It was a narrative perfectly suited for Fox News’s conservative commentariat. Too bad it was total bullshit.
Three assailants allegedly shot and killed Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, a wholesome small-town cop and Army vet known locally as “GI Joe”; a 30-year veteran of the force; a married father of four; a local hero.
His death had to be part of an ominous trend of societal menaces murdering law officers in cold blood, supposedly fueled by President Obama’s “anti-cop” rhetoric and the Black Lives Matter movement. Several Fox Newsers were quick to make that connection just as Fox Lake, Illinois, police set out to find the three perpetrators Gliniewicz mentioned over the radio just before he died.
While the news of GI Joe’s death broke nationwide on Tuesday, Sept. 1, Fox’s resident quack doctor Keith Ablow sat on the set of the network’s Outnumbered show and lamented how the president has “inflamed racial discord in this country and put a target on the backs of American police officers,” using the recent murder of a Texas deputy at a gas station as a jumping-off point.
“This is not the only incident of this,” conservative firebrand Andrea Tantaros interrupted, teeing up co-host Sandra Smith to introduce the Fox Lake incident. “This is happening time and time again,” Fox & Friends First’s Ainsley Earhardt chimed in. “This is a dangerous place for the country to be,” Liz MacDonald fretted before Tantaros pivoted back to the role of Black Lives Matter rhetoric in cop slayings.
Hours later, primetime star anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke—an all-too-frequent Fox guest who seems to spend more time bashing black activists on TV than actually, you know… sheriffing. Clarke willfully linked Gliniewicz’s death to how President Obama has “breathed life into this anti-cop sentiment” with his “inflammatory rhetoric.”
That same evening, a cocksure Clarke told Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs that he has been to Fox Lake and knows that Gliniewicz is one of the town’s “finest,” gunned down while “engaged in self-initiative policing, the best policing there is.” He added: “War has been declared on the American police officer.” On Twitter, the lawman continued: “Time to take to the streets to counter Black LIES Matter. Fox Lake, Illinois.”
And on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 5, Eric Bolling used his weekly Cashin’ In monologue (titled “Wake Up, America!”) to connect Gliniewicz being “blown away in cold blood” to a “crisis” of law enforcement officers being killed, in part because President Obama has failed to publicly state that “Blue Lives Matter.”
Flash-forward to this Wednesday when Fox Lake police officials revealed that Gliniewicz’s death was actually a “carefully staged suicide.” As it turns out, the longtime lieutenant had been laundering thousands of dollars from his department’s youth program for his own personal spending on gym memberships, porn websites, and mortgage payments. There were no assailants; GI Joe shot himself rather than face the consequences.
Have any of these Fox pundits corrected the record or issued mea culpas for their rush to connect this twisted story to their political narrative? Wednesday’s edition of Outnumbered, with Tantaros among its hosts, went without a single mention of the news their own network aired just an hour before. (The show did, however, spend an entire segment bashing film director Quentin Tarantino for his remarks against police brutality.)
As for Sheriff Clarke, he spent all day Wednesday tweeting not about “best policing” Gliniewicz’s complete betrayal of his peers, but instead about, yep, “cop-hating” “prick” Quentin Tarantino.
And Eric Bolling? His daily talk show The Five—which frequently gripes about Black Lives Matter—made no mention of Gliniewicz. Don’t hold your breath for a correct-the-record monologue from him this Saturday either.
Of course, it should be noted that Fox’s straight-news reporters—namely Mike Tobin, Shepard Smith, Happening Now, and the network’s cut-in anchors—reported the story, from the start, as a continuing investigation, without tying it to racial tensions or anti-police violence. The way it should be done.
And when they reported the story’s bizarre developments on Wednesday morning, they did so with entirely straight language. But mum’s the word from the professional bloviators.