After months of vilifying Black Lives Matter and labeling the movement a "hate group," Fox News devoted scant coverage to a November 23 mass shooting that injured five protesters at a Black Lives Matter vigil in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and similarly downplayed the subsequent arrests of three white suspects.
By contrast, CNN provided updates throughout the day following the shooting, and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow offered in-depth coverage of the escalating threats of violence leading up to the attack:
Five protesters suffered injuries when at least one person opened fire on a Black Lives Matter gathering outside the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct building on the evening of November 23. The Washington Post reported protesters had been "camping in front of the 4th Precinct since Nov. 15, when two Minneapolis police officers were involved in the contentious killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark." As of November 24, "[t]he police said that they had arrested a 23-year-old white man, and that two other white men, ages 21 and 26, turned themselves in on Tuesday afternoon," according to The New York Times, which added, "[t]he police also said they were aware of a video in which masked men are seen driving to the protest site and brandishing a pistol, while making racist comments and justifying the killing of Jamar Clark." Social media posts of the three suspects "reveal a fascination with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups," RawStory reported.
As the news of the shooting made national headlines and developments poured in on November 24, Fox News devoted the least amount of coverage to the incident among cable networks.
According to a Media Matters review, Fox only mentioned the Minneapolis shooting 3 times, with coverage totalling only 1 minute and 16 seconds. CNN covered the story for 10 minutes and 37 seconds throughout the day, while MSNBC covered the story for just over 12 minutes
The November 24 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show devoted a full segment to the incident, placing the shooting in the recent context of masked "anti-protesters or counter-protesters, or maybe you'd call them provocateurs" turning up at local Black Lives Matter protests to videotape the gatherings. As host Rachel Maddow explained, demonstrators at the 4th Precinct faced racist intimidation and escalating threats of violence leading up to Monday's shooting.
The shooting follows months of Fox News attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, including Fox hosts likening the movement to "the Nazi Party," and the "Klu Klux Klan," and a "hate group."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly continued his attacks on Black Lives Matter during a panel on his show the day following the shooting. During the November 24 broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said of the movement, "if black lives matter, how come this group isn't on the south side of Chicago when every weekend you've got a couple of dozen black lives lost," while a panelist claimed Black Lives Matter is "inciting violence to the point of hate crime."
During that segment, O'Reilly even alluded to the police shooting of Jamar Clark, but failed to acknowledge that five people protesting Clark's death had been shot the night before or that three suspects had been arrested.
Media Matters used Nexis and internal video archives to analyze news coverage of the shooting on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, using the search term "Minneapolis" from 6 a.m. EST through 12:00 a.m. EST on November 24. Media Matters did not include reruns in the time count of coverage.
Lis Power and Brendan Karet contributed research to this report.
From the November 24 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight:
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CNN host Wolf Blitzer questioned whether Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a teen, merely as an attempt to avoid potential violence. The Chicago Police Department announced Tuesday that Van Dyke will face first degree murder charges in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. City officials also announced that they will release the 'graphic' footage of the shooting death of the black teen, which some city leaders "worried would inflame tensions and lead to the heated protests seen across the country over the last year." On the November 24 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked whether the potential for violence played a role in the charge against Van Dyke:
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On November 24, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Trump Organization executive and Trump campaign surrogate Michael Cohen regarding Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's false claim that "thousands" of Arab-Americans cheered in the streets following the 9/11 attacks and the candidate's seeming endorsement of the alleged assault of a protester who disrupted a recent campaign rally. Trump's claim that "thousands" of people took to the streets in Jersey City, New Jersey to celebrate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been debunked and widely criticized. PolitiFact tore apart Trump's statement, saying that it "defies basic logic," and that "[i]f thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Let's take these one by one. 9/11 happens. Horrible by anybody's reckoning. The idea of celebrating that is inhumane. Donald Trump says he saw it. He believed it. Thousands and thousands. People say no, it's not true. He says, yes it is. Why make a point of something like this?
MICHAEL COHEN: Well, I think what he's doing is he's comparing it now to what-- the terrible tragedy that took place in Paris and what's going on all around the world with ISIS. They are really a group of thugs. They are terrorists. And they're changing the way the world sees Islam.
CUOMO: Bad guys. Anybody who would celebrate something like that, no matter what their faith is, bad people. But, why exaggerate it? Why say --
COHEN: Well why would you that say he's exaggerating it?
CUOMO: Because he said "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: You know, whether it's "thousands and thousands" or a thousand people or even just one person, it's irrelevant. To celebrate this tragedy, this killing of innocent people, that went to what? To work, right? Trying to enjoy the American dream to earn a dollar. It's wrong and Mr. Trump is making his point. Now, many people have criticized and said well, it's not true. It didn't happen. Washington Post, on September 18th of 2001, did a pretty in-depth story on this exact position and they acknowledge -- Mr. Trump also has millions and millions of followers, as you know, on social media. I can't tell you the number of people that have responded and said I'm from Jersey and I've seen it.
CUOMO: Yes, here's the thing. I know other people have said it. They say it to me on social media. One, that Washington Post article, that was one paragraph in the whole story, the author walked it back, they said the FBI investigated allegations of it, they never substantiated a claim of thousands. The reason it's relevant is the guy may be president of the United States and what Donald Trump says has to be as accurate as it can be, and thousands and thousands is, at best, a gross exaggeration. And if you're going to be president of the United States, don't you have to say it right?
COHEN: The exact number, I don't think anybody can say. If Mr. Trump said thousands, I have to --
CUOMO: "Thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And I would have to turn around and say that he's probably right.
CUOMO: Probably right?
COHEN: He's probably right.
CUOMO: No, he's probably wrong.
COHEN: No, he's probably right.
CUOMO: There is no way to substantiate "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And there's no way to say that it wasn't there. The problem that you have --
CUOMO: Sure there is. They don't have the reports. They don't have any video.
Later in the segment, Cuomo asked Cohen about an incident at a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama where a Black Lives Matter protester was allegedly attacked by Trump supporters. A day after the altercation, Trump was interviewed on Fox News' Fox & Friends and attempted to justify his supporters' reaction to the protester, saying "maybe he should have been roughed up." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CUOMO: Another point of this that became a flash point, and it's always great to get your head on it, is this guy comes, he protests at the event. Nobody likes when that happens, but that's part of the process, right? He gets beat down at the event. Donald Trump says well, maybe he deserved it? He was doing something terrible --
COHEN: The guy's a professional agitator. Supposedly -- rumors are out there -- of course the internet and social media, the guy's been tazed, what? 30 times. He goes to these various different rallies and he creates all sorts of problems. You know what? It happened. Obviously, nobody wants to see anybody get injured. Nobody wants to see --
CUOMO: That's not what he said, he said "maybe he deserved it."
COHEN: Well, maybe he did. Maybe he did. He went there to cause a problem. He went there to start a fight. This is nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. This is a guy that's looking for media attention on his own.
CUOMO: I haven't even said the phrase. I'm saying white, black, green, yellow, the guy comes to your event and gets beat up. You should be against the people that beat him up.
COHEN: I agree, nobody wants to see anybody get beaten up. But if the guy goes there for the purpose of creating an issue, he wants to be an agitator at what was a great, you know, great event for Mr. Trump, 14,000 plus people, you know what? That's between the individual who wants to be an agitator and the people that are there to listen to Mr. Trump and to try to see America become great again.
CUOMO: What about their leader? Doesn't he want to inspire people to be their best selves? Or does he want to inspire them to be like whatever the worst agitator that they have come at him?
COHEN: You know what? The guy's an agitator, the guy's looking for a problem. It's like the guy who walks into a bar and he wants to start a fight with somebody and he ends up getting beaten up. You know what --
CUOMO: And as a bartender, you know what I used to do? I used to be like "whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Take him outside. Keep your hands off him."
COHEN: Beat him up outside?
CUOMO: No, because you want people to be better than what's coming at them.
COHEN: Well, every now and then an agitator deserves it.
From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
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A Michigan mayor who was asked by a CNN anchor whether she is "afraid" to govern "a majority Muslim-American city" told Media Matters she was caught "completely by surprise" by the line of questioning.
Karen Majewski, mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan, appeared November 23 on CNN Newsroom and was asked by anchor Carol Costello, "You govern a majority Muslim-American city. Are you afraid?" Majewski responded by explaining that she is "not afraid," and clarifying that she does not think the city is actually majority Muslim population-wise, though it did recently elect a majority-Muslim city council.
"I was very surprised," Majewski said of Costello's questioning during a Monday interview with Media Matters. "What I had expected and what people usually ask me about is the diversity of this city and the changing demographics and something about the way that reflects changing American demographics in general. So the focus on terrorism and fear caught me completely by surprise."
"We just never think about it in those terms and we don't think of our Muslim neighbors in those terms," she added. "There may be tensions, but they're not tensions over something like terrorism."
Majewski, who has served as mayor since 2006 and runs a vintage clothing shop in town, said CNN producers did not tell her beforehand about the terrorism-focused line of questioning.
"No, they didn't," she said. "I just assumed it was about the election and the kind of change from a Polish-dominated city to a city where the demographic is changing."
"I didn't ask and they didn't tell me that there was a kind of national security person who was going to be the co-interviewee," she added. "If I had known that it might have clued me to what kind of angle they were going to take." (The other person on the panel was Buck Sexton, a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze and CNN political commentator.)
Majewski speculated that the interview focus might have been prompted by a November 21 Washington Post article that she contends misstated that the city's population was now Muslim-majority, not just the city council, and raised unfounded terrorism fears.
"I think the misinterpretation came from the headline of The Washington Post article," Majewski said. "The article itself seemed truncated and cut off at the knees and the headline was completely misleading."
Asked if CNN or Costello had reached out to apologize or discuss the interview, Majewski said, "I imagine she might be getting some flack. I wouldn't expect any kind of apology. I just thought it was an odd line of questioning."
CNN's interview of Majewski:
CNN anchor Carol Costello suggested there may be something for the residents of Hamtramck, Michigan to be "afraid" of after they elected in November a majority Muslim-American city council. Speaking to the city mayor, Karen Majewski, on CNN Newsroom about police surveillance of Muslims amid terrorist concerns, Costello said, "You govern a majority-Muslim-American city. Are you afraid?" Costello also asked whether the Muslim-majority city council "concern[s] some of your citizens." From the November 23 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello:
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Media outlets condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for "catering to the worst sort of racism" by retweeting "racist and wildly inaccurate" statistics about murder and race in the United States from an organization that "does not exist."
From the November 23 edition of CNN's New Day:
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During the Sunday news shows on November 22, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all challenged by hosts over the fact that under current federal law, people who are on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list are not legally prohibited from buying guns. The questions over what is known as the "terror gap" followed widespread media discussion of legislation in Congress -- opposed by the National Rifle Association -- that would prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
Right-wing Colorado pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson suggested that the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris was "a message from God" and posed a question to the "concert-goers, at least those who survived: 'Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?'"
On the November 19 edition of his show Generations Radio, Swanson said he was "deadly serious" about wanting to ask survivors of the terrorist attack, which occurred during a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal, whether they "appreciate[d] the works of the devil as their friends where being shot up in that concert" (emphasis added):
SWANSON: These events are important. I think it's important to analyze them. They're symbolic to what's happening in our entire society today, and when you get a wake up call like what happened at France's 9/11 last Friday night, at the concert I think we all need to pay attention to what's happening. This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this. Music matters, culture matters. Culture ultimately is a reflection of world view, and so if you want to know world view just take a look at the culture and say 'oh that's what the world view is all about.'
SWANSON: It's a warning. Certainly a providential irony here. These are the works of the devil, the mass murder itself, are the works of the devil. In other words, there was a demonstration of the devil and his works happening at the time that they were singing the song "who'll love the devil, who'll sing his song, I'll love the devil, I'll sing his song." At the moment they were singing that, the devil himself or at least the devil influencing these murderers and entered in showed the concert-goers the works of the devil. Now at that point, I think we need to ask concert-goers, at least those who survived "Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?" I think we ought to ask the question right now. And I'm very serious, I'm deadly serious asking this question. "You were dancing to this worship service to the devil, the devil came in, the devil did what the devil does best: he killed, he massacred, he destroyed. As the devil did his works," again, the microphone is in the face of those who were attending the conference [sic] right now, I'm asking the question of those attending that concert "did you appreciate the works of the devil as your friends where being shot up in that concert?"
Swanson has a track record of inflammatory rhetoric, as well as being an influential figure in right-wing political circles. According to Right Wing Watch, during his closing remarks at the November 7 National Religious Liberties Conference he organized, Swanson declared that the Bible called for the death penalty as the punishment for homosexuality. The conference was attended by Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and then-candidate Bobby Jindal.
Swanson's extreme rhetoric has drawn media attention to the GOP candidates who attended his November conference. During the November 5 edition of CNN's The Lead, host Jake Tapper asked Ted Cruz if his alliance with Swanson wasn't "in some ways" an endorsement for "conservative intolerance." During the November 9 edition of her show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow also blasted the conference's homophobic content and criticized the three Republicans attending, asking whether Fox Business would push candidates to explain their stance during the November 10 debate (emphasis added):
This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality. This religious liberties conference in Iowa this weekend. And there were pamphlets about why gay people should be executed. There were multiple discussions about it from the stage.
There were at least two other speakers besides the host of the event who have publicly called for gay people to be executed. There was discussion at the event in print about whether or not -- there was discussion at the event by people who have described the finite differences between the different methods of execution that should be used to kill people should they be thrown off cliffs, should they be stoned to death? Apparently both of those are sanctions means of execution for the crime of being gay.
And again, this host of the event who interviewed three Republican presidential candidates on stage, who convened the entire event, he has spoken in the past about the need to execute gay people in order to live in a properly Christian society. He did not hide that light under bushel once the candidates were there. He talked about that repeatedly at this event from the same stage that these candidates appeared.
And Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are going to be at the kids' table at the next Republican debate, which is tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Ted Cruz will be on the main stage because Ted Cruz is now polling third in a number of polls nationwide.
I don't know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics. I mean, it will be interesting to see if it comes up in tomorrow night's debate, right? I don't know if our friends over at the Fox Business Channel will feel comfortable raising this issue with Senator Cruz or with any of the other candidates who went to the "kill the gays" event this weekend.
Eagles of Death Metal is a side project of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who is raising money for the families of those killed during the attacks.
From the November 19 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
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Twenty-eight civil rights and faith organizations have issued an open letter calling for unity and condemning media's "recent rhetoric that exploits" the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, "to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees."
Signers of the letter noted that the "bigotry and hate" found in recent rhetoric "has been sadly reminiscent" of the responses to the terrorist attacks at the Parisian Charlie Hebdo magazine in January. The letter condemned the "countless leaders and media personalities" that have exploited the attacks "to call for more discriminatory profiling" of the Muslim community, "claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS," and called for "an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror," relying "on historical context and multiple perspectives" that are inclusive.
The letter writers also condemned Fox News' anti-refugee rhetoric, and specifically called out Rupert Murdoch - executive co-chairman of Fox's parent company - for "cloak[ing] their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad," and called for public leaders to "refrain from religious bigotry and focus on unity in the aftermath" of the Paris tragedy:
We, the undersigned civil rights advocates and faith leaders, write to express deep concern about recent rhetoric that exploits the tragic attacks in Paris to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees. Dividing Americans at a time when we need to be united not only hurts our democracy -- it hurts our standing in the world.
The bigotry and hate we've witnessed in the last few days has sadly been reminiscent of the response to January's terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Media figures and public officials have taken to social media and the airwaves to claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS, disregarding hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Hosts on CNN International berated the spokesperson of a French Muslim outreach group because he would not agree that all Muslims share "responsibility" for the attacks.
It is extremely concerning that countless leaders and media personalities have also used the tragedy to call for more discriminatory profiling of American Muslims, including Donald Trump who told MSNBC "you're going to have to watch and study the mosques," and Rep. Peter King who said that increased surveillance of Muslim communities is warranted because "that's where the threat is coming from."
Others have cloaked their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad. Foxcontributors and too many others have endorsed closing US borders to Muslim refugees -- even going so far as to claim, "there are real refugees among the people fleeing Syria and they're Christians." News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch echoed this endorsement, suggesting that President Barack Obama "make [a] special exception for proven Christians" when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris. In recent days, more than half of governors have said they won't accept Syrian refugees even though none of them have the power to turn them away from a safe place to call home.
The American people depend on all leaders and media for an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror and ways to respond relying on historical context and multiple perspectives, including those from Muslim, Sikh, Arab, South Asian and other communities here in the U.S. and abroad. To those leaders and media figures who have responsibly relied on multiple and diverse perspectives and the facts, we thank you and ask that you continue doing so.
To those who are responsible for the divisive rhetoric we detail above, we call on you to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of this tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate.
The entire letter, which has been signed by the Advancement Project, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Center for New Community, Color Of Change, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Networks Group (ING), Million Hoodies For Justice, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the NAACP, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, National Sikh Campaign, Race Forward, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Interfaith Center of New York, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, United We Dream, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and 9to5: National Association of Working Women, can be found here:
At least 30 state governors -- 29 Republican, 1 Democratic -- are parroting right-wing media myths about security concerns presented by incoming Syrian refugees to argue against taking part in expanded refugee resettlement programs. However, the overwhelming majority of refugees pose no credible threat to the United States, and the vetting process for refugee applicants is thorough. Furthermore, state governments lack the legal authority to dictate immigration policy in the United States.
In the wake of the November 13 Paris attacks, Republicans rushed with their conservative media allies to call for a halt to the admission of Syrian refugees into America, claiming that they would pose a significant threat to the United States. Major editorial boards slammed Republicans for "def[ying] what the nation stands for" and pushing divisive rhetoric that could "provide propaganda benefits to the Islamic State."