In the wake of the tragic shooting death of unarmed Missouri teenager Michael Brown, right-wing media outlets attacked President Obama's uncontroversial statement of condolences and suggested the president was to blame for the state of race relations in the United States.
Unarmed Teenager Shot Dead In Ferguson, MO
Michael Brown, Unarmed Teen, Shot By Police. On August 9, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri after an alleged confrontation between Brown and the officer. The FBI are now investigating the shooting alongside the St. Louis County Police Department. [Vox.com, 8/12/14]
Protests Erupt Over Brown's Death. In the days following Brown's death, local residents in Ferguson protested police brutality. Some of the protests turned violent, with rocks thrown at police and looting. The police responded to the protests with riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets. [Vox.com, 8/12/14; Los Angeles Times, 8/11/14, 8/13/14]
President Obama Expresses Condolences To The Family Of Michael Brown
President Obama Issues Statement Expressing Condolences To Brown Family, And Called For Healing. In a statement released on August 12, President Obama expressed his condolences to Brown's family and his community:
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that's what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve. [Whitehouse.gov, 8/12/14]
Right-Wing Media Attack Obama's Statement
Fox's MacCallum Criticized Obama For Responding Too Soon To The Tragedy “Without The Facts.” On the August 13 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum suggested that Obama issued his statement prematurely, claiming he should “wait for the facts” (emphasis added):
CLIFTON: It speaks to a larger issue in our country of unconscious bias, that we all exist, that has in all systems. Something we need to have with the dialogue.
MACCALLUM: We don't know that though, Marjorie, there is tendency to jump in with both feet in these stories.
MACCALLUM: Look, this boy is gone. All of us feel for his family, that is a tragedy to be sure but we don't know yet what happened. And some people criticize the president, and say, don't weigh in. You know, just say, look let's wait for the facts. Let's wait and see what happened. But that, Roe, that is not exactly what we heard. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/13/14]
Fox's Starnes Asked Why Obama Didn't Offer Condolences For Officer Who Shot Brown. In a series of August 12 tweets, Fox's Todd Starnes asked why President Obama offered no condolences for the police officer, claiming he was allegedly attacked by Brown:
Obama sends “deep condolences” to family of MO teen killed after allegedly attacking police officer. No condolences for the cop.
-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Starnes further implied that Obama's motivation for issuing condolences was racial, pointing to his previous statements on behalf of Professor Henry Louis Gates and Trayvon Martin:
First Obama speaks out for the Harvard professor - then Trayvon - and now Michael Brown. I'm sensing a pattern...
-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
The Daily Caller Suggested Obama's Condolences Were Timed To Increase African-American Turnout In Midterm Elections. The Daily Caller claimed that Obama's statement on the shooting was calculated to boost black voters in the upcoming November elections. The August 12 article compared the statement to Obama's address after the death of Trayvon Martin, claiming “it helped increase African-American turnout in 2012.” The article also pointed out that this comes “12 weeks before a critical midterm election where relatively few of Obama's African-Americans supporters are expected to vote.” [The Daily Caller, 8/12/14]
Right-Wing Media Exploit Shooting To Attack Obama On Race
WSJ's Epstein: Obama “Is Not Well Positioned For The Job Of Leading The Black Population.” In an August 12 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled “What's Missing in Ferguson, Mo.”, Joseph Epstein argued that what has been most missing from the discussion on Ferguson is a strong civil rights leader. Epstein added that Obama cannot fulfill this role because he is not well-respected and admired enough:
President Obama, as leader of all the people, is not well positioned for the job of leading the black population that finds itself mired in despond. Someone is needed who commands the respect of his or her people, and the admiration of that vast--I would argue preponderate--number of middle-class whites who understand that progress for blacks means progress for the entire country. [Wall Street Journal, 8/12/14]
Breitbart's Shapiro Hyped “5 Race Riots” To Baselessly Suggest Racial Conflict Has Increased Under Obama Because He Has 'Energized' A “Racial Grievance Industry” In The US. In an August 11 post on Breitbart.com, Ben Shapiro explained what he deemed were four other examples of race riots before those in Ferguson, MO that prove Obama has energized the “racial grievance industry based on the tacit threat of violence.” [Breitbart.com, 8/11/14]