We’ve heard this argument before: Black men’s anti-police mentality can be attributed to an absence of black fathers in the home.
Sean Bergin, a white TV reporter with News 12 New Jersey, found himself in hot water for espousing that view during a report that was broadcast on Sunday, the Associated Press reports.
Bergin’s report included controversial remarks from Angelique Campbell, a widow whose husband was slain by police officers after he allegedly shot and killed a rookie Jersey City, N.J., police officer. Campbell said of the shooting incident that her husband should have gunned down more cops, but she later apologized for making the statement.
When Bergin heard that some of the police officers were incensed that the TV station was going to air the story with the widow’s comments, he took it upon himself to offer his own commentary. “It’s important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities. The underlying cause of all of this, of course, young black men growing up without fathers,” Bergin said, reports AP.
News 12 responded initially by suspending Bergin without pay on Monday and with pay on Tuesday, but then moved to cut his coverage to one story a week. Bergin, who had been covering New Jersey as well as New York City’s Westchester County and Long Island suburbs for the station as a contract employee, also had his coverage limited to Long Island. The decision resulted in Bergin’s pay being slashed from about $1,300 to $300 a week, according to AP.
The TV station released a statement: “It is News 12’s policy that reporters must be objective and not state personal opinions on air,” but declined to comment further on the internal disciplinary action, AP notes.
Bergin has decided to leave the TV station after seven years but defended his words. “If I had it to do over again, I would do the exact same thing,” Bergin said, according to AP. “I broke the rules. I knew I was breaking the rules. But sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing.”
He asserted that the media should be more attentive to the problem of young black men growing up without fathers.
Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, weighed in on Bergin’s assessment, suggesting it was flawed. “Are there problems in the inner city with kids without fathers? Yes. But does that make kids violent? No, there are a lot of kids without fathers who go to college, graduate and become upstanding citizens,” Butler said, reports AP. “He’s talking about a social phenomenon where there’s lack of opportunity in communities.”