Back to IndieWire

Fox’s Baltimore Affiliate Apologizes for Inflammatory, Misleading Edit of Protest Chant

Fox's Baltimore Affiliate Apologizes for Inflammatory, Misleading Edit of Protest Chant

Fox’s Baltimore affiliate, WBFF-TV, issued an on-air apology for misleadingly editing and airing video of a police brutality protest march in Washington, to make it appear that the protesters were chanting “kill a cop.” They were actually saying, “We won’t stop. We can’t stop ‘til killer cops are in cell blocks.”

Obviously, the two suggest something very different, and the potential ramifications of each, could also be radically divergent, especially with the recent shooting deaths of 2 police officers in New York City, and the rather dangerous statements made by public figures with wide-reaching platforms like Rudy Giulliani and others, who, instead of calling for reason and calm, are instead fanning the flames of hatred and division even more. In case you missed it, old Rudy was on Fox news (where else) a couple of days ago, when he essentially blamed the police shootings on President Obama and nationwide protests. Also the head of the New York Police Union blamed Mayor de Blasio for the shootings.

Forget that the shooter is said to have a history of mental illness and the fact that he shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore, before the 2 cops he killed in NYC. 

The Baltimore protests, in reaction to the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, were led by Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West was killed by Baltimore City Police in 2013. She immediately took to social media denouncing WBFF-TV’s incorrect report on the protest she led, which misled viewers. News and social-media reports surfaced Monday, showing the original C-SPAN video versus the edited one. 

Jones then appeared on the 5:30 p.m. Fox45 news broadcast, where anchorman Jeff Barnd apologized to her on behalf of the station.

“Fox45 is apologizing for an error made on Fox45 News at Ten last night,” the statement said. “We aired a clip from a protest in Washington, DC where we reported protesters were chanting ‘kill a cop’. We received a phone call from Tawanda Jones, who is in the video, who informed us that the chant was actually ‘We won’t stop….We can’t stop…. ’til killer cops…. are in cell blocks’. We here at Fox45 work hard every day to earn your trust and bring you fair and comprehensive news from around the country. Although last night’s report reflected an honest misunderstanding of what the protesters were saying, we apologize for the error. We have deleted the story on our webpage and we offered to have Ms. Jones on Fox45 News at 5:00 tonight for a live interview. We had a constructive conversation with her earlier today and she has accepted our invitation and will join us for a live interview at 5:30.”

“Honest misunderstanding” just doesn’t cut it, as I see it! A question I have is how such an outrageous and potentially incendiary change in the meaning of the protest chant was made on air, without anyone at the station, ensuring it was absolutely accurate in the editorial process. Was it just so titillating an idea that they decided to weigh their credibility as a network, against ratings, and/or vilifying a movement that they may oppose?

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox