Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday lambasted the national news media, saying left-leaning mainstream news outlets push false anti-police narratives and seize on a handful of incidents to portray law enforcement as “bastards.”
Speaking in New Orleans at an annual police chiefs conference, Mr. Barr accused the press of “hyperventilating” when the police shoot an unarmed citizen.
He said a “deceitful national media” is seizing “upon relatively few incidents to scapegoat police as a whole and cultivate a false narrative that our police are systemically evil.”
Mr. Barr continued his strong attacks on the media, saying they support the “throwing of bricks and rocks at our police officers” and promote anti-police rhetoric like “police are bastards” and “they should be fried in a pan like bacon.”
“America is fortunate to have the professional police leaders and departments today despite the constant propaganda of the media. The American people recognize that,” he said.
He accused the media of making police officers’ jobs “10 times more difficult.”
Mr. Barr said the media has unfairly concealed the risks posed to officers in its coverage of police shootings.
For example, he accused the media of “hyperventilating” when police shoot a suspect with a knife, “but ignore that that poses a mortal danger to the officer.”
“[The] press frequently seizes on the fact of how many shots are fired. But officers are trained to fire until they see the threat eliminated,” he said.
Mr. Barr’s comments follow a summer of police brutality and racial injustice protests across the country. The death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police and the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police have fueled calls to defund the police.
Some of the protests were marred by violence, looting and torched businesses.
Mr. Barr spoke at the Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization that represents police chiefs and sheriffs of the 78 largest law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada.
He referred to those seeking to defund police departments as “the soft-on-crime crowd,” adding that community police won’t work without a strong criminal justice system that puts criminals behind bars.
The shifting of resources out of police departments towards social services to stop crime is a “false dichotomy,” Mr. Barr said.
“I think everyone here today would agree that tough law enforcement cannot be the only solution. We must also address the pathologies that contribute to crime,” Mr. Barr said. “But they are not alternative approaches. They must be complementary … Law and order is the foundation of all social progress.”