Fox and MSNBC give murder of EJ Bradford scant coverage compared to CNN

CNN has aired 27 segments that discussed the police shooting of Bradford, while Fox has aired 15 and MSNBC has aired 7

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On Thanksgiving Day, a police officer shot and killed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as EJ, during a mall shooting in Alabama. The police initially claimed that Bradford was the gunman, but later admitted the officer had likely shot the wrong man. In the days after the revelation, CNN offered significant coverage of the murder and conducted multiple interviews with Bradford’s family. Fox News offered markedly less coverage, and most of it occurred before the police admitted Bradford was not the shooter. MSNBC has covered the shooting the least, but has spoken to Bradford’s family and has largely discussed it in the wake of the police’s admission.

On Thursday, November 22, police responded to a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, AL, and fatally shot Bradford, a 21-year-old Black man, later pronouncing him the gunman. The next day, the Hoover Police Department admitted in a now-deleted tweet that “our initial media release was not totally accurate” and conceded that Bradford was likely not the gunman. Police maintain that Bradford was shot after he “brandished a gun,” but the department has not provided any evidence to the public to back up this claim; reported that the family’s lawyer, prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, “asserts that, according to witnesses, Bradford was trying to guide people away from the area where the initial shooting occurred, that his gun was tucked in his waistband, and that as Bradford lay dying on the Galleria mall floor, police did not allow a nurse who was nearby to attend to him.” Bradford was an “Army veteran with a permit to carry a weapon.” His family is demanding that police release videos of the mall shooting.

Bradford’s murder is the latest tragedy in an epidemic of police violence against people of color in America. The Washington Post’s database on police violence shows that 191 Black people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2018, and a recent Vox study found that Black people comprised 31 percent of those killed by police in 2012, despite being only 13 percent of the U.S. population.

In the four days following the incident, between November 23-26, CNN ran at least 27 segments, with more than 20 focused on Bradford’s murder after it was revealed he was not the shooter. Bradford’s father and Crump appeared on air twice, and his mother was also present for one interview. By comparison, Fox aired more segments on the initial mall shooting, in which two people were also injured, than it did on Bradford’s murder, and did not once speak to his family or their lawyer. On November 23, the day after the incident, the network dedicated nine segments to coverage of the shooting in which it reported that police had killed the gunman responsible for the violence; Fox aired six segments on November 24 after the police admitted the gunman was not the victim, and has ceased covering the story since. While MSNBC has aired just seven segments discussing the shooting, all but one occurred after the police clarification; Politics Nation spent nearly 10 minutes on the shooting, including one of MSNBC's two interviews with Crump and Bradford’s mother. CNN and MSNBC's coverage appears to be ongoing.

Fox’s unimpressive coverage should come as no surprise given the network’s history of apathy toward victims of police violence. Fox figures and guests often blame victims of police violence, or else rely on racist portrayals of minority communities to excuse officers’ actions. The network routinely demonizes Black Lives Matter, a group protesting police violence against people of color, and constantly fearmongers about awar on cops” to avoid discussing the impact and frequency of police violence.

Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream for mentions of “Bradford,” “Alabama,” “Birmingham,” “police,” “mall,” and any iteration of the word “shoot” on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on November 22 through the time of publication.