As Charlotte, North Carolina was being torn apart on Wednesday night, cable networks CNN, the Fox News Channel (FNC), and MSNBC offered wall-to-wall coverage of the carnage and tense scenes that, during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour, resulted in the one civilian being shot by another civilian and injuries to police officers but MSNBC saw no reason in that hour to inform their viewers of the rampant looting at hotels and storefronts by the Black Lives Matter protesters.
In addition, host Rachel Maddow and correspondents Gabe Guiterrez and Tammy Leitner made sure to blast police officers for carrying out “violent arrests” of agitators who hurled bottles, fireworks, and gas canisters at officers and continually spun the scene as involving “a mostly peaceful group of people” but only “some agitators.”
“It's a diverse screen and it appears to be a diverse group of protesters including what’s been described to us by a couple of reporters on the scene as mostly a group of peaceful protesters but interspersed with some real provocateurs and agitators who are trying to make this a contentious thing,” Maddow emphasized while CNN and FNC were covering a slew of looting scenes with one CNN reporter being physically assaulted.
Earlier in the hour, Leitner declared with a chuckle of approval that many of the protesters were “hugging and they're being very peaceful, but they are not moving back which is what the police want them to do.”
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Meanwhile, correspondent Steve Harrigan (who has reported from all over the world) was on top of the violence taking place and the behavior of many protesters and immediately reporting it upon seeing it himself: “And now about 10 feet away from me. Looting is going on. A souvenir store. The front door and glass has been smashed. People are going in and carrying things out.”
While Leitner was touting protesters who were hugging, Harrigan continued to sum up the scenes of lawlessness after only saying they started as peaceful:
Earlier, this started out as peaceful protest. A lot of families, a lot of young children with signs coming out and walking and marching. Now, it's turned violent. The swearing and looting about 10 feet from me. A souvenir store was just looted. I have seen some cars smashed. The Ritz Carlton smashed out in front. Police trying to establish order with tear gas[.]
To MSNBC, the crimes being committed by Black Lives Matter protesters seemingly wasn’t a concern to them, but smearing Charlotte police officers for carrying out arrests they’ve deemed “violent.”
“Well, on this issue, as you're talking, we just saw a very violent arrest by a number of police officers in heavy-duty riot gear going after an individual protester. They sprung out of the line to go grab somebody specifically and then arrested that person,” Maddow bemoaned to interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile.
Before bringing on liberal New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor, Maddow asked Leitner to elaborate on “violent arrests” by police: “Tammy, we’ve seen — we feel like we have seen police really springing into action, singling out individual protesters and arresting them. There have been some seemingly violent arrests there.”
CNN’s coverage was much more akin to what FNC was telling their viewers. Here’s a sample soundbite from correspondent Ed Lavandera summing up the scene just prior to 10:00 p.m. Eastern after he was physically assaulted by protesters earlier in the hour:
And that’s the area where I was telling you a little while ago, Anderson, where we saw the looting of that souvenir shop and various other locations. This line of officers here kind of flanked out to keep people from moving into this trade street area and moving back towards the police department, and that's where the brunt of the most intense protestors are and that's where you see just the most recent firing off of the teargas there in that area, so I can see it kind of goes down to about a quarter of a mile or so and they are — there are a large crowd of people as they keep pushing them back.
Lavandera was not the only CNN correspondent who faced danger as fellow reporter Boris Sanchez may have been on scene of where the civilian-on-civilian shooting ocurred:
So far they've put out — oh, wow. [BANGING SOUND HEARD] They've put out pepper spray. People are running from it. Jerry, get out of there! Jerry, get out of there! So as you can tell, the situation is totally out of control. [SCREEN WIPE] Just to give you a look at where the police line is right now, you can tell from all the debris in front of me, things very quickly got out of control and they are still doing what they can to disperse this crowd but it's very difficult. It's very difficult -- whoa, okay. They they clearly want us out of here.