On Tuesday, August 19, Governor Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) called for the “vigorous prosecution” of Darren Wilson, the Missouri police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown last week.
Despite the highly charged rhetoric by the state’s Democratic governor, NBC’s Today was the only network morning show to acknowledge Nixon’s comments, giving it a mere 41 seconds on its Wednesday morning broadcast. ABC and CBS’s morning shows ignored the governor’s contentious comments. All three networks failed to cover Governor Nixon’s comments on their Tuesday evening newscasts. [See video below.]
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer noted how “a little earlier this morning we spoke to sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand. He's the President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Peace which represents Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown. I began asking Sergeant Ahlbrand about Governor Jay Nixon’s comments that he wants a vigorous prosecution in this case and also if Officer Wilson feels there’s been a rush to judgment.”
While ABC and CBS didn’t feel that Governor Nixon calling for the “vigorous prosecution” of officer Darren Wilson was newsworthy, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who is a lawyer herself, had some harsh words for the Democrat on Tuesday night’s the Kelly File. During an interview with Kevin Ahlbrand, president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, Kelly insisted:
Vigorous investigation is not controversial at all. A vigorous prosecution is a different story, and that's what the governor of Missouri called for tonight...Is this a lynch mob mentality toward your police officer sir?
The Fox News host also asked if the “Missouri governor who is now calling for a vigorous prosecution, and for justice, not just justice in general, but for Michael Brown and his family, is guilty of a rush to judgment?”
In addition to Kelly, Peter Kinder, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Missouri, condemned Governor Nixon’s comments and said “it’s really heartbreaking to see a man elected to an office in our state government...come out with a statement like that, that does prejudge the case...It would be wrong for a prosecutor to say what the governor has said here tonight and it’s wrong for the governor of Missouri to have said it.”
One wonders if ABC and CBS ignoring Governor Nixon’s comments is a tacit endorsement of the “vigorous prosecution” of Darren Wilson or do two of the “big three” networks see nothing controversial in calling for a prosecution while the investigation is ongoing? Stay tuned.
See relevant transcripts below.
August 20, 2014
MATT LAUER: A little earlier this morning we spoke to sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand. He's the President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Peace which represents Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown. I began asking Sergeant Ahlbrand about Governor Jay Nixon’s comments that he wants a vigorous prosecution in this case and also if Officer Wilson feels there’s been a rush to judgment.
KEVIN AHLBRAND: I'm very disappointed with Governor Nixon’s remarks in that case. Asking for vigorous prosecution. We're all for vigorous investigation, but to call a vigorous prosecution I believe is irresponsible and a rush to judgment before all the facts are in.
LAUER: That was Sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand.
TAMRON HALL: A lot still going on there.
The Kelly File
August 19, 2014
MEGYN KELLY: Well, while the investigation is still very much underway, the governor of Missouri releasing a taped statement moments ago that sounds an also lot like a chief executive who has made up his mind about the officer in this case.
JAY NIXON: Ten days ago a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in broad daylight. We have a responsibility to come together and do everything we can to achieve justice for this family. A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued. The democratically elected St. Louis County Prosecutor and the Attorney General of the United States, each have a job to do. Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly and correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand is president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and he joins us now. Sergeant, thank you for being here tonight. And so, I ask you whether the Missouri governor who is now calling for a vigorous prosecution, and for justice, not just justice in general, but for Michael Brown and his family is guilty of a rush to judgment?
SGT. KEVIN AHLBRAND, PRESIDENT, MISSOURI FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Well, Megyn, thanks for having me. But I'm very disappointed to hear those words coming from Governor Nixon. We welcome a vigorous investigation. Unfortunately, justice needs to go both ways. Darren's been vilified in the press and by politicians with minimal facts being made public. We routinely do not comment on these cases until the facts are in. But we felt it was very necessary that we had to say, hey, we’re open for a very thorough investigation, but we’re very concerned about the due process rights of Darren.
KELLY: Uh-mm. Absolutely, vigorous investigation is not controversial at all. A vigorous prosecution is a different story, and that's what the governor of Missouri called for tonight. And he is not the only one. A state senator named Jamilah Nasheed, who is pushing to have the county prosecutor removed in this case, because she doesn't believe he can be fair. He is a white prosecutor whose father, who was a police officer was killed by a black defendant back in the ‘60s, she wrote a letter demanding that he stepped down saying, “if you should decide not to indict this police officer, the rioting we witnessed this past week will seem like a picnic compared to the havoc that will likely occur.” I mean, is this a lynch mob mentality toward your police officer, sir?
AHLBRAND: Well, certainly so. And Senator Nasheed apparently is not aware of the process. The prosecutor does not indict, the grand jury indicts. The prosecutor just presents to the grand jury. So, we have full confidence that Bob McCullough does a very outstanding job, unbiased job, and we have full faith that he will present all of the true facts to the grand jury. We just wish that everybody would stand down and not make an opinion until those facts are brought out.
KELLY: Do you feel like the humanity of the officer has been lost in all this?
AHLBRAND: It's been horrible. You know, when a police officer has to take a life, that is the worst possible thing he can do in his job. It is a very traumatic experience, and now he’s facing death threats from people, his family is facing death threats, and nobody is standing up for Darren and we have to stand up for him.
KELLY: Why don’t the police release the incident report so we can hear his side of the story?
AHLBRAND: I'm sorry, why did they not release it?
KELLY: Why don't the police release the incident report so we can hear the officer side of the story?
AHLBRAND: That’s standard procedure in Missouri that the report is not released until the court proceedings are complete.
KELLY: Do you believe he’ll testify tomorrow at the grand jury? It wouldn't be typical but you know, he might be invited.
AHLBRAND: I don’t have any knowledge whether he will or will not testify.
KELLY: Do you believe the grand jury is likely to return an indictment here?
AHLBRAND: My personal belief is that they will not return an indictment, based on the facts that I know right now.
KELLY: Kevin, thank you for being here, we appreciate it.
AHLBRAND: Thank you very much.