Fox News Thinks "This Ferguson Story" Will Last Another Week, Utterly Missing The Point Of Ferguson
Leave it to Fox News to interpret something in the most asinine way possible. Fox News' Megyn Kelly joined fellow network anchor Bill O'Reilly on his show, The O'Reilly Factor, on Monday night to discuss Ferguson. OK, "discuss" is a strong word. "Dismiss" might be more appropriate, since Kelly and O'Reilly agreed that Ferguson would be over after this week, as it it's outstayed its welcome in the news. And since this is Fox News, the two also took the opportunity to blame President Obama for "fueling" and prolonging the story. But for them to see — and portray — Ferguson as a throw-away story is just wrong on so many levels.
O'Reilly: How long do you think this Ferguson story is gonna roll?
Kelly: I think it's already dwindling.
Right off the bat, framing it as "this Ferguson story" diminishes the gravity of the situation.
O'Reilly: But you have the hardcore Occupy Wall Street people now embedded into the protests.... So the anarchists, the anti-American haters, those people, they're embedded, they'll keep it going.
You gotta love (or hate, whichever) O'Reilly's knack for reducing whole groups of people to derogatory generalizations.
Kelly (in disbelief): The president? I mean, the president held a big meeting on it today and is creating a task force and is now going to crack down on the police departments and the militarization ... that puts more fuel into it.
Can you believe the president dared to discuss a national crisis in which unprecedented racial tension is tearing our communities apart? The nerve.
O'Reilly: I think the president is playing politics with the issue.
How very astute of you!
O'Reilly: So you see a couple more days on this?
Kelly: I think past this week that'll be it.... But whenever we have a big jury verdict or the end of a big case, whether it's Casey Anthony or Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson.
And here come the absurd comparisons. You cannot compare Ferguson to any of the cases Kelly listed, all of which involved personal, familial relations — and in the case of Michael Jackson, possibly very serious mental health issues. Ferguson involved a white member of our law enforcement shooting an unarmed black teenager under questionable circumstances. It's not a self-contained news story that wraps when the case closes. Ferguson is much larger than the killing itself; it's an alarming allegory for race relations and the role of law enforcement in American society. It's also a historical turning point that will have long-lasting social, political, and economical effects long after Wilson's verdict. For example?
Tougher Stance on Racial Profiling
Just like the Trayvon Martin case started a national conversation about racial profiling that lasted long after George Zimmerman was acquitted, Ferguson is continuing that discourse. And Ferguson has even prompted some real, concrete change. On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new Justice Department guidance seeking to end racial profiling, which would "codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing."
Demilitarization of Law Enforcement
The local police's use of heavy military-grade equipment in response to initial protests after Michael Brown's shooting in August sparked widespread criticism of the militarization of civilian law enforcement. In response, President Obama ordered a review of the rules governing civilian law enforcement's use of surplus military equipment, which has led to expanded training and a reassessment of the types of surplus equipment suitable for local police.
Holding Police Officers Accountable
On Monday, President Obama announced a $263 million spending package that will include $75 million for body cameras for officers. The tactic has been brought up frequently in reference to the Michael Brown shooting, since a definitive record of what happened that day could have brought the case to justice without causing national contention, rioting, and the lingering racial tension.
Overhaul of Policing in General
In addition to the budget proposal, Obama also announced a new task force dedicated to reforming policing guidelines to fit with the 21st century social climate. The task force's number one priority would be to create guidelines on fighting crime while building trust with the community.
Images: The O'Reilly Factor/Huffington Post, Getty Images (4)