Fox attacks media's Army recruiter shooting coverage, but didn't carry survivor's press conference

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN & LILY YAN

Fox News figures have repeatedly accused other media of inadequately covering the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruiting center in Arkansas. But while CNN and MSNBC offered live coverage of a press conference held by a survivor of that shooting, Fox News did not, nor did it report later that day on the man's remarks to the media.

In recent days, Fox News hosts and contributors have repeatedly accused other media of inadequately covering the June 1 shooting at an Army recruiting center in Arkansas, which resulted in the death of Pvt. William Long and wounding of Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula -- while touting their own network's coverage. However, as the blog Think Progress noted, when Ezeagwula, who was shot several times during the attack, spoke with reporters on June 9, CNN and MSNBC -- but not Fox News -- carried the press conference live. Moreover, while Fox News covered other aspects of Long's killing on June 9, according to a review* of Nexis and TVEyes.com transcripts that day, it did not cover or report on Ezeagwula's remarks to the media, either live or afterwards.

As Media Matters for America has noted, on the June 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, while comparing the coverage of Long's killing and the slaying of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that on CNN, "[o]nly Anderson Cooper at 10 o'clock covered the story" of Long's murder. On June 5, O'Reilly offered a "correction" to the claim, stating that that day, "[A] snide and surly guy on CNN pointed out that the story was covered more extensively by that network, and that was true. I was wrong -- my apologies to CNN."

Other Fox News figures have similarly criticized other networks' coverage of Long's murder in comparison to Tiller's murder, suggesting or claiming, in contributor Fred Barnes' words, that any difference in coverage "is obviously a case of liberal bias."

Instances of Fox News figures criticizing the media's coverage of Long's murder include:

  • During the June 3 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier stated, "In the media, Tiller's murder was a top story for almost three days," adding, "In contrast, there has been relatively little coverage about the killing of Army Private William Long and the wounding of Private Quinton Ezeagwula outside the recruiting center in Little Rock, despite the fact that the alleged shooter was a convert to Islam who police say probably had political and religious motives for the attack."

During a subsequent discussion, Barnes stated, "I think there's a double standard here," adding that "it's obviously a case of liberal bias wherein the media, the media is much more concerned about and eager to blame the pro-lifers, the anti-abortion forces than they do want to attack militant Islamists who may have been behind the killing of the recruiter." Syndicated columnist and contributor Charles Krauthammer further noted, "[T]he media coverage is really quite remarkably unbalanced here," adding that "the reason the one got coverage and the other didn't is because the one fits in the media line of the demonization of the right, and the other story of the shooting in Arkansas doesn't."

  • During the June 4 edition of The Factor, O'Reilly asserted, "In addition, the mainstream media continues to pretty much ignore the Private Long story, while aggressively reporting the assassination of Dr. Tiller in Kansas. He was the late-term abortionist." O'Reilly went on to claim, "Now, you wouldn't know it if the Fox News Channel didn't exist or talk radio. You wouldn't know Private Long got shot. Why do you think they're not covering it?" O'Reilly later stated to Laura Ingraham, "But the media, they ignored the story almost entirely. Why?" Ingraham responded, "Bill, because when you talk about the issue of abortion, and someone killing an abortion doctor, that allows you to create sympathy for the entire abortion movement," adding, "The media is complicit in this. It never wants to talk about the radicalization of Islam and the use of Islam in prisons to turn people into terrorists and convert them to a whacked-out ideology that targets Americans. It's not politically palatable."
  • During the June 6 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch, host Jon Scott asserted, "[W]hich story got more attention? Take a look at one example. Dr. Tiller's murder made front-page news in The New York Times. The story of the murder of Private Long was placed on page 16." Contributor Jim Pinkerton went on to claim that "we shouldn't be surprised. The liberal media have a template that the right-to-life movement is potentially dangerous to the abortion doctors. And in fact, in fairness, Dr. Tiller was shot, you know, some number of years ago and injured. And they aren't at all interested, at least not yet, in stories about domestic terrorism."
  • During the June 9 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity stated to Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund: "There's a little double standard in the way this was treated, both in the media and by the Obama administration, in comparing the killing of this abortion doctor, Tiller. Did you see a double standard there?" Fund agreed, stating, "I saw a complete shift in coverage."
  • During the June 10 edition of The Live Desk, host Trace Gallagher mentioned the Army recruiting center attack and then said of the shooting that day at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "[I]f this turns out to be religiously motivated, that would be the second attack in two weeks that is religion-based." Gallagher then asked vice president of news and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, "What do you make of that?" Sammon replied:

Well, first of all, you know, I think when you saw what happened to that poor Army recruiter who was gunned down by a guy who said that he did it in the name of jihad. He was a recent convert to Islam, and it was a -- obviously a politically religiously motivated act, and you compare the coverage of that act to the coverage of the killing of Dr. Tiller, the late-term abortionist, which was basically wall-to-wall coverage, and people sort of, you know, painting everybody in the pro-life movement as some kind of terrorist.

It was interesting the disparity between those two cases and how they were covered. I think we did a better job here at Fox of pointing it out and sort of giving equal treatment to both of them, which were both important stories. But you're right. When you -- you know, when a shooting is random, it sort of doesn't really go anywhere. When there are political or religious motivations for that shooting, you then start to look at whether that's a broader, troubling pattern or trend that's emerging.

From the June 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: Law enforcement officials say the man charged in the attack on an Arkansas military recruitment office may have been scouting other targets. They also say they cannot rule out additional suspects.

Private William Long was gunned down Sunday. Another soldier was wounded in the shooting. Muslim convert Abdulhakim Muhammad has pleaded not guilty in state court. The assault came just one day after an attack in a Kansas church that has received far more attention.

[Begin video clip]

BAIER: Just a few hours after abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered in his Kansas church Sunday morning, President Obama, through his staff at the White House, released a statement saying he was shocked and outraged at the murder, adding, quote, "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

Condemnations of Tiller's killing soon flowed from liberal and conservative lawmakers, pro-life and pro-choice groups. Even the group Operation Rescue, which organized a blockade of Tiller's office in the early '90s, issued a statement: Quote, "We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."

In Washington, the U.S. Marshals Service said after Tiller's shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the marshals to, quote, "increase security for a number of individuals and facilities," although officials provided no specifics.

In the media, Tiller's murder was a top story for almost three days. Several liberal analysts blamed pro-life groups for inciting the murder.

In contrast, there has been relatively little coverage about the killing of Army Private William Long and the wounding of Private Quinton Ezeagwula outside the recruiting center in Little Rock, despite the fact that the alleged shooter was a convert to Islam who police say probably had political and religious motives for the attack.

[...]

BAIER: What about the differences of the releases and the coverage -- Fred?

BARNES: You know, I think there's a double standard here. It's pretty obvious and overwhelming, moreso on the part of the media than the part of the White House. I'm not excusing the White House, but the media has been a worse offender here in applying the double standard.

Look, you have hate crimes, evil hate crimes, one the killing of an abortion doctor, the other the killing of an Army recruiter and the wounding of another one. And they were treated differently. Now, why would they be treated differently? Because it's obviously a case of liberal bias wherein the media, the media is much more concerned about and eager to blame the pro-lifers, the anti-abortion forces than they do want to attack militant Islamists who may have been behind the killing of the recruiter.

That, we know, there has been a series of these attacks on Army recruitment centers. We know this is a convert to militant Islam who has been arrested for killing -- in the killing of the Army recruiter. They found, what, 556 weapons -- not weapons, but bullets in his car. They found back at his house all these maps and everything of what were obviously other targets that -- he was obviously converted to militant Islam by somebody. And yet the media's not interested in that at all. They are spending all their time blaming perfectly peaceful pro-lifers for the killing of George Tiller. It's preposterous.

BAIER: By the way, we should point out that this rainstorm is intense in the windows behind us. So if you hear some crashing, it's just the thunder. Juan, why not release the statement that I guess you provide -- the White House provided to Arkansas media outlets? We don't get it.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, from my perspective, I'm very sensitive to this, because I think there's lots of fawning over Obama in the media. And I don't think there is any question about their being bias in so much of the media. But in this instance it seems to me there is a high consciousness of terrorism among all Americans. And we have a whole department of the government called Homeland Security that was created just recently in the aftermath of 9-11 to deal with terrorism. FBI, CIA, our top intelligence and organizations, military organizations, are all involved in fighting terrorism.

BAIER: I know, but we're talking about the president and his podium, his megaphone.

WILLIAMS: Look, when you --

BAIER: He had many opportunities. He introduced his nominee for secretary of the Army. He could have said something there.

WILLIAMS: He could have said something. But, look, this -- look, I wouldn't -- first of all, I'm not sure that as a matter of American positioning that we want to call attention to some nut who is, you know, it seems to me to be not even someone who is involved in high-level terrorist activities.

BAIER: But then why put out the release about the killer of George Tiller?

WILLIAMS: Well, now, I would do that, and I'll tell you why, Bret. Because it seems to me that we as Americans do not take our arguments over policy to the extent of committing violence and acts of terrorism. We, in fact, are a peaceful people who find nonviolent solutions to our points of difference. And the idea that someone would kill that doctor really was extraordinary and wrong, and it really called for the president to say that's not in keeping with American democratic values.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: But look, the media coverage is really quite remarkably unbalanced here. After all, which is the bigger threat, the violence against abortion doctors, of which the victims you can count on one hand, or the victims of Islamic radical attacks -- you know, London, Madrid, Bali, Buenos Aires, the United States, which is a worldwide phenomenon and threat.

And the reason the one got coverage and the other didn't is because the one fits in the media line of the demonization of the right, and the other story of the shooting in Arkansas doesn't. If anything, it supports the idea that Islamic radicalism is a threat and that perhaps it's not just a figment of Cheney's imagination.

From the June 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight: Stratfor.com, very reliable think tank in Texas, reporting that the Obama Justice Department has ordered the FBI to, quote, "back off on surveiling questionable Muslim Americans." Stratfor's report comes days after Abdulhakim Muhammad, an American convert to Islam, allegedly murdered Private William Long, Army recruiter in Arkansas.

In addition, the mainstream media continues to pretty much ignore the Private Long story, while aggressively reporting the assassination of Dr. Tiller in Kansas. He was the late-term abortionist. Joining us now from Washington to sort it all out for us, Fox News analyst Laura Ingraham.

Now I must say that the Justice Department was very cooperative today. Tracy Shalmer, public affairs person over there, says, quote, "The FBI and Justice Department have not curtailed or limited investigations into suspected terrorism activities." So they are denying the Stratfor report. Now the reason that we quoted Stratfor, as you know, is they've been very good, very reliable for many, many years. How do you see this?

INGRAHAM: At the very least, Bill, this raises some serious questions. Number one, how can we have somebody who went to Yemen, traveled to Yemen -- we know they traveled to Yemen to train in a camp, a terrorist camp in Yemen -- that's according to Stratfor and the reports that I've seen -- comes back into the United States. He's apparently a subject of some preliminary investigation. But the investigation isn't open into a full field investigation.

O'REILLY: Right. They don't put anybody on them.

INGRAHAM: Which means they're not going to be able to stop him from casing or observe him casing particular facilities --

O'REILLY: All right.

INGRAHAM: -- like the Little Rock recruiting station. This raises a lot of questions.

O'REILLY: You're absolutely right about that, 100 percent right. If this guy went to Yemen and he comes back, and he's got an attitude and they know it and they don't have somebody watching him, then that's a failing of the FBI --

INGRAHAM: I have no audio --

O'REILLY: -- because Private Long is dead and the other soldier is wounded. Now, you wouldn't know it if the Fox News Channel didn't exist or talk radio. You wouldn't know Private Long got shot. Why do you think they're not covering it?

INGRAHAM: Well, Bill -- Bill, I have been all over this. Remember, Private Long gets shot on Monday, right? George Tiller was shot on --

O'REILLY: Sunday.

INGRAHAM: -- Sunday morning.

O'REILLY: Right.

INGRAHAM: Only hours after Tiller's murder, which was condemned by everyone in the pro-life community almost instantly, within hours the White House put out a statement expressing their shock and outrage over the Tiller murder, then going on to say differences of opinion on critical issues are no reason for heinous acts of violence.

On my show on Monday -- my radio show, Monday, Tuesday, we kept saying, where's the statement about Private Long? The White House put no statement out until yesterday, OK? And they said there is deeply saddened by the death of Private Long.

O'REILLY: And that was only after the talk radio hosts --

INGRAHAM: Making no connection, of course to this.

O'REILLY: Right. But the only reason the White House put that out was because right-wing talk radio, conservative talk radio --

INGRAHAM: Right.

O'REILLY: -- screamed and they said, whoa, you know -- OK.

[...]

O'REILLY: In the final minute I have with you -- and it always goes so fast. It always goes so fast.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, well --

O'REILLY: In the final minute I have with you, all right, so that's what the Obama administration did. But the media, they ignored the story almost entirely. Why?

INGRAHAM: Bill, because when you talk about the issue of abortion, and someone killing an abortion doctor, that allows you to create sympathy for the entire abortion movement. And 60,000 dead, as you pointed out, by the hands of George Tiller. Five abortion doctors have been killed since Roe versus Wade. Five.

Now it's horrible, but 49 million babies have been aborted since Roe versus Wade. Five abortion doctors. It's all killing and it's all terrible. The media is complicit in this. It never wants to talk about the radicalization of Islam and the use of Islam in prisons to turn people into terrorists and convert them to a whacked-out ideology that targets Americans. It's not politically palatable. They don't want to go near it, especially as the president was trying to build bridges to the Muslim world. I didn't think they wanted to touch this this week, and I think the trip to the Middle East was a big part of it.

O'REILLY: All right. Laura Ingraham, everybody. Thank you.

From the June 6 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:

SCOTT: Two murders received national attention this week, and the comparison of the amount of coverage caught our attention. Sunday, abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church in Kansas, he was one of only a few doctors who performed late-term abortions, a lightning rod of controversy. A 51-year-old man is being held in custody, is believed to have acted alone in that killing. On Monday, two U.S. soldiers on duty at a military recruiting center in Arkansas were shot. 23-year-old Private William Long was killed in that shooting. The suspect, a Muslim convert, reportedly admitted shooting Long and another soldier, quote, "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past."

So, which story got more attention? Take a look at one example. Dr. Tiller's murder made front-page news in The New York Times. The story of the murder of Private Long was placed on page 16. Jim, what's going on there? Should we be surprised?

PINKERTON: No, we shouldn't be surprised. The liberal media have a template that the right-to-life movement is potentially dangerous to the abortion doctors. And in fact, in fairness, Dr. Tiller was shot, you know, some number of years ago and injured. And they aren't at all interested, at least not yet, in stories about domestic terrorism. This is not just this young man in Arkansas who shot and killed this soldier. He had been to Yemen. Now, the media can't quite process what would get a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Yemen and then back again. Who did he talk to? Who paid for it? Who else is he dealing with? And so far, at least, they just aren't interested.

SCOTT: If this had been a random street shooting, would it be a different thing? I mean, the fact that he's a Muslim convert, does that deserve the press attention?

JUDITH MILLER (former New York Times reporter): Of course it does. And Fox News has been reporting on the background of this man, the Yemen trip, the fact that he attended a mosque with four other people who have had brushes with Muslim fundamentalism. There is so much more reporting that needs to be done. But I do think that the murder of George Tiller was legitimately, as is the murder of the soldiers -- both are important stories. But George Tiller was singled out. He was identified as somebody who did this. He was made into a target. And I think that's what preoccupied the press.

SCOTT: But you can also argue that the soldiers were shot because they're wearing U.S. Army uniforms.

MARISA GUTHRIE: (Broadcasting & Cable staff writer): You can, but Judith is right. There is really not another issue that is so polarizing in this country as abortion. And the fact that Dr. Tiller had been singled out, he had been shot before, gave the media a perfect narrative for the story.

CAL THOMAS (syndicated columnist): The media has done a total cover-up on what happens in these abortion clinics. Fifty million babies killed since Roe versus Wade in 1973. The media cover only those things that are of interest to them and advance their agenda. Muslim terrorists in America? They are trying to get Guantánamo Bay closed down and are afraid of what will happen if terrorists move back into the United States, as is every single member of Congress. So they undercover that. It's an incredible double standard.

I remember in 1963, of course, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The press tried to play down the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald went to Moscow and spent some time there, because they were trying to bring peace between the United States and the Soviet Union. So Jim is right. It's the template through which these stories are brought.

SCOTT: I have to say, Jim, I was surprised in reading about Dr. Tiller that he was one of those who would do abortions as late as nine months, I read. I couldn't believe that anybody would be doing that.

PINKERTON: Well, you have to be a member of NARAL to really get excited about the doc -- what a great guy Dr. Tiller was. And I guarantee there will be a college scholarship in honor of him and so on and so on and so on. But -- and I agree with Marisa when she says the narrative, the polarization -- abortion has been perhaps the most polarizing issue in the United States. But something tells me that Muslim terrorism here and abroad is going to overtake abortion as the hot-button issue of hot-button issues.

From the June 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: There's a little double standard in the way this was treated, both in the media and by the Obama administration, in comparing the killing of this abortion doctor, Tiller. Did you see a double standard there?

JOHN FUND (Wall Street Journal columnist): I saw a complete shift in coverage. I think the Tiller story is big news.

HANNITY: I do, too.

FUND: But so is this.

HANNITY: And not justified.

FUND: -- and how this fellow was -- how this fellow was indoctrinated, as many people have been indoctrinated. Let's face it. The Arab world that President Obama was trying to speak to has not lived up to its responsibility for the hate that it teaches people in many of the schools and madrassas out there. This fellow learned this in Yemen.

GLORIA ALLRED (attorney): I just wanted to say I just came from Wichita, Kansas. I was at Dr. Tiller's funeral. I spoke the night before, sponsored by Kansas National Organization for Women. These attacks on our doctors who are doing late-term abortions in the abortion clinics or any nurses or any other personnel --

[crosstalk]

ALLRED: -- have to stop.

HANNITY: No, I agree with you.

ALLRED: This is domestic terrorism.

HANNITY: I think -- listen. The law is the law, whether you agree or not. You work to change hearts, minds, and the law within the system. And I totally agree with you. But this is similar, but it got a lot more coverage.

NOELLE NIKPOUR (Republican strategist): Absolutely.

HANNITY: That's -- why? Why would that be? Because they're very similar stories if you look at it. Because they were, you know -- people were justifying their sick actions in both cases.

NIKPOUR: Well, the timing is very odd, don't you think? When Obama is over there, doing kind of the "I'm sorry" tour in the Mideast.

From the June 10 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk:

GALLAGHER: You talk about debates, Bill, and it's Trace. And I want to go back if I can briefly to the shooting that happened at the recruiting center in Arkansas where we thought that was kind of an attack on the military there. That was obvious. We didn't learn until a day later that there was also some -- there was also an attack on religion that was planned. And the question that I have, Bill, is, and that would be -- if this turns out to be religiously motivated, that would be the second attack in two weeks that is religion-based. What do you make of that?

SAMMON: Well, first of all, you know, I think when you saw what happened to that poor Army recruiter who was gunned down by a guy who said that he did it in the name of jihad. He was a recent convert to Islam, and it was a -- obviously a politically religiously motivated act, and you compare the coverage of that act to the coverage of the killing of Dr. Tiller, the late-term abortionist, which was basically wall-to-wall coverage, and people sort of, you know, painting everybody in the pro-life movement as some kind of terrorist.

It was interesting the disparity between those two cases and how they were covered. I think we did a better job here at Fox of pointing it out and sort of giving equal treatment to both of them, which were both important stories. But you're right. When you -- you know, when a shooting is random, it sort of doesn't really go anywhere. When there are political or religious motivations for that shooting, you then start to look at whether that's a broader, troubling pattern or trend that's emerging.

* Media Matters for America searched June 9 Fox News transcripts in the Nexis database for (soldier or Ezeagwula or army or recruit! or Arkansas or shooting or murder or long or private). Media Matters performed TVEyes.com searches of June 9 Fox News transcripts for soldier, Ezeagwula, army, recruiter, arkansas, shooting, murder, long, and private.

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