Media Call Out Fox's Irresponsible Coverage Of Fox Lake Police Officer's Death

After Fox Lake Lieutenant Joseph Gliniewicz's September 1 death was ruled a suicide, media figures called out Fox News' irresponsible coverage in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Before having all the facts, some Fox hosts and panelists quickly connected Lieutenant Gliniewicz's death to their false “war on cops” narrative, with one host claiming that “we have open season on the cops” fostered by Black Lives Matter. However, the network has “gone silent now that it's been proved otherwise.”

Investigators Conclude Death Of Fox Lake Cop Was A Suicide Investigators Conclude Fox Lake Cop's Death Was A “Carefully Staged Suicide.” After months of investigation following the suspicious September 1 death of Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz in Fox Lake, Illinois, investigators concluded that “what once appeared to be the killing of an officer in the line of duty” actually was “a carefully staged suicide.” As reported by

What once appeared to be the killing of an officer in the line of duty turned out to be “a carefully staged suicide,” George Filenko, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander, said Wednesday.

“This staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing,” Filenko said, announcing the conclusions of the investigation into the officer's September 1 death.

The officer had been stealing and laundering money from a police department program that mentored young people hoping to become law enforcement officers, Filenko said. Gliniewicz, a leader in that program, had been stealing money for at least seven years, he said.

The investigation found that the officer, who had experience creating mock crime scenes, staged his suicide to make it look like a homicide.

The officer placed his equipment at the scene in an “attempt to mislead first responders and investigators to believe this was a homicide,” Filenko said. [, 11/4/15]

“Open Season On The Cops”: Before Having All The Facts, Fox Quickly Exploited The Fox Lake Tragedy To Push Their False “War On Cops” Narrative

Fox's Megyn Kelly Hosts A Panel Connecting Fox Lake Tragedy With “Anti-Cop Madness”. On the September 1 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly hosted a panel that was quick to connect the death as part of a pattern of police shootings. Despite the host's acknowledgement that “it is way too early to know the circumstances behind the murder of this lieutenant in Illinois,” Fox News regular Sheriff David Clarke linked the Fox Lake tragedy with “anti-cop madness”:

MEGYN KELLY: Well, it is way too early to know the circumstances behind the murder of this lieutenant in Illinois. But it clearly comes just days after Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth was shot execution-style in an attack that his boss linked to the dangerous environment created by the Black Lives Matter movement. Tonight a petition has popped up at pressuring President Obama to send a delegation to the deputy's funeral on Friday and some leading voices in law enforcement are also pressuring the president to speak out against protests like this one, which took place a day after the murder of the sheriff's deputy.


SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE: It's the disgusting nature that this movement has taken, it's the slang that I talk about. The thing is Megyn, they have the same attitude about black-on-black crime, no big deal, you know, nothing to see here. I think the president of the United States because he weighted into this in the days after Ferguson with some inflammatory rhetoric in where he breathed life into this anti-cop sentiment that now exists in the United States, he made the statement that our law enforcement officers have a fear of people that don't look like them. You look at the Fox Lake lieutenant who 30 years on the job, the report I got, he was considering retiring at the end of the month. He had 30 more days to go, father of four. And now, look, look at what we're looking at here now. Look, the president now because he weighted into this and weighted in after the Cambridge Police Department and he said, they acted stupidly, and in some other statements that he said, he's got an obligation to come out now and walk some of this back and remind people of the important role that law enforcement officers play and that --

KELLY: He does that.

CLARKE: -- no longer will this anti-cop madness. Anti-cop slime be tolerated. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 9/1/15]

Fox's O'Reilly Asked Whether “Black Lives Matter Crew And Other Radicals Are Igniting Violence Against Cops.” On the September 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly followed up on his report on the Fox Lake tragedy by asking a guest panel whether “the Black Lives Matter crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops.” He described the lieutenant's death as part of an “open season on the cops” (emphasis added):

BILL O'REILLY: Impact Segment tonight, so far this year 22 police officers have been killed by gunfire in America. Some believe that's in response to a number of black men being shot by the cops. Bexar County, Texas, there's a video showing 41-year-old Gilbert Flores being shot to death by two police officers. The cops say Flores was armed, but no weapon was seen in the video. That doesn't mean anything of course. And that kind of incident is seized upon Black Lives Matter and other radical groups to demonize the police. Thus, we have open season on the cops. Today in Illinois 52-year-old Police Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz shot and killed in the Chicago suburb of Fox Lake. The lieutenant was a 32-year veteran of the Fox Lake Department and father of four children. His killer is still at large, police are looking for three suspects, two white men, one black. Joining us now from Pittsburgh, Dr. Alfred Blumstein, criminologist at Carnegie-Mellon University. Here in New York City, Dr. Peter Moskos, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former police officer. Do you believe that the Black Lives Matter crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops? [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/1/15]

The Five's Greg Gutfeld Suggested “The Ferguson Effect” Played A Part In Lt. Gliniewicz's Death. In the September 1 edition of Fox's The Five, host Greg Gutfeld suggested “the Ferguson effect” could have played a part in Lt. Gliniewicz's death, where “it's not necessarily ... about police officers pulling back, but more of a brazen type of criminal who knows that the police officers are more reluctant to act -- they're more aggressive” (emphasis added):

GREG GUTFELD: Hey Mike, it's Gutfeld. So we've seen 23 officers killed by gunfire in the line of duty in 2015. When you're talking to law enforcement out there, is there a sense that something has changed, the climate has changed, that this un -- this isn't business as usual anymore?

MIKE TOBIN: Talking with some of the cops, they're a bit exasperated. They said -- one of them said six in what period of time? You go to work, you try to protect people and you got the people turning on you. This is a very difficult time for law enforcement, but that being said, just because of the sequence of events, you can't necessarily say that this is linked to the angst against police officers, linked to the racial tension. Look at the makeup of the suspects. You're talking about two white males, one black male. You can't say it's not linked to the ethnic tension, but you can't say it is.


GUTFELD: Mike, you know we brought up the fact that they're -- it's two white males and one black male, and that makes it a harder to say whether it's a race thing or not. What about the idea of the Ferguson effect in which, it's not necessarily, you know, about police officers pulling back, but more of a brazen type of criminal who knows that the police officers are more reluctant so they act -- they're more aggressive.

TOBIN: You know, Greg, I think there is an element of that out there. People who know that the police officers are going to be more careful, and they're less inclined to be aggressive. But to answer that specific to what has happened out here, I'd really have to speculate. [Fox News, The Five, 9/1/15]

Media Call Out Fox's Irresponsible Coverage Of Fox Lake Police Officer's Death

The Daily Beast's Andrew Kirell: Fox News “Quick To Tie” Fox Lake Tragedy To “Anti-Cop” Rhetoric, But “Silent” After Facts “Proved Otherwise.” In a November 5 column, The Daily Beast's Andrew Kirell slammed Fox News for being “quick to tie a cop's death to 'anti-cop violence'” and having “gone silent now that it's been proved otherwise”:

It was a narrative perfectly suited for Fox News's conservative commentariat. Too bad it was total bullshit.

Three assailants allegedly shot and killed Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, a wholesome small-town cop and Army vet known locally as “GI Joe”; a 30-year veteran of the force; a married father of four; a local hero.

His death had to be part of an ominous trend of societal menaces murdering law officers in cold blood, supposedly fueled by President Obama's “anti-cop” rhetoric and the Black Lives Matter movement. Several Fox Newsers were quick to make that connection just as Fox Lake, Illinois, police set out to find the three perpetrators Gliniewicz mentioned over the radio just before he died.


Have any of these Fox pundits corrected the record or issued mea culpas for their rush to connect this twisted story to their political narrative? Wednesday's edition of Outnumbered, with Tantaros among its hosts, went without a single mention of the news their own network aired just an hour before. (The show did, however, spend an entire segment bashing film director Quentin Tarantino for his remarks against police brutality.)

As for Sheriff Clarke, he spent all day Wednesday tweeting not about “best policing” Gliniewicz's complete betrayal of his peers, but instead about, yep, “cop-hating” “prick” Quentin Tarantino.

And Eric Bolling? His daily talk show The Five--which frequently gripes about Black Lives Matter--made no mention of Gliniewicz. Don't hold your breath for a correct-the-record monologue from him this Saturday either. [The Daily Beast, 11/5/15]

MSNBC's Chris Hayes Highlighted How Fox Took Fox Lake Tragedy As “Conclusive Evidence” Of A “War On Cops.” On the November 4 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes specifically singled out Fox News in his comments on how media had been quick to connect the Fox Lake cop death with the false narrative of a “war on cops”:

CHRIS HAYES: A little over two months ago, all eyes were on the small village of Fox Lake, Illinois, where on the morning of September 1, a police officer had been found unconscious with a gunshot wound after telling a dispatcher he was pursuing two white males and a black male. The officer, Lt. Joesph Gliniewicz, succumbed to his wounds. And over a dozen law enforcement agencies in the area launched an enormous manhunt for the three suspects, deploying helicopters, dogs, and about 400 officers searching door to door with within a radius of over two miles. Just a few days earlier on August 28, a sheriff's deputy in Houston had been fatally shot at a gas station while filling up his police cruiser. And those two incidents in such short succession amounted to conclusive evidence for some of a “war on cops” fueled by President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement. Then-presidential candidate Scott Walker penned an op-ed for Hot Air blaming the president for, quote, “a rise in anti-police rhetoric,” leading to, quote, “a disturbing trend of police officers being murdered on the job.” Pat Buchanan accused President Obama of being, quote, “a conscientious objector in the war of cops,” and Fox News trotted out a string of law enforcement officials to lend credibility to the so-called phenomena. [Media Matters, 11/4/15]

WaPo's Radley Balko Criticized Media Who “Used Joseph Gliniewicz's Death To Push The 'War On Cops' Narrative.” In a November 5 column, Washington Post's criminal justice columnist Radley Balko singled out media figures -- including Fox News hosts, anchors, and other personalities -- who had been quick to lump Gliniewicz's death with other police fatalities to blame anyone “worried about police brutality for fostering” a “war on cops”:

We now know that Fox Lake, Illinois police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz killed himself in what local officials are calling a “carefully staged suicide,” likely to cover up the fact that he had been embezzling public funds for years. But in the days following Gliniewicz's death, pundits, new outlets, and advocates quickly lumped his death in with that of Houston Dep. Darren Goforth to blame police critics, Black Lives Matter, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, and just about anyone else who was worried about police brutality for fostering and encouraging a “war on cops.” [Washington Post, 11/5/15]

Alex Kaplan contributed research to this item.