“There's nothing linking Black Lives Matter to a Texas cop's death” over the weekend, Vox explained, yet that didn't stop Fox News from using the tragic murder to repeatedly smear the racial justice movement.
On August 29, Texas deputy sheriff Darren H. Goforth was shot at point-blank range at a gas station outside Houston. The investigation into possible motives is still ongoing, but the alleged shooter had a criminal record as well as a history of mental health problems. In a press conference following Deputy Goforth's death, the Harris county sheriff blamed anti-police rhetoric for a possible factor in the murder, saying “We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops' lives matter, too. So, how about we drop the qualifier and just say lives matter?”
Fox News pounced on the tragedy to link Black Lives Matter to the deputy's death and smear the movement, repeatedly citing the crime to brand Black Lives Matter a "hate group." The network painted the movement as “the real culprit” despite there being “absolutely no established connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Harris County deputy's death,” as Vox pointed out on September 1:
Despite any solid leads and facts about the motives in the shooting of 10-year deputy veteran Darren Goforth, some conservative media outlets and local law enforcement officials have already settled on the real culprit: Black Lives Matter.
Goforth's death is an enormous tragedy that merits the attention it's getting. But the rush to link his death to a movement focused on creating a more equal criminal justice system exposes some of the misconceptions and misleading criticisms surrounding the movement.
The goals and message of Black Lives Matter have nothing to do with harming police officers in any way. The movement is explicitly concerned with reducing the racial disparities found in the criminal justice system. None of its leaders have advocated for killing cops.
Currently, there is also absolutely no established connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Harris County deputy's death. But that didn't stop local officials from drawing a link.
If there's no information about the motive, how can officials make any connection between the shooting and any movement, whether it's Black Lives Matter or something else? It's just blind speculation at this point.
But Fox News went with the narrative.
By the sheriff's own admission, there's nothing establishing a motive or linking Black Lives Matter to the shooting. But by making the connection in his remarks, he planted the seeds that critics of Black Lives Matter and outlets like Fox News needed to cultivate and grow their big plant of bullshit.
It's not just Fox News -- other reports painted narratives that put Black Lives Matter and police as inherently in conflict. A CNN report, for instance, described Black Lives Matter's advocacy as “anti-police rhetoric.” What does it say about American society that advocating for black lives and ending racial disparities in the criminal justice system would qualify not as pro-equality but as anti-police?