Chris Hayes has a long history of making absurd and hateful claims on his nightly MSNBC show, but it appears there is no comment or bizarre conspiracy theory that’s too low for him. On Wednesday night’s edition of All In, Hayes spent an entire segment dismissing America’s rising crime rates, and questioned the motives of any network that dared to cover them.
During the second-to-last segment of the show when Hayes came back from a commercial break, he went into a diatribe in which he dismissed the fact that shoplifting in the United States had spiked in recent months. Hayes started off by whining about one of his favorite targets, Fox News and “right-wing media,” made the story a priority:
One of the big themes of right-wing media and indeed a lot of media -- local news as well this year -- has been the narrative that America is awash in crime. Now It's not totally detached from some real statistics that are quite unnerving. Murders jumped by nearly 30 percent, the largest single-year increase in 2020, that’s last year. The evidence we have so far points to homicides continuing to rise in 2021. So that's real. And really bad. (...) right-wing media is constantly peddling what is, I think a completely propagandistic story, specifically about out-of-control retail theft.
To Hayes’ credit, at least he admits homicides have risen. But for some reason, he's in denial over the out-of-control shoplifting. The leftist host then played a montage of various Fox News hosts covering the shoplifting epidemic, after which he introduced his three guests, one of whom (Amanda Mull), is a writer for The Atlantic magazine who he praised for writing an article that also sought to downplay the shoplifting sprees.
Mull broke down the thesis of her piece which claimed to compare shoplifting rates to last year when most of the United States was locked down isn’t a fair baseline. Instead, she claims that compared to two years ago, shoplifting is actually down.
Hayes in response, as he is known to do, completely drove the conversation into tinfoil hat conspiracy theory land by accusing Fox News of loving to show their viewers footage of black people stealing merchandise from stores:
There is nothing that Fox loves more than surveillance footage of particularly black people stealing a thing. And they will run that 24/7 if they can.
The other two guests were Tim Miller, writer at large for The Bulwark, as well as former Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
Ironically, Miller was somewhat the voice of reason on the panel by admitting “there are boarded-up buildings. And there has been an increase of crime.” Though he did claim Fox was blowing the crime spikes in California "out of proportion" and suggested, "Fox has used that as an excuse to kind of extrapolate this into a nationwide problem..."
Later in the segment, Donna Edwards seemed to suggest Republicans were making the entire thing up by whining “Republicans are actually really good at constructing a narrative that really draws people in.”
MSNBC can keep denying reality all they want but that won’t make the problem of skyrocketing crime go away. All indications are that the policies and politicians they support are the main drivers of the crime that we are seeing in so many of our nation’s major cities.
This latest example of an MSNBC host playing the race card to deflect from skyrocketing crime was brought to you by Mercedes-Benz and Tums. Their information is linked so you can let them know about the biased news they fund.
To read the transcript of the segment click “expand”:
All In with Chris Hayes
CHRIS HAYES: One of the big themes of right-wing media and indeed a lot of media -- local news as well this year -- has been the narrative that America is awash in crime. Now It's not totally detached from some real statistics that are quite unnerving. Murders jumped by nearly 30%, the largest single-year increase in 2020, that’s last year. The evidence we have so far points to homicides continuing to rise in 2021. So that's real. And really bad. On top of the actual story of a genuine increase in interpersonal violence in America amidst this pandemic and its disruptions and dislocations, right-wing media is constantly peddling what is, I think a completely propagandistic story, specifically about out-of-control retail theft.
[Cuts to video clip]
BILL HEMMER (FOX NEWS): So many Democrat-led cities moving to defund police are also seeing a surge in crime this year, especially shoplifting.
UNIDENTIFIED FOX NEWS REPORTER: America's crime crisis is spiraling out of control in Connecticut. Brazen thieves are caught on camera stealing more than $1,500 worth of goods from a grocery store.
DAGEN MCDOWELL (FOX NEWS): In states like California, are becoming the epicenter of other types of lawlessness where they have basically legalized theft.
GREG GUTFELD (FOX NEWS): This is so strange and crazy to see such brazen crime. And that's because it's an internal mutiny of moral and civil order.
[Cuts back to live]
HAYES: Now a reporter I really admire and have for a while named Amanda Mull saw these stories and set out to track down the actual statistics behind those stories for this piece in The Atlantic and found there is, well, basically no evidence to actually support it. And Amanda Mull joins me along with former Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Tim Miller, writer at large for The Bulwark. Amanda, let me start with you on your piece, which was great by the way. It is, you know -- part of this is being driven by these viral videos. I think part of what's happening here, particularly for TV news and particularly for Fox is, people can now capture folks shoplifting in a way they couldn't before. And then that goes on, you know that gets played on TV, and it’s like oh, it's out of control. And then you’ve got a lot of these retailers citing these gargantuan numbers of what their retail loss is. And you decided to look into it. What did you find?
AMANDA MULL: Yes. I realized that I saw the same numbers being cited over and over again, the same experts being cited over and over again. And, you know as a journalist, when you see that happening, that to me indicates that some sort of media campaign might be afoot, which means that I should look into it. So I started digging on these numbers. And as far as like crime statistics goes, I think we've all learned the last two years, that when you're looking at percentage of change of things, it depends what type of baseline you're looking at. So in 2020, the crime statistics were unique. A lot of lower-level crimes were just not addressed in the same way. A lot of them didn't happen at the same rate, because especially in the case of shoplifting. Stores weren't open in a lot of especially these large liberal cities for like a huge portion of the year. People really changed their habits, and changed their everyday lives. And that includes people who might steal things. And just a lot of those stores weren't open. So when you look at 2020 and look at some of the ways that police statistics have changed year on year, you're looking at changes from like historical lows that are completely unprecedented in the history of policing. You're looking at –
MULL: -- At numbers that are not comparable to anything. So you get these really huge percentages of change that are really alarming. But they're based on bad numbers. They're based on like a year of life that did not exist in the same way that any other years of life had existed. So what happens when you look at this year's numbers on theft versus 2019, 2018, 2017, you find that theft is down. Larceny is down. Robbery is down. Property crimes in general are down. Over what they were before the pandemic. But you have this really weird year of statistics that helps make things look terrifying.
HAYES: Yeah, this is my my favorite headline in this, which a headline goes out to the "L.A. Times," headline, "LAPD warned of crime theft but data shows theft, robberies down." That's actually NBC news but "L.A. Times" had a sort of similar headline for that as well. Tim, you know I think there’s something interesting happening here because I think that conservative media understands the power of those images, A. B, it's also the case that like there's the rise in homicides, is a very real thing. And extremely like upsetting thing that policymakers have to deal with and are grappling with in different ways in cities from Philadelphia to Atlanta to Buffalo to New York. But like there is nothing that Fox loves more than surveillance footage of particularly black people stealing a thing. And they will run that 24/7 if they can.
TIM MILLER (THE BULWARK): You know, I think that Fox also sort of also benefited by what is kind of a real change in San Francisco, right? Which is a city right across the bay from me, that is their favorite bogeyman, where there are boarded-up buildings. And there has been an increase of crime. Some of it obviously blown a little out of proportion, some of it really concerning. And you see you know blowback from Liberal members of City Council, you see blowback from the Mayor of San Francisco, frankly. So, I think Fox has used that as an excuse to kind of extrapolate this into a nationwide problem and sort of tie it back into what you're just talking about-- just a real, a very real increase in homicides which is something that’s concerning.
And so I think in order to combat that, Democratic politicians, you know I think the right thing to do is to -- you know is not to play into it by giving, you know the Republican side more fodder that can then play down to voters. I think the New York Post effect is the perfect aspect of this. Right? I think this is why Eric Adams did so well. Right? Like what are people who are not maybe MAGA people but conservatively oriented people who reading the New York Post, in New York, what do they, what is their perception of what is happening? Part of their perception is the narrative in the Post, part of the perception is what they're seeing in their community. And so Eric I think spoke to that perception in a real way that paid off for him well in the Mayorship. And I think that doesn't mean you can't be for criminal justice reform and all this other stuff, but it does mean you have to acknowledge that as part of the political reality.
HAYES: Well to the sort of epistemic question here -- we’re gonna push this a little longer and then I'll go to break, control room -- but Donna, I just want to get as a Democratic representative yourself, someone that did Democratic politics, this point about perception and reality, like before you get to the policy stuff, before you get to any of it, I just find that like I can't actually get through like what's actually happening because the propaganda is so thick. So it's like, just what is actually happening? And that to me is part of what's so sticky about this question here.
DONNA EDWARDS: Well, I mean, no doubt Republicans are actually really good at constructing a narrative that really draws people in. And this with one of those. And so the danger is that, you know, when you're basing your policy on bad data, it means that you're deploying resources in all the ways that don't actually fight the crime that really is up in some, in some communities, I mean namely you know homicide and other kinds of crimes. And so I just, I worry sometimes that Democrats get into this, you know -- will get into this mode of like arguing on the policy front but there's nothing like those videos and pictures that really drive people. And so we have to be careful on that kind of public policy.
HAYES: Yes. The New York Post effect is very real, across the nation. Amanda Mull, who did great reporting on this and whose writing I always enjoy, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you for joining us.