*An “honest misunderstanding.”
That’s what a TV station in Baltimore called an error in a story it aired Sunday that claimed law enforcement officials were facing an increase in threats as nationwide, nonviolent protests against police brutality and misconduct.
Included in the story, which aired on Fox affiliate WBFF, was a clip of a local woman named Tawanda Jones leading a protest where she allegedly urged others to “kill a cop.”
According to the Huffington Post, the clip was from footage filmed earlier this month at the National “Justice For All” March in Washington, D.C. Instead of “kill a cop,” Jones led protestors with the following chant:
“We won’t stop! We can’t stop! Till killer cops are in cell blocks!”
Instead of airing the full clip, WBFF went with a version that cuts off midway through the chant. As a result, an anchor for the station misinterpreted the video and mentioned that Jones said: “We won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop.”
Needless to say, the error was quickly noticed and reported before WBFF apologized to Jones on Monday in a statement.
“Fox45 is apologizing for an error made on Fox45 News at Ten last night. We aired a clip from a protest in Washington, D.C. where we reported protesters were chanting ‘kill a cop,'” the station said. “We here at Fox45 work hard every day to earn your trust and bring you fair and comprehensive news from around the country. Although last night’s report reflected an honest misunderstanding of what the protesters were saying, we apologize for the error.”
In addition to the statement, WBFF apologized to Jones on the air and took steps to remove the story from its website.
“You’d have to be an idiot — someone that hates — to say ‘kill somebody,’ especially some cops that I need to protect my family,” Jones said when a reporter interviewed her about the situation. “We need the cops. My community needs the cops.”
The Post noted that Jones’ motivation for protesting was far from violent in light of her holding weekly nonviolent days of action to call for justice in and accountability in the Baltimore police department since her brother died in police custody in July 2013.
“‘Honest misunderstanding’ would seem to warrant such an explanation rather than asking viewers to accept it on faith,” The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik wrote on Monday as he questioned WBFF’s editorial process in regard to the error and criticized the station for not doing an appropriate job of clarifying how “such an outrageous change in meaning finds its way on air with all its potential to further inflame passions at this emotional time.”
To see WBFF’s report, check out the video below: