Utah Media White Washes Story for American Fork Police

by Ben McClintock 28. July 2014 12:35

Earlier in July we reported on American Fork resident Mark Byrge and his abuse and gun confiscation by American Fork police.

The American Fork Police department's 2 years of abuse of Mr. Byrge has now culminated Tuesday (July 22) with his arrest as well as charges being filed against his wife and 17 year old son.

The bulk of the charges appear to be a clear case of political retaliation, making Mark essentially a political prisoner in the United States. For example, one charge filed against Mr. Byrge is “possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person”. In the state of Utah a “restricted person” is one who has been convicted of a felony. State records show that Mark has never been convicted of a felony, so unless the police are saying that he will be convicted of a felony (making him a felon before conviction), that charge is a clear case of retribution. Additionally, in the American Fork PD's investigation, they refused testimony from neighbors that offered details that conflicted with the official story. If the truth is what they are after, why only accept testimony from the person you are claiming is the victim?

Sadly, Utah media outlets are complicit and are actually acting as agents of the government to validate the state's actions against Mr. Byrge. Using similar tactics as American Fork PD, KSL TV did a report on Mark's arrest, and in the report spoke with a neighbor who said, “He (Mark) hobbles around, there is no 'capturing' or anything. It's (the accusations) just hilarious to me.” Normally in these news reports you have the typical, “he was a quiet man, we didn't know him very well...” In this case though, we have a neighbor who knew Mark and thought the entire thing was laughable and ridiculous, pointing out the obvious impossibility of Mark being guilty of the charges against him. In his most serious voice, Andrew Adams responds, “Prosecutors aren't laughing, they've charged Byrge's wife as well...” This is clear editorializing of a news story when spend you 5 seconds saying the charges are ridiculous, followed by a dismissive statement that expands on the government narrative. 99% of the story focused completely on the government's story, and no follow up on an eye witness claiming the official line was “hilarious”?

Deseret News wasn't much better with their “news story”. It almost appears to be a cut and paste of a police blotter giving practically no additional information except what you would find in a typical press release. They looked at Mr. Byrge's Facebook page that mentions police brutality, and they also reference a detailed (they call lengthy) letter Mark wrote to KSL trying to get them to cover the perjured officers conduct towards him, but make no reference to any investigation they did or did not do to see if those facts are correct, all the while reporting the governments side in detail as if it were fact.

KSL and Deseret News were the first news outlets to report on the arrest, followed by channel 4 (Salt Lake ABC affiliate) who actually sat down and interviewed Mark after the charges were filed, but before the raid on Mr. Byrge's home. The report given as written text, underneath the report that aired (which 99% of the people watched) was fair and gave both sides and used words such as “charged with”, “accused of” etc. Neutral, factual phrases. However, what aired on TV was much different. The “reporter” makes statements such as “I learned, last night after I left, that he was selling prescription drugs.” This is blatant slander, and pathetic news reporting. The police are the only ones making this claim. Friends, family, and neighbors say that it's news to them, and that the debt was over rent money loaned, not drugs. Since Mr. Byrge has not been convicted of selling drugs, for this reporter to say that he “learned” Mark was selling drugs is completely irresponsible.

Why would someone guilty of the manufacture and distribution of drugs, who then "kidnapped" and planned on murdering someone, go to the media to tell his side (all without a lawyer to make sure he didn't incriminate himself) of the story and then when he was told by the media that the police had filed charges, he stayed home and waited for them?

The Salt Lake Tribune and Herald Extra's so called “reporting” were both similar to the Deseret News in that it was basically a regurgitation of the police talking points, ending with an interview regarding the campaign for State Senate, this time with the Democrat party boss who claims, contrary to what Mark recounted, that they did not support his candidacy.

Channel 2 was the most biased, giving nothing but the government's side of the story. Channel 2's report only reported the police account of neighbors testimony, not bothering to ask any of the neighbors for themselves, which contradicted the official story, as we showed in the KSL report.

Fox News didn't even try to get the story right.  They mixed up all of the facts of the case. The who, what, when, where and why of the case were almost completely out of order, no matter which version you believe.

Defending Utah, currently a completely self funded news agency, was able to get statements the rest of the so called “News” outlets were not able to? A case of alleged police abuse that leads to the accused being thrown in prison on charges everyone close to Byrge finds laughable and no other news organization thinks it deserves looking into further?

Is this a case of lazy journalism spreading slander and libel that will ruin the reputation of a man possibly suffering a violent vendetta from local police or is it something much worse?




1st Amendment | Liberty Analysis | Police State | Tyranny | Utah Politics

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