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The anatomy of a spin job: How Fox News tried to smear George Floyd protesters after a peaceful night
Despite the fact that Derek Chauvin's murder of George Floyd was captured on film and widely denounced even by fellow police officers, right-wing commentators had a bizarre collection of reactions to the jury's finding on Tuesday that the former cop was guilty of the three charges against him. One common theme was to suggest that despite the guilty verdict in the trial, Black Lives Matter protesters who were outraged by the murder would still not be satisfied and would riot in response.
As it happened, the response to the verdict from protesters featured a mix of emotions, some celebrating, some still grieving. As the Associated Press reported:
With that outcome, Black Americans from Missouri to Florida to Minnesota cheered, marched, hugged, waved signs and sang jubilantly in the streets. The joy and relief stood in stark contrast to the anger and sometimes violent protests that engulfed the country following Floyd's death.
But Tuesday's celebrations were tempered with the heavy knowledge that Chauvin's conviction was just a first step on the long road to address racial injustices by police.
But the danger and unreasonableness of Black Lives Matter and progressive activists is a central part of right-wing messaging, especially on Fox News. So they weren't going to let the facts get in the way of the narrative. That's how on Wednesday, we got a Fox News story by reporter Danielle Wallace with the headline "Portland protests post-Derek Chauvin guilty verdict result in 2 arrests, bike officer punched in head," and an opening two paragraphs that explained:
Portland was rocked by violent demonstrations Tuesday – even after a Minnesota jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
At least two people were arrested and video first published by The Oregonian and retweeted by police showed a demonstrator dressed in all black punching a bicycle officer in the head before more officers piled on top of the suspect. Police also released photos showing shattered windows at local coffee shops and graffiti of the anarchy symbol and ACAB, an acronym meaning "All Cops Are B*******."
The opening sentence sticks with the story they wanted to tell all along — the one previewed by Lahren on Tuesday. Except even the details in the headline don't seem to support the idea that the city "was rocked by violent demonstrations" — how rocked could the city be if there were only two arrests?
It's true the linked video appeared to show a civilian assaulting a police officer after another officer brushed by the civilian from behind on a bike. Assault can be a serious crime, but it is not typically national news, and it is not clear how this incident "rocked" the city of Portland. There's also no sign the assault itself was a part of "violent demonstration"; rather, it may have just been the result of a tense interaction with police. And it's hard to tell from the angle of the video whether the police officers' response to the civilian's punch was proportionate and appropriate — a question Fox News doesn't even seem to consider.
The other event Fox News discussed was small-scale anti-cop vandalism. The extend of vandalism appeared to be two business windows, one shattered and one intact. Fox News included three photos from three different angles of the same windows in its article. (There's also a reference to a dumpster being set on fire and then extinguished, though there's no claim this was caused by a protester). Minor vandalism is a crime, but it occurs all the time without much wider implications.
What's particularly notable about the article, though, is a note at the bottom which explained that Associated Press content is used in the Fox News piece. This is a common industry practice — outlets pay to license AP stories for their own use, which sometimes they reprint verbatim, and sometimes they use AP content interspersed with original writing and reporting. The AP story Fox News drew from included the paragraph I quoted above, noting that the reaction to the verdict "stood in stark contrast to the anger and sometimes violent protests that engulfed the country following Floyd's death." Fox News chose not to include this paragraph in its story, and why should it? That's not the story it wanted to tell.
Consider also this paragraph from Fox News:
Demonstrators have also set fires, broken windows and vandalized buildings, including a church, a Boys & Girls Club and a historical society in recent days over the deaths of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and Adam Toledo in Chicago, as well as a fatal police shooting in Portland last week.
This is taken almost verbatim from the AP, except that instead of "Demonstrators," the AP said "Small groups of protesters." Fox News clearly wanted to play up the nature of the menace and avoid any language that differentiated violent protesters from other activists. (In fact, the Fox News story didn't use the word "protesters" at all.)
Elsewhere on its website, Fox News a story about a sign in Minneapolis at George Floyd Square that has a sign offering advice "For White people in particular," urging them not to make the protesters about themselves. In a caption on the story, Fox News asked of the story: "IS THIS 'HEALING'?"
So here's what basically happened: After a broadly peaceful and mournful reaction to the Chauvin verdict across the country, Fox sought to feed into its pre-arranged narrative by blowing up a couple local police stories in Portland into a larger crisis. The story ignored reporting about the peacefulness of the national reaction and chose to try to stoke conflict and find ways to fan the flames. However, at the very end of the article, the author included a quote that actually seemed to give away the game about the events that supposedly "rocked" the city of Portland:
"One thing to note, the area affected by the criminal activity was contained within few blocks of downtown Portland," the bureau added. "This is not to minimize the impact to those who were victimized by the property damage, as we take any damage seriously. But the overall geographical area that was impacted was relatively small."
‘He was a moron!’ Morning Joe panelists mock GOP’s John Kennedy for letting Stacey Abrams ‘mow him down’
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski ridiculed Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) for becoming the latest man to underestimate Stacey Abrams.
The Louisiana Republican challenged Abrams to identify provisions in Georgia's new restrictive voting law that she believes are racist, and he then unsuccessfully scrambled to derail the voting rights activist after she calmly recited a litany of measures that will make it harder for Black voters to cast their ballots.
"Why do people keep underestimating her?" Brzezinski marveled.
Scarborough joked that TV's Matlock would be disappointed with Kennedy, an Oxford-educated attorney.
"You don't ask the question if you don't know the answer," Scarborough said. "Especially if you're trying to set somebody up like -- and i'll tell you something else, and maybe it was just the seersucker suits that made him so darned polite with his witnesses, but Sen. Kennedy, former John Kerry supporter, he kept trying to throw her off, he kept trying to interrupt her. He would say, explain it -- he would cut her off -- it just, seriously, this guy, I guess they don't teach Matlock at Oxford, because he sure made a mess of things for himself, didn't he?"
Co-host Willie Geist said Kennedy and other GOP senators got way more than they bargained for in the hearing, and contributor Eugene Robinson said the Louisiana senator was clearly outmatched.
"You better come with more than what our faux Matlock had yesterday -- that was a riot," Robinson said. "I was thinking the same thing -- that's obviously something they don't teach at the Oxford debating union about dealing with intelligent people, who are just going to -- I mean, she mowed him down, basically. It was highly entertaining to watch."
Brzezinski praised Abrams' poise in the face of a man repeatedly interrupting and condescending her, and she said Kennedy looked foolish.
"It was a really great example for anybody who sort of is figuring out, how do women develop their voices in this sea of how men do what they do," Brzezinski said. "She was elegant, she was measured, she kept coming back, and she mowed him down without lifting a finger."
"Why in the world does anybody keep underestimating this woman? she added. "If you think about it, if you think in the way she turned out the vote in Georgia, the way she turned out the vote saved our country, if you had any concern about [Donald] Trump. I mean, this woman is not to be messed with any way, shape or form, and he was acting as if he was dealing with some neophyte. He was condescending, he was arrogant, he was a moron."
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Big Pharma's 'appalling' $26 billion in shareholder payouts could fund vaccines for all of Africa: report
Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca—three of the world's top coronavirus vaccine manufacturers—have paid out a combined $26 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to their shareholders over the past year, a sum that could fully fund the cost of inoculating Africa's entire 1.3 billion-person population.
That's according to an analysis released Thursday morning by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of advocacy organizations campaigning to end massive inequities in the distribution of life-saving coronavirus vaccines.
"It's morally bankrupt for rich country leaders to allow a small group of corporations to keep the vaccine technology and know-how under lock and key while selling their limited doses to the highest bidder."
—Heidi Chow, Global Justice Now
Unveiled just ahead of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson's annual shareholder meetings on Thursday, the new report notes that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are projecting revenues of $33.5 billion this year from their mRNA vaccines, which have largely been sold to rich nations.
"One of the reasons Pharma companies have been able to generate such large profits is because of intellectual property rules that restrict production to a handful of companies," the report notes, alluding to an international agreement that bars generic manufacturers from replicating vaccine formulas.
Wealthy countries, including the U.S. and European Union members, are standing in the way of an effort to temporarily waive the rules at the World Trade Organization.
"These vaccines were funded by public money and are desperately needed worldwide if we are to end this pandemic," Heidi Chow, senior campaigns and policy manager at Global Justice Now, said in a statement. "It's morally bankrupt for rich country leaders to allow a small group of corporations to keep the vaccine technology and know-how under lock and key while selling their limited doses to the highest bidder."
The new analysis estimates that Pfizer and BioNTech received a total of $2.5 billion in public funding for their vaccine, and that Pfizer has paid out $8.44 billion in dividends over the past 12 months. Johnson & Johnson, which received $1.5 billion in public money, paid out $10.5 billion in dividends.
Maaza Seyoum, who is leading the People's Vaccine Alliance's Africa campaign, called on President Joe Biden to "put the health of all of humanity and shared economic prosperity ahead of the private profits of a few corporations" by ending U.S. opposition to the proposed intellectual property waiver.
"Big business as usual will not end this pandemic," said Seyoum. "This is clearer now more than ever."
As wealthy nations swallow up much of the existing supply, developing countries are left largely without access to vaccines as coronavirus infections continue to surge globally, fueling warnings that vaccine-resistant strains could spread widely and prolong the deadly pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 2% of the hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses that have been administered globally have gone to people in Africa, the world's second-most populous continent. More broadly, the WHO said earlier this month that just one in 500 people in low-income countries have been vaccinated, compared to nearly one in four people in rich nations.
"We should not be letting corporations decide who lives and who dies while boosting their profits. We need a people's vaccine, not a profit vaccine."
—Anna Marriott, Oxfam International
"Vaccine apartheid is not a natural phenomenon but the result of governments stepping back and allowing corporations to call the shots," said Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam International. "It is appalling that Big Pharma is making huge payouts to wealthy shareholders in the face of this global health emergency."
In its new report, the People's Vaccine Alliance notes that "while the global economy remains frozen due to the slow and uneven vaccine rollout worldwide, the soaring shares of vaccine makers has created a new wave of billionaires."
"This is a public health emergency, not a private profit opportunity," Marriott said. "We should not be letting corporations decide who lives and who dies while boosting their profits. We need a people's vaccine, not a profit vaccine."
"Instead of creating new vaccine billionaires," Marriott added, "we need to be vaccinating billions in developing countries."
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