To close out his remarks on the Ferguson grand jury ruling, President Obama provided specific instructions to the media on how to cover—and not cover—the situation going forward.
The president said that it’s the media’s “responsibility” to focus our attention not on the “negative reaction” that will “inevitably” occur, but on positive figures, like Michael Brown’s parents, clergy, community leaders, civil rights leaders, activists, and hardworking law enforcement:
I think it’s going to be very important—and I think the media’s going to have a responsibility as well—to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown’s parents, and the clergy, and the community leaders, and the civil rights leaders, and the activists, and law enforcement officials who have been working very hard to try to find better solutions, long-term solutions, to this issue.
There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction and it will make for good TV. But what we want to do is to make sure that we’re also focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that we know is possible. That the vast majority of people in Ferguson, the St. Louis region, in Missouri and around the country are looking for. And I want to be partners with those folks. And we need to lift up that kind of constructive dialogue that’s taking place. Thank you very much.
During the president’s remarks, violence and vandalism began to break out among some of the protestors. Reports on the ground have cited gunshots, bottles and rocks thrown at officers, and news footage shows multiple fires and acts of vandalism, including thedestructive of a police car.