Media critic

When it comes to choosing images that frame President Obama as a chaos-loving radical, the producers at “Fox & Friends” — the high-ratings-producing morning show at Fox News — can match anyone in the business. Above is a screenshot from this morning’s edition. It comes from a headline wrap-up segment piloted by Fox News host Heather Childers. As the flames and mayhem roar onscreen, Childers narrates, “The violent riots several years ago in Ferguson and Baltimore now drawing praise from President Obama — praise,” she said (italics added to denote incriminating emphasis by Childers).

“The president thinking the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement — thanking them for their efforts,” Childers continued (italics added to denote an apparent effort by Childers to correct herself for saying “thinking” earlier). Then comes a little video of President Obama saying, “‘We’ve also got some young people here who are making history as we speak … led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like DeRay Mckesson, who’s done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues.’ Leaders from that movement were honored guests at the White House in honor of Black History Month,” finished Childers.

The whole riot-praise presentation took just under 40 seconds, just long enough to plant the notion in folks’ heads that the commander in chief has now gone on record in favor of torching cars and buildings. In fact, the president, in the transcript from which the president’s video remarks were taken, struck a rather different tone in his get-together with faith and civil rights leaders on Thursday afternoon:

Well, as we commemorate Black History Month, we’ve got some history makers around the table here today. Some are legends, like Congressman Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian. I would not be here were it not for the battles that they fought a generation ago.

But we’ve also got some young people here who are making history as we speak. People like Brittany [Packnett], who served on our Police Task Force in the wake of Ferguson, and has led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like DeRay Mckesson, who has done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues. And to see generations continuing to work on behalf of justice and equality and economic opportunity is greatly encouraging to me.

Bolding added to flag a distinction between riots and protests.

Have a look at the transcript of the president’s remarks after meeting with these leaders. Find any statements “praising” violent riots?

If the president really had thrown his weight behind violent rioting, that would have been a scoop worthy of the entire “Fox & Friends” program. After all, the president is on record as denouncing the sort of scene that “Fox & Friends” flashed for its viewers. “There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. That is not a protest. That is not a statement,” he said in a late April 2015 statement regarding the Baltimore riots. As for the media, the president had a message about riot coverage that may bear on the folks at “Fox & Friends.” “One burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way, I think, have been lost in the discussion,” he said. Similar statements came from Obama regarding rioting in Ferguson, Mo.

The “Fox & Friends” crew either didn’t know about these condemnations of rioting, didn’t care to research them or figured it would just wing it anyhow. It’s just a headline round-up anyhow, right?

As to just what “Fox & Friends” was thinking, the network hasn’t responded to a request for comment. Options for the very worst program on all of cable news would appear to be two: 1) Show some proof that the president has come out in favor of violent riots; or 2) correct the report.