CNSNews.com just loved it when President Trump tweeted at the height of unrest following the police-custody death of George Floyd, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Patrick Goodenough gushed in a May 29 article:
As a police precinct in Minneapolis went up in flames overnight, President Trump tweeted that he has offered Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz military support, and added a warning: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The same day, Susan Jones complained that Twitter "masked" Trump's tweet with a message stating that it "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence." She then touted Trump's executive order attacking social media. Goodenough similarly complained that Twitter "limited the visibility of Trump's tweet."
Melanie Arter noted the tweet in a June 1 article, and in a separate article that day quoted Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (whom she neglected to identify as a Republican) calling the tweet "inflammatory" and "not helpful."
None of these articles, however, mentioned the origin of the phrase: with racist andsegrationist officials during the 1960s. A real news outlet reported:
In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time.
"He had a long history of bigotry against the black community," said professor Clarence Lusane of Howard University.
According to Lusane, Headley may have borrowed the phrase from Eugene "Bull" Connor, who had been the notorious public safety commissioner in Birmingham, Ala. Connor was a segregationist who directed the use of police dogs and fire hoses against black demonstrators.
Segregationist presidential candidate George Wallacealso used the phrase during the 1968 campaign.
CNS later alluded to this in the most weirdly oblique way. A June 8 article by Arter noted an interview between CBS "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan and Condoleezza Rice, former national security adviser under President George W. Bush:
Brennan invited Rice to criticize Trump, asking her about his tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
But Rice steered a neutral course:
"The president, obviously, the shooting and looting, he said that he didn't know that historical context. And so I would say, think about the historical context before you say something because it is a deep wound.
"And the presidency is special in that regard. People look to the Oval Office, as we've looked to the Oval Office throughout our history, for -- for messages, for signals. And as I said, the president has used some language that I am really very -- very much admire, like the resilience of the American people. Just be careful about those messages.
But nowhere in her article did Arter explain what that "historical context" was or include any explanation of it from the interview, so its readers may not know there was a controversy over the tweet since it had previously censored the discission.
That's unhelpful reporting and doesn't inform CNS' readers. Then again, misinforming them may be the point.