EXCLUSIVE: Photographer Slams Fox News' Distortion Of His WI Protest Footage
Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER
As Media Matters noted on March 3, 2011, Fox News used footage shot by a local Wisconsin photographer to falsely label Wisconsin union protesters as "violent." The video showed protesters confronting Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman as he attempted to enter the Wisconsin capitol building. Although the video clearly showed no violence being committed and in fact, the protesters breaking into chants of "peace" and "peaceful," Fox falsely depicted the crowd as "violent protesters" and an "angry union mob" who "ambush[ed]" Grothman.
In a statement to Media Matters, Phil Ejercito -- the photographer who shot the video -- responded, slamming Fox News' distortion of his material:
It sickens me to see the truth so willfully distorted. In deciding to release this video, I considered how it would be used, but I (perhaps naively) believed that the facts in the video would speak for itself - the people of Wisconsin are angry, Senator Grothman got a well-deserved ribbing, the Walker administration's lockdown of the Capitol is misguided, and Representative Hulsey acted honorably. It is simply astounding that the same faction of the right-wing that would claim that torture in Abu Ghraib was "fraternity hazing" would equate heckling as a "violent attack."
I have been covering these protests 24/7 from the outset, with no legal team or anything to guide me other than a dedication to truth and the people of Wisconsin. I believe I represent a growing grey area between citizen journalism and professional journalism. While I pride myself on the experience and professionalism with which I approach my job, I will admit to being somewhat starry-eyed upon dealing with national media. I initially refused to license my footage to Fox News, politely citing "qualms about the quality of Fox's reporting from here in Madison." Only upon receiving assurances that both Sen. Grothman and Rep. Hulsey would be available to provide context did I acquiesce.
Let there be no ambiguity: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. I believe that this is a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create. Prior to Gov. Walker's Feb. 11 unveiling of his budget repair bill, the last time a Wisconsin governor invoked the National Guard in response to labor, seven demonstrators were shot dead in front of the Bay View Rolling Mill. I am deeply disturbed to consider that my work is being misused to establish a fictional narrative of violence by the working families of Wisconsin, and I encourage people to watch the entire clip on YouTube for themselves to understand the full context and decide for themselves what truthfully took place.