The guilty verdict delivered by a Minneapolis jury on all counts against the murderer of George Floyd was treated as unsurprising by Fox News, but not just because of the simple fact that the entire world saw former police officer Derek Chauvin ruthlessly crushing the life out of a restrained Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Rather, despite some Fox News coverage halfheartedly implying the verdict was correct because of the incontrovertible video evidence of Floyd’s murder, various Fox figures consistently undermined the validity of the jury’s decision, casting it as inevitable because it had supposedly been dictated by outside pressure.
Last Saturday night, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) visited Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, the site of ongoing protests over another police killing of a young Black person, this time 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Fox News almost immediately seized upon her ensuing comments to media at the protest about the need to continue activism against police violence in the wake of a Floyd verdict, offering this as possible grounds for a Chauvin appeal.
Starting Monday morning, the network pointed to her comments in at least 84 segments in the days before and after the verdict, according to Media Matters’ internal database, folding in President Joe Biden as another possible prejudicial factor when he commented during the jury’s deliberation that he was praying for a “right verdict” because the evidence was “overwhelming in my view.” But even without the possibility of a successful appeal because of the comments of Waters and Biden, Fox News worked to cast doubt on the validity of Chauvin’s murder conviction.
Tucker Carlson, who was already a leading Fox voice in undermining any finding of police culpability for Floyd’s murder well before the verdict was delivered, delivered his own counterpoint on Monday night to Biden’s prayers during deliberation, dismissing the video evidence and instead condemning the news media for “lynching” Chauvin. The Fox host would follow up in 24 hours, after the jury’s decision was announced, to complain that “nobody has more faith in the system after this.” Later that night, when he hosted a New York City law enforcement veteran to explain that Chauvin’s criminal asphyxiation of Floyd after he had been restrained was contrary to police training and basic common sense, a visibly uncomfortable Carlson changed the subject and cut off his expert rather than entertain the idea that a guilty verdict for the almost nine-minute murder of Floyd was warranted.
Which is why, in considering all the aspersions Fox News cast on the possibility that the jury properly concluded Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer, it’s hard to stomach any supposed acceptance of the “facts” from some corners of the network.
Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’ The Five and a new late-night comedy hour, insisted, “I know Chauvin is guilty,” but he still cynically waved away the verdict by asserting that anything else would have led to riots.
Fox News host and former county judge Jeanine Pirro leaned into her former career to sanctimoniously claim that “the verdict is supported by the facts. … Right now, what people need to understand is that the American justice system works. It works. That people believe in lady justice. That if we give it a chance, it can work.” This is the same pundit who just last Friday justified extrajudicial killings in a discussion of the Chicago shooting of 13 year-old Adam Toledo, ranting, “He is a criminal. This is a war. This is not the time to feel sorry for anybody.”
Fox gets no credit for acknowledging what we all already knew: A former police officer committed a horrific act of violence that was captured on tape. George Floyd is dead, and Derek Chauvin is his murderer -- nothing Fox News has to say will change that.