(AP/Patrick Semansky)

Jumping the Gun: Fox News falsely reports that Baltimore police shot protester in the back

Fox News' Shep Smith offers sincere apology for his network's error


Scott Eric Kaufman
May 4, 2015 11:07PM (UTC)

The foreign affairs reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, Hannah Allam, is reporting that police in Baltimore have shot "another black man in the back while he was running away."

The story is developing, but at the moment, Allam is reporting that:

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Allam explained that she was only in the area in order to shoot "b-roll for a story" when a police helicopter appeared above and demanding that everyone step away from the police.

More photographs from the scene are beginning to appear on Twitter:

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But confusion appears to be the order of the day at the moment:

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Fox News host Greta Van Susteren tweeted that one of her network's crews witnessed the shooting:

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Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin was on the crew Van Susteren mentioned. He told Fox News that "I was getting ready to do a live shot for my shift. I was sitting in the car, scribbling on my notes for the next live shot, and he ran right in front of us."

"I never saw the individual turn and do anything I would consider an aggressive act, but we did see the officer draw his weapon and I counted one gunshot," he added.

Tobin also said he "clearly saw a revolver on the sidewalk," and that the man who had been shot appeared to be "in bad shape" before being taken away in an ambulance.

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This is reportedly video of the scene shortly after the shooting.



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

UPDATE I: The Baltimore Police Department is denying that anyone has been shot:

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UPDATE II: Allam is reporting that witnesses are now disputing whether the man was shot:

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UPDATE III: The BPD is asking the media to attend a briefing on the incident:

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UPDATE IV: Baltimore police told reporters that the Fox News correspondent was incorrect. There were two separate incidents, and in neither of them was anyone shot.

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UPDATE V:

Shep Smith officially apologized for Tobin's reporting in a heartfelt fashion, saying:

Sounds like what happened is we screwed up…. Mike Tobin thought he saw somebody get shot. And there was a gun and a patient on a stretcher and there is would a woman who said she saw the cop gun him down and there’s going to be violence and all the rest of that. And what we have is nothing. And the truth is, according to police, there is no gunshot victim.

These are not normal environs to most people — places where there are transactions on the street, as the woman put it. That’s not how everybody lives everyday. That’s not how Mike Tobin lives; and that’s not how Leland Vittert lives; and that’s not how our security guard lives.

But from everything we’ve learned from that scene, over the past weeks, that is part of life there. And that’s part of the problem there. And a bunch of people who are trained at this sort of thing, saw it, and it wasn’t real. And now something has been created there that is wrong, and unnecessary.

We were wrong. Our people on scene were wrong. Theirs was an error that was honest and straightforward and our duty as journalists is not to make mistakes and when we make mistakes we are duty-bound to correct them immediately and as clearly as possible.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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