On Fox, Ferguson is a media sport and a blood sport

Kelly-Hannity-aThey had to do it; they just had to do it. They had to gloat about the findings of the Justice Department’s Report on Shooting of Michael Brown.

What the report actually had to say about a complicated situation did not seem to matter to most conservative pundits. Many chose to ignore the details and instead expressed vindication, because the DOJ did not find sufficient cause to file federal charges against Office Darren Wilson.

Megyn Kelly of Fox News said, “Eric Holder now looked at Al Sharpton and said, ‘Wrong, sir, wrong.’”

Sean Hannity, also of Fox News said: ‘Everybody who rushed to judgment in this case I would say are guilty of creating an atmosphere in Ferguson that led to a disaster.

(video clip: one minute, eleven seconds)

So, Ms. Kelly fantasizes the thought of Attorney-General Holder scolding Rev. Al Sharpton and saying “Wrong, sir, wrong.” What Ms. Kelly seems to be missing is that the Justice Department simultaneously released another report, “Ferguson Police Department Report.” This report excoriates the city of Ferguson and specifically its police department for running primarily a revenue-generating system to fill the coffers of the city of Ferguson rather than a public safety organization. Instead of focusing on “serving and protecting” the citizens of Ferguson, the police stationed themselves throughout the city and essentially functioned as reverse ATM machines, collecting money from the poor citizens who could least afford to pay it.

If . Kelly is asserting that Rev. Al Sharpton’s contention that Michael Brown was a blameless victim of police abuse in Ferguson, she is probably right. The DOJ report on the shooting found that Michael Brown was in many ways the aggressor and he neither raised his hands in surrender nor shouted the words, “Don’t shoot.” So  Kelly scores one on Rev. Sharpton. Well, this neither gives her high ground nor puts her in an exclusive group. Despite being a thoughtful and often persuasive advocate for fairness and justice, Rev. Sharpton has been known to frequently get his facts wrong. Kelly might do better to come down from her perch and give closer examination to the underlying causes that created that bloody day last August.

Hannity is critical of those who rushed to judgment about what happened in Ferguson. Well, he might be right to some extent about what happened on Canfield Drive the day Michael Brown was shot, but he is absolutely wrong about conditions in Ferguson. I live only a few miles from Ferguson, but little did I know of the travesties perpetrated upon the citizens by a rogue police department. I am forever thankful to the protesters who repeatedly took to the streets to inform the nation of what was happening in Ferguson.  Hannity may characterize their work as leading to disaster; more level-headed people would describe the protests and rekindling the energy in a long-dormant civil rights movement.

I’m sure that there were progressives who were equally irrational in their jubilance or despair about the reports. That is not particularly helpful as we try to pick up the pieces and move ahead. This is a difficulty journey. Many thought that with the election of Barack Obama as president, the road to racial harmony had already been concluded. But recent polls on race indicate that during the Obama Administration, optimism about race relations has receded. This is understandable because the president gave those with racist tendencies a target for their vitriol that we had previously not had. Ferguson awakens us to what needs to be done. Frankly, this is a job where the grown-ups have enough difficulty figuring out what to do next. As a post on Occasional Planet urged us to do, ask bartenders, fitness managers, restaurant owners; whoever has a public TV, to find a more creditable source of news than Fox.