Reporter Out After Controversial Commentary About Blacks

A New Jersey TV news reporter first sparks outrage by interviewing a cop killer’s wife … then adds some commentary about Blacks that has him looking for a new job. See it here.

By Chris Hoenig

Reporter fired after commentary about BlacksNew Jersey TV reporter Sean Bergin is out of a job after blaming a cop killer’s race for the outrage he received after interviewing the man’s wife.

Bergin, a freelance reporter with cable news outlet News12, filed a report on Sunday about the shooting death of a 23-year-old rookie police officer outside of a Jersey City pharmacy. At the end of the piece, Bergin included a commentary in which he blames “the anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities” on “young Black men growing up without fathers.”

The 49-year-old, who is white, said he decided to add the commentary right before going on the air after hearing the outrage about the use of his interview with the cop killer’s widow. In the report, Bergin included clips of Angelique Campbell wishing that her husband, 27-year-old ex-convict Lawrence Campbell, had killed more cops.

“He should’ve took more with him,” Campbell said in one excerpt. “If they were gonna stand over my husband and shoot him like a f—ing dog, he should’ve took them all the f— out. That’s how I feel.”

Campbell allegedly walked into the pharmacy around 4 a.m. on Sunday, armed with a knife, and assaulted an armed security guard so he could steal his gun. After telling pharmacy employees that he was “going to be famous” as he waited for cops to arrive, Campbell walked out and shot Officer Melvin Santiago in the head as he sat in his patrol car. Fellow police officers returned fire, killing Campbell on the spot.

“Sorry for the officer’s family. That’s, you know, whatever,” Campbell’s widow told Bergin. “But at the end of the day, I’ve got a family, too. All they care about is the officer.”

Outrage had already been growing after a large memorial was set up in Campbell’s neighborhood, honoring the cop killer. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop ordered the memorial taken down.

“We were besieged, flooded with calls from police officers furious that we would give media coverage to the life of a cop killer. It’s understandable,” Bergin said as he moved from factual reporting into editorial commentary. “We decided to air it because it’s important to shine a light on the anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities. This same, sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City to Newark and Patterson to Trenton.

“It has made the police officer’s job impossible and it has got to stop. The underlying cause of all of this, of course: Young Black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.”

News12 executives reportedly suspended Bergin for two days—one with pay—and told him they would bring him back only one day a week, during which he was only to do feature stories—no hard news—and would be moved from the network’s New Jersey bureau to its office on Long Island.

Bergin, who had been working six or seven days a week for the company, said he declined the offer and left his position.

“If I had it to do over again, I would do the exact same thing,” Bergin said. “I broke the rules. I knew I was breaking the rules. But sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing.”

In a FOX News interview on Wednesday, Bergin not only defended his commentary once more, but also used a phrase seen by many American Indians as derogatory in explaining why he went on air with it. “There’s no doubt that I went off the reservation,” he told Megyn Kelly. “I made a couple of rogue remarks at the end. I knew what I was doing.

“This has got to stop. Somebody has to have the guts to stand up and point at this and say, ‘Hey man, we gotta start talking about this.'”

Bergin’s commentary only spread misinformation, according to media executives.

“Are there problems in the inner city with kids without fathers? Yes. But does that make kids violent? No,” said Bob Butler, a reporter with KCBS Radio in San Francisco and president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “There are a lot of kids without fathers who go to college, graduate and become upstanding citizens. He’s talking about a social phenomenon where there’s lack of opportunity in communities.”

A CDC study has shown that Black fathers are actually more involved with their children than white or Latino dads, whether they live with their kids or not. Black fathers are more likely to feed their young children, bathe and diaper them, help them with their homework, take them to and from activities, even just talk with them about their day, according to the study.

Black Fathers Study

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty is up about 30 percent over last year. Firearms-related deaths, which account for about 40 percent of officer deaths, are up 65 percent.

Last year, there were more traffic-related officer deaths than firearm-related. This year, the numbers are about equal.

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  • When we stereotype and generalize, we usually end up making fools of ourselves. So, let’s reverse the roles shall we? Mr. Bergin, would you agree with the following stereotype and generalization: “The underlying cause of all of the murders of children in the United States is right wingers’ in our rural communities constantly insisting that everyone – including the mentally ill – should own a gun. This has got to stop. Somebody has to have the guts to stand up and point at this and say ‘Hey Man, we gotta start talking about this.’ ” What do you say Mr. Bergin?

    • The difference being, of course, that there is some validity to your stereotypical example.

  • Jeffrey Brooks

    Again a person, this news reporter, who does not know what he is talking about. I am a black male and veteran of the armed forces. I do not advocate harming police but this individual had it ALL wrong. According to the report above, black males are more involved with their children than some other groups. The reason for the issues between blacks and the police is strickly because of the way blacks are treated by the police. Period.. I have been stopped and harrassed by the police, black and white for absolutely no reason many times.. Oh, well there was a reason, driving while black. The police have a very difficult job, but they are part of the problem. I have met very nice police officers, then I have met some who were criminals in uniform. We need better relations between minority communities and the police dept.

    • Jeff,

      I’m what the Federal Government calls Black. I am a male. I don’t know how they came up with the White and Black label, because black is the essence of color and white is the absence of color (lol). I feel we don’t need better relation with law enforcement; we need the community and the police to stop committing ‘crimes.’

      The act of killing this police cannot be justified under any circumstances. According to what I’m reading, this police wasn’t in the wrong, not by any stretch of the imagination. The person that killed him had no rights whatever. By law he deserved to killed according to the rigtheousness of the law.

      I was stopped because I was driving a brand new upscale car. The police said he didn’t we the temporary plates that were inside on the back window. When he saw it, he still wanted my license. I wouldn’t give it to him, until he listened to my five minute speech. After he came back, he wanted my insurance card. I filed a report. The Chief of Police exonerated him on two out of the three charges. And so, I sent a friendly rebuttal to the Chief’s office, showing how stupid he was by finding the officer guilty for lying, but exonerating him on the other charges. If he lied about one thing, that corrupts the whole testimony.

      Needless to say, I don’t get stopped anymore. Now, going back to this stupid self-made reporter. Doesn’t he know about the recent shooting by the white husband and wife team?

  • I guess the widow was a young Black man who grew up without a father – NOT! The employer should have fired him for cause on the spot, not given him the option to resign.

  • To Jeffrey Brooks: Excellent comments! I too believe the root of the problem is the very wide divide in terms of fair and equitable treatment by police towards African Americans vs. other races. To actually foster positive relations, law enforcement – nationally – needs sensitivity training. I truly believe it all begins there. Thank you.

  • Agreeing wih both Gregg’s and Jeffrey’s comments.

    GUNS are a LARGE part of the problem. The gun mentality in this country; the “wild, wild west” attitude. Even though Campbell stole the security guard’s gun to do his deed, there seems to be a disconnect between the ideal of having and using guns, and the reality of the damage that guns do in this country. The shootings that have occurred at shopping malls, movie theaters, and especially at schools and colleges, are not because of “young Black men growing up without fathers”, they are because of the easy access to guns and the societal disconnect between the ideal and reality of guns.

    On the other front, historically, police have NOT had a good rapport in Black communities. I live in a Black neighborhood; my family and I are law-abiding citizens. The majority of police officers in the county are White. When I call police to my home to report a problem, I shouldn’t have to hear a White police officer say things like, “What do you expect in [insert name of Black neighborhood],” but I have. I’m not advocating or endorsing what Campbell did, but the problem is because of the long-standing mistrust between police and members of Black communities. Police tend to see everyone in our communities as the enemy, rather than thinking that we face the same issues as any other community. We were once stopped by police in front of our home after stopping at a stop sign, and being accused of making a “corner drug buy”. I was extremely offended, and I expressed this to the officers, one of whom said, “Calm down, calm down,” as if to say I had no reason to be offended. This is what Black people in Black neighborhoods face on a regular basis. Police need to engender trust amongst the people THEY SERVE, because we pay the taxes that put them on the street and pay their salary, and they need to do this FIRST before we can have the same trust in them.

  • Sometime I wonder where our stereotypes develop. I grew up without a father and have friends that did as well, we never once have thought of causing harm to a police officer. I think all of us, regardless of race, have run across people who have little or no pause in causing harm to others, but this reporter presumes that all morality and reasoning skills spring from having a father in your family. Maybe that was true in his family, but what an odd jump to say that everyone is that way.

  • I am a 62 year old African – American male, a father and grandfather. I grew up in the inner city and fully understand why so much anger exists towards police. However, there is a world of difference between having justified anger and a predisposition for violence just because the other guy is a cop.

    I agree with Mr. Brooks……..we need to improve the dialogue between law enforcement and the Black communities across the country. When police assume a negative and react solely on their assumptions, it sets the stage for a reaction by the person being stereotyped. When you add the Black-White disparities in healthcare, education, jobs, the criminal justice system, etc., a reasonable person must certainly know our society is creating a powder keg.

    As for the “reason” being Black boys not having Black fathers, I think Mr. Bergin had it wrong. Generally, Black fathers ARE involved in their children’s lives. But, instead of just focusing on education, self-image and citizenship, we must also teach of boys to keep their hands visible on the steering wheel if they’re involved in a traffic stop. We must teach them that they will be followed, detained or search when shopping. They must learn that, even when they obey the law, get a college degree and work hard, they will still be viewed by many as deficient, incompetent or less capable.

    Our country has improved, but we still have a very long way to go.

  • Perhaps he should read a new book that is out about what it is like to live in an innercity, which is under seige by the police with young men being arrested, in many cases, for little reason at all and thus setting up a cycle of black men running perpectually from the cops. (Someone help me with the title, it just came out.) The author actually lived in the city (I want to say Philly) to experience all this at first hand and was actually there when cops conducted raids (to also be manhandled by the police).

    This so-called mentality was not something made of wholecloth. The entire way that blacks and expecially black men have been treated and still are treated in this country by the police has fostered and reinforced this “attitude” of us versus them because the reality is, it is us versus them.

    Having said that, I think her comments are very unfortunate. Two families are grieving. Her husband was committing a crime and endangering the life of innocent people. A very young man is dead because of it.

    His job is to report. He’s not a commentor. And if you are going to make comments, know what you are talking about.

    Sometimes I wish I had the magical power of changing the color of someone’s skin like him and then dumping him in a black, no, a white neighborhood and watch how fast he’s arrested for WWB. Might give him a new and enlightening perspective.

    I’m still distressed by her comments, though.

  • “This has got to stop. Somebody has to have the guts to stand up and point at this and say, ‘Hey man, we gotta start talking about this.’ -Sean Berger

    “… this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot. In things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, a nation of cowards,” -Eric Holder

    So Berger’s damned if he does, and damned if he won’t, so maybe he should just shut up.

  • Blaming violence on a lack of father is like blaming violence on poverty. However, the murderers wife’s comments are disturbing as is the community memorial for the killer.

  • Death by cop. Well, Mr. Campbell wanted to be famous so I guess now he is. Unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. There was supposed to be another news report from the Chase NJ show where Mrs. Campbell was interviewed. Not sure if it aired yet but sad / bad business for all involved.

  • When black males stop making the headlines every time there is a crime then there will be a reason to change.

    • Luke Visconti

      Did you even read the article, you ignoramus? The “commentary” was WRONG. Just like you, bigot. “Reality”? What a joke. You should call yourself “Dopey.” Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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