This week, Fox News propped up Walter “Hawk” Newsome as a Black Lives Matter activist, using his provocative statements to demonize the movement and prompting a tweet from President Donald Trump. In reality, Newsome is not actually affiliated with the official Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLM) but in fact “runs a fringe Black Lives Matter knock-off group” in New York.
Newsome initially appeared on Fox’s The Story with Martha MacCallum on June 24, when he said: “If this country doesn't give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it, all right? And I could be speaking figuratively, I could be speaking literally. It's a matter of interpretation.”
Fox seized on his comments, spreading them across the network’s shows and using them to smear BLM by claiming that the movement wants “dead cops” and that it wants to engage in violence and to literally “burn the entire system in this country to the ground.” By June 25, Trump had tweeted the quote, attributing it to a nameless “Black Lives Matter leader” and calling it “Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!"
In reality, Newsome has a prior history of angering the BLM movement by profiting off the group’s moniker while pushing a more provocative and militant message, which is then used by bad actors to demonize Black Lives Matter. After Trump sent his June 25 tweet, the group issued a statement denouncing Newsome:
Hawk Newsome has no relation to the Black Lives Matter Global Network (“BLM”) founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi — and is not the “president” of BLM or any of its chapters.
As BLM has told Mr. Newsome in the past, and as is still true today, Mr. Newsome’s group is not a chapter of BLM and has not entered into any agreement with BLM agreeing to adhere to BLM’s core principles. The only official chapter of BLM in New York is Black Lives Matter NYC.
Still, Fox News repeatedly linked Newsome to the Black Lives Matter chapter in New York. Numerous anchors on the network’s so-called “news” side consistently promoted this inaccuracy. Fox’s relentless coverage suggested to viewers that a movement for racial justice that is rapidly gaining support is actually militantly advocating for violence.
After Newsome’s appearance on MacCallum’s show, Fox prime-time host and close Trump confidant Sean Hannity replayed the clip, attributing it to a “Black Lives Matter leader” and claiming BLM has previously called for “dead cops.”
Following Hannity’s show, Fox host Laura Ingraham also aired the clip from MacCallum’s show, similarly describing him as a “Black Lives Matters New York leader.”
The following morning, Fox & Friends picked up the clip, reporting that “the president of Black Lives Matter New York” told Fox News “they have no plans on backing down,” before airing the clip.
Later that morning on America's Newsroom, co-anchor Sandra Smith aired the clip, claiming, “That was the leader of the Black Lives Matter movement here in New York.” Smith claimed that Newsome was articulating “his view on the ultimate goal of that movement.”
On Outnumbered, co-host Melissa Francis called Newsome’s remarks a “really insightful interview” because people and corporations are supporting BLM even though “the group seems to advocate for violence.”
On Outnumbered Overtime, Francis, who was guest anchoring, introduced the clip as “the greater New York chairman of Black Lives Matter there, leaving the door open for violence.” Francis later claimed that “it did sound like he was advocating for violence there on behalf of Black Lives Matter.” Trump’s tweet came shortly after Francis’ segment.
On Bill Hemmer Reports, guest anchor Trace Gallagher aired the clip, misleadingly introducing Newsome as “the president of New York’s Black Lives Matter.” Afterward, Gallagher claimed that “the same group that would like to get rid of police would also like to see maybe more violence.”
On The Five, co-host Juan Williams introduced the clip by saying that a “Black Lives Matter leader [is] getting a lot of attention for saying this, when pressed about some of the violence taking place.”
Closing out the 24-hour cycle of disinformation, MacCallum asked her guest to comment on the statements from “Black Lives Matter New York leader Hank Newsome.”