On Tuesday, video emerged of Indiana police smashing a car window and tasing an unarmed black passenger, and Wednesday morning, cable news did an excellent job telling viewers what white people thought about it. Are you ready for a shock? You apparently have to “look at the whole story” to realize it was the black guy’s fault, while also not looking at the video evidence. Let’s see how they did.
Morning Joe kicked things off by getting a bunch of the facts wrong (I’ll get to those later), but what really sets them apart is their cluelessly white view of interactions with police:
Mike Barnicle: Thirteen minutes? I’m sorry, I got to go with the officers on the scene… Thirteen Minutes? C’mon, get out of the car…
Joe Scarborough: When cops tell me to get out of the car, just get out of the car. It’s not like they always ask you politely to get out of the car.
Mika Brzezinski: If you feel like you’re in danger, and you’re in the car with the kids, I just know I would get out to get the danger away from the kids, even if it cost me.
Aside from the many other facts they get wrong (most glaringly, Scarborough’s assertion that “we can’t see” what passenger Jamal Jones is doing with his hands, which are visible in every frame of the video leading up to the window smashing), the Morning Joe crew fails to consider that Jones reached into the back seat because he was complying with the officers’ requests (like this guy did), and that the cops drew their guns on him. I doubt Scarborough has ever had a hot glue gun pulled on him, so what he does at a traffic stop is about as useful as a football bat. It’s also nice to know that Brzezinski’s reaction to danger is to abandon her children. These are the contortions white people will go through to defend the police who protect them from The Blacks.
Fox News’ treatment of the story, while awful, was actually much better than MSNBC’s. On Fox & Friends, they delivered more (but still not all) of the facts, then ask viewers if they think the cops were just doing their jobs:
Steve Doocy: The adults in the car refused to follow what the police officers had said, and apparently when the driver was going back to get their I.D. in the back seat, the cop thought he was going for a gun or something else. And that’s, according to police, why they had to go ahead and bust the window.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Police asking for some compliance, on their side of it. E-mail us, let us know what you think about this? Is it excessive force or excessive resistance to just basic law and requests by police.
Yeah, that’s a Fair and Balanced question.
Again, I’m not expecting any of these people to understand what it feels like to be justifiably terrified of the police (although mostly-silent Kilmeade seems to kind of get it), but at least watch the fucking video. That’s what these people are always saying, “watch the whole video,” which clearly shows that before the window gets smashed, Jamal Jones isn’t reaching for anything, and in fact, in the reflection on the glass, you can see that he’s holding the very thing Doocy says he was reaching for, that the cops asked for. After the glass shatters all over his face, he turns to the back seat, where the two children are. I guess he lacked Mika’s keen non-protective instincts.
So far, all of these reports have also failed to mention that the police request for Jones’ I.D. was illegal under Indiana law, which specifically prohibits cops from investigating passengers during seatbelt stops. It was only after Jones attempted to comply with this illegal request, and was repaid for his compliance with the imminent threat of deadly force, that he refused to get out of the car.
CNN’s New Day at least brought in a black expert to counter the white host’s steadfast resistance to considering race as part of the incident, and his white guest’s insistence that only the use of “racial epithets” warranted such a discussion. Both were very focused on the 13 minutes it took for the incident to play out, as if there’s some reasonable point at which a person should want to step out into a hail of bullets.
In a very long debate segment, attorney Mo Ivory repeatedly schooled Chris Cuomo and Paul Callan about the law that I just mentioned (watch her whole performance if you can, it was excellent), and made a really devastating point about the ways in which traffic stops go wrong for black people and white people:
A white officer just pulled a white woman over the other day because her child wasn’t in a car seat. Did she get arrested? Did her child get threatened to go to child protective custody? No, he went to a store he bought her a car seat. He put the child in the car seat. He let her go. And then he got on the news. And then he got on CNN.
Set aside the fact that the kid not only wasn’t in a car seat, but was “standing around in the vehicle,” and that Michigan has a federally-funded free car seat program, and try to imagine how this stop goes for a black person. Even if she managed to avoid getting shot, tazed, or dragged from her car at gunpoint and cuffed, you know Fox News would’ve sent Jesse Watters out to her house to inventory her trash for luxurious foodstuffs and liquor bottles.
Some people are starting to understand the degree to which black people are viewed as a threat by police, but this story just gives the white-dominated media another thing to not understand: the degree to which black people feel legitimately threatened by police.