Fox News’ Megyn Kelly seemed to suggest that the 14-year-old girl slammed to the ground by a police officer in McKinney, Texas, got what was coming to her because she disobeyed an officer's commands. During her “The Kelly File” broadcast Monday evening, the cable news host said “the girl was no saint either.”
Eric Casebolt, the McKinney police officer who has been suspended while officials investigate his conduct, is seen on video shoving, cursing and drawing his weapon on unarmed teenagers who were attending a pool party last Friday in a majority-white, upscale residential subdivision. “He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger,” Kelly said in a segment about police brutality protests in McKinney. “When the cop tells you to leave, get out.”
Kelly, however, insisted she was not condoning Casebolt’s actions. “I’m not defending his actions, let me make that clear,” she said. But her “no saint either” remark didn’t go unnoticed. Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group, quickly shared a clip of Kelly’s remarks on its website and on social media.
“A 14-year-old girl who is scared out of her mind has less obligation to be a saint than the cop who is dragging her by her hair and sitting on her,” the Frisky’s Robyn Pennacchia wrote Tuesday. “That is a massive overreaction to anything she could have done, other than pulling a gun out of her bikini.”
Monday night’s Fox News broadcast is far from the first time that Kelly, and other media personalities and journalists, raised eyebrows for coverage of civil rights and police brutality in the last year. Kelly in May aired a segment about first lady Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at historically black college Tuskegee University, labeling the anti-discrimination remarks as a promotion of the “culture of victimization.”
In its coverage of the Ferguson, Missouri, killing of Michael Brown by former police Officer Darren Wilson, the New York Times drew considerable backlash for writing that the 18-year-old unarmed man “was no angel” during his short life.
At a forum on media coverage of race at the National Action Network’s annual convention in New York City in April, panelists said public scrutiny of police conduct in the last year had increased the topic’s visibility in the media. “In a very profound way, Michael Brown and Eric Garner forced the media to change the way that we cover the shootings of black men by police,” said Joy Reid, a national correspondent for MSNBC.
While no one was injured or shot in the McKinney incident, protesters have cast it as the latest example of unnecessary use of force by police against black Americans.