Since Monday night, the media has experienced various stages of awful and surprisingly awesome reporting on Baltimore’s protests. After barely covering the unrest at all on Saturday because the White House Correspondent’s Dinner kept them busy, Monday saw the media’s worst and dimmest cover a serious social unraveling that’s erupted after decades of neglect and abuse thanks to guys like CNN’s Don Lemon and Fox’s Geraldo Rivera.
Those bosses were really swinging for the fences this week, eh?
On Tuesday, Rivera—the man who blamed Trayvon Martin for his own death because he was wearing a hoodie—hit Baltimore. As one might predict, he was not welcomed with open arms. In fact, protesters blocked his Fox News cameras while others shouted “Stop exploiting us!” and “You’re making money off of black pain.”
Rivera tried to shame one of the protesters who was talking to his camera by saying he was “making a fool” of himself and the man turned around and basically told Rivera to get lost. It was great television because Rivera isn’t a reporter or a journalist. He just goes into places to incite madness and leaves, which is what Maryland State Senator Majority Leader Catherine Pugh told Rivera herself in a cathartic exchange. Via the Daily News:
When the flustered Fox anchor said it seemed like those in the crowd “want trouble,” Pugh sternly shut him down.
“No, they don’t want trouble,” she said. “We want our people to go home, but we also need the media to move back, because this is just inciting people.”
Protesters and State Senator Pugh: 1; Fox News: 0
Then over at Fox News headquarters, hosts Shep Smith and Bill O’Reilly shocked me. On The Five, Smith couldn’t stomach the trolling rhetoric of his co-hosts Greg Gutfeld and Eric Bolling, asking ‘Where are the looters’ parents?’ and ‘Why hasn’t some civil rights leader come down to ask for peace?’ Instead of agreeing with them, Smith got really logical and said, via Salon:
“We’ve got a major American city that has decades — decades — of turmoil within this neighborhood,” he said. “They feel powerless and hopeless. One quarter of the youth locked up. Clearly there is a big problem. Then, all of the sudden, an African-American man is taken into a vehicle, and he comes out of it and dies — and you get nothing from authorities except a suspension. There is no escaping that reality.”
Later, during The O’Reilly Factor, Bill indicted the Baltimore police, noting that no actions have been taken against the cops who gave Freddie Gray the injuries that took his life.
Has hell officially frozen over? Nah. In the next breath O’Reilly told blacks to bootstrap their way up.
But it is also long past time for African-Americans communities across the country to begin to police themselves.
Criminal activity, drug use, child abandonment, disrespect and general chaos are all on display every single day in many areas.
And you know what? No government is going to stop that.
No bureaucracy is going to help you.
The communities have to do it themselves.
Fox News Host: 2; Fox News Host: 2 (Not sure how that shakes out, do they cancel one other out?)
On Tuesday morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosted Commissioner Ray Kelly—the man who fostered New York City’s Stop-n-Frisk policy that loomed over neighborhoods of color like a shadow waiting to arrest locals—and asked him for his take. Kelly blamed the cops for not taking control of the situation with the protesters soon enough, before adding there’s just more crime in communities of color. Cool.
MSNBC: 0; Sanity: 0
Thankfully, there was levity on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. During a sketch called “Tough Motherly Love in Baltimore,” to dovetail with Toya Graham, the black mother who made news for snatching her son out of the protests on Tuesday, beating him about the head and pushing him home, Wilmore spoke to the fictitious Civil Unrest Moms.
Angel Lewis, a representative for the Moms, said what the Graham’s actions really looked like to me and others who went beyond a knee jerk reaction. When Wilmore asked if beating and dragging your child from the protests was child abuse, Lewis said ‘Absolutely, but it’s a lot better than our kids getting killed by the cops.”
Graham was snatching her son up in an outpouring of “loss, fear, sadness, rebellion, reaction, and love” as Rboylorn writes at Crunk Feminist Collective. Her action can’t be boiled down to “See, if more parents kept their children in line, we wouldn’t have this problem in Baltimore” because that’s a dangerous lie and it’s more complicated. “Acting right” won’t save us people of color or get violent cops stripped of their jobs. But at least, amid the foolishness of the news, there’s smart comedy to give us that reprieve and perspective.
The Nightly Show: 1; Respectability politics: 0
Hopefully all that’s happening in Baltimore brings about real change and not just more rhetoric calling for peace while mainstream news outlets like CBS describe Freddie Gray as “the 25-year-old man who died after mysteriously sustaining severe spinal injuries in police custody earlier in the month.” It’s not a mystery. Gray’s death was the result of systematic violence by cops who aren’t held accountable for their cruelty. And until that ceases, there will be more Baltimores.
Image via AP.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.