Fox News contributor Karl Rove distorted comments made by President Obama in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, suggesting the president downplayed the acts of violent rioters and refused to distinguish between peaceful protesters and “outside agitators.” But Obama unequivocally denounced violent protests during a statement about the ongoing demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb.
On August 18, Obama delivered remarks on the progress of airstrikes in Iraq and violence in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was allegedly shot by a St. Louis County police officer. On August 19, Rove condemned Obama's remarks on Fox's Happening Now, claiming that the president failed to draw a strict line between the “peaceful protesters” and the “outside agitators” in Ferguson. Rove also accused Obama of creating a “moral equivalency” by placing the police and violent protesters on “the same level,” concluding that Obama's statements were “not worthy of the president.”
However, in Obama's remarks on Ferguson, he drew a line between the peaceful protesters and rioters when he condemned violence of any kind, explaining that “It undermines rather than advancing justice”:
So, let me close just saying a few words about the tensions there. We have all seen images of protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It's clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What's also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not.
While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice.
Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded: especially in moments like these. There's no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully.