September 16, 2013

Fox News star Geraldo Rivera in March 2012 blamed Trayvon Martin’s fashion choices for his shooting death at the hands of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. On Fox & Friends, Rivera stated:

I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters, particularly, to not let their young children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.

That foolish set of words earned Rivera a great deal of attention, much of it outrage from people who cited the crazy objection that Rivera appeared to be blaming Martin for wearing a hoodie on a rainy night. Fellow Fox News host Bill O’Reilly approved — not only of Rivera’s analysis but also apparently of the publicity. Friday night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” the host opened this topic in a conversation with Fox News contributor Allen West. O’Reilly went off on just how easily Martin could have avoided his fate. Namely, by dressing like a Fox News contributor! O’Reilly’s words:

O’REILLY: It’s a bit complicated because the reason Trayvon Martin died was because he looked a certain way and it wasn’t based on skin color. If Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket like you are and a tie like you are, Mr. West, this evening, I don’t think George Zimmerman would have any problem. But he was wearing a hoodie and he looked a certain way. And that way is how “gangstas” look. And, therefore, he got attention. And the reason that that culture has risen is because there are a lot of gangs. And they’re violent and they dress a certain way. And when people see that, they associate that kind of bad conduct. So, Martin was innocent of anything. He didn’t do anything wrong, Trayvon Martin, but because he looked a certain way, he lost his life. And it’s all interconnected to this violent crime that, as you stated and I stated, is driven by the dissolution of the family, and no supervision, and nobody really caring about what happens in those precincts.

Bold text added to highlight the moment at which O’Reilly switched into an alternate pronunciation mode. That is, he tried to pronounce “gangsta” the way he believes a “gangsta” might pronounce “gangsta.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.