Following the arrest of two journalists covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, some conservative media figures are attacking the reporters for being insufficiently deferential to police, doing “the opposite of journalism,” and trying to make the story about themselves.
Protests in Ferguson are ongoing following an August 9 incident that resulted in a police officer shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown. On August 13, Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were both detained by police in a Ferguson McDonald’s.
According to accounts from both Reilly and Lowery, they were detained for not packing their things and leaving the restaurant quickly enough. From Lowery’s account of his arrest in the Post:
Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.
Then they walked away. Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video.
An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, “Stop recording.”
I said, “Officer, do I not have the right to record you?”
He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the other hand.
As I exited, I saw Ryan to my left, having a similar argument with two officers. I recorded him, too, and that angered the officer. As I made my way toward the door, the officers gave me conflicting information.
One instructed me to exit to my left. As I turned left, another officer emerged, blocking my path.
"Go another way," he said.
As I turned, my backpack, which was slung over one shoulder, began to slip. I said, “Officers, let me just gather my bag.” As I did, one of them said, “Okay, let’s take him.”
Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.
"My hands are behind my back," I said. "I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting." At which point one officer said: "You’re resisting. Stop resisting."
While some conservative media figures have been critical of the arrests, others are responding to the incident by lashing out at the reporters and media coverage of the incident.
Scarborough Suggests Lowery Just Wanted “To Get On TV”
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough responded to a recap of the arrests by saying, “I’m the one that always gets in trouble, I’ll get in trouble here.” Pointing to his son, a reporter for the Daily News, Scarborough said, “If I saw that video and my son was the one that the police arrested after that episode, I’d say Joey, here’s a clue. When the cops tell you, for like the thirtieth time, ‘let’s go,’ you know what that means, son? It means let’s go. I’m sorry.”
He continued, suggesting Lowery wanted “to get on TV and have people talk about [him] the next day.”
SCARBOROUGH: We’ve got a lot of questions out there. We’ve got people angry in the streets because they won’t release this cop’s name. We don’t even know what happened. We’ve got two sides telling something completely conflicting. So, there’s a lot of unanswered questions here. But I do know this, when a police officer asks you to pick up — I can only, I’ve been in places where police officers said, “alright, you know what, this is cordoned off, you guys need to move along.” And you know what I do? I go “yes sir” or “yes mam.” I don’t sit there and have a debate and film the police officer. Unless I want to get on TV and have people talk about me the next day. I am sure that I’m just the worst person in the world for saying this. I can only judge how I would treat my son, who is a reporter, who if he were in this position I’d go, “oh, you’re in jail? Ok. Well, you know what? Next time a police officer tells you that you’ve got to move along because you’ve got riots outside, well, you probably should move along.” But maybe I’m in the minority.
Later in the segment, Scarborough asked, “By the way, what was [Lowery] packing up? You know what, if he was packing up our entire control room, that’s fine. He had a freaking laptop. You — come on. ’Oh wait I’m packing up officer — let me ask you a question?’ I’m sorry.”
Scarborough clarified that he is “not standing up for everything that’s going on out there,” adding, “I find it really hard to believe that [police] couldn’t have shown a little more subtlety through this entire process.”
During an appearance on CNN, Lowery responded by telling Scarborough to “come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he’s sitting, sipping his Starbucks, smugly.” He added later, “There’s so much happening here, and instead of putting more reporters on the ground we have people like Joe Scarborough running their mouth and have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Dana Loesch: “The OPPOSITE Of Journalism”
Conservative radio host and Blaze contributor Dana Loesch, who has called the Ferguson police’s use of rubber bullets, smoke, and tear gas “insane,” criticized Lowery and Reilly for their actions. Posting video Lowery took preceding his arrest, Loesch concluded, “So he didn’t listen when told to leave.” She added in a subsequent tweet, “And because these two guys didn’t they did the OPPOSITE of journalism and hijacked the light onto themselves.”
Lowery responded to Loesch on Twitter: “In which someone not here in Ferguson yet wildly speculating to 222k people subtweet lectures me on ‘journalism.’”
John Nolte: “Suck On The Fascism You Birthed”
Breitbart.com’s John Nolte ranted on Twitter following news of the arrests, repeatedly criticizing the media for making the story about themselves and suggesting reporters were being hypocrites for being outraged about the arrests after having ”ignored & enabled govt corruption since Jan of 2008.” According to Nolte, “I’m as worried about the media’s rights as they are mine. Cry me a river, gun-grabbing IRS apologists. Suck on the fascism you birthed.”