Harry Houck | Media Matters for America

Harry Houck

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  • Harry Houck, who used CNN position to push racist tropes and defend police brutality, is out at network

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    UPDATE (2/26): Houck wrote on Facebook that he will no longer be "affiliated with CNN" as of February 28 and said he "will continue to back our police officers on other networks if they allow me and to escalate our fight against the dangerous progressive democrats who wish to diminish our constitutional rights as Americans." 

    Harry Houck no longer works for CNN as a law enforcement analyst, according to his recently updated LinkedIn profile. The apparent departure is good news for CNN viewers: Houck has been an apologist for police brutality and pushed racist tropes about black criminality.

    Houck recently changed his LinkedIn profile to state that he is now a “Former CNN Law Enforcement Analyst" who worked for the network from May 2015 to February 2018. CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Houck frequently used his position at CNN to portray blacks as prone to criminality and defend police misconduct. Former Media Matters research fellow Carlos Maza -- now a correspondent for Vox’s Strikethrough -- wrote in 2016 of Houck:

    Since being hired as CNN’s law enforcement analyst in May 2015, Houck has used his national platform to defend police officers accused of violence and other misconduct by peddling racist tropes about black criminality, demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement, and blaming black victims of police violence.

    One month after the death of Freddie Gray -- as cable news networks debated racial bias in the criminal justice system -- CNN hired former New York Police Department Detective Harry Houck as a “law enforcement analyst.” During one of his first appearances on the network as a paid analyst, Houck specifically thanked anchor Anderson Cooper for helping get him the job, saying, “This man is responsible for this occurrence.”

    Houck appeared on CNN 204 times between May 18, 2015, and August 1, 2016. And while he’s often invited to discuss crime stories like active shooter situations, Houck is best known for his absurd defenses of police officers accused of mistreating African-Americans. In dozens of segments, Houck has found ways to blame black victims of police violence, deny the existence of racial profiling in law enforcement, and peddle racist tropes about black criminality.

    The racial justice organization Color of Change had called for the network to fire Houck, writing that his "blind support of police abuse and reinforcement of racist stereotypes is dangerous." 

    Additionally, after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, last August, he tweeted that “the left has to take some responsibility” for the death of anti-racism activist Heather Heyer. He also claimed that “haters on both the far left and far right invaded what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration in VA yesterday.”

    And in December, Houck shared a fake news story on Facebook that claimed actor Denzel Washington called former President Barack Obama the “criminal-in-chief” and claimed that CNN isn’t “discussing the facts.”

    Washington’s publicist confirmed to Media Matters that the actor never made the remarks. Houck later deleted his post and wrote: “I apologize for retweeting a fake news story re: Denzel Washington I didn't even read.”

  • CNN analyst shares fake news story about Denzel Washington attacking Obama and CNN

    UPDATE: Harry Houck has taken down his Facebook post

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: After the publication of Media Matters’ story, Houck deleted his Facebook post and wrote: “I apologize for retweeting a fake news story re: Denzel Washington I didn't even read.”

    CNN analyst Harry Houck shared a fake news story which fabricated quotes from Denzel Washington attacking former President Barack Obama as the “criminal-in-chief” and claiming CNN isn’t “discussing the facts.” Washington’s publicist confirmed to Media Matters that the actor never made the remarks.

    Houck is a retired detective who now works as a CNN law enforcement analyst. He has a long history of race-baiting commentary and regularly blames the victims of police brutality. He also uses his CNN platform to peddle racist tropes about black criminality.

    On December 2, Houck posted a link on his Facebook profile to a YourNewsWire story with the headline “Denzel Washington: ‘Criminal-In-Chief’ Obama ‘Tore Heart Out Of America.’” Houck shared the story with the comment: “Without a doubt!”

    YourNewsWire is a fake news website that posts made-up stories and fabricates quotes. Houck’s employer CNN has reported that the site isn’t reputable: Media reporter Brian Stelter wrote last year that the “dubious site … publishes a mix of true, slanted and made-up news.” Analysts have criticized YourNewsWire for being used as a proxy by Russians for spreading disinformation.

    The YourNewsWire story claims Washington said that Obama “ran the United States ‘like a banana republic’ as ‘criminal-in-chief.’” YourNewsWire also claims that Washington criticized CNN for its purported pro-Obama bias: “'Why aren’t CNN discussing the facts? They think we are too stupid to understand the metrics?’ Denzel Washington said, explaining that he had seen ‘a CNN segment about Obama’s legacy that blew my mind and left me raging.’”

    The story also quotes Washington -- who supposedly said all of this at a “New York screening of his new film” -- alluding to several conservative conspiracy theories about Obama: “Where did he come from? What was he really doing before running for office? His history sure isn’t what they say. Did he go to Columbia? Who put him in power?”

    Like many other YourNewsWire stories, the Washington article is fake and the quotes in it are fabricated. Publicist Alan Nierob, who represents the actor, told Media Matters: “He did not make those statements.”

    GossipCop.com previously wrote that the “article is simply a piece of fiction, complete with wholly fabricated quotes wrongfully attributed to the Oscar-winning actor.” It noted that the article didn’t give any specifics about where Washington purportedly made the remarks and the piece repeatedly misspelled Washington’s first name. The article appears to have since corrected the misspellings but the URL of the piece still contains the name “Denzil.” (The top comment on the post as of Monday morning was a user proclaiming, “WOW, Denzil, good for you!”)

    The fake Denzel Washington story has been shared over 48,000 times combined on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter so far, according to the social media analytics website BuzzSumo. Fake news websites spread made-up stories about Washington switching his support to Donald Trump last year.  

    CNN did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

  • CNN law enforcement analyst claims “the left” shares blame for Heather Heyer’s death

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck tweeted today that “the left has to take some responsibility” for the death of anti-racism activist Heather Heyer. He also defended the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA:

    Houck had previously promoted the claim that “antifa” (short for anti-fascists) and Black Lives Matter “started the violence” and tweeted that “haters on both the far left and far right invaded what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration in VA yesterday.”

    He has also claimed:

    Media Matters has documented that Houck has a long history of race-baiting commentary, which includes frequently blaming victims of police brutality and describing Black Lives Matter as a “thug group.” He also regularly uses his national platform on CNN to peddle racist tropes about black criminality. He recently claimed that President Donald Trump encouraging police brutality is not "that big a deal."

    As Carlos Maza -- now with Vox -- wrote for Media Matters last year: “Despite his rhetoric, CNN continues to pay Houck as an expert, bringing his race-baiting to a national audience any time a story of over-policing or police brutality makes headlines.”

  • WATCH: Three Minutes Of Race Baiting From CNN’s Paid “Law Enforcement Analyst” Harry Houck

    "Where Is The Crime? African American Neighborhoods. Hispanic Neighborhoods."

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    On September 22, CNN’s law enforcement analyst Harry Houck attempted to defend the police shooting of Terence Crutcher, the unarmed black man who was killed in Tulsa, OK, after his car broke down on the road. Houck argued Crutcher was being uncooperative and might have been making a “furtive move” for a weapon in his car. Prior to that appearance, Houck accused critics of the shooting of “playing [the] race card,” describing outrage over Crutcher’s death as part of “the war on police.”

    Since being hired as CNN’s law enforcement analyst in May 2015, Houck has used his national platform to defend police officers accused of violence and other misconduct by peddling racist tropes about black criminality, demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement, and blaming black victims of police violence.

    One month after the death of Freddie Gray -- as cable news networks debated racial bias in the criminal justice system -- CNN hired former New York Police Department Detective Harry Houck as a “law enforcement analyst.” During one of his first appearances on the network as a paid analyst, Houck specifically thanked anchor Anderson Cooper for helping get him the job, saying, “This man is responsible for this occurrence.”

    Houck appeared on CNN 204 times between May 18, 2015, and August 1, 2016. And while he’s often invited to discuss crime stories like active shooter situations, Houck is best known for his absurd defenses of police officers accused of mistreating African-Americans. In dozens of segments, Houck has found ways to blame black victims of police violence, deny the existence of racial profiling in law enforcement, and peddle racist tropes about black criminality.

    Race Baiting And Black Criminality

    Houck has repeatedly suggested that African-American and Hispanic communities are policed more aggressively than white communities because “they’re not behaving.” He frequently echoes the racist myth that people of color are more likely to commit crimes, prompting pushback from other CNN guests who have repeatedly had to respond to his race-baiting remarks. During the July 11, 2016, edition of New Day, when asked by a fellow guest if he was suggesting that black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “They are!”

    Houck also downplays the reality of racial profiling in the criminal justice system, calling it “something that somebody made up.” He regularly dismisses evidence showing unequal treatment for minorities in the criminal justice system, mocking comprehensive studies and academic research showing that African-Americans are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement. In Houck’s view, African-Americans are targeted by law enforcement because they’re the ones committing crime.

    On Twitter, Houck is even less subtle about his race baiting. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic), and even tweeted a link to a white supremacist website. In July, Houck posted a link to a video from “men’s rights” activist Tommy Sotomayor calling on President Obama to “ban niggas.”

    Victim Blaming

    Houck has also used his CNN platform to blame high-profile African-American victims of police violence, going to absurd lengths to defend police officers while denying the existence of racial bias. Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims for their mistreatment by police -- in his view, Eric Garner was resisting arrest, Sandra Bland was being “arrogant” and “uncooperative,” and Alton Sterling wasn’t complying with officers. He defended the police killing of Tamir Rice, saying officers “didn’t have a choice” but to shoot the 12-year-old boy. He defended a police officer who grabbed a South Carolina high school student and yanked her from her classroom desk, claiming the student “probably has no respect at home or on the street.”

    Houck’s victim-blaming often leads him to make blatantly false statements about these incidents on national television, like falsely claiming Bland refused to identify herself to police, and falsely claiming an officer informed a pregnant California woman she was being arrested before attempting to arrest her.

    Criticizing Black Lives Matter

    Houck has also used his CNN platform to demonize the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Houck has described the movement as part of the progressive “war on police,” claiming that “the left does not give a damn about police officers’ lives.” During the August 30, 2015, edition of CNN Newsroom, Houck compared BLM to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Houck also blames the murder of police officers on protests against police brutality. After the December 2014 killing of two NYPD police officers, Houck went on CNN and declared, “Two dead police officers, and I guess Al Sharpton got what he wanted.”

    Houck has also used Twitter to attack BLM, describing it as a “thug group” and a movement to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.” On August 15, 2016, Houck retweeted an image calling BLM “the new KKK.”

    Petition To Drop Houck

    CNN’s decision to continue employing Houck has been criticized by the group ColorOfChange, which launched a petition in October 2015 asking CNN to stop hosting him. ColorOfChange criticized Houck’s “character assassination” of the black 16-year-old South Carolina student who was thrown from her desk by a police officer, also noting Houck’s “blind hero worshiping of the officer.”

    In July 2016, following Houck’s comments about black criminality, ColorOfChange again asked the network to stop inviting him to discuss racial bias in law enforcement, writing:

    Racist statements like this drive the attitudes and stereotypes that lead police officers to regularly commit brutal acts of violence that result in Black people like Alton Sterling and Philando Sterling being killed.

    We are sick of CNN contributor and ex-NYPD detective Harry Houck’s one-man crusade against Black victims of law enforcement violence. Houck’s blind support of police abuse and reinforcement of racist stereotypes is dangerous.

    The group’s petition has garnered over 70,000 signatures, but that hasn’t stopped CNN from continuing to employ Houck as the network’s “law enforcement analyst.”

    Methodology

    Media Matters used iQ media and Nexis to search CNN transcripts for the name “Houck” between May 18, 2015 -- Houck’s first appearance as a network “law enforcement analyst” -- and August 1, 2016. Reruns and snippets from pre-recorded interviews were excluded. For blocks of ongoing coverage of active shooter situations, segments were counted only when the host would begin by introducing and identifying Houck for the audience.

    Top image created by Sarah Wasko.

  • CNN’s Harry Houck Promotes Video Calling On Obama To “Ban Niggas”

    Video Claims “More People Murdered In A Day By Niggly Bears Than In A Year By Grizzly Bears”

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck promoted a video that calls for President Obama to “ban niggas” in order to reduce violent crime, continuing Houck’s long history of peddling racist tropes about the African-American community.

    On July 25, Houck posted a link to a video on his Twitter account featuring Atlanta radio host and men’s rights activist Tommy Sotomayor, in which Sotomayor said that Obama should “ban niggas” because black men commit more violent crimes than other groups. Houck tweeted the video with the comment, “He knows what he’s talking about!”:

    Houck has used his platform on CNN to repeatedly suggest that African-Americans are prone to criminality and to blame black victims of police violence. Houck on Twitter has often warned about “black thugs,” referred to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and even tweeted a link to a white supremacist website.

    Houck continues to be employed as a law enforcement analyst by CNN. He most recently appeared during the the July 17 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, where he attempted to link the shooting of three police officers in Baton Rouge to protests regarding the death of Alton Sterling.

  • Meet Harry Houck, CNN’s Resident Race-Baiter And Police Brutality Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN contributor Harry Houck -- who recently claimed that black people are prone to criminality -- has a long history of extreme race-baiting on the network, frequently blaming victims of police brutality and describing Black Lives Matter as a “thug group.”

    During the July 11 edition of CNN’s New Day, Houck -- a retired NYPD detective who works as a “law enforcement analyst” for CNN -- responded to concerns about the over-policing of black communities by suggesting that African-Americans commit crimes at higher rates than whites. When guest Marc Lamont Hill pointed out that Houck was suggesting black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “Well, they are!”:

    CNN frequently hosts Houck in the wake of high profile stories of police brutality and anti-black violence. He is a reliable race-baiter and police apologist, regularly blaming black people for police mistreatment.

    He has repeatedly suggested that minorities, and specifically black people, commit more crime than white people, and that the solution to the problem of police brutality is for black people to “stop committing crimes.” He’s denied that African-Americans receive different treatment from whites in the criminal justice system, and claimed that any police officer who acts inappropriately is punished for it.

    He’s also blamed Al Sharpton for starting riots in Ferguson and called Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance “racist.”

    Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims of violence, especially at the hands of police officers. According to Houck:

    • Sandra Bland was arrested because she was “very arrogant” and “uncooperative.”
    • A South Carolina student who was body slammed by a police officer in her classroom “had no respect for the school… probably has no respect at home or on the street.”
    • The police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly.”
    • Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a “street attitude.”

    Houck’s Twitter presence makes his race-baiting on TV look subtle by comparison. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” refers to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic).

    He’s called “Black on Black murders the real problem,” tweeted a link to a white supremacist website, and claimed that the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement is to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.”

    Houck also peddles bizarre conspiracy theories. In one tweet, Houck claimed that Saul Alinsky has recruited Hillary Clinton to help promote “racism in every aspect of society” -- including releasing violent criminals from prison -- in order to make minorities dependent on Democrats, “the real slave masters.”

    In another, Houck claimed that Democrats “want all the refugees” because they want to “put them on welfare” so that they will “vote for liberals.”

    Houck’s inflammatory rhetoric isn’t limited to the black community. He’s called anti-Trump protesters “terrorists” and “the biggest danger we now face in this country.” He’s argued for wrapping the “remains of terrorists in pork fat so they go to hell!” And in October, he posted an image from a right-wing website that read “THIS IS AMERICA… WE SPEAK ENGLISH… IF YOU DONT LIKE IT TOUGH SHIT.”

    In July, 2015, the group ColorOfChange launched a petition asking CNN to “Drop Harry Houck,” writing:

    Harry Houck has a long record of victim blaming young Black people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and now this young Black girl at Spring Valley High School, all while blindly supporting their assailants. It is well passed time CNN dropped Harry Houck from their broadcasts and replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.

    Despite his rhetoric, CNN continues to pay Houck as an expert, bringing his race-baiting to a national audience any time a story of over-policing or police brutality makes headlines.

    Marlee Pittman contributed research to this post. Image by Sarah Wasko.