Fox News Downplays Killing of Alton Sterling

The Fox News logo, August 2011
Andy Kropa/Getty Images

With the exception of ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, the broadcast network morning shows ignored Tuesday's fatal shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, an African American, by a Baton Rouge, La., police officer.

The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., published this graphic of the shooting scene.
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On cable news, meanwhile, Tyler Cherry and Alex Kaplan of Media Matters for America reported that their analysis found that Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, "devoted only 6 minutes, 17 seconds to reporting on the shooting, spanning six different segments. CNN covered the shooting for 1 hour, 57 minutes, 4 seconds, across 15 segments. MSNBC reported on the shooting for 1 hour, 40 minutes, 32 seconds, across 17 segments. . . ."

The fatal shooting of Sterling was followed Wednesday night by another police killing of a black man near St. Paul, Minn., that was captured on a Facebook video shared tens of thousands of times and prompting a crowd to gather outside the governor's mansion.

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"A police officer fatally shot a 32-year-old man during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on Wednesday night and his girlfriend live-streamed the immediate aftermath," Frederick Melo and Mara H. Gottfried reported for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. "She said in the graphic Facebook video that he had a legal license to carry a firearm and had been reaching for his ID when the officer fired several times.

Melo and Gottfried also wrote, "Family of the man who was killed identified him at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis as Philando Castile.

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"Castile was black, and his death follows heightened concern nationwide and in Minnesota about deadly encounters black men have had with police. . . ."

On Sterling's death, Media Matters also found that "while CNN and MSNBC both aired live coverage of three separate press conferences regarding the shooting — one from Sterling’s attorney and family, one from Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, and one from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards — Fox News did not carry any of the press conferences live with audio, playing only a short portion of the Sterling family press conference without sound. . . ."

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Media Matters analyzed the cable networks’ coverage between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

By the dinner hour, however, the three nightly news shows all led with the shooting that lit up social media all day and led to "national outrage at what is the latest in a string of fatal police encounters captured on video," in the words of the Washington Post.

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"Hundreds of protesters, mourners, friends and family of a Louisiana man shot and killed by Baton Rouge police have gathered in front of the convenience store where the shooting occurred," the Associated Press reported at 7:30 p.m. local time.

One of the first columnists to comment on the development was Jarvis DeBerry of NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He pointed to a bigger picture:

"The Baton Rouge Police Department – like so many other departments across the country – is notorious for its brutal treatment of black people," DeBerry wrote. "And the confrontation that ensued between Sterling and Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II should be discussed within its proper context. The Baton Rouge Police Department has a history of brutality against black people.

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"Many law enforcement officials came to Louisiana immediately after Hurricane Katrina to provide reinforcements, and one state trooper from Michigan said Baton Rouge police attempted to thank him for his help by letting him 'beat down' a prisoner.

"A trooper from New Mexico wrote a letter to the Baton Rouge police expressing the concerns of seven New Mexico troopers and five Michigan troopers that Baton Rouge police were engaging in racially motivated enforcement, that they were physically abusing prisoners and the public and that they were stopping, questioning and searching people without any legal justification.

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"In case you weren't paying attention, I'll repeat it: The people accusing Baton Rouge police of brutality and racism were other law enforcement officials. And, yet, the general response from Baton Rouge was that those outside officers didn't know what they were talking about. . . ."

Alton Sterling
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The Washington Post, which has been cataloguing fatal shootings by police nationwide, summarized in an 8:15 p.m. ET account by Wesley Lowery, Travis M. Andrews and Michael E. Miller:

"Sterling was shot and killed early Tuesday morning after police responded to a complaint about an armed man threatening people outside a convenience store. Cellphone video showing Sterling on the ground, underneath two officers, when he was killed, began circulating online early Tuesday evening. By the end of the night, the outrage was rippling nationwide.

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"Baton Rouge police, the local district attorney, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who called the video 'disturbing,' announced Wednesday morning that federal officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice would investigate Sterling’s death.

"About an hour later, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie named both officers who had been involved in the shooting: Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran from a prominent local law enforcement family, and Howie Lake, a three-year veteran of the department.

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“ 'We want to know what happened, we want to know the truth,' said Dabadie, who did not clarify which officer fired the fatal shots. 'At this point, like you, I am demanding answers, like you all, my prayers are with this community and the family and loved ones of Mr. Sterling.'

Cover of the New York Daily News July 7, 2016
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"President Obama was aware of the shooting, press secretary Josh Earnest said at his daily briefing. 'Regardless of what this investigation finds, there is a family in Baton Rouge and there is a community that is grieving right now,' Earnest said. 'And obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the family that’s lost a loved one.'

"Questions abound as to the circumstances of Sterling’s death, which was the 505th fatal police shooting by an on-duty officer in 2016, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. And, as has been the case after dozens of other fatal police shootings in recent years, the first versions of what happened are coming more from a video showing a fragment of the incident than from police. . . ."

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Decrying what he considered the lack of sufficient media attention, Wednesday morning on radio's "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" Sharpton said, "We have a classic example here of why we need to control our microphones, and control how we project issues to our community, which must stay in our hands." (audio)

Michelle McCalope, president of the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms by email, "I've seen quite a few black journalists" covering the story.

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The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana, nation [respond] to shooting death of Alton Sterling

Dave Collins, Associated Press: Connecticut cops more likely to use stun guns on minorities

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Rachaell Davis, Essence: Here's Everything We Know About The Alton Sterling Police Killing

Editorial, the Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.: Our Views: After Alton Sterling shooting, build bridges, not barriers

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Lindsey Ellefson, Mediaite: A Baton Rouge Cop Resigned in 2014 After Saying He Wished Someone Would ‘Pull a Ferguson’

Kia Gregory, the New Yorker: Telling Michael Brown's Story

Shaun King, Daily News, New York: We’ll all remember where we were when we saw Alton Sterling killed in a brutal act of police violence

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Zack Kopplin and Justin Miller, Daily Beast: New Video Emerges of Alton Sterling Being Killed by Baton Rouge Police

Harmon Leon, AlterNet via Raw Story: Here are 8 white people who pointed guns at police officers — and didn’t get killed

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Dan Merica, CNN: Clinton: The shooting of Alton Sterling a 'tragedy', calls for justice

Wilborn P. Nobles III, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune: State laws could delay police questioning in Alton Sterling shooting for 30 days

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Wilborn P. Nobles III, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Police scanner response in Alton Sterling shooting released, TV station says

Pat Pheifer and Claude Peck, Star Tribune, Minneapolis: Aftermath of fatal Falcon Heights officer-involved shooting captured on video (July 7)

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Tracie Powell, alldigitocracy.org: Provocative New York Daily News cover draws condemnation, support (July 7)

Star Tribune, Minneapolis: Early news conference from Falcon Heights shooting (video) (July 7)

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A Chicago Tribune video illustrates the newspaper's report that holiday weekend shootings claimed at least five lives and wounded 61 others.

Chicago’s Fourth Bloodier Than Last Year’s

"The Fourth of July weekend was almost over, and the Chicago Police Department's strategies for tamping what historically has been a spike in violence seemed to be working," Peter Nickeas and Jeremy Gorner reported Tuesday for the Chicago Tribune.

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"By Sunday evening, shootings were sharply down from the year before, and fewer people had been killed. Superintendent Eddie Johnson ventured before reporters and declared: 'We're making progress. It's not success yet, but this goes a long way.'

"Over the next several hours, however, gunfire erupted across the South and West sides. Nearly 30 people were shot after Johnson spoke, doubling the holiday toll to at least 66, one more than last year's Fourth. . . ."

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Nickeas and Gorner also wrote, "The violence brought the number of people shot in Chicago so far this year to at least 2,021, a level not seen in the city in recent years. The total for all of last year was just over 2,900.

"When Johnson appeared before reporters again Tuesday, one of the first questions was, 'Superintendent, what happened?'

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"At first, Johnson said his department strategies 'did what we anticipated they would do.' He blamed the bloody end of the weekend on 'too many guns' and renewed his pitch for a bill that would lengthen prison terms for repeat gun offenders.

" 'This is another example of the fact that we have too many guns on the streets of Chicago and too many people willing to use them,' he said. . . ."

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According to U.S. Justice Department figures, from 1980 to 2008, blacks were 52.5 percent of homicide perpetrators and 47.4 percent of homicide victims. [PDF]

NRA Sees Future in Concealed Carry, Writer Says

"The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando has led to a revival of the debate over assault weapons, but journalist Evan Osnos says the real growth in gun ownership is from small, concealed handguns," NPR wrote on June 23.

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" 'Something really profound has changed in the way that we use guns,' Osnos tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. 'Concealed carry, as it's known, is now legal in all 50 states.'

"Osnos, who writes about the evolution of concealed carry in the current [June 27] issue of The New Yorker, estimates that there are about 13 million people who are licensed to carry a concealed gun in the United States — more than 12 times the number of police officers and detectives in America.

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"He says that gun manufacturers market a 'concealed-carry lifestyle,' which uses fear to sell guns.

" 'If you are somebody who is considering buying a gun, or you've become part of this phenomenon of carrying a gun in daily life, you are constantly being reminded of ways in which you could encounter a threat,' he says.

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"The concealed-carry movement is central to the gun-rights platform of organizations like the National Rifle Association, Osnos adds.

" 'The idea that you should be allowed, legally and constitutionally, to carry a gun almost anywhere … is actually sort of the heart of what the gun rights movement believes is the future,' he says. . . ."

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Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Americans Must Understand that a Bullet Has All of Our Names on It

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: An illegal gun and a crowded parade (June 29)

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Fox News Chairman Accused of Sexual Harassment

"Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, was accused on Wednesday of forcing out a prominent female anchor after she refused his sexual advances and complained to him about persistent harassment in the newsroom, a startling accusation against perhaps the most powerful man in television news," Michael M. Grybaum and John Koblin reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

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Gretchen Carlson

"In a lawsuit, the anchor, Gretchen Carlson, a longtime Fox employee who left the network last month, portrays Mr. Ailes as a loutish and serial sexual harasser, accusing him of ogling her in his office, calling her 'sexy,' and describes a boys’ club environment at the network.

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"Her charges — including the accusation that Mr. Ailes explicitly asked Ms. Carlson for a sexual relationship during a meeting in his office — amounted to an almost unprecedented public attack on Mr. Ailes, a towering figure in media and Republican politics who typically enjoys absolute loyalty from his employees.

"Late Wednesday, the parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, issued a measured statement, saying it had 'full confidence' in Mr. Ailes, but had initiated an internal review of Ms. Carlson’s charges. 'We take these matters seriously,' the company said.

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"Mr. Ailes, in a separate statement, was far less temperate. 'Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false,' he wrote. 'This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract,' which he attributed to ratings he called 'disappointingly low.' . . ."

Michelle Fields, Huffington Post: Fox News Sources: Gretchen Carlson Wasn’t The First Roger Ailes Victim

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Society Pays the Price for Unpaid Internships

"We often hear that success is 'all about the people you know' — as if it’s just a matter of equal-opportunity relationship building," Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, wrote Tuesday for the New York Times.

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Darren Walker

"We rarely talk about how one knows them, or about the privilege that has become a prerequisite to knowing the right people. I sometimes get calls and emails from friends seeking help in landing internships for their children.

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"I understand what they’re doing; this is part of being a parent. Still, it’s a reminder that America’s current internship system, in which contacts and money matter more than talent, contributes to an economy in which access and opportunity go to the people who already have the most of both.

"The stakes of America’s broken internship system are high. As report after report reminds us, this generation of students faces significantly worse job prospects than its predecessors. Without the short-term opportunities to help them learn, grow, connect with mentors and begin climbing the earnings curve, many promising young people with limited means are denied the chance to rise as high as their talent will take them.

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"The result is not limited to the labor market. The broader implication is privilege multiplied by privilege, a compounding effect prejudiced against students who come from working-class or lower-income circumstances. By shutting out these students from entry-level experiences in certain fields, entire sectors engineer long-term deficits of much-needed talent and perspective. In other words, we’re all paying the price for unpaid internships. . . ."

Credit: Newseum Institute
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Record Low Believe News Media Are Unbiased

"Twenty-three percent of Americans believe that the news media attempts to report on news without bias, while fully 74% of Americans disagree," [PDF] the Newseum Institute reported on Friday in partnership with USA Today.

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"The four‐year trend downward seen since the last presidential election has led to a record low percentage of Americans who agree that the media are unbiased."

The institute also reported, "The results of this year's survey show most Americans favor free speech, even over speech that offends, and support religious liberty, even in the face of terrorism. However, 39 percent of Americans could not name a single First Amendment freedom: religion, speech, press, assembly or petition.

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" 'The American people have a strong commitment to our fundamental freedoms,' said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum. 'However, more needs to be done to explain how our foundational rights can be fully realized in today's complex society. This study's findings underscore the importance of the Newseum's role in explaining, supporting and defending our First Amendment rights.'

"The 2016 State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the Newseum Institute's First Amendment Center found that 39 percent of Americans could not name a single First Amendment freedom: religion, speech, press, assembly or petition.

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"The annual survey, which began in 1997 and this year was conducted in late May, showed that 86 percent of those responding in the national survey favored 'protecting speech,' while just 10 percent favored limits aimed at 'protecting people from hearing things that offend them.'

"There also was strong support for free expression on college campuses: 57 percent said college students should be able to speak freely. The results dropped to 35 percent for students in high school.

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"Also, a follow-up survey done after the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando showed support for First Amendment protection for all religious faiths, regardless of how extreme or fringe the survey respondents might consider the beliefs of those faiths, actually increased, despite anti-Muslim rhetoric and reports of an ISIS connection that followed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. . . ."

Among the national sample of 1,006 Americans who were interviewed by telephone, 66 percent were white, 15 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic and 10 percent "something else."

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Short Takes

"Gannett, the Virginia-based newspaper company that owns USA Today and dozens of local newspapers around the country, has reached an agreement to buy the core assets of North Jersey Media Group, whose portfolio includes a prominent Garden State daily, The Record of Bergen County," Joe Pompeo reported Wednesday for Politico.

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"In a year in which politics has at times resembled reality TV, ABC News is still sticking largely with the script — and tradition — when it comes to covering this month's political conventions," Brian Lowry reported Wednesday for CNN Money. "The network announced Wednesday that it will devote a single hour each night in primetime to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. It is adding a fourth night (Monday) to its coverage of each event, but otherwise it is essentially adhering to a formula that the networks have long employed. . . ."

"PBS’s election coverage this fall includes two primetime specials that dive into the demographic changes that are reshaping the American electorate," Alyssa Anderson reported Tuesday for current.org. "The first, a return of Maria Hinojosa’s America by the Numbers, introduces viewers to voters from four distinct demographic groups that will influence the outcome of the general elections. The second, a documentary from independent producer Hector Galán, examines the legacy of Willie Velasquez, founder of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, which is credited for increasing the political participation of Hispanic Americans as voters and elected officials. . . ."

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“Fashion Queens” host Bevy Smith and Page Six reporter Carlos Greer will be part of “Page Six TV,” a television show modeled on the New York Post's Page Six gossip column that debuts on July 18, the Page Six team reported Wednesday for the Post. The show is to be hosted by actor, comedian and broadcaster John Fugelsang of Sirius XM and VH1.

"It has been 15 years since Tionda and Diamond Bradley disappeared from their South Side home," Grace Wong and Jeremy Gorner reported Wednesday for the Chicago Tribune. They also wrote, "Tionda would be 25 this year and Diamond 18. Despite the years, the girls' relatives still think about them every day. And a private investigator, who has been working closely with the family and a retired police detective, who has continued to investigate the case, said they have no plans to give up trying to solve one of Chicago's enduring mysteries. . . ."

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ESPN the Magazine cover features mystery athlete.

"ESPN The Magazine has eight main covers this week for its annual Body Issue," Christopher Heine reported Wednesday for adweek.com. "They feature NFL player Vince Wilfork, soccer star Christen Press, MMA fighter Conor McGregor and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade, among other athletes. Perhaps most interestingly, there's also a super-techie bonus cover that involves Gatorade and the mobile app, Shazam. It will utilize stats — accrued by Gatorade's team of sports scientists — around Wade, creating an outline of his image. The data points entail the basketball player's training, recovery and fluid intake. Readers will be encouraged to scan the image with Shazam, which will then reveal that the person represented by the data is Wade. The app will also show a bevy of exclusive, behind-the-scenes images from his photo shoot. . . ."

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"Michael Strahan won’t be appearing in any more commercials for the foreseeable future," BlackAmericaWeb.com reported Wednesday. "As part of his deal to join 'Good Morning America' full-time, the former NFL star — who has shilled for such brands as Subway, Pizza Hut, Metamucil, Snickers, [Dr] Pepper and Right Guard — will have to drop his endorsement deals, according to Page Six. . . ."

"I understand that Black readers could view my contribution to predominantly white-run publications as tokenization, or assume that it stems from my personal desire for validation from a white readership," music critic Jordannah Elizabeth wrote Tuesday for the East Bay Express. "But I would counter that, through journalism, I have the opportunity to share my frustration with the reality of my oppression with a broad audience, and bring my perspective to newsrooms that often lack diversity. . . . These robust and accessible conversations create a relationship with readers, Black writers, and Black artists that are largely absent in white alternative media. . . ."

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Five professionals from the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo were the targets of 37 lawsuits for moral damages filed by members of the judiciary, Heloisa Aruth Sturm reported June 9 for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. "Altogether, the suits total R $1.3 million (about USD $384,000) in damages." On June 30, legal proceedings against the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo> were temporarily suspended by judge Rosa Weber of the federal Supreme Court, according to O Estado de S. Paulo. "In her decision, the judge said that the continuation of the actions results in financial and personal injury to members of the press. . . ."

"Twenty-four journalists were killed or died under unclear circumstances in Latin America in the first six months of 2016," Heloisa Aruth Sturm and Teresa Mioli reported Tuesday for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. "Eight of these deaths were recorded just in the month of June. More than half of the deaths registered this year occurred in only two countries: Mexico (9) and Guatemala (5). . . ."

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at journal-isms-owner@yahoogroups.com

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