In his August 19 program, Wisconsin conservative talk-radio pioneer Mark Belling (who regularly guest hosts for Rush Limbaugh) of Milwaukee’s Talk/Radio 1030 WISN, condemned as “morally indefensible” the “lynch-mob attitude” of many in the mass media, and many others, toward Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who on August 9 killed a black teenager, Michael Brown.
A six-minute clip of Belling’s remarks (culled, in chronological order, from about 30 minutes of discussion between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.) appears below. A twelve-minute extended version, providing more context (which is highly recommended for those closely following events in Ferguson), is available here. (Note: Belling had nothing to do with the images and video added to the clips to illustrate Belling’s discussion.)
Here is a brief summary (a full transcript appears below the video).
Belling is appalled that a police officer with an unblemished record, who is not a criminal, and who has “done all the right things in his life,” is not being given the benefit of the doubt while all the facts are being investigated. Instead, everyone is giving “the benefit of doubt to a crook!” Belling asks: “Why would that guy ever deserve the benefit of the doubt? What’s he doing with his life in comparison with what the police officer was doing with his?”
In the “media feeding frenzy” over this matter, Belling complains, “the police officer gets no benefit of the doubt, and the criminal suspect gets all of the benefit of the doubt!” Belling is incredulous that “[p]eople riot in the streets, supposedly in defense of a criminal who isn’t worth anybody’s time. This is a guy who, I think, deserves no benefit of the doubt . . . .”
Echoing the view of liberal journalist Howard Kurtz, Belling draws a parallel between the reasoning that led to blacks being lynched in the South and the reasoning of “the organized system of media and looters on the street” pushing, with a “lynch-mob attitude,” in a “rush to justice,” for Officer Wilson to be prosecuted, even though no investigation has been completed turning up any evidence that Wilson did anything wrong.
Emphasizing that Officer Wilson is “alone and isolated,” Belling calls on others to speak out against the lynch mob pursuing Officer Wilson. But Belling is not optimistic that Officer Wilson will be treated fairly.
[Update] Here’s a three-minute version, focusing on the gist of Belling’s complaint: that the media are giving the criminal the benefit of the doubt, pursuing Officer Wilson with a “lynch-mob attitude”:
[Update 2] Here’s the best of the remaining material in the 12-minute extended version, in which Belling comments on the rioting and looting in Ferguson, arguing “it’s time for more tear gas, not less”:
[Update 3] And here’s a clip from Bill O’Reilly’s August 20 show about how Al Sharpton and his cohort are pursuing “lynch-mob justice” against Officer Wilson (full video here):
Transcript of the six-minute video culled from Belling’s August 19 show (with minute markers):
We go crazy over a situation in Ferguson, Missouri, aberrational — cop shoots a suspect. Rioting, all of this other stuff. 99.9% of the violence that occurs in our communities is not that. It’s not a cop shooting a suspect. It’s a very bad guy shooting someone else. A very bad guy who ought to have been in jail.
Howard Kurtz, who is no conservative, said it appears to him this is becoming a media “lynch mob. His term. A media feeding frenzy, with people turning cameras on the people who are ripping up that city; encouraging them, almost, to do so; demanding to know what is going to be doen to the police officer involved, even though there’s no evidence yet that he did anything wrong And hustlers like Al Sharpton racing to get there, to do their part to throw gasoline on to the fire.
In America, you’re supposed to get a fair shake [1:00] whether you’re black, white, brown, or whatever. Is this police officer being given a fair shake? I don’t think he is. When people start demanding that an individual be arrested when we don’t even know what happened, that’s not a fair shake!
Guy takes a job as a cop. Makes a decent living, and gets a decent pension. They put a gun in his hand, which gives him a great responsibility. But he also has one of the most dangerous jobs you can have an an American citizen. He’s not a criminal. Doesn’t have a record. Does all the right things in his life.
Now a situation comes about, and no one gives him the benefit of the doubt.
In a country in which career criminals can over and over and over, in places like Milwaukee, break the law and get a pass, and never be judged, everyone wants to judge this officer without knowing what’s going on. And instead, they give the benefit of doubt to a crook!
He was a suspect in a robbery! [2:00] Why would that guy ever deserve the benefit of the doubt? What’s he doing with his life in comparison with what the police officer was doing with his?
Now, the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean the judgment. It just means that while you’re investigating something, if you’re gonna slant one way or another, someone should deserve the benefit of the doubt. Instead, the police officer gets no benefit of the doubt, and the criminal suspect gets all of the benefit of the doubt!
People riot in the streets, supposedly in defense of a criminal who isn’t worth anybody’s time. This is a guy who, I think, deserves no benefit of the doubt (the suspect); who was involved in a confrontation with a police officer.
While he deserves no benefit of the doubt, he is an American citizen and has rights, and if he was wrongly shot, then the officer should be prosecuted. But that’s an if, and the benefit of the doubt does not accrue to him until we find out what happened. [3:00]
This is, across the board, a travesty. We live in a country in which the travesty, often, in the past, went in the other direction. In many parts of America, a crime was committed; the first black guy you could find was arrested, often without evidence. We had lynch mobs all across the South. “String him up!,” without justice. It was wrong. And it’s just as wrong that the lynch mob is now the organized system of media and looters on the street.
The white racists of the past have been replaced by the people who are burning down Ferguson, Missouri. The Bull Conners of the past — the racist law enforcement officers — have been replaced by the anchors of CNN, and the others who trample on the rights of an American citizen.
You know how few people in America are going to defend the police officer! The number of people who have stood up and said: “We need to wait, and be calm, and figure out what happened, [4:00] and we need to respect the rights of the cop,” are almost non-existent. People want to be on the right side of public opinion.
This guy, this police officer, and I’m choosing not to name him — I’m the only guy in the media who won’t, because he hasn’t, so far as I can tell, even been accused by any authority yet of having done anything wrong — this police officer is alone and isolated, with no one having his back. He’s being given no due process. He’s being given no fair treatment by the media. He’s not being given any kind of fair treatment by the people of the Saint Louis, Missouri, area. He’s not being given fair treatment even by people in America!
Even Howard Kurtz said he was appalled — they put the guy’s house on television! That is essentially telling any one of these hooligans that’s burning places down, “Hey, why don’t you just go over here and trash his house!” Can anyone say that they’d be surprised if his home was destroyed?
Who even knows where he is? He’s gotta be in hiding somewhere! This is an American citizen who so far has not been accused by any authority of anything wrong, and he’s under siege! [5:00]
And I, I’m telling you that there are people who need to stand up and say that that’s not the way it oughta be done! And this is precisely what happened to many Americans in other parts of the country who were black.
And now, it’s the white guy! The law enforcement officer who gets this kind of treatment — this rush to judgment, this lynch-mob attitude, and this presumption that we’ve gotta do something to him to calm down the crowd. That’s the excuse that they had for the lynchings in the South. “We’ve got a mob of inflamed people. We gotta hang this guy to calm them down; otherwise everything’s gonna go to hell. Who cares about the guy?”
Now we say that about the police officer. “We gotta charge him. We gotta do something to him. We gotta do this because we gotta calm down the mob.” Well, it’s wrong, and it’s morally indefensible.
I don’t have any optimism that this officer’s gonna be treated fairly. Because we all know how they can end the trouble. And that’s criminally charge him, and throw him to the gallows, without regard to whether or not he did anything wrong.