Raw Story Geraldo Walter ScottIn the coming months it goes without saying that media will exhaustively cover the shooting of Walter Scott by South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. What won’t be addressed is how ghoulish partisan hacks poison the well of intellectual discourse to further their own career or political agenda.

Consider the headline by Raw Story’s Tom Boggioni: ‘Geraldo Rivera justifies Walter Scott shooting: Officer’s ‘blood was boiling’ after struggle’.

Is Mr. Boggioni being intellectually honest, or is he one of many political hacks who make having an adult conversation on race-relations near impossible?

Here is what Geraldo actually said, via Mediaite:

Well, I’m extremely glad that they released the dash-cam video because it gives context to the event, however horrific and tragic and outrageous the shooting in the back is. It shows that it started as a righteous traffic stop. There was a light out, the driver was acting very hinky, very edgy. He got out of the car, was told to get back in the car. […] He bolts. The officer runs after him. The taser comes out. There is a struggle. There is reliable eyewitness account that there is then a struggle after the Taser.

So, up until that point, the cop with his adrenaline pumping, now he’s been in a physical tussle, and now the perpetrator has reached for the Taser allegedly. Now it gives you the context of his blood boiling. [Officer Slager] has done everything professional and now he’s had this, this civilian has dared to physically have this altercation with the officer. Put that in the officer’s head now. I think it saves him from the murder rap. This is a horrible, horrible shooting, but there was no premeditation. This is manslaughter. I believe that this is manslaughter. […] This is unforgivable.”

I am not particularly a fond of Geraldo Rivera’s style of commentary. It is a strange day indeed when I feel as though I must defend the man. However, what men like Mr. Boggioni do is culturally destructive. They are masters in the dark art of personal destruction.

The logic goes something like this: Geraldo Rivera works for Fox. Fox is bad. If there is an opportunity to twist something a commentator on Fox says, then my responsibility is to take it — no matter how grotesque the distortion might be.

Reasonable people know that Mr. Rivera was talking about the very important legal distinctions between murder and manslaughter. Those things matter, as Florida prosecutors painfully found out during George Zimmerman’s legal proceedings.

Only a very angry, very unfair person would twist “This is a horrible, horrible shooting, but there was no premeditation. This is manslaughter. I believe that this is manslaughter. […] This is unforgivable,” into “Geraldo Rivera justifies Walter Scott shooting.”

If you want to know why America can’t have nice things in 2015, then just look at Raw Story’s headline on Geraldo. It’s a glaring example of how media outlets often abdicate their responsibility to strive for truth and clarity in favor of smearing an ideological opponent.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

5 comments

  1. Great post. This issue annoys me to no end because I rather dislike cops and abuse of authority and certainly do not like innocent people getting shot. There are some real issues here we need to be discussing. Just the same, the race baiting and media hyperbole is so intense, somebody has to speak up. It’s just not right to try and portray cops as some kind of rabid hit men on a mission to kill people. Their blood does boil, they do get caught in the heat of the moment. We arm them, we pay them, we send them out to a do a job, and then turn on them when it doesn’t go like a well scripted Hollywood movie. Sometimes I wonder if anybody is even living in the real world anymore.

    1. I was talking about this with a friend today, and I told her that the prevalence of cell phone cameras, dash cams, etc. is just highlighting what was always the case — humanity is flawed. All of us. These days we just see more of it because of technology, and we don’t like it.

      The vast majority of cops are good men and women. However, they’re just like anyone else — if they’re put in the wrong situation, they’re capable of making terrible decisions.

      It’s never a good idea to run from a cop. It’s never a good idea to try to get into a physical altercation with a cop. Cops who are not disciplined enough to handle the most stressful situations like a professional must be held accountable, but we as a society shouldn’t throw all of them under the bus any time a screw-up or a bad cop attracts national attention.

  2. Rivera condoned a bad shooting, Memories Pizza denied service to gay customers, Michael Brown was shot in the back for shoplifting, Trayvon Martin was a twelve year-old child who was stalked and murdered by a racist vigilante, Stand Your Ground laws are a hunting license and a blank check allowing gun freaks to shoot anyone who breaks wind in the wrong direction, Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran will guarantee Peace For Our Time, Netanyahu is a warmonger, 9-11 was an inside job, a 5% unemployment rate is a recession and a 7% unemployment rate is a recovery, Dan Slott is better than Shakespeare, and anyone who disagrees with Obama about anything is a racist.

    Sigh.

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