: (866) 267-7202 (Voice)
Fax: (202) 418-1411
E-Mail: radioinfo@fcc.gov
If the inquiry relates to a television station:
Toll-Free: (866) 918-5777 (Voice)
Fax: (202) 418-2827
E-Mail: tvinfo@fcc.gov

You may also complain to the Sinclair Broadcasting Group which owns WBFF, Fox 45, Baltimore and is pretty cozy with Fox News corporation.

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