Bill O’Reilly admits that police officers have brutalized and shot black Americans, but he thinks the media and “anti-police zealots” are at fault.
The Fox News host said Tuesday night that video showing a Texas police officer violently breaking up a pool party is “casting a giant shadow over American policing,” but he suspects the teens were possibly mirroring behavior they had seen on the news, reported Mediaite.
“Racially charged shootings all over the country have received enormous coverage on television with certain liberal cable news programs hammering American police agencies over and over again,” O’Reilly said.
“Rioting and looting are big stories, and all the carnage is filtering down to young Americans, influencing how some of them interact with police,” he added.
He said the teens, most of whom were black, may have been encouraged to disobey police commands by activists they had seen on television.
“Anti-police zealots are given wide latitude to spew their hatred and irresponsible ravings, (and) that kind of rhetoric sinks in,” O’Reilly said.
Even so, the conservative broadcaster concedes that did not “justify brutal behavior” by McKinney police Cpl. Eric Casebolt.
However, he said media coverage of police brutality – which is frequently recorded with the widespread availability of cell phone video cameras – were putting police officers in danger.
“It’s clear there’s a growing disrespect for police officers in some American neighborhoods, and that attitude is going to lead to violence,” O’Reilly said. “If citizens don’t obey the police, then law and order completely break down.”
O’Reilly concedes that Casebolt, who resigned Tuesday, should not have drawn his firearm – but he’s less troubled by the officer’s actions than the coverage of the incident.
“He simply overreacted, and in doing so made this an international story,” O’Reilly said. “But cops are human, too, and in the heat of conflict bad things are going to happen. Every decent person should understand that.”
Watch O'Reilly's commentary posted online by Fox News: