NEW YORK (AP) — 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.”
Hannity, for example, supported a New York grand jury that declined to indict a New York police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner who, like Floyd, was caught on video saying “I can’t breathe.” He was a prominent defender of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who shot Florida teen Trayvon Martin in 2012.
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.”