When Fox News Acknowledges A Hate Crime Depends On The Race Of The Shooter

Fox News was quick to label the Virginia murder of two white journalists at the hands of a black former colleague a hate crime, a markedly different response than the network's treatment of the racially motivated massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston.

Two White Virginia Journalists Shot On Live Television By Black Former Colleague In Possibly Racially Motivated Attack

Journalist And Cameraman Shot And Killed During Live Report By Former Colleague Who Alleged Cited Race As Motivation For Attack. On August 26, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were horrifically shot and killed by a former colleague while they conducted a live interview for a Roanoke morning show. The shooter, who was black, allegedly wrote in a manifesto that he was inspired to shoot Parker and Ward, who are white, because of the mass shooting at a Charleston, SC church:

Alison Parker, 24, was interviewing the head of the local chamber of commerce live on Roanoke's “News 7 Mornin' ” show when the shooting began. Vester L. Flanagan II -- an embittered former colleague -- would soon post the horror he recorded to Facebook and Twitter. Parker and a cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, died at the scene; the chamber director, Vicki Gardner, 62, underwent surgery and is expected to recover.

The killings were part of what appears to have been an elaborate plot carried out by a troubled man who -- after years of professional turmoil and a growing rage he linked to the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church -- was determined to wreak vengeance against co-workers he insisted had wronged him.


Flanagan, who is black, faxed a 22-page letter to ABC News two hours after the killings. He said the church massacre had, after years of discrimination, sent him “over the top.” [The Washington Post, 8/26/15]

Fox News Immediately Labels VA Shooting A “Hate Crime”

Fox Host: “He Shot Three White People Today. Why Is That Not A Hate Crime?” The same day as the shooting, on Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Carlson repeatedly asked her guest Paul Viollis to say the Virginia shooting was a hate crime, pushing back on his response that the horrific murder constitutes workplace violence:

CARLSON: Is this a hate crime, Paul?

VIOLLIS: No, Gretchen, it's not. This is quintessential workplace violence. From the behavioral profile of the individual, to the actions that he displayed, from the manifesto to the time he was terminated in 2013.

CARLSON: But it says in the manifesto that -- he wrote 23 pages and faxed to ABC News and now in the hands of Fox -- he talks about race a lot. He put the initials of the Charleston church shooting victims on the bullets that he used today. He praised the Virginia Tech mass killer, the Columbine high school killers, says he was being attacked for being a gay black man. He shot three white people today. Why is that not a hate crime?

VIOLLIS: Well, because of the fact that the workplace violence offender is clearly delusional. They make up their own sense of reality, and they struggle with their sense of identity. So they don't like who they are. They make up something that will envision them as a victim, as the quintessential victim. It's the finger pointing. Now, hate crime is something where he clearly was motivated by sense of race, color, or creed.

CARLSON: But he was. He says that the Charleston shootings were his tipping point.

VIOLLIS: The tipping point for attention seeking. He saw the attention that was received from that shooter all over the country. And that particular shooter was glorified on the news, in his eyes. That's why he picked this time of the day to shoot these two people. [Fox News, The Real Story, 8/26/15]

Fox Producer: The Shooting “Was Very Racially Charged.” On The Five, Fox producer Jesse Watters proclaimed that the murders were “very racially charged” because “it was a black journalist who shot two white journalists in cold blood”:

WATTERS: It was absolutely disgusting. It was probably the first social media murder we've ever seen in this country. And it was racially charged. It was very racially charged. You know, it was a black journalist who shot two white journalists in cold blood and filmed it. So, disgusting. [Fox News, The Five, 8/26/15]

Fox Contributor: This Would Be Categorized As A Hate Crime If The Shooter Had Survived. On Hannity, Fox News contributor Bo Dietl highlighted the shooter's manifesto and noted that if he were still alive, “this would be categorized as a racial attack.” Host Sean Hannity added, “a hate crime”:

DIETL: If you look at the manifesto, about Columbine, and he talked about the Charleston shooting, and this is his vengeance. So he prepared this. Supposedly he contacted ABC prior to let them know he was going to do something horrific. This was a well-planned thing. And if he survived, I hate to say it, but this would be categorized as a racial attack.

HANNITY: A hate crime. A racial hate crime.

DIETL: Absolutely. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/26/15]

Fox Analyst: “If The Evidence Points To A Hate Crime, Then It Is A Hate Crime.” On the August 27 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy prompted guest host and network legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr., “You say this was a hate crime.” Johnson responded that “if the evidence points to a hate crime, then it is a hate crime”:

DOOCY: The big question -- And Peter, he will not be prosecuted, because he's dead. But if he [weren't], you say this was a hate crime.

JOHNSON: Well if the evidence points to a hate crime, then it is a hate crime. We just heard what you said, Elisabeth, in terms of what he said in this manifesto. Was this a vengeance crime? Is this motivated by bias, by prejudice, by racial hatred? Clearly he's pointing to the horrific murders at the Charleston church, a murder in which the family members forgave the assailant, the murderer, in that particularly case. But clearly that event was top of his mind. And so the question becomes, why does someone engage in this kind of horrific, despicable act?  [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/27/15]

But After A White Supremacist Killed Nine In Shooting At Historically Black Church In Charleston ...

White Shooter Who Killed Nine Black Worshippers At Charleston Church Faces Hate Crime Charges. The white shooter who killed nine people in an attack on a historic black church in Charleston on June 17 now faces federal hate crime charges along with the murder charges, after evidence emerged of his racist motivation for the attacks. From NPR:

Dylann Roof, who police say carried out a ruthless attack that killed nine black worshippers in a Charleston, S.C., church, is now facing federal hate crime charges along with more than a dozen other serious charges he's already accused of.

“Hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch says.

The 33 counts center on both the victims' race and their identity as church-goers who were attempting to follow their religious beliefs when Roof attacked.

The indictment also says Roof created a website, thelastrhodesian, where he posted a racist manuscript and photographs of him “wearing a jacket with flags of two former apartheid African nations, displaying his Glock .45 caliber pistol, and holding a confederate flag.” [NPR, 7/22/15]

Fox News Protested Labeling Of Charleston Shooting As Racially Motivated Hate Crime, Calling It Extraordinary That Anyone Would Do So

Fox Host Steve Doocy: It's Extraordinary That Charleston Church Shooting Is Being Called A Hate Crime. The morning after the Charleston shooting on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said it was extraordinary that the shooting was being called a hate crime, wondering if maybe the shooting was about religion, not race:

DOOCY: It was released earlier -- And extraordinarily they called it a hate crime -- And some look at it as, well, it's because it was a white guy apparently in a black church. But you made a great point just a moment ago about the hostility against Christians, and it was a church, so maybe that's what they're talking about. They haven't explained it to us. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/18/15]

Fox Host Brian Kilmeade: “Is It About Christians? It Is About White-Black? Is It About 'I Hate South Carolina'?” On the June 18 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Brian Kilmeade questioned whether there was truly a racial component to the Charleston shootings, wondering, “Is it about Christians? Is it about white-black? Is it about 'I hate South Carolina'? That's what we're talking about.” [Fox News Radio, Kilmeade & Friends, 6/18/15]

Fox Publicly Defended Its Reluctance To Call Charleston Shooting A Hate Crime. One week after the Charleston shooting, on the June 25 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts defended the network's focus on religion and dismissal of the shooting being a racially motivated hate crime. Doocy claimed, “If we were a racist nation, Barack Obama would not have been elected president of the United States twice. It's a math thing.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/25/15]