It seems that high-profile cases involving race and death — from O.J. Simpson’s trial to George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin — always bring along one thing: endless media speculation.
The story from Ferguson, Missouri, where a young, unarmed black man was shot dead by police, seems to be no different, and when police released video footage Friday that purportedly showed the victim, Michael Brown, robbing a convenience store shortly before the shooting incident, many jumped to interpret the video and its implications for the developing case.
But later Friday night, a vacationing Bill O’Reilly called into Fox News with a simple message: take a step back.
“You don’t want to try this case on television,” O’Reilly said on Fox’s “The Five.” “We in the media, we should not be trying this case on either side.”
O’Reilly spoke out against people who have ”no blankin’ idea what happened” trying the case before the facts are clear.
“Decent people step back and allow the facts to emerge,” O’Reilly said, adding that witness statements should be taken with a grain of salt until those statements are made in a court of law.
“It doesn’t matter what you say on television,” he said. “It matters what you say under oath.”
Besides the media, O’Reilly laid into “racial agitators,” like Al Sharpton, who he said have seized on the incident and fanned the flames of unrest before the facts surrounding the shooting could come to light.
“People unfortunately these days believe what they want to believe, and they’re not waiting to see what really happened,” he said, later adding:
I hate this ‘No Justice, No Peace’ slogan. I hate this. Whose justice are you talking about? Yours? Al Sharpton’s justice? If you want Al Sharpton’s justice, you are going to have anarchy in this country.
O’Reilly also criticized Ferguson law enforcement for mishandling the incident:
They’re in over their heads there in Ferguson, they don’t know how to handle it. They don’t know how to hold a press conference, they don’t know how to ask questions, they don’t know how to do anything. Let the professionals come in. The State of Missouri should be running this show.
Over all, O’Reilly urged people not to jump to conclusions.
“When the story first broke we were told that the victim was just a regular guy, but now we see he wasn’t a regular guy,” O’Reilly noted of the released surveillance video.
As for the cop who shot Brown, identified Friday as Darrell Wilson, O’Reilly said, ”Even if you’re a cop, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter