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Editor For St. Louis Newspaper Blasts Fox News For Terrible Coverage Of Ferguson Protests


In a conversation with Media Matters for America this week, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor-In-Chief Gilbert Bailon blasted Fox News and other media outlets for their coverage of the Ferguson protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. The editor stated that Fox and some other papers focused too much on the few instances of looting while also trying to portray the entire St. Louis-area as being engulfed in chaos during the most intense period of protesting. Bailon also took some news outlets to task for running with stories that were poorly sourced or complete fabrications.

Joe Strupp of Media Matters published a story on Tuesday centered on an interview Bailon gave to Media Matters while attending the American Society of News Editors conference this week in Chicago. Bailon praised CNN and MSNBC for their coverage of the events in Ferguson, specifically due to their focus to tell the whole story and delve deep into the root causes of the anger and frustration going on in the community. Meanwhile, he said Fox News seemed only to care about the chaos and looting and nothing else. They weren’t concerned about context or actually presenting the news. He also pointed out that once the protests grew calmer, and the police presence drew down, Fox was the first one out of there, whereas CNN and MSNBC kept reporters around much longer to do more investigating or report on events that weren’t as ‘juicy.’

Bailon said the following to MMFA regarding Fox:

“I do think sometimes … 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, 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.”


This is readily apparent to anyone who watched the national news networks since Michael Brown’s death on August 9th. Fox was only interested in the story for the sole purpose of race-baiting. They wanted to present young black males out of control. They wanted to focus on violence and rage and weren’t interested whatsoever in presenting a the entire picture. Fox was only interested in showing a largely black community in the grips of chaos and making it appear to all the world that an entire large metro area was on the brink of destruction at the hands of violent black thugs.

On the other hand, while neither CNN’s or MSNBC’s coverage was perfect by any means, and both focused heavily at times on the sensationalism and drama surrounding the encounters between police and protesters, both networks actually did investigative journalism and kept reporters on the scene after the tear gas and flash grenades were put away. CNN’s Don Lemon and Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Trymaine Lee all presented compelling stories and breaking news regarding the happenings in Ferguson. They also made sure to do their best present only the facts, even during periods of tumultuous activity.

Regarding getting facts right, Bailon also ripped both the Washington Post and New York Post for running with unverified stories all for the sake of gaining attention or trying to be the first to break a major story. He was referring to the Washington Post claiming that a police source had confirmed that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system and the New York Post running a story that Officer Darren Wilson had suffered an orbital fracture in his encounter with Brown.

“There’s been a couple of stories that I think the sourcing wasn’t quite as good on,. 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. 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.”

The orbital fracture story was particularly heinous. Obviously, both the New York Post and Fox News picked this story up from the right-wing blogosphere and then ran with it as being true. Eventually, Lemon had to pop their balloon by reporting that Wilson did not, in fact, suffer a fracture to the face of any kind. He was checked out at the hospital after the shooting, but x-rays did not show any fracture. Prior to Lemon’s report, right-wing media and blogs were screeching that Wilson suffered a ‘blowout orbital fracture’ at the hands of Brown.

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