Fox News host Bill O’Reilly gives vigorous coverage to stories in which white people suffer crimes at the hands of black people. In May 2012, he turned a group assault by black youths on two white newspaper staffers in Norfolk into a federal case. Last September, following the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, O’Reilly said: “Is there a rise of hate crimes in the U.S.A. in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict? All over the country, police are arresting black men and some girls for assaulting white people.” Four examples followed.
This particular “O’Reilly Factor” series continued last night, with a discussion of the horrible Detroit incident of April 3, when 54-year-old Steve Utash hit a 10-year-old boy with his pickup truck, got out to help and ended up being beaten. Utash is now in a medically induced coma. The boy, David Harris, sustained a leg injury.
The Associated Press put the racial dimension of the case this way: “Utash is white; Detroit is more than 80 percent black.” Another report couched it this way: “Utash is white and all the attackers were believed to be black.”
On his show last night, O’Reilly tried to tease out the racial dimension of the goings-on:
Joining us from Detroit Frank Beckmann, a radio talk show host on WJR and Randy Wimbley a reporter for WJBK, the Fox affiliate. So is this a racial deal, Mr. Wimbley?
Mr. Wimbley wouldn’t go there, saying, “We don’t know.” So O’Reilly tried his other guest: “Mr. Beckmann, how do you see it? Is there a race component here?” Perhaps, said Beckmann, who said that people at the scene had yelled something to the effect of “Get the white guy,” though that could have been just a means of identifying Utash.
O’Reilly also wanted to know the racial makeup of the East Detroit neighborhood in which this all happened. Here are the questions he asked in that regard:
Race Neighborhood Question 1: “Now what kind of neighborhood is, this Mr. Wimbley? I understand that this gas station where the children were playing is a gathering point? But it is primarily black neighborhood, correct?”
Race Neighborhood Question 2: “All right, but I understand that — that it’s so rough that white citizens are said not to want to go there. Is that true?”
Race Neighborhood Question 3: “How about you, Mr. Beckmann, have you heard that [white citizens fear going into the neighborhood]?
Beckmann responded in the affirmative, though his response made clear that the neighborhood was a rough one, and perhaps it’s not just “white citizens” who try to avoid it: “We have had callers on my talk show who have said that very thing. That they — you know we’ve had delivery men who said they had to go down there. People who had business, private investigator who was working on insurance claim, and they are very fearful when they go down there.”
Notwithstanding the host’s nudges, the conversation was a good and informative one that covered the key issues in this case. This one has the look of an O’Reilly staple for the weeks ahead, as Detroit Police Chief James Craig has stated that their investigation will consider the possibility that what happened to Utash was a hate crime.
If so, prepare for the O’Reilly diagnosis, which he trotted out in that post-Trayvon segment: “My theory is that young black men in particular — and I think it stems over to girls as well — are becoming increasingly violent because of the dissolution of the traditional black home.”