May
03
2012

Fox Host Leaps to Link Occupy to White Powder Mailings

On New York City Fox station WNYW, Good Day New York celebrated May Day by attempting to link the Occupy Wall Street movement to the mailing of letters containing white powder and the greeting "Happy May Day."

On a segment where Good Day hosts Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto were joined by NYPD commission Ray Kelly–Greg Kelly's father, and a frequent guest on his son's show–the younger Kelly all but concluded that Occupy was behind the frightening mailing that saw seven letters delivered to six banks and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Greg Kelly noted that the powder had been identified as harmless, then announced what would have been a bombshell if he had had any evidence. The letters, said the host, "are being linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The contents of the letter seriously suggest that Occupy Wall Street had something to do with these letters with the powder inside." Kelly then asked the commissioner:

What about the link to Occupy Wall Street movement? The content of the letter, according to the Times, has a reference to "Happy May Day." May 1. Occupy Wall Street is planning some pretty big disruptions throughout the city today. This letter is linked to Occupy Wall Street, or not?

New York City’s top police official then answered the imprudent question imprudently: "I think it's reasonable to assume. Yes."

The commissioner had nothing further to add in the way of evidence linking Occupy to the mailings–besides enumerating several protest marches planned for May Day, including ones that had explicit permission from the police to proceed.

There were no probing questions, no discussion of who stood to gain from tying the mailings to Occupy, virtually nothing in the way of actual journalism.

Introducing the piece, Good Day's Kelly had mentioned that the story was "reminiscent of the anthrax attacks" of 2001–when journalists and politicians received doses of actual anthrax in the mail, accompanied by messages proclaiming "DEATH TO AMERICA," "ALLAH IS GREAT" and the like.

Kelly didn't mention that media outlets embarrassed themselves on that story, fingering Al-Qaeda (Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01) and Iraq (ABC World News Tonight, 10/28/01) for the anthrax–which the FBI ended up tracing back to U.S. Army biological weapons labs.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.