It’s rare when a news story unites both Republicans and Democrats in disgust. But Texas news station Fox 4 managed that ignoble feat last night.
Like many local and national networks, Fox 4 has been covering the murder of 26-year-old Botham Jean, a black Dallas resident who was killed in his own home last week. Officer Amber Guyger entered Jean’s unlocked apartment, apparently thinking it was her own—she lives on the fourth floor of the building, while Jean lived on the third.
The lights in the front room were turned off, so when Guyger (who was in full uniform) eventually noticed Jean, she thought he was a burglar and shot him. Guyger was charged with manslaughter and released on $300,000 bond. She’s currently on paid administrative leave while Texas rangers investigate the case.
Yesterday police executed a search warrant on Jean’s apartment. One of the items they cataloged was a marijuana grinder, along with 10.4 grams of cannabis in Ziploc bags.
The fact that Jean had a small amount of weed in his house is pretty irrelevant compared to his tragic death. But Fox 4 treated the discovery like breaking news.
Not surprisingly, the internet didn’t appreciate Fox 4 exploiting a dead man’s personal belongings. Indeed, the news flash again proved the wisdom of the Twitter “ratio“: If there are more replies on a given tweet than likes and retweets, that means the take was truly controversial. As of this writing, the tweet has 1,200 likes, 2,600 retweets and and 36,000 replies.
The most surprising thing about the tweet outrage, however, is that it spread across political lines. Journalists and liberal activists like Shaun King deplored Fox 4’s actions.
But so did conservatives like Ben Shapiro and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
Eventually the station changed the story’s headline to reflect that Jean’s family attorneys were outraged the marijuana search warrant became public. The offending tweet is still up, however.
Fox 4 did not respond to Observer requests for comment.
In the aftermath of many shootings involving black men, reactions have fallen along partisan lines. When Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile were killed, conservative media painted them as criminals and “thugs.”
The rare exceptions occur when there is video evidence that the victims did nothing wrong. For example, Eric Garner’s death was captured on film, and both liberals and conservatives protested when a grand jury found his killer not guilty.
There’s no video of Jean being shot, or of police searching his apartment. But the bipartisan outrage over Fox 4 (literally) going into the weeds of Jean’s past for tabloid fodder shows the network still went way too far.