Part 1—As usual, Lawrence is wrong: Lawrence O’Donnell’s gorge was rising, a not uncommon occurrence.
On the substance, Lawrence O’Donnell was wrong. That too is a common occurrence.
At issue was the recent Justice Department report about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. In a world served by actual journalists, this report might have helped the nation form a clearer picture of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that day.
Alas! Lawrence almost seems to be trying to keep that from happening! All this week, we’ll be discussing the information which hasn’t emerged from our various pseudo-journalists around an array of dials.
To read the Justice Department report, click here. For today, let’s start our search with Lawrence’s rising gorge:
On last Friday’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough was speaking with Jeff Roorda, a representative of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. Referring to the recent Justice Department report, Scarborough made a cheeky but largely accurate comment:
Scarborough told Roorda that Attorney General Eric Holder has now “agreed with your side of the story” about the shooting of Brown.
Needless to say, Lawrence broke in—and his gorge had clearly started to rise. “Eric Holder doesn’t agree with the officer’s side of the story,” he said. “Eric Holder’s report says they didn’t see that they could make a case beyond a reasonable doubt that would get a conviction.”
At this point, the Morning Joe panelists began interrupting each other. Below, you see the choppy transcript of what was said:
O’DONNELL (3/13/15): Eric Holder doesn’t agree with the officer’s side of the story. Eric Holder’s report says they didn’t see that they could make a case, beyond a reasonable doubt, that would get a conviction.“Understand what reasonable doubt is,” Lawrence told Joe as the segment expired, his annoyance clearly showing. Scarborough sarcastically thanked his guest “for giving me a lecture on the law.”
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, what they said was that neither the—that the testimony that, that said that he had his hands up was not credible. And also—
O'DONNELL: Beyond a reasonable doubt.
ROORDA: The conclusion was irrefutable that he’s not guilty.
SCARBOROUGH: And also, that forensic evidence—that the forensic evidence, that the forensic evidence did not show that he had his hands up in the air.
O'DONNELL: Did not prove it. Did not prove it! It did not dis-prove it.
To watch the exchange, click here.
Uh-oh! Of the three participants, we’d have to say that Roorda was most accurate, and most clear, in his statement about the report. We’d have to say Lawrence was basically wrong in what he said.
Lawrence seemed to think that the Justice Department merely said it couldn’t establish guilt on Officer Wilson’s part “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We’d have to say that this assertion was wrong.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Justice Department report does seem to make an affirmative statement about Wilson’s lack of guilt. It seems to assert that Wilson didn’t commit a crime in the course of the fatal shooting.
“The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson while he was seated in his SUV were in self-defense and thus were not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” the report directly states on page 80.
That seems like a fairly clear statement. On page 82, the Justice Department seems to state a similar judgment about the second volley of shots, the shots which proved fatal. “The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson after Brown turned around were in self-defense and thus were not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
Rather clearly, the Justice Department seems to say that all the shots Wilson fired that day were fired in self-defense. On pages 84 and 85, the report continues along in that vein:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT: When the shootings are viewed, as they must be, in light of all the surrounding circumstances and what Wilson knew at the time, as established by the credible physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, it was not unreasonable for Wilson to fire on Brown until he stopped moving forward and was clearly subdued...In those statements, the Justice Department seems to go well beyond the statement described by O’Donnell, whose gorge was rising, as always.
For all of the reasons stated, Wilson’s conduct in shooting Brown as he advanced on Wilson, and until he fell to the ground, was not objectively unreasonable and thus not a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.
In those passages, the Justice Department doesn’t limit itself to the statement that they couldn’t establish a case against Wilson “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They seem to make an affirmative statement that he didn’t commit a crime.
According to the Justice Department, “the evidence establishes” that all the shots fired by Wilson were fired “in self-defense.” According to the Justice report, “it was not unreasonable for Wilson to fire on Brown until he stopped moving forward and was clearly subdued.”
You have to read the full report to understand the reasoning and evidence behind those statements. But on the basis of those statements, we’d have to say that Roorda was basically right in what he said on Morning Joe. Somewhat surprisingly, the Justice report does seem to reach an “irrefutable conclusion” that Wilson didn’t commit a crime.
(Just for the record, the report also states that Justice couldn’t find any credible witness who said that Brown ever said, “Don’t shoot,” in the course of this fatal encounter. Also according to the report, there is no credible evidence that Brown was trying to surrender, or was holding his hands in the air, when he was fatally shot.)
Why did Lawrence seem so sure of his view, a view which seems to be wrong? We’ll have to make a guess:
Maybe Lawrence had been watching too much MSNBC in the days since the Justice report appeared! On the whole, viewers of the pseudo-liberal corporate channel have been kept barefoot and clueless concerning this Justice Department report.
We liberals! On The One True Liberal Channel, we’ve been told about the Justice Department’s highly unflattering report about the general operation of the Ferguson police department. For the most part, we haven’t been told what Justice said about the fatal shooting itself, and about the subsequent investigation of same.
Each of those Justice Department reports is important. Liberals watching The One True Channel have only been told about one.
On last Friday’s Morning Joe, Lawrence’s gorge was rising. As always, his moral greatness was on display—but he seemed to be wrong on his facts.
In Lawrence’s case, this cluelessness is especially striking. Last August, in the wake of the shooting, he strongly vouched for several eyewitness accounts of the shooting. He interviewed one eyewitness at length, then strongly vouched for her account on several subsequent programs.
In the days and weeks after the shooting, several eyewitnesses helped create the picture of the shooting which greatly roiled the nation. Lawrence hasn’t told you this, but the recent Justice Department report threw those eyewitnesses under the bus—said their accounts aren’t credible.
This includes the star eyewitness for whose account Lawrence vouched, with his usual air of moral purity and self-assurance.
Those witnesses’ accounts weren’t credible, the Justice Department has said. But Lawrence O’Donnell, a big TV star, hasn’t yet told his viewers!
For him, the basic facts seem to be unchanged, as we saw on Morning Joe. For Lawrence, being a massively-paid corporate “journalist” seems to mean never having to say that your star eyewitness was wrong!
Does that seem like a sound approach? If not, you’ve come to the right place! All week long, we’ll review the things we haven’t been told about that fatal shooting and its aftermath. We’ll recall what Lawrence’s star witness said—and we’ll show you what the Justice Department has said about her statements.
We’ll also recall the statements by the witnesses CNN featured again and again. (Calling Anderson Cooper!) And we’ll show you what the Justice Department has said about the witnesses who refused to come forward and tell the truth because they feared reprisals.
Lawrence’s gorge was rising last week. As usual, though, his basic statement seemed to be basically wrong.
Rush and Sean have always toyed with the American public this way. Thanks to big corporate players like Lawrence, we liberals get toyed with now too.
Tomorrow: Calling Anderson Cooper:
“Witness 118’s accounts are riddled with internal inconsistencies, inconsistencies with the physical and forensic evidence, and inconsistencies with credible witness accounts...When federal prosecutors and agents challenged the inconsistencies in her accounts, Witness 118 conceded that she likely assumed facts that she did not witness herself based on talking with other residents in the Canfield Green complex and watching the news.”
“It is unknown at what point she actually witnessed the shootings, if at all.”