On June 1 the Media Research Center (MRC) released a study showing that the “false narrative” of “hands up, don’t shoot” was repeated “140 times” during Ferguson coverage.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” became the mantra of many in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.
According to MRC, although “the phrase had no credibility” it took on a life of its own and came “to define a movement protesting alleged mistreatment of African-Americans at the hands of police.” It has since been chanted by athletes, musicians, celebrities, and politicians.
Between the three major networks–ABC, NBC, and CBS–the phrase was repeated “140 times” between August 9, 2014–the day Brown was shot–and March 4, 2015–the day the Department of Justice (DOJ) released their findings in the investigation into Brown’s death.
In short, the DOJ found that “hands up, don’t shoot” was a factually vapid claim. Yet of the three major networks, only CBS admitted this.
On the night of March 4, CBS Evening News’ Mark Strassmann said:
Despite six months of protests from people who claim Michael Brown was killed by former officer Darren Wilson for no apparent reason, federal investigators said the evidence supported Wilson’s version of events.
He added: “[Moreover, investigators] found no evidence to disprove Wilson’s contention he acted in self-defense and no credible evidence Brown had his hands up attempting to surrender.”
Nevertheless, on May 24–months after the release of the DOJ findings–ABC World News Tonight covered the Cleveland protests by pointing out that protesters were chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The network made no attempt to explain that Eric Holder’s Department of Justice found no evidence that Brown put his hands up or that Wilson acted wrongly.
Days after the release of the DOJ’s findings, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly put things into perspective. Speaking during her regular program, The Kelly File, she said:
For months, a segment of our political leaders and pundits attacked cops across this country, based on the myth… We saw members of Congress, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, hands in the air, saying “Hands up, don’t shoot!” And if one of them has so far apologized for misleading America, we haven’t heard it.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.