Larry Wilmore Deceived Audience with Edited Quotes to Smear FNC and Santorum on Charleston Massacre

On his The Nightly Show on Comedy Central, in the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre, host Larry Wilmore tried to deceive his audience into believing that Fox News hosts as well as former Senator Rick Santorum had been clinging to the possibility that the Charleston church massacre was motivated by religion, even after reporting surfaced that the gunman had expressed blatantly racist motivations during the rampage.

In the case of Santorum, Wilmore's staff even reversed the order of some of the Republican presidential candidate's words from an interview to make it sound like he had suggested the massacre could not have been motivated by anything other than "assaults on religious liberty."

As he began his June 18 show with a segment lambasting FNC and then later Santorum, Wilmore began by giving the impression that those who spoke about the tragedy on FNC early on were somehow ignoring "all of that evidence" about Dylann Roof's racist motivations, even though those revelations had not yet received widespread attention while Fox and Friends was airing. Wilmore:

I know we talk about race a lot on this show, but I think we can all agree, this time, that this is a racially motivated attack. You know. I think it's – but also, it couldn't be clearer when it comes out of the killer's mouth, right? But even with all of that evidence, and on a day like today, Fox News just makes my f****** head explode.

Without informing his audience that reporters on news outlets like CNN had not yet started reciting any of Roof's racist views or language until after 9:00 a.m., Wilmore then showed a succession of FNC clips which mostly came from earlier in the morning in which FNC hosts and guests brought up the possibility that anti-religion sentiment could have been involved.

Ironically, Wilmore included a clip of FNC's Bill Hemmer from 9:34 a.m. asking whether it was a crime of "race or religion," as part of his case against FNC, but ignored the fact that at almost the same minute, CNN's Carol Costello asked an almost identical question which surely would have landed her in trouble with Wilmore and other liberals if she worked for FNC. Costello, at 9:35 a.m.: "So, Brian, when they say 'hate crime,' was it against African-Americans or Christians?"

But Wilmore did use a clip of the same CNN anchor as a source in opposition to FNC as Costello quoted the killer as saying, "I want to shoot black people," as the liberal comedian was conveying to viewers what FNC was allegedly arguing against race as a motive by raising religion.

And CNN anchor Michaela Pereira also asked a similar question that would have gotten her in trouble with liberals if she were an FNC host as Pereira appeared on CNN New Day, which runs during the same three-hour period as Fox and Friends. Pereira, at 7:49 a.m.: "Is this an attack on religion? Do you think it is an attack on African-Americans?"

Given that in recent decades there has been a substantial increase in violence perpetrated in churches, early speculation about possible motives was hardly out of place.

After lambasting FNC, the liberal Comedy Central host turned his attention to Santorum and played clips from The Joe Piscopo Show in which Santorum seemed to be arguing that anti-religion sentiment was certainly behind the Charleston attack:

LARRY WILMORE: And it wasn't just Fox News. Even GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum couldn't wait to jump on this bandwagon to "Wrong Town."

RICK SANTORUM AUDIO, FROM THE JOE PISCOPO SHOW, CLIP #1: We're now seeing assaults on religious liberty.

SANTORUM CLIP #2: It's obviously a crime of hate.

SANTORUM CLIP #3: -again, we don't know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be?

WILMORE: What other rationale could there be? I mean, for people who live in cut and dry, black and white worlds, it's amazing how social conservatives like Rick Santorum just stretch and bend and contort to make sure they never have to confront race, right?

But an examination of the audio of The Joe Piscopo Show reveals that when Santorum asked, "What other rationale could there be?" the presidential candidate had not yet brought up "assaults on religious liberty," and was just referring generically to "hate" as the "rationale" (clips used by Wilmore are in bold):

JOE PISCOPO, TALK RADIO HOST: We're going to let the Senator go, but, if I may, sir, could you give us your reaction to this horrible massacre in Charleston. I mean, Rick, why do these things happen? Goodness gracious.

FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): I, you know, it sort of goes, you just can't think that things like this could happen in America. I mean, it's obviously a crime of hate. I mean, I don't know the, again, we don't know the rationale. But what other rationale could there be? I mean, you're sort of lost that someone would walk into a Bible study at a church and indiscriminately kill people, and, you know, other than it's a crime of horrible hate and there's something deeply wrong with this individual, but it's that, again, you just think we're beyond that in America. But it's sad to see.

PISCOPO: Yeah, and all you can do, you got to just console, you know, the families, and I know Jeb Bush is canceling all the campaign appearances in South Carolina, which is a good thing. And it's just tough, as a politician. What can you do, except console the families?

SANTORUM: All you can do is pray for those and pray for our country. I mean, this is, you know, one of these situations where you just got to take a step back and say, you know, we -- you talked about the importance of prayer in this time. We're now seeing assaults on religious liberty like we've never seen before. It's a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.

Additionally, the Santorum interview finished at about 8:30 a.m., so the former Pennsylvania Senator was likely not privy to information about the gunman's motives.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show from Thursday, June 18, which also includes in parentheses the times when the FNC and CNN clips originally aired, which The Nightly Show did not relay to its viewers:

LARRY WILMORE: Now, I have to tell you guys, we weren't going to talk much about this at all. I mean seriously, we're a comedy show, right? I mean, what we built here isn't really designed to handle this kind of tragedy. And let me just say, I know we talk about race a lot on this show, but I think we can all agree, this time, that this is a racially motivated attack. You know. I think it's – but also, it couldn't be clearer when it comes out of the killer's mouth, right? But even with all of that evidence, and on a day like today, Fox News just makes my f****** head explode.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, FOX AND FRIENDS CO-HOST (FROM 7:39 A.M.): Last night's deadly attack taking place at a historic church in South Carolina. The gunman's horrifying attack on faith-

BILL HEMMER, FNC'S AMERICA'S NEWSROOM HOST (FROM 9:34 A.M.): -the question is, was it a crime out of race or religion-

ROD WHEELER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, ON FOX AND FRIENDS (FROM 7:16 A.M).: They could be calling it a hate crime because it happened in a religious institution. 

HASSELBECK (FROM 7:39 A.M.): -so if we're not safe in our own churches, then where are we safe? 

JENNA LEE, FNC'S HAPPENING NOW CO-HOST (FROM 1:08 P.M.): -although it’s being investigated as a hate crime, there are still some pieces we have to put together-

STEVE DOOCY, FOX AND FRIENDS CO-HOST (FROM 7:49 A.M.): Some look at it as, well, it’s because it was a white guy, apparently, in a black church. But you made a great point just a moment ago about the hostility towards Christians, so perhaps -- and it was a church.

[AUDIENCE MEMBERS BOO]

WILMORE: Okay, all right. I know you guys don't want to admit that racial stuff is going – that racial stuff isn't going on, but how can there be any doubt when it came out of the gunman's mouth?  Let me remind you what he said. 

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN NEWSROOM HOST (FROM 10:45 A.M.): -I want to shoot black people- 

WILMORE: He told his victims, "I want to shoot black people." I think when he says black people, he means black people, and not Christians. I'm just saying. And remember this part. 

SYLVIA JOHNSON, COUSIN OF PASTOR CLEMENTA PINCKNEY (SOURCE OF CLIP NOT GIVEN): He said you rape our women, and you’re taking over our country and you have to go. 

WILMORE: He is being very clear. Nobody thinks Christians are going around raping everybody and taking over the country, all right? That’s not a thing, unless you're a Duggar, all right? Then it's a thing. Then it's a thing. Then it’s a thing. Okay, then. And then Fox News sends out a black preacher, like his black is going to confuse me, right? Black don't distract by the way, right? It don't. Black don't distract, okay? But nice try anyway, Fox.

BISHOP E.W. JACKSON, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, ON FOX AND FRIENDS (FROM 7:39 A.M.): I am deeply concerned that this gunman chose to go into a church because [there] does seem to be a rising hostility against Christians across this country because of our biblical views.

WILMORE: No, no, no, no, no. It is not rising hostility against Christians, it's rising, forceful and pervasive hostility against black people who were meeting in a church, all right? But let's hear more from the Fox brother. 

JACKSON (FROM 7:42 A.M.): Most people jump to conclusions about race. I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country. But we don't know why he went into a church, but he didn't choose a bar, he didn't choose a basketball court. 

WILMORE: Didn't choose a basketball court. What the f***, man? Oh, you mean typically black areas like basketball courts, huh? Why didn't he choose a recording studio? He could have gone to a (???) farm. Break-dancing class? Why wasn't he at a watermelon stand? ... Look, if he wanted to target a large concentration of black people, when didn't he choose any prison in the United States? Why didn't he do that, huh?

WILMORE: And it wasn't just Fox News. Even GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum couldn't wait to jump on this bandwagon to "Wrong Town."

RICK SANTORUM AUDIO, FROM THE JOE PISCOPO SHOW, CLIP #1: We're now seeing assaults on religious liberty.

SANTORUM CLIP #2: It's obviously a crime of hate.

SANTORUM CLIP #3: -again, we don't know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be?

WILMORE: What other rationale could there be? I mean, for people who live in cut and dry, black and white worlds, it's amazing how social conservatives like Rick Santorum just stretch and bend and contort to make sure they never have to confront race, right?

I know because, look, I know because this was in a church, that this is hard to understand this was about race. But let me give you an example. Four black girls were murdered in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, all right? Back then, no one pretended to wonder what the motivation was. If you tried to say it was about religion, even the perpetrators back then would have corrected you, right? "No, we killed them because they're negroes. That's why we did it."

2016 Presidential Crime Conservatives & Republicans Race Issues Racism Religion Christianity Comedy Central Nightly Show Fox News Channel Fox & Friends Carol Costello Elisabeth Hasselbeck Larry Wilmore Rick Santorum E. W. Jackson


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