Fox News selectively clipped Attorney General Eric Holder's Ferguson, Missouri, statement on the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown to accuse him of taking sides against the police in the coming Justice Department investigation -- though Holder explicitly noted that, “as a father of a teenage son” and “as the brother of a retired law enforcement officer,” he understands both sides.
Days after selectively editing a statement from President Obama to claim the administration is “choosing sides” in Ferguson, Fox tried the same tactic with Holder. The network aired a deceptively clipped portion of Holder's July 21 statement about his visit to the town, which has been the center of national attention since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed by an officer of the St. Louis County Police Department.
On Fox & Friends, Fox host Steve Doocy said the clip showed Holder “personally claiming that he understood the public's mistrust toward the police” in a way that may “inflame racial tension.” Doocy suggested that “there's been a rush to judgment” by Holder and the administration. Fox News contributor Linda Chavez agreed that Holder was “basically picking a side.” She went on to argue that the administration has been “playing the race card” and exploiting the black community for political gain:
CHAVEZ: I do think there's something going on. I think it's politics, it's all about domestic politics. I think it's an exploitation of the black community. I think it is playing the race card and I think it's disgraceful.
The full context of Holder's statement contradicts Fox's narrative that Holder has already sided with critics of the Ferguson police. The portion of the statement that Fox aired came immediately after Holder noted that felt personally affected by the tensions in Ferguson because he understood both sides on a personal level.
Holder said that, "[a]s the brother of a retired law enforcement officer," he understood the " tremendous threats and significant personal risk" that police who “lives on the line every day” have to factor into rapid decision-making, but also noted that “as a father of a teenage son myself” he understands the community's need for answers.
What's more, Holder's comments following the portion Fox aired go on to condemn the violence in Ferguson, with Holder stating, “I hope the relative calm that we witnessed overnight last night can be enduring. To a person yesterday, the people I met with, take great pride in their town and despite the mistrust that exists, they reject the violence that we have seen over the past couple of weeks.”
Here's a longer version of Holder's statement, from CNN (the portion Fox aired is in bold):
Now although our investigation will take time, and although I cannot discuss the specifics of this case in greater detail since it remains open and very active, the people of Ferguson can have confidence in the federal agents, investigators and prosecutors who are leading this process. Our investigation will be fair, it will be thorough, and it will be independent.
On a personal note, I've seen a lot in my time as attorney general but few things have affected me as greatly as my visit to Ferguson. I had the chance to meet with the family of Michael Brown. I spoke to them not just as attorney general, but as a father of a teenage son myself. They, like so many in Ferguson, want answers. In my conversations with dozens of people in Ferguson yesterday, it was clear that this shooting incident has brought to the surface underlying tensions that have existed for many years. There is a history to these tensions and that history simmers in more communities than just Ferguson.
Law enforcement has a role to play in reducing tensions as well. As the brother of a retired law enforcement officer, I know firsthand that our men and women in uniform perform their duties in the face of tremendous threats and significant personal risk. They put their lives on the line every day and they often have to make split-second decisions.The national outcry we have seen speaks to a sense of mistrust and mutual suspicion that can take hold in the relationship between law enforcement and certain communities.
I wanted the people of Ferguson to know that I personally understood that mistrust. I wanted them to know that while so much else may be uncertain, this attorney general and this Department of Justice stands with the people of Ferguson.I hope the relative calm that we witnessed overnight last night can be enduring. To a person yesterday, the people I met with, take great pride in their town and despite the mistrust that exists, they reject the violence that we have seen over the past couple of weeks.
In that sense, while I went to Ferguson to provide' assurance, in fact, they gave me hope. My commitment to them is that long after this tragic story no longer receives this level of attention, the Justice Department will continue to stand with Ferguson. We will continue the conversation this incident has sparked about the need for trust building between law enforcement officers and the communities that they serve, about the appropriate use of force, and the need to ensure fair and equal treatment for everyone who comes into contact with the police.