Fox's Sean Hannity emerges as critic of Minneapolis police

Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity has emerged as an unexpected critic of the Minneapolis police for their actions in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd.

Hannity spent more than 15 minutes on his Fox show Wednesday replaying video of a Minneapolis officer who knelt on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd, who had been taken into custody on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill

“The tape, to me, is devastating,” Hannity said on his radio show Thursday. “I watch it, I get angrier every time.”

His coverage stood out among Fox's prime-time opinion hosts, where colleagues Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham focused on violent protests that erupted in Minneapolis following Floyd's death. They were also unusual for Hannity, who describes himself as “a big supporter of law enforcement.”

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Yet Hannity, who says he trains in the martial arts, decried the “breathtaking” lack of training by the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck and the lack of action to stop him by other officers.

“We believe in the presumption of innocence,” Hannity said. “But I can also say, looking at the videotape, the videotape doesn't lie. And putting somebody's knee on somebody else's neck is extraordinarily hurtful and dangerous.”

Two of Hannity's regular guests who comment on law enforcement matters, Dan Bongino and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, were even stronger in their condemnation of the Minneapolis police.

“This was an abuse of use and force,” Kerik said. “It was ... a killing of someone that should not have died.”

The time spent on the story by Hannity, whose regular audience of three to four million people each night lean reliably right, was notable.

Carlson, by contrast, didn't show the Floyd video but aired a report by Mike Tobin showing angry demonstrators. Carlson condemned CNN for calling people throwing rocks “protesters” instead of “rioters.”

“Democracy cannot exist when people are rioting,” Carlson said.

Ingraham showed a few seconds of the Floyd video on a corner of the screen before introducing another live report by Tobin. She noted that an auto parts store where a fire was set was part of the same chain set ablaze following demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri.

“We don't need any more chaos,” she said. “We need answers and we need justice.”

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Hundreds Protest George Floyd’s Death In Minneapolis

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Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Protesters want the cops involved, who’ve been fired, to face criminal charges.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday evening to protest police violence in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Crowds gathered near the spot where a bystander’s now-viral video captured Floyd on Monday being held face-down by a Minneapolis police officer, who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” Demonstrators — most wearing masks, following requests from organizers based on guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus — then marched toward a police precinct. They held signs with the rallying cries “No justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter” and “Stop lynching us.” 

Later Tuesday evening, police arrived in riot gear at the scene of the protest outside the local precinct and appeared to use tear gas to disperse demonstrators, according to local reporters and photographers. Minneapolis police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday after Floyd’s death. The FBI and Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are investigating the incident. 

Organizers of Tuesday’s protest are demanding “justice for the victim and his family,” including the release of the officers’ names and criminal charges against the four. 

Floyd was unarmed and handcuffed on the ground when the officer kneeled on his neck. Floyd eventually closed his eyes and stopped speaking. Police called for an ambulance, but Floyd died shortly after arriving at a hospital, the Minneapolis Police Department said.

Floyd’s death follows in a long line of killings of unarmed Black people at the hands of law enforcement, his case echoing that of Eric Garner in New York, who was also unarmed and died in 2014 after pleading “I can’t breathe” as a cop held him in a chokehold. 

Here are some images from Tuesday’s protest:

‘I Cannot Breathe’: Man Dies After Encounter With Minneapolis Police

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Video purportedly captured by a bystander shows an officer pressing his knee into the neck of a Black man lying face down on the street.

A man in Minneapolis died on Monday night after an encounter with police. Video circulating on social media purportedly shows the man being pinned face-down on the street by an officer who appears to be pressing his knee into the man’s neck.

A Minneapolis police spokesperson told HuffPost early Tuesday he could not verify the authenticity of the video, as he had not reviewed officers’ body camera footage from the incident. 

In the clip, the man, who is Black, is heard pleading with officers.

“Please man, I can’t breathe,” he says.

The man repeats the phrase again and again: “I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”

Within minutes, the man closes his eyes and stops speaking. The officer, who appears to be white, appears to keep his knee on the man’s neck, even as onlookers begin shouting for police to attend to him.

“Get off of him!” one woman is heard shouting.

“Bro, he’s not moving!” another bystander shouts. “Get off of his neck!”

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a press release that officers arrived at the scene in response to a reported “forgery in progress.” The suspect, police said, was in a car and appeared to be under the influence. He “physically resisted” officers, police said.

“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” the statement said, adding the officers called for an ambulance but the man died shortly after arriving at a hospital. Police did not release the man’s identity, but said they believed he was in his 40s.

The press release stated that no weapons were used during the encounter. It did not mention that an officer had pinned the man to the street and had put his knee on the man’s neck prior to his death. 

The police department said an investigation was underway. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI would be included, police noted without elaboration. Neither agency immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said during a news briefing Tuesday. Their names haven’t been publicly released.

“He should not have died,” Mayor Jacob Frey said during the briefing. “What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. ... Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth that he should be with us this morning.”

“I believe what I saw, and what I saw was wrong at every level,” the mayor continued, referring to the bystander video. “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. ... When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.”

A protest against police violence has been planned for Tuesday night at the intersection where the incident occurred. Frey said he supported the right of community members to express their anger, but encouraged protesters to social distance and wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Social media users noted similarities in the man’s death and that of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died in 2014 after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

“I can’t breathe,” Garner said repeatedly before he died.

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Lawyer drops Biden accuser Tara Reade as resumé questions lead to review of past expert testimony

We Should Take Women's Accusations Seriously. But Tara Reade's ...

A lawyer who represented Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, announced Friday that Reade is no longer his firm's client.

The news came as California defense attorneys and a district attorney's office said they are reviewing past criminal cases in which Reade testified as an expert witness, following a CNN report that questioned her education credentials.
Doug Wigdor said the decision to no longer represent Reade was made on Wednesday, the day after CNN published an extensive investigation about Reade's background and past statements. In the report, CNN first revealed problems with Reade's claim that she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch University in Seattle; the school denied to CNN that she ever graduated from the university.
Wigdor had sent CNN a lengthy statement on Monday responding to numerous questions related to the story. However, Reade directly contacted CNN on Monday night to discuss the issue of her degree from Antioch, telling a CNN reporter that she had asked for and received permission from Wigdor to reach out directly.
 
"Our decision, made on May 20, is by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade," Wigdor said in a statement. "We also believe that to a large extent Ms. Reade has been subjected to a double standard in terms of the media coverage she has received. Much of what has been written about Ms. Reade is not probative of whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her, but rather is intended to victim-shame and attack her credibility on unrelated and irrelevant matters."
Wigdor said his firm wishes Reade well and hopes that she will be treated fairly.
On behalf of Reade, Maria Villena, a friend who handled media inquiries on Friday, told CNN Reade is "seeking new counsel with PR support," and that she does not wish to make a public statement at this time.
Reade "stands by her interview with Meghan (sic) Kelly," Villena said in an emailed statement.
The New York Times first reported news of Wigdor's decision.
Reade alleges that in 1993 when she was working as an aide in Biden's Senate office, the then-senator sexually assaulted her. Biden himself has vehemently denied Reade's allegation.
Wigdor, a prominent sexual harassment and assault lawyer, announced that his firm was representing Reade earlier this month. He has represented accusers of Harvey Weinstein, and was a vocal supporter of Christine Blasey Ford when she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Wigdor supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Wigdor previously told CNN that Reade wasn't paying his law firm and that he didn't "anticipate ever getting paid for anything."
Wigdor is parting ways with Reade as many aspects of her background have come under scrutiny in light of her allegation against Biden.
On Monday, Reade had told CNN that she received a bachelor of arts degree from Antioch University in Seattle under the auspices of a "protected program," personally working with the former president of the school to ensure her identity was protected while she obtained credits for her degree. She also said that she was a visiting professor at the school, on and off for five years.
But a spokesperson for the university told CNN that Reade "attended but did not graduate from Antioch University" and that she was never a faculty member, but she did provide several hours of administrative work.
University officials confirmed with former university president Toni Murdoch that no special arrangements existed, university spokeswoman Karen Hamilton said.
An Antioch University official also told CNN that such a "protected program" does not exist and never has.
Reade graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2004, gaining admission to the school through its Alternative Admission Program.
Two California lawyers said they are concerned over inconsistencies in her education credentials and that her testimony may have improperly influenced the outcomes of their trials.
"This could affect innocent people that got convicted," defense attorney William Pernik, law partner of Roland Soltesz who represented a defendant in a case where Reade testified as an expert witness, told CNN.
Reade participated in cases in Monterey County courts for "probably a decade or more" as a government witness on domestic violence, according to Monterey County Chief Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon. Reade had testified in a 2018 trial that she received a liberal arts degree with a focus on political science when she was asked questions about credentials presented on her resume, according to court documents.
Brannon said the district attorney's office is going through cases to determine when Reade testified as a domestic violence expert. Brannon said their office is also trying to determine whether Reade graduated from Antioch University.
"The first thing we need to do is we need to figure out whether she lied under oath in any of our cases, and so in order to know whether she lied under oath, we need to know whether she has that degree," Brannon told CNN.
Defense attorneys William Pernik and Roland Soltesz became concerned after CNN first reported about discrepancies in Reade's education background. CNN's report combined with a local profile of Reade as a domestic violence expert witness in Monterey County under the name Alexandra McCabe caused Soltesz and Pernik to realize that Reade may have misstated her credentials under oath, the attorneys told CNN.
Reade also told the court that she worked in domestic violence prevention for decades, starting off as a legislative assistant in Biden's office when he worked on the Violence Against Women Act, according to a trial transcript. Reade was a staff assistant in Biden's office, according to a congressional staff list at the time, which is a different position.
Reade told CNN that she did not misrepresent her credentials and that she does have a bachelor's degree.
    Soltesz told CNN he believes Reade's testimony significantly swayed the outcome of that 2018 trial in which his client received a life sentence for attempted murder, arson and armed robbery. He is now looking to reopen the case and considering additional action he can take to learn the true nature of Reade's credentials.
      
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    Livid Trump says he’s done with Fox News: ‘Looking for a new outlet!’

    Fox News' Neil Cavuto shocked by Trump hydroxychloroquine ...

    President Donald Trump says he’s had it with Fox News after host Neil Cavuto criticized him for taking the drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent becoming infected with the coronavirus

    The anti-malaria drug has not been approved for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, but it has become a favorite talking-point in conservative media. 

    Trump on Monday claimed he has been taking it after at least two people in the White House were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection. 

    But Cavuto warned viewers not to emulate the president. 

    “If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus ... it will kill you,” Cavuto said. “I cannot stress this enough: This will kill you.”

    While many Fox News hosts routinely lavish praise on the president ― and host Laura Ingraham has been one of the biggest media proponents of taking hydroxychloroquine ― the comments from Cavuto set Trump off.

    He claimed on Twitter that he was ready to change the channel:

    Trump’s comments also included praise for Roger Ailes, the late Fox News CEO who left the network after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.

    Despite that history, Ailes served as an adviser to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

    Trump’s anger at the network drew a sharp response from his critics:

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