Irresponsible: MSNBC Misleads On Police Shooting of Armed Ohio Teen

It’s the media’s role to responsibly report on emotionally-charged topics such as police shootings, but instead, they stoke the flames of unrest with misinformation and hateful rhetoric. On MSNBC’s The 11th Hour Tuesday night, host Brian Williams let his left-wing guest, Jason Johnson, go on another unhinged rant, misleading viewers with a skewed representation of a police-involved fatal shooting of a teen girl earlier that day.

Williams’ panel was discussing the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The anchor posed to MSNBC contributor and journalism professor, Johnson, if he agreed with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson that the verdict gave him hope. Based on what Johnson said earlier that day, Williams already knew the answer to that question. Johnson demanded that the only way black people like him would feel “safe” in America, was if the police were abolished. He then repeatedly cited the fatal shooting of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant earlier Tuesday, as a case of an unjust shooting: 

Not at all. Because literally, Brian, when we talked earlier today and I said this doesn’t make me happy, it’s not satisfactory, it’s not justice, this doesn’t necessarily change unless there’s some sort of radical reform in policing. And what happened 45 minutes later? Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio called the police for help. An officer was on the scene. And in 22 seconds he shot her dead. An honor roll student who was making Tik Tok videos on makeup and hair. This hasn’t stopped….

…And still, 40 minutes after that ruling, a 16-year-old girl can be shot in front of her house. So no, I’m not hopeful. Because unless there is wholesale, wholesale change, abolishment of this institution that continues to fail tax-paying black people in this country, everything else is just fanciful thinking.

 

 

He went on to opine how the teen’s traumatized classmates would miss “trading sandwiches” in the cafeteria with her:

Ma’ Khia Bryant, there’s somebody who sits next to her in math class who’s going to have nightmares for the rest of their life because a kid they used to have lunch with and trade sandwiches with in the cafeteria is dead! That’s how this looks to my students because they’ve grown up with this their entire lives.

Except Johnson didn’t mention that Bryant was armed with a knife. In the police body cam footage released before this show aired, the teenager can be clearly seen holding a large knife as she pinned another girl to a car and looks to be about to plunge it into the girl when the officer fatally shot her, after repeated warnings went ignored. Quite a different scenario than Johnson painted.

Yet the MSNBC host let Johnson’s misinformation stand without correction. Later in the show, Williams gave a short report on the shooting, adding his own deception. 

Describing it simply as a “scuffle” instead of a violent knife fight, Williams played a snippet of the body camera footage. Afterwards, he wouldn’t admit that the video showed Bryant was the one wielding a knife while lunging at another girl when she was shot:

 There was no attempt to use pepper spray or a taser, non-lethal force. While a knife can be seen in the footage before the officer fires his weapon, he indeed fired his weapon. Police performed CPR on the scene, but the girl was pronounced dead at the hospital. An emotional crowd gathered after the shooting. Reports on social media initially indicated it may have been the victim, Ma’Khia Bryant, who actually called police to initially report the fight outside of her home. Again, the same 15-year-old who was fatally shot by police. We just don’t have confirmation of that. The officer responsible has been taken off the street… 

MSNBC’s misinformation was paid for by sponsors Degree and Olay. Contact them at the Conservatives Fight Back page here. 

Read the relevant transcript portions below:

MSNBC

11th Hour

4/20/2021

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Do you join the hopefulness in Eugene’s column, Jason? 

JASON JOHNSON: Not at all. Because literally, Brian, when we talked earlier today and I said this doesn’t make me happy, it’s not satisfactory, it’s not justice, this doesn’t necessarily change unless there’s some sort of radical reform in policing. And what happened 45 minutes later? Ma’ Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio called the police for help. An officer was on the scene. And in 22 seconds he shot her dead. An honor roll student who was making Tik Tok videos on makeup and hair. This hasn’t stopped. And I want to be really clear about how critical this is, not just from the emotional standpoint. From the policy standpoint and from the national standpoint. There is nobody in America, nobody in America who was not paying attention to today’s trial. That means every single person in this country, every black person, every white person, every cop was paying attention to this trial. And still, 40 minutes after that ruling, a 16-year-old girl can be shot in front of her house. So no, I’m not hopeful. Because unless there is wholesale, wholesale change, abolishment of this institution that continues to fail tax-paying black people in this country, everything else is just fanciful thinking. And whether it’s somebody who is ten minutes up the road who was shot by an officer with 26 years of experience or a guy in Virginia who was an officer who pulled over — or honestly, Brian, who knows how many black women or men in America have a knee on their neck right now in this country and we just don’t have a camera to tell us. So until I feel safe, and I don’t, I don’t share Eugene’s optimism. I share a pessimism that has been born of living in this country for way too long to believe that one trial is fundamentally going to change how this place operates.

Ma’ Khia Bryant, there’s somebody who sits next to her in math class who’s going to have nightmares for the rest of their life because a kid they used to have lunch with and trade sandwiches with in the cafeteria is dead! That’s how this looks to my students because they’ve grown up with this their entire lives.

….

WILLIAMS:  So note a couple of things here. This is the story Jason Johnson mentioned in the last segment. This is the second mayor now who has put out body camera video within hours of a police-involved shooting. Same thing happened in the Daunte Wright case in Minnesota. But this was about 23 minutes before the Derek Chauvin verdict was read. Another fatal police shooting under way in Columbus, Ohio. The family has identified the victim as a black 15-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. Police body cam footage, again, released just this hour, shows police responding to a scuffle outside of a home earlier today. Police say someone called 911 reporting someone was trying to stab them. We want to warn you, what you’re about to see is disturbing.

[plays video]

WILLIAMS: There was no attempt to use pepper spray or a taser, non-lethal force. While a knife can be seen in the footage before the officer fires his weapon, he indeed fired his weapon. Police performed CPR on the scene, but the girl was pronounced dead at the hospital. An emotional crowd gathered after the shooting. Reports on social media initially indicated it may have been the victim, Ma’Khia Bryant, who actually called police to initially report the fight outside of her home. Again, the same 15-year-old who was fatally shot by police. We just don’t have confirmation of that. The officer responsible has been taken off the street. The case will go to a grand jury. This case, this story will get a lot more attention as it deserves to get over the coming days and we will watch it as we should.

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