By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
People are laughing at, and not with, comedian Jon Stewart, now that he has been caught by a District Attorney smearing police officers. But it’s really not very funny. The highly paid entertainer, who likes to mix comedy with his own liberal political views, as well as with profanity, recently launched a vicious rant against what he implied were racist police wantonly murdering black people on the streets of America. But Stewart was so eager to smear the police that his staff failed to do adequate research into the alleged cases of so-called police brutality he was citing on the air.
In alleging a series of cases of black victims of police brutality or outright murder, Stewart claimed that a black man named Dante Parker had been shot and killed by police in San Bernardino County. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos immediately recorded a video setting the record straight. He said he had been flipping through the TV channels when he saw Stewart making his false accusations. “He was so wrong about those facts,” Ramos said of Stewart’s treatment of the Parker case. “They did not shoot him. They tasered him after he committed a burglary and he was attempting to assault a deputy sheriff, a sheriff who was losing that struggle and fighting for her life. We later found he was under the influence of many types of drugs, which was the cause of his death.”
The autopsy showed Parker was under the influence of PCP, and that he had heart disease and was obese.
Stewart has admitted he was “sloppy” with his charges and promised an apology, but he did not explain how he or his staff could have gotten the facts so radically wrong. Anti-cop bias helps explain the failure to simply Google the basic facts of the case.
Greta van Susteren of Fox News highlighted Stewart’s outrageous smear of the police, while saying, “When are people going to start speaking up for the men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives every day?!” She delivered a touching tribute to law enforcement, labeled “A reminder to charlatans who demonize all police.” She also interviewed DA Ramos.
Yet, appearing on the Fox News program “The Five,” she had earlier offered the canard in the Eric Garner case that he had been subjected to the “death penalty” by the police for selling cigarettes. It was the same dubious claim offered by Megyn Kelly on her Fox program.
She said, “This man was unarmed, he was selling cigarettes—I mean this wasn’t robbery, he was selling cigarettes—you have several cops…standing around him and when he said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ that would have been a great invitation to stop…We don’t do the death penalty for selling cigarettes illegally on the streets.”
The death penalty is a punishment for criminals who deliberately murder people. She was implying that the cops killed Garner with premeditation, an outrageous and false charge for which she and Kelly ought to apologize.
This smear was almost as objectionable as Stewart’s slam.
Eric Wemple of The Washington Post wrote a story, “Cable news outlets come out of the gate united on Eric Garner case,” noting that Van Susteren and other Fox News personalities had joined forces with liberal commentators to criticize the police in the Garner case. Her comments were featured on a liberal YouTube channel.
On another occasion, perhaps after giving the case some additional review, Van Susteren appeared to reverse her position somewhat, noting that Garner was an asthmatic who was obese and had heart disease, and that these health problems may have played a significant role in his death.
As part of her irresponsible claim that the cops used the “death penalty” on Garner, Van Susteren repeated another major canard in the case—that Garner was subjected to a chokehold.
But Bo Dietl, a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) detective, had argued in an August 14, 2014, New York Post column that Garner was subjected to a headlock, not a chokehold. “To be a chokehold, there must be constant pressure on the person’s neck, compressing his windpipe or cutting off the flow of blood to the carotid artery, rendering him unconscious,” he noted. Garner was not unconscious, as shown by his complaints to the police about not being able to breathe.
Several observers have noted that criminals typically accuse the police of brutality when they are taken down against their will. Garner could have avoided all of this by simply letting the police take him into custody. He had been arrested 31 times and knew the routine.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch held a news conference on the controversy and said that Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo was simply attempting to take Garner into custody using a technique he learned in the police academy.
He said, “While we are pleased with the grand jury’s decision, there are no winners here today. There was a loss of life that both a family and a police officer will always have to live with. It is clear that the officer’s intention was to do nothing more than take Mr. Garner into custody as instructed and that he used the take-down technique that he learned in the academy when Mr. Garner refused. No police officer starts a shift intending to take another human being’s life and we are all saddened by this tragedy.”
Pantaleo said, “I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”
The grand jury in the case declined to indict the officer because his actions were consistent with police procedures and the law.