The conservative Media Research Center took a victory lap on behalf of the six Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray before he died from the result of an injury sustained in their custody last year.
The self-appointed “media watchdog” organization, which owns right-wing hand-wringing blog NewsBusters, hosted its annual black-tie gala in Washington, D.C. last Thursday roasting the “liberal media” and handing out “DisHonor Awards” to MSNBC hosts and the like.
This year, the guests of honor at the awards ceremony were three of the six cops who were charged in relation to Gray’s death in April 2015. (In July, charges against three of them were dropped after the rest had already been acquitted.)
After awarding ex-MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry the “Dan Rather Memorial Award for Stupidest Media Analysis,” frequent Fox News guest Deneen Borelli delivered a monologue lamenting the “allegations of police brutality” that have led so many Americans to view law-enforcement officials with disfavor.
“For any instance of misconduct there, there are ten thousand examples of professionalism and valor by the men and women in white and blue,” Borelli said to a constant stream of applause, citing Dallas protesters who allegedly thanked “the very police officers they had gone to protest” the night Micah X. Johnson ambushed and killed five cops.
“In April of last year, six Baltimore police officers were transporting Freddie Gray to jail and he died en route,” she pivoted, falsely claiming Gray expired in their care when he died several days later in the hospital with a severe spinal injury. “Immediately someone made the accusation that Freddie Gray had been killed by the police. The accusation grew and grew—fed by the left, political agitators, and the national media—to advance the anti-police narrative. Soon there were riots in the street.”
She lamented that the officers were ever charged for the 25-year-old black man’s death.
“This was politics at its very worst,” Borelli continued. “And yet these five men and one woman, all veteran police officers, were now in handcuffs, fighting for their lives, their careers destroyed, bankrupted, humiliated.”
Then came the big applause lines.
“But no one came forward to thank these six police officers. No one apologized for ruining their lives. No one thanked them for their service or recognized their honor. Who will thank these officers? Who will thank all police officers… at a time they are being so vilified?” she said, before naming each of the six Baltimore officers. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we will.”
As the cheering continued to roar, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “First Snow” blared out of the loudspeakers, Borelli introduced Lieutenant Brian Rice and Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller (the former two were acquitted by Judge Barry Williams during their bench trials).
“Thank you for all your support and love for us,” Miller said. “Our profession is hurting. We need your love, we need your support, we need your prayers. We’re losing officers at an incredible rate. Not just from gunfire but because they’re tired of it. They quit. Our department is short. Everywhere is short. Nobody wants to be a police officer anymore. Please hold us in your love, your prayers.”
“Boy, things have changed,” syndicated columnist and pundit Cal Thomas opined at the event. “When I was a kid growing up in this town you were taught the police officer was your friend. My, my, now they’re your enemies. Not for me, though. They’re still my heroes.”
Sources within the MRC organization told The Daily Beast that there is rising discontent among staffers who felt surprised by the decision to honor the cops involved in Gray’s death. Furthermore, the sources said, they were informed that the gala would honor the law-enforcement community at large, not specifically the Gray officers.
The group did not respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.
MRC is a right-wing nonprofit founded in the Reagan era by activist and conservative ideologue L. Brent Bozell and backed by the same influential billionaire Mercer family that’s all-in for Donald Trump. RMRC produced voluminous coverage of the riots and protests in Baltimore following Gray’s death, all of it focused on absolving law enforcement of any wrongdoing and blaming the “liberal media.”
“The Baltimore riots surrounding the death of Freddie Gray became a moment for liberal reporters and commentators to take the blame off those who destroyed cars, looted businesses, burned a church senior center and hurled objects at police officers,” MRC blogged breathlessly last year. “Liberal journalists claimed the real culprits were police ‘terrorism,’ right-to-work states (for robbing Baltimore of jobs) and even local sports teams like the Ravens and Orioles.”
It’s just that late last week, the conservative organization made their loyalties to the officers involved even more explicit—at a gala event, with an open bar, a catered dinner, and applause lines.