If there’s a Black man in Democratic politics, Fox News will come for him. This is their prime red meat to feed their audience of rabid, angry white men. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to find the “right” people to criticize a Black man without looking racist, especially when the network is renown for amplifying white supremacy.
That’s when finding two Black men to stage for an interview can come in handy. And that’s exactly what Fox and Friends is accused of doing in order to attack Chicago’s new mayor, Brandon Johnson. On May 15th (the deception only came to light on May 21 and then only locally), they aired a live segment from a local diner in Naperville, Illinois featuring two Black men, “whom Fox’s correspondent said happened to be from Chicago. The correspondent, Gianno Caldwell, presented the segment as a spontaneous interview about Johnson being sworn in as mayor,” the TRiiBE reported.
After smearing the Black mayor with the Obama ‘most progressive ever’ blah blah smear, the Fox and Friends host asked, “So, what do the people think of this, the people of Chicago?”
Cut to a diner “30 miles from Chicago,” per The TRiiBE, because nothing says actual city dweller like 30 miles out from the city. The authenticity burns. But it’s okay because the host said “We’re talking to folks here who happen to be from Chicago. We’re right outside of Chicago.”
Both of these men told The TRiiBE they didn’t just happen to be at this diner, contrary to how it was presented, and furthermore, they say they were misled regarding the purpose of the interview. “Both men told The TRiiBE they were invited to appear on the segment by Caldwell, but that Caldwell told them the interview would be about violence, not Johnson.”
OK, but with Fox News’ budget, they could have just… gone to Chicago and interviewed people for real. But that wouldn’t tell the story their viewers need to hear, which is that they are not racists for being super uncomfortable that a Black man got elected to an office of power somewhere (!) while being a Democrat. For a Fox News viewer, the only acceptable power for a Black man is as a Republican, because nothing cheers racists up like being able to display what they see as evidence of their utter lack of racism by supporting ONE Black person (whose policies just so happen to support the suppression of all other Black people). Trying to hold on to colonialist power is the real fight, y’all.
Johnson won the mayoral race on April 5th, 2023 against his then opponent Paul Vallas, and the two Black men Fox News chose to present as random people at a diner who just so happen to have issues with the new Black mayor have some connections to Vallas, one of which is tenuous but the second of which should have been disclosed for sure, because it involves Vallas’ campaign committee paying him $10,000.00.
“One of the men, Lavondale “Big Dale” Glass, is an assistant director of violence prevention for Project H.O.O.D., a nonprofit whose founder endorsed Vallas. The other man, Andre Smith, was paid more than $10,000 by Vallas‘s campaign committee, and told The TRiiBE he ran field operations for the campaign. Glass told The TRiiBE that he didn’t work for Vallas’s campaign and was not aware Smith had been a paid Vallas operative.”
In case you’re wondering why Fox News seems so invested in this mayoral race aside from their smearing of city names (Detroit! Philadelphia! Atlanta! Chicago! Los Angeles! So “dirty”) as a dog whistle against minorities, Paul Vallas is a white man whose Democratic party credentials were questioned, partly due to his own words in 2009 when he said “I’m more of a Republican than a Democrat now. Yes, if I ran for public office, then I would be running as a Republican.” In that same ad, Vallas said he was fundamentally against abortion rights for religious reasons (does anyone ever ask these folks to point to the part in the Bible where abortion is condemned?) and in his 2023 campaign, he did run against “crime” — which is a real problem in Chicago, as it is all around the country, but is also an issue Fox News told Republicans to run on in 2022, for whatever that’s worth.
If you’re pretty aghast right now, hold Fox’s beer because it gets worse. First, they didn’t name Glass other than calling him “Big Dale” and noting his son had been murdered in a 2021 shooting. Smith, the guy who was paid by the opponent’s campaign and says he did field operations for Vallas, was not named at all.
The guy they tricked into the interview by saying it would be about violence, the guy who lost his son to gun violence, Fox News segued from sorry about your loss to what do you think of the election of Brandon Johnson. Glass was devastated over the murder of his son, and quite clearly motivated to speak about violence which was what he says he was told was the purpose of the interview, and Glass even told The TRiiBE he was upset by the question.
Glass has a Youtube video of what they say is their drive to be on Fox and Friends at this diner and the interview itself:
Glass, like most of us, doesn’t think any politician will do anything to fix the issues kids face in our country right now, but also wanted to be clear that he didn’t want to be construed as against the new mayor, telling The TRiiBE, “‘Don’t take me up to be like I’m against Brandon Johnson. He’s a Black man; I hope he does well. Make sure you put that in’ this story. ‘We’re gonna wait and give him a chance.’”
So Fox News used the Black father of a murdered child to attack a new Black mayor by tricking him into thinking the interview was about violence, and Fox News just so happens to be the propaganda arm of the NRA predominantly Republican Party legislation that is killing our children with guns.
Sadly, the Fox and Friends host lost his own brother to gun violence in Chicago, so of all people, he shouldn’t have used that issue to hook his target.
It violates journalistic integrity to plant people to say what you want to be said while passing them off as people you just came across. It violates journalistic integrity to not disclose their relationships to the opposition and it violates journalistic and basic human integrity to mislead the parent of a gun violence victim to get sound bites attacking your network’s party opposition (the network shouldn’t have an undisclosed party preference, let alone an undisclosed party affiliation).
Fox News remains the mainstream standard bearer for how to lie, deceive, and mislead under the false label of “news.”
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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