On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the captain of the Missouri Highway Patrol, blamed the media for “glamorizing” and giving a platform to violent thugs intent on causing violence and agitating crowds in Ferguson, Missouri.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown after another night of rioting and confrontations, Johnson told host Craig Melvin that “we have a lot of media that have not done a great job” and made the situation worse–and tougher for police. He said that on Monday evening, when small crowds started to swell in size, “that criminal element, that got out here with masks on, that wanted to agitate and build up the crowd, would stop in front of the media.”
“The media would swarm around them, give them a platform and glamorize their activity,” Johnson said. “The crowd would stop. And then before we knew it, the crowd is 100, now it’s 200, now it’s 300. And now those criminals began to start throwing things out of the crowd that was staying within the media.”
At least 30 people were reportedly arrested on Monday evening, and Johnson blamed criminals from outside of Ferguson for agitating along with residents of Ferguson and St. Louis. Criminals from California and New York were among those who were reportedly arrested on Monday evening.
Johnson said he was grateful to the media for what they have done and the journalists who have “been our partners in reporting,” but he emphasized that those walking around with handkerchiefs around their faces and talking about nothing but violence are not protesters. He said the media should be careful about giving them publicity and putting them on air.