Accuracy in Media

The grand jury in the Eric Garner case heard nine weeks’ of evidence before declining to indict the police officer. Many in the media didn’t wait nine minutes before finding the officer guilty of a crime. This rush to judgment was evident across the political spectrum, in the liberal and conservative media.

With “sit-ins, die-ins, and blockades” making news around the country against “police violence,” it apparently has become tempting for some conservatives to take the side of the black criminal and look stylish. They must figure this is a way of getting accolades from the liberals.

But here are the facts about the grand jury, as disclosed by Stephen J. Rooney, a justice on the Richmond County Supreme Court in New York:

  • In addition to sitting for nine weeks, it heard from a total 50 witnesses. Twenty-two of the witnesses were civilians, while the remaining witnesses were police officers, emergency medical personnel and doctors.
  • Sixty exhibits were admitted into evidence, including four videos, records regarding the New York Police Department (NYPD) policies and procedures, medical records pertaining to the treatment of the deceased, photographs of the scene, autopsy photographs and records pertaining to NYPD training.
  • The grand jury was instructed on relevant principles of law, including Penal Law § 35.30 regarding a police officer’s use of physical force in making an arrest.

The grand jury is one of our most precious institutions of self-governance. It is designed to screen criminal indictments before people are charged.

It’s true that the commentators did not have access to all of this evidence. But they could have taken some time to review the video from a police officer’s point of view, and to review police procedures. Instead, conservatives in the media jumped to conclusions, showing how the narrative of the liberal media was already dominating their thinking.

Interestingly, however, former NBA basketball star Charles Barkley had it right even before the grand jury decision was handed down. He watched the video and told CNN, “…when the cops are trying to arrest you, if you fight back, things go wrong. I don’t think they were trying to kill Mr. Garner. He was a big man and they tried to get him down.”

For some reason, our prominent white conservatives couldn’t see the case as clearly as this black man.

Fox News commentators took sides against the police officer. Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News judicial analyst, said, “This ought to have been an indictment and it ought to have been an indictment for some form of manslaughter. It’s not first degree murder. It’s not second degree murder. But it’s certainly reckless manslaughter.” Napolitano is a judge who should know better. He knows—or should know—that the grand jury looked at all of the evidence, including the fact that the supervising police officer on the scene was black.

One of the most ridiculous critiques of the outcome was offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sean Hannity of Fox News. They implied that Garner was being arrested for not paying taxes on cigarettes. He was selling untaxed cigarettes, but that was not the main reason he got into trouble. In fact, shop owners called the police for help in getting him out of the neighborhood. He had been committing crimes since the age of 16.

Selling untaxed cigarettes sounds like a petty crime. But anyone who reviews the evidence knows that crime rates have been going down in New York City precisely because the police have been enforcing the law at all levels, from petty crimes on up to murder. The police are not supposed to decide which laws to enforce; they are supposed to enforce the law, period.

We are accustomed to an anti-police bias from the liberals. But Glenn Beck said, “How this cop did not go to jail and was not held responsible is beyond me.” Perhaps he should have taken some time to look at the video more closely. On first glance, it does look shocking. But it’s not true that the “chokehold” was in fact a “chokehold.” Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a headlock, which is a textbook takedown maneuver. Garner had a series of health problems contributing to the unfortunate outcome. Second, even the video shows Garner resisting arrest, saying “It stops today.” Third, it is clear the officer asked for back-up and didn’t immediately take down the suspect. Garner was given every opportunity to be arrested and taken into custody peacefully.

Radio host Michael Savage was the worst offender, in terms of taking sides against the police. He called the police officers “jackals” and “cowards,” and falsely called Garner’s death “the chokehold murder of an innocent black man.” On his radio show on Thursday, he said, “Tell me what happened when the guy is saying he can’t breathe? Did they pull back? Did the jackals pull back? Did the big cop Daniel Pantaleo with the big muscular tattooed arms…release his chokehold?”

Again, it wasn’t a chokehold. What’s more, criminals always complain about police brutality, alleging broken arms or legs, or not being able to breathe, when they are resisting arrest. He clearly could breathe since he was griping about his treatment. A real chokehold would have prevented him from saying anything.

Charles Krauthammer said, “From looking at the video, the grand jury’s decision here is totally incomprehensible. It looks as if at least they might have indicted him on something like involuntary manslaughter at the very least.” But the video has to be interpreted from the point of view of police procedures and the law. That’s what the grand jury did.

Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who is a lawyer, said about the case, “It was a slap on the wrist kind of crime, for which he effectively received the death penalty…” The term “death penalty” implies a deliberate effort to take his life.

Don’t these conservative commentators realize they are inflaming an already tense situation and making things worse? They are accusing the police of serious crimes and putting the lives of officers in danger as a result.

Whatever happened to the Fox News Channel that was supposed to be a counter to the liberal diatribes we usually get from MSNBC?

Those of us who have been fighting liberal media bias for decades are extremely disappointed with the conduct of the conservative media we have worked so many years to support. This alternative source of news and information is supposed to help us make informed decisions about issues of national and international importance. Instead, we are being treated to conservative back-up for liberal opinions designed to make police into villains and bad guys.

This is just what President Obama and the “progressives” are counting on, as they proceed to put local police under federal jurisdiction, monitoring, and control. Six years after Obama was first elected, it is apparent that our leading light conservative commentators still don’t understand how the “progressive” agenda is moving forward—now with their support.

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  • NonPCconservative

    Fox news is not conservative and never has been. For all that the MSM and the rest of the left bash Foxes bias I see it as being just left of center. “Why?” you ask. Watch how many debunked and just plain dishonest leftist talking points are thrown out by Beckel, Colmes, Williams and others on Fox without being corrected or even mildly challenged. Watch how the Fox news commentators pile onto any conservative who is charged with a minor offense. Did nobody notice the Republican presidential debates hosted by Fox?

    Fox has drunk deeply at the political correctness trough and uses the language of the left. Deep down I often think that Fox News is used by leftists to divide and conquer conservatives by having some defend it against those left with a bad taste in their mouths when leftists are allowed to spew their lies without being corrected.

  • 1973deepee .

    I’m not sure I can connect with your (possibly valid) sentiment without some examples. Fox claims to be “fair and balanced”; representing conservative, liberal and centrist perspectives. That would be a tedious balancing act for any news program. As for Colmes’ views, for example, isn’t he supposed to represent the liberal perspective, anyway? To me, perfect journalism would be free of bias; completely objective. However, I’m resigned to the notion that humans just don’t have an innate capacity for objectivity. Too bad; isn’t it? News without bias would be a refreshing change; wouldn’t it?

  • NonPCconservative

    Fair and balanced is okay with me but letting bare-faced lies and debunked talking points get by without challenge is neither fair, nor balanced. It is simply poor journalism, or bias masquerading as poor journalism.

  • Meredith

    I am disappointed that Fox and others did not just point out step one. When being given an order by police you obey. End of story. That is what you need to teach your children.

  • disqus_smWiOrvPtd

    Good job, Cliff.

  • John Cunningham

    Hey! All you stupid Conservatives out there, get over it. This is all about Liberal domination. All of this commotion with black on Police equality is keeping the message off the criminal in the White House. If Congress and the American People would pay attention, Barack Obama has committed a Coupe on America although, it is a perfectly legal one because, dumb ed down America put him their.

    The real America, which seems like a extinct model falling fast, is lost and doesn’t know how to proceed. Barack Obama, after loosing this last election big, is in the face of the opposition and winning the stare down. If only he could have been that way with Putin? In my estimation, Barack Obama would bring America to the brink to get his way. What will “The Real America,” do to fight back?

  • aeiou

    Hannity, Savage, Krauthammer, Napolitano, Kelly, Beck, Randy Paul and the rest of their ilk are stupidly wrong. Charles Barkley is the only one who got it right–the only bright crayon in an otherwise empty box The rest are fools and a reason I have quit watching Fox News. Every week the Fox channel gets worse and worse. I don’t listen too all those talking heads. If they couldn’t run their mouth they would be without a job of any kind–all of them.

  • Gringo_Cracker

    Unfortunately for generations of children raised by single mothers, it traditionally falls to fathers to teach those life-saving lessons.

  • tompro97

    Thank you, Cliff, for saying out loud what many of us have been thinking which is that these things are a tempest in a tea pot, and that the MSM, the Obama Regime, Sharphead and his race baiting buddies, and the demagogues are guilty of encouraging, if not actually paying, the community organizers and outside agitators who are spurring on these nefarious activities. A few days in jail would do all of them a world of good.

  • karen w.

    Fox like all other “news” stations quit reporting the news years ago. It is strictly the opinions of a performer. News Caster…. someone who casts their own spin on the facts. I watch my local news, and listen to BBC for world news. My blood pressure has returned to normal..

  • smith_citizen

    Good observations; media of whatever bias is problematic when it jumps to conclusions without educating the public. Fox merits some guilt in the 24/7 media coverage of ferguson to nyc to uva. The Iron Lady, Maggie Thatcher made a statement aimed at terrorism, but it is relevant to the 24/7 news cycle. Maggie said that media is the oxygen for terrorist actions, as terrs don’t believe they can really win, but if they get 24/7 media attention it gets the word out. Fox and MSM have done that with ferguson, nyc, and uva and in itself breeds more terrorism actions regardless of deemed “peaceful protest” or whatever the cause or the case.


    I remember when the news was just reported. This happened here or there and when. No one gave their opinions, no one tried to analyze it for you, you had to use your own brain and decide for yourself what you thought about things that happened in the world. Now idiots watch whatever news SHOW entertains them to their satisfaction and regurgitate the opinions expressed on the SHOW as fact, completely ignoring the truth of what happened in reality.

  • NHConstitutionalist

    I have to differ with you in part. Although I’m not a single mother I
    was the disciplinarian and what I said, was the law. I never made a
    threat I didn;t carry through with. I smacked his ass open handed 4
    times in his entire life.
    We own a business my husband worked 12-14
    hour days growing that business. When your child needs a parent for a
    hug or discipline you don’t wait till Dad gets home. That’s not to say
    both of us did not teach our son life saving and other valuable lessons
    including self-respect, respect for others, as well as respect for the
    law. One of the greatest lessons any parent can teach a child is to
    accept responsibility for their choices, without excuse, by example not
    just words.

    Our son went into law enforcement after graduating
    from college and serving his country. He was known for being respectful
    and fair. He was stopped for speeding. The officer said I’m not going to
    give a fellow officer a ticket. My son said, yes you are, I was wrong
    and I’ll pay the fine. The other officer was dumbfounded and asked why.
    He said because my mother would kick my ass if I didn’t set a good
    example for my own son. It’s bad enough I broke the law.
    Sir, I’m the officer in charge and I’m giving you a warning … Make donation to the fallen officers fund.
    My son responded, Yes sir, I will.
    I will agree with you on is that it’s a crying shame children don’t
    have two parents that are there for them as well as each other, but it
    doesn’t excuse the fact that the one parent doesn’t take responsibility
    in teaching right from wrong..

  • Hymie

    Bo Dietl got it “righter.”

  • BamBam

    Look, im not a cop, in fact I kind of a libritarian of sorts who believes that our government should stay the hell out of our day to day lives and business. I DO however believe in the concept of law and order. We, the citizens of our communities or our representatives, pass laws and we hire professionally trained officers to enforce those laws. This isn’t rocket science, this guy was a habitual criminal who had multiple complaints filed by LAW ABIDING TAX PAYERS, who were loosing business because of his actions. The police were executing their duties in the manner in which they are trained and that’s what the grand jury found. The media and or the public, who have no skin in this game, should simply shut the hell up. If they dont like the laws in New York then change them but don’t ask a cops to do the job for which they were hired and then prosecute them for the results.

  • Fanfare Ends

    WADR, the bbc is Marxist BS,

  • Glenn P. Chaisson

    Maybe it’s a “If you can’t beat them, join them” on the conservative news channels part.

  • Christopher Roden

    Wow, I have voted republican since 18 and am now 46. Watched fox news
    since day one. Fox news has become elitist sitting high up on their
    pedestal. Like you Mr kinkaid. Cops are corrupt and arrogant and could
    care less about the people. And fox news portrays them as heroes as
    you. You and them don’t live in the really real world. Cops must be
    portrayed as good so they can keep up the revenue generating scam. They
    are allowed to get away with anything for this reason. I have seen so
    much personally. I am so disgusted. Disgusted by you and fox news
    lying. A true conservative would be on the side of the people.

  • Christopher Roden

    This is to you MR KINCAID – you have Mike Brown and Eric Gardner’s Blood on your hands

  • Alex Amerling

    Typical, blind, fascist boot licker ,always blaming black people for the crimes of a corrupt officer. But of course, the police are always right, that worked well in the Third Reich. Fascist asshole.