The hosts of Fox & Friends on Tuesday suggested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had taken sides by asking about the impact of “white privilege” during a town hall discussion with the resident of Ferguson, Missouri.
According to a National Review report published on Monday, the DOJ’s Community Relations Service held gatherings with residents after Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teen Michael Brown. National Review spoke to a single attendee who said that officials reportedly tried to help residents process their anger with questions like “How does white privilege impact race relations in our community?”
Other questions included “What stereotypes exist in our community?” and “Is there a need for personal commitment to race relations?”
Based on the single source, it was not clear if the questions were off-the-cuff remarks made by a staffer or a part of a structured program. The magazine did not offer a secondary source or produce any written documentation to detail what went on in the meetings.
For the hosts of Fox & Friends, the mention of “white privilege” was so outrageous that they devoted a segment to it on Tuesday.
“The Justice Department vowing to fix racism in America, but did you know they lectured Ferguson residents about white privilege?” Fox News host Steve Doocy alerted viewers. “How does that help?”
Co-host Brian Kilmeade spoke to former DOJ staffer Robert Driscoll, who he acknowledged did not “know about this specifically.”
“It would be contrary to CRS’ mission, which is to be neutral, a facilitator, not take sides,” Driscoll said. “And their mission statement specifically says they’re not supposed to render judgement or make a determination as to who’s at fault in a given situation. And so, it looks like they increased tension rather than reduced it.”
“Is the term white privilege considered fact within the walls of the Department of Justice?” Kilmeade pressed.
“I don’t think so,” Driscoll opined. “I think that usually comes up in academic and other contexts. And so, I can’t think of it being necessarily relevant to a discussion with the community, trying to reduce tensions in the wake of Ferguson.”
“So you don’t see anything positive going into a, I assume, mostly African-American town hall and talking about white privilege in a way to understand what’s going on with Michael Brown?” Kilmeade asked.
Driscoll argued that the DOJ should have been using the community meeting to prepare the black community for the possibility that Officer Wilson would not face charges for Brown’s death.
“You can’t take sides, and you have to explain to the public DOJ’s neutral, and that whatever justice requires, they’ll do,” he said. “But talking about white privilege doesn’t seem to be consistent with that.”
“You would hope that DOJ would have people on the ground trying to explain to people that, you know, there’s a legal process, and in certain instances, you know, Darren Wilson may or may not be guilty of a crime — and should have prepared the community for that possible outcome.”
As journalist Zerlina Maxwell pointed out earlier this year, white privilege is a fact of life in the United States.
“White privilege is a concept that far too many people misunderstand,” she explain in an April column for Mic. “These are the same people who argue that white privilege is made-up, that people of color and others who work to point out entrenched social injustice are just complainers.”
Watch the video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast Dec. 9, 2014.