Commentary: 'Fox & Friends' gets Texas town's flag 'ban' wrong

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramJuly 7, 2012 

A Fox & Friends Weekend host's words jarred America awake Sunday.

"There is this city council in Texas," host Alisyn Camerota began, "and they're saying no more American flags!"

What?! No flags?! The week of July Fourth?

What kind of lunatic lefty socialist commie pinko town does that?

Wait -- did Fox really say Mineral Wells?

Five days later, the Home of Crazy Water is still explaining that you can't believe everything you see on cable TV news.

The city's effort to organize and limit cemetery decorations has turned into the latest online shamefest, with knuckleheads worldwide bashing the city and even threatening the City Council over a new policy that was badly explained.

By all accounts, the city wants to keep flags and flowers, but only in vases or brackets attached to each marker, not beside it.

By online descriptions, Woodland Park Cemetery has been filled with hanging baskets, wind chimes, birdhouses, birdbaths, squirrel feeders, settees, lounge chairs and cement statues.

In other words, you can barely tell the cemetery from the Wal-Mart.

But in passing rules to clear away the clutter, city officials mistakenly wrote that flags can be flown alongside graves only around Memorial Day or Veterans Day without explaining that Old Glory or any other flag can always fly from a bracket or vase.

When Army veteran Robert Veach complained about what looked like a flag ban, city officials suspended enforcement until a hearing Tuesday to reconsider.

CBS11 reporter Arezow Doost told the story carefully last week, but the headline was more of a shocker: "City Limits When Flags Can Be Placed Near Veteran Graves."

By Sunday, Fox warped that into: "Texas Town Rules to Ban American Flags Displayed at Grave Sites Year-Round." The network interviewed Veach with no city response.

E-mails and online comments piled up Monday.

"People were understandably upset," said Beth Henary-Watson of the Chamber of Commerce.

City Manager Lance Howerton, in his 18th year, said: "We didn't even know where it was all coming from. We got calls from everywhere. We didn't even know where to start. ... There has never been a ban on the flag."

That's not what Fox viewers thought.

After Camerota introduced the story, Weekend co-host Mike Jeerick sneered, "Bring in the common-sense police."

If only.

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