Fox News personalities are rallying behind Daniel Perry, a Texas man who was convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester, and attacking the district attorney overseeing his case.
On April 7, a Travis County jury convicted Perry of murdering a protester at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020. Perry, then an active-duty Army sergeant and ride-share driver, shot and killed an armed protester named Garrett Foster. In June 2020, a month before the shooting, Perry texted a friend saying, “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex.” Perry’s attorney claimed that he was acting in self-defense, but witnesses indicated that he was driving dangerously close to protesters and that Foster never aimed his weapon at Perry. The jury sided with witnesses who contradicted Perry.
Nonetheless, Tucker Carlson and other Fox News personalities defended Perry and attacked Travis County District Attorney José Garza, whose office prosecuted the case, claiming that Garza unfairly targeted an upstanding conservative and is a shill for philanthropist George Soros.
Carlson campaigns for pardon and rails against “Soros-funded” DA guilty of “legal atrocity”
The same day Perry was convicted, Carlson dedicated a segment of his show to arguing that Perry had acted in self-defense against a “mob of rioters” that included Foster, whom Carlson smeared as “a militant with a history of waving his rifle at people.” Carlson also blamed Austin’s “Soros-funded” district attorney for engineering a politically motivated murder charge, claiming that “means in the state of Texas, if you have the wrong politics, you’re not allowed to defend yourself.”
Carlson ended the segment by criticizing Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for his apparent unwillingness to discuss the “legal atrocity” on Carlson's show. Abbott’s absence, Carlson argued, amounted to an endorsement of the murder conviction. “So that is Greg Abbott’s position: There is no right of self-defense in Texas.”
The next day, Abbott answered Carlson’s call and tweeted that he was “working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry.”
Carlson and Fox News have demonstrated a pattern of blaming “Soros-backed” district attorneys and prosecutors for supposedly allowing crime to go unchecked, but then reflexively defending acts of violence committed against left-wing protestors by perpetrators sympathetic to its right-wing audience. Perhaps the most memorable example is Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois resident who shot several protesters — killing two — during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and subsequently rose to right-wing fame.
In fact, Carlson called upon Rittenhouse to help him plead Perry’s case during his April 10 prime-time show. The two spent an entire segment petitioning Abbott to pardon Perry. Rittenhouse told Carlson that Perry “defended himself” and argued that Perry “knows what he did was right.” For his part, Carlson said, “George Soros can’t pay for people to put his political opponents in jail and then have a Republican governor ignore it.”
After Rittenhouse was acquitted of homicide charges in 2021, Carlson lavished praise on Rittenhouse, calling him a “sweet kid,” while other Fox personalities and guests described Rittenhouse as “a bit of an icon” and a “good kid” who just did “what the government should have done.”
Fox personalities lionize Perry and criticize “activist DA” who “doesn't believe in law and order”
As with Rittenhouse, Fox News is lionizing Perry and framing him as a victim of a “Soros-backed” district attorney with a political agenda:
- On Fox & Friends First, guest co-host Ashley Strohmier described racial justice protests as “riots” before noting of the district attorney, “Garza is being criticized for letting numerous criminals off easy,” and interviewing the family of a murder victim in Austin who said Garza “cherry-picks who he would like to prosecute and who he lets go.”
- Fox & Friends guest co-host Lisa Boothe asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is under federal investigation for allegedly using his position to solicit bribes — if he agreed that “progressive district attorneys are trying to do across the country is nullify our right to self-defense.” Paxton responded that Soros is “dropping nuclear bombs on our state.” In other segments, Boothe claimed that, in Perry’s situation, “I would shoot” and argued that the “far-left Austin DA” and other progressives do not want citizens to defend themselves. “What it comes down to is these DAs, these progressive DAs in the country, they don’t want you to engage in self-defense,” she argued. “I guess you're just supposed to allow yourself to die?”
- On America Reports, one of Fox News’ so-called “straight news” programs, Fox guest Leo Terrell applauded Abbott for “doing the right thing” and argued that Perry had “acted in self-defense.” Terrell then argued that Garza was a “DA who doesn't believe in law and order; he believes in George Soros.” (Guest co-host Bill Melugin also described Garza as “Soros-backed” during a follow-up question.)
- During the same segment, co-host Sandra Smith played a clip featuring Perry’s mother pleading her son’s case. Smith described her sympathetically as “a mother who has gone through quite a lot here, and understandable, her emotion here.”
- During the April 11 edition of Outnumbered, Fox panelists agreed that Perry had been the victim of a rogue district attorney. Co-host Kayleigh McEnany argued that Garza had “campaigned on prosecuting cops” and cited a local crime commission’s charges that Garza had withheld critical evidence from investigations. “When you're a rogue DA funded by George Soros, you get results like this,” McEnany said.
- Meanwhile, right-wing radio host Ben Ferguson argued that Perry had been the victim of an “activist DA” who targeted him for being in the military. “You go to the police, you tell them where you are, you tell them what happened. They say you're good. It's self-defense. You're OK. And a year later, an activist DA comes in and says no, you're in the military. I'm going to go after you because you're in the military."