Right-wing media erupts in incoherent rage after Derek Chauvin is found guilty

Tucker Carlson mocks Chauvin verdict as "please don't hurt us"; Tomi Lahren asks, "Is Foot Locker safe tonight?"

Published April 21, 2021 9:45AM (EDT)

Tomi Lahren (Getty/Joshua Blanchard)
Tomi Lahren (Getty/Joshua Blanchard)

With nationwide emotions running high following the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder George Floyd, right-wing media reacted in opposite fashion to the general public, attempting to infuriate followers and lash out at the verdict. 

Many on the right, both in media and politics, invoked conservatives' word of the year, suggesting that the trial was "rigged" or impacted by "mob rule." Other, more "mainstream," conservative figures complained about the remarks made by President Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who praised the verdict and called for a broader push for racial justice. 

Some of the most shocking remarks came late on Tuesday night during Fox News host Laura Ingraham's program, where right-wing YouTuber Brandon Tatum made an incoherent case for a sinister conspiracy, suggesting that the media aims to have Black people confront police in order to be shot in exchange for a large payoff.

"And these political pundits and these political talking heads, they want you to fight the police, they want you to be killed so they can make all this money, they can promote it on the news, they can get a payout with the family, and you're going to be dead as a doornail," Tatum stated, who is currently himself at war with fellow Black conservatives

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, hours after the verdict, opined that the jury's implicit statement amounted to "please don't hurt us." 

"Everyone understood perfectly well the consequences of an acquittal in this case," Carlson said. "After nearly a year of burning and looting and murder by BLM, that was never in doubt."

Carlson then proceeded to ask rhetorical questions, addressing Chauvin's potential sentence of 40 years in prison. (Chauvin's actual sentence will not be decided for about eight weeks.) "Is that a fair punishment?" the Fox News host demanded. "Is the officer guilty of the specific crimes for which he was just convicted?" 

Later during his Tuesday evening program, Carlson cut off a guest who pointed out that Chauvin, according to several law enforcement witnesses at his trial, had clearly used excessive force in restraining Floyd. "I just think that it was excessive, and it shouldn't have happened," said former New York City corrections officer Ed Gavin, who was about to move on to another point before being interrupted by Carlson.

Evidently impatient with this argument, Carlson remarked, "Yeah, but the guy that did it looks like he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison, so I'm kind of more worried about the rest of the country. Thanks to police inaction, in case you haven't noticed, [it's] like boarded up. That's more my concern." Gavin attempted to continue, but Carlson said: "Nope! Done. Thank you." 

Other right-wing pundits online also attempted to sow discord. "Is the Foot Locker safe tonight? Should be, right? Justice, right? No need to steal in the name of George Floyd anymore, right?" Fox Nation personality Tomi Lahren remarked. Responding to a comment from CNN's Don Lemon that "justice has been served" in the case, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro responded that "we all know he would never have said this had the reverse verdict been reached."

Newsmax host Rob Schmitt claimed that the jury decided to "sacrifice" Chauvin to "the mob." One America News (OAN) correspondent and neo-Nazi sympathizer Jack Posobiec, after the verdict was released, said that "jurors may have feared for their lives," baselessly speculating there might have been "jury tampering."  

Ex-President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, during Steve Bannon's "WarRoom" podcast on Tuesday afternoon, suggested that the case "was subverted by the media." 

Even further to the right, personalities such as young white nationalist "groyper" guru Nicholas Fuentes were angered by the verdict. He tweeted, "Rigged System." Far-right Gateway Pundit blogger Cassandra Fairbanks wrote on Twitter, "Poor Chauvin. This is awful. He is a political prisoner. Nobody can change my mind on this," but later deleted the tweet. 

As Salon's Jon Skolnik noted Tuesday upon the verdict being read to the nation, "Floyd's death, caught on tape as he repeated the words 'I can't breathe' 27 times in the first four minutes and 45 seconds of the incident, caused protests to erupt across the world last summer. Chauvin had faced three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin is now heading to jail for the first time since his initial arrest." 

Some right-wingers appear to pin their hopes of overturning the verdict on the supposed effect of remarks by Democratic politicians calling for justice. Legal experts suggest that is unlikely to be a successful argument for reversal. "If you're relying on that for your appeal, that is not a hopeful situation," defense attorney Ken White told Law & Crime. 

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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