The release of video depicting the killing of 50-year-old Walter Scott by North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager has shocked the nation, and given terrifying clarity to the role that video evidence plays in preventing the most egregious of injustices. The video contradicted Slager’s account of the shooting, and caused investigators to arrest and charge him with murder.
At Wednesday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked to comment on the case, and in very careful remarks, he explained that while the investigation is ongoing, the incident demonstrates the utility of police body cameras in building trust between law enforcement and citizens.
But one White House reporter decided that the real tragedy here is that we don’t all know that “investigations” and “charges” are part of due process, and Earnest had not reminded us. Another black man is dead, so who will speak for the white cop who shot him? Fox News’ James Rosen, of course, looking for all the world like he was auditioning to get a prime slot on Slager’s defense team:
“You understand that nowhere in your remarks earlier on this subject in the briefing did you take pains to say that the individual who is captured on the videotape, and who now faces murder charges, is entitled to due process, or is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the existence of the videotape notwithstanding, you did not include that in your remarks.”
Yeah, that’s because that’s what “facing murder charges” means. Earnest also didn’t run through Slager’s Miranda rights, or any number of other self-evident things, and no one has said otherwise. His non-question was completely gratuitous.
What Rosen is doing here is the yellowest kind of pandering, attempting to concoct, for his audience of panicky old white people, a narrative that the BlackBlack Obama administration is being unfair to the white cop who shot that fleeing tail-light felon, who will probably be cleared once a jury of 12 white Fox News viewers get to “watch the whole tape.”
Or maybe I’ve got Rosen all wrong, maybe he was trying to get Earnest to point out that Officer Slager is entitled not to be summarily shot in the back eight times.
Here’s the extended version of Earnest’s remarks: