Charlie LeDuff Wants to be ‘Of Service’

By Kevin Eck 

There’s a moment in one of Charlie LeDuff’s reports from Ferguson, MO, that shows you what his style of reporting is really about. The scene will make you hold your breath a little. It might make you mad, or uncomfortable. It’s the scene where he almost gets knocked out by a kid swinging a traffic cone.

From watching LeDuff’s stories, it seems that moment happens a lot, kind of like the device Kurosawa used in his films where someone always draws out a plan showing what’s going to happen next. LeDuff never said his plan was to make you uncomfortable. But sometimes seeing life as it is can do that to you.


LeDuff was recently named national correspondent for FOX Television Stations and has a series called “The Americans with Charlie LeDuff.” The title is inspired by a book by another man who saw Americans as they were, photographer Robert Frank.

The reporter who still does work for Detroit FOX owned station WJBK went down to Ferguson to see what was happening. He’s from Detroit. He likes to get into the thick of it. “That’s the thing. I was there,” said LeDuff. “You see the tear gas. Get the press conference. You see the tear gas. You get the press conference. OK, and what else?” asked LeDuff.

That ‘what else’ was a man named DJ. “The guy is awesome,” said LeDuff. “Very strong. Very handsome. Sort of a warrior poet.”

In the scene, LeDuff and DJ are in front of a store. There are a few other men approaching looking to loot the store. But DJ won’t have it. He’s calling for police. “See how elegant and sort of how he projected himself?” said LeDuff describing DJ as he was that night. He then repeats what DJ told the looters. “It should be a T Shirt,” said LeDuff. “Knockin’ me out ain’t gonna do no justice.”

LeDuff described that moment as, “One of the most remarkable things in my long life that I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of things.”

But that’s not the scene we’re talking about. The moment we’re talking about happens after DJ and LeDuff lose the stand-off with the looters

Some kids started throwing rocks at him and his cameraman, Matt Phillips. LeDuff almost gets taken out when one kid whacks him with a traffic cone. LeDuff stands his ground. It looks like he might be in trouble.

“And then a man,” said LeDuff, setting the scene. “He’s a black man, saved me. Didn’t he?” he asked. “So doesn’t all that show you something?”

LeDuff told TVSpy he wants his reports to be “of service.” When asked what kind of service he wants them to be, he answered, “Peace. Peace man. Let’s talk.”

Here’s LeDuff’s second piece in his series about Ferguson.