Editor of St. Louis Post-Dispatch slams Fox’s looter-obsessed coverage of Ferguson
The editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper said in an interview with Media Matters that while much of the national media did a good job conveying the events in Ferguson, Missouri, Fox News’ coverage was sensationalist and superficial.
Gilbert Bailon told the media watchdog group that Fox chose to focus on the “chaos” of riots and looting in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson and ignored the “deeper story” of systematic discrimination by Ferguson police and public officials.
“I think the national media has done a good job of capturing the story,” Bailon told Media Matters.
But right-leaning Fox, he said, focused on the most violent and chaotic scenes rather than peaceful protests and civic engagement by the people of the town.
“I do think sometimes,” Bailon said, “it looks like the whole community was in flames, and it was really a few block area. Significant, but it wasn’t like St. Louis was on fire or out of control and there was mass chaos everywhere — it wasn’t like an all-consuming entire metropolitan area was hit by that, yet it commanded a huge presence of what was there.”
“I think Fox took a different angle,” he continued. “Their view was more of the view of the chaos, was really focusing on the looting and less of what was going on in the community pre-dating the looting. The looting was very dramatic…but there was the deeper story there. Some stayed on in town longer, I think there was a different viewpoint on them and less on the undercurrent. [Fox] didn’t look at it as deeply and as long as others, CNN did make an investment, MSNBC was there a lot.”
He also chided two of the nation’s largest newspapers for running with thinly-sourced stories that cast Brown, the shooting victim, in a negative light.
The Washington Post, he noted, reported that Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of the shooting, but provided no formal evidence.
The New York Post fell for an Internet hoax by conservative blogger Jim Hoft, who claimed that Officer Wilson suffered a fracture to the orbital bone in his face.
“There’s been a couple of stories that I think the sourcing wasn’t quite as good on,” Bailon said. “I don’t know whether these are wrong but we haven’t been able to verify it. There’s been talk that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. Well that hasn’t been officially reviewed, we don’t know that yet. We haven’t reported that.”
He went on, “The New York Post picked up some information about [police officer Darren Wilson] having an orbital fracture of his face…inflicted by Michael Brown. We have not found that to be true. In fact, it has been debunked by many.”