Fox News-style sociology: "There is a Ferguson effect because police officers say there is one -- they're afraid of everyone"

For a legal expert, Peter Johnson Jr. really doesn't seem to understand how evidence works

By Scott Eric Kaufman
May 25, 2016 5:21PM (UTC)
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Peter Johnson Jr. (Credit: Fox News)

On Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. continued the network's assault on the Black Lives Movement in the wake of the acquittal of another officer linked to the arrest of Freddie Gray by insisting that measures taken to preserve the civil rights of members of the African-American community are, in fact, endangering it.

He began by telling Ainsley Earhardt the police officers are now afraid to do their job for fear that videos of them doing so will be posted on YouTube. "There is a 'Ferguson Effect,'" he said, referring to the pet conservative theory that officers will refuse to do their job for fear of being charged after the fact. "Police officers are afraid because they say they afraid," Johnson continued, speaking on behalf of all police officers everywhere.


"They're afraid of being arrested themselves," he said, citing no evidence whatsoever. "They're afraid of stopping people, they're afraid of frisking people, they're afraid of everyone" he added, again sans evidence. "Look at Chicago alone," Johnson said, citing every conservative's favorite example, "with a 90 percent decrease in stop-and-frisks, and what happened? A 60 percent increase in the homicide rate."

Of course, he provided no evidence that there was a causal connection between these developments -- but the suggestion is suggestive enough for Fox News viewers, and Johnson too, who said that "it leads anyone with any knowledge of the criminal justice system to conclude that police are afraid."

What it would lead anyone who has taken a statistics or sociology class to believe is, however, irrelevant to the likes of Johnson.


Watch the entire segment below via Fox News.

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

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