Fox News has detected a grave injustice in the television industry: Earlier this week, News 12 New Jersey suspended staff reporter Sean Bergin for veering off, in the middle of a news broadcast about the murder of a Jersey City police officer, into a disquisition blaming violent crime on fatherless black men.
Fox has since covered Bergin’s story on at least six different segments across five separate shows, including The O’Reilly Report and Hannity. And in a column published today, the channel’s dedicated media critic, former CNN anchor Howard Kurtz, highlighted Bergin’s brave stance against P.C. culture.
“By saying ‘the underlying cause for all of this’ is young black men from fatherless families, he cast each one as a potential criminal,” Kurtz writes. “But it also took courage to say what Sean Bergin did. He spoke with great emotion about the death of a policeman.”
What did Bergin say, exactly? The reporter went on-air on Monday to address News 12’s decision to interview the widow of the officer’s alleged murderer, Lawrence Campbell, who was killed during a Sunday shoot-out at a local Walgreens. (Campbell’s widow told the station that her husband “should have taken more [police officers] with him” and that “all they care about is the officer.”) Here is Bergin’s response to viewers’ complaints about the interview:
We decided to air it because it is important to shine a light on the anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities. This same, sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City to Newark and Paterson to Trenton. It has made the police officer’s job impossible and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this, of course: Young black men growing up without fathers.
Bergin even tacked on a bit of half-baked media criticism: “Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.”
Shortly thereafter, News 12 suspended the reporter, and later assigned him to part-time duty. Instead of licking his wounds, Bergin promptly quit—and went straight to Fox News, where he landed favorable interviews with Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity. (During the latter’s radio show, Bergin cast additional blame on “decades of liberal social welfare programs that have incentivized the practice of single motherhood.”) On Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly complained that News 12 “humiliated” Bergin by suspending him:
In the same segment, Kurtz (sitting next to his former business partner Lauren Ashburn), argued that News 12 should have “seized the moment” by leveraging Bergin’s insight into the pathology of black people. Kurtz repeated his thoughts in today’s column:
As I told Bill O’Reilly, imagine if the station had suspended him for a couple of days for breaking the rules, then seized the moment by assigning him a three-part series on the roots of urban crime, fatherless families and racial animosity toward the police.
Before he left CNN and The Washington Post, Kurtz possessed a slightly more rigorous understanding of American racism. No more. Like the rest of his Fox colleagues, the anchor now seems to agree with Bergin’s central point about “the anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities” and the media’s ongoing effort to silence discussion about the irresponsible black people who sustain it.
It’s no wonder then, that Kurtz arrives at a tautological conclusion: that things would be totally different if Bergin hadn’t cast fatherless black men as cop killers.
“The debate over this touchy subject is better carried out by analysts and commentators, not reporters popping off,” he writes. “But I doubt News 12 would have dumped Bergin if he’d ‘editorialized’ on some less controversial subject.”
This is a peculiar thought experiment: We can see how unreasonable it was to suspend Bergin for saying something racist—because if he had said something that wasn’t racist, he would not have been suspended.
But Kurtz is more focused on tone than logic. By framing racism as “touchy” and “controversial”—and Bergin as the latest victim of P.C. culture—Kurtz gets to ignore the fact that he and his Fox colleagues are aligning themselves with an actual, unrepentant racist.
Welcome to the club, Howie.