NOTE: In the interest of transparency, I’ll acknowledge my bias as a longtime fan of the now-canceled Live PD on A&E. For my Twitter followers, they’re accustomed to voluminous tweets about the show on Fridays and Saturdays. But with that, I have a unique perspective to the conversation about its cancellation and particularly CNN’s viciousness. Here we go....
CNN Newsroom took an ugly turn Thursday afternoon, coming off as vehemently anti-police and, on a far less surprising note, engaging in faux outrage and a weak grasp of reality. The reason? CNN and host Brianna Keilar decided to spend over 19 minutes conducting a show trial against the highly-rated Live PD as an evil show that preyed on Americans.
Thankfully, Live PD co-host Dan Abrams strongly pushed back on this anti-police crusade on behalf of the crew, fans, and over 600 officers the show featured.
Throughout the interview, Keilar tied the show’s cancellation to the June 2019 death of Javier Ambler while in the custody of the Williamson County, Texas Sheriff’s Department and a Live PD crew present.
Abrams noted it didn’t occur during a live show and footage was kept beyond A&E policy (which existed to prevent police from having a library to track citizens) until an investigation was completed. But predictably, Keilar dismissed those facts and while Abrams admitted the show could have done more and talked about it, she remained ensconced.
And sadly, Keilar never said one positive thing about the show, including its focus on finding missing children and wanted fugitives. When the objective was to make police the enemy of the people, those aspects must be ignored.
Abrams explained early on that Live PD was always different because “Cops was like a highlight reel of a crazy moments” whereas “Live PD actually followed officers in real-time as it was happening.” As a result, some episodes could be monotonous, relying on taped segments from encounters during the other five days of the week.
For Keilar, she suggested a sinister motive because such incidents meant police “came off looking good.”
After pausing when Abrams’s live shot went down, Keilar turned up the stupid, surmising the reaction to the show’s cancellation was positive, which led Abrams to call out this feeling that many of those hurling insults at the show never watched an episode.
As you’ll see below, Keilar was also outraged that people were shown on camera without acknowledging she works for the network that attempted to ruin the lives of Nick Sandmann, a random Reddit user, and a meme-sharing grandma (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
KEILAR: There was backlash from Ice Cube, who wrote back: “A&E stepped up for the dignity of Black people today and not perpetuating an ‘on the hunt mentality’ in future law enforcement. America's love affair with jail and prison shows must stop.” I — I wonder what your reaction is to that.
ABRAMS: So the vast majority of people who responded, responded positively to me, agreeing with what I said. I fear sometimes that people who criticize the show didn't watch it because very rarely was there specific criticism of things that happened on the show....I mean, we're in a society where we're talking about how important it is for accountability and yet now we are saying we want to shut down the cameras when it comes to Live PD so again, my perspective just happens to be different, but that doesn’t mean that you can't at the same time support the protests, support the protesters, support the cause of what they're trying to do in enacting change.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that Tulsa World did in an investigation earlier this year. They spoke to people who had not committed crimes but were featured on Live PD and a woman said that the attention caused her great embarrassment. What do you say to innocent people who have had their lives turned upside down by being on the show?
ABRAMS: Yeah, I mean, look. I think that's what happens in the news business in general. Live PD isn't a news show, but there are many people who are covered —
KEILAR: Dan, it’s not a news show. It’s an entertainment program.
ABRAMS: — well, it may be but the reasoning is still the same which is people are sometimes brought into situations that they don't want to be involved in because of certain things that happen, meaning, when the police arrest someone, for example, let's even talk about a trial —
KEILAR: Dan, these are people who are not arrested. These are people who are innocent.
ABRAMS: — yeah. Well, again, people arrested who are innocent, to be very clear. Just because, again, someone I understand may not be happy there were — I should say a number of procedures in place to protect people's privacy. The reason we had a delay on the show to ensure we didn't release Social Security numbers, false allegations by a person against someone else, kids in the shots, etc. Great lengths were went to — that they went to to try to protect the privacy of individuals. There were certain people who were on public streets who were questioned, pulled over, whatever the case may be by the police. Again, I know you don't like the comparison but in the news business, when you are on the street on a public street, they can film you there. And that's the same thing that would happen with us, but no —
KEILAR: Dan, you know the news business. That is not the news business.
ABRAMS: — wait a minute. It is not the news business that we end up filming on street?
KEILAR: You’re telling me Live PD is a news show?
ABRAMS: No. There's a news element to Live PD, absolutely. It does not apply the same standards that a news show does but there's a lot of news elements, the people in that control room who worked at Live PD had news backgrounds. The shooters have news backgrounds. This is a, you know, this is a documentary-style show and I think it's unfairly dismissive to simply say it's an entertainment show because this is real life. These are police officers and real people involved and we took all of that incredibly seriously.
I could be here for another 2,000 words (sans transcripts) to debunk the nonsense from just that section. Whether it’s Keilar’s double standard, her refusal to see police officers as humans capable of good, or rejecting basic facts about how news programs and documentaries operate, it was a shameful moment for a long-since disgraced channel.
And in the second tense exchange, Keilar grew even more smug and started smiling as she trashed the show as only showing viewers what made the police look best. Abrams had been civil, but he hit a breaking point.
Without a hit of irony, the CNN host accused Live PD of having lacked “social responsibility,” insinuated other cases of misconduct could have existed, and having profited off innocent people.
Keilar also refused to accept how a three-hour show with eight different departments and commercial breaks can’t physically air every second of every encounter (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
ABRAMS: I wish that people were focusing more on the investigators in this case saying, wait a second. Why didn't you guys ask Live PD to hold the video? Why didn't you demand the video? Why didn't you use it as part of the investigation? Those are the questions I think are the first round of questions. Then the second round of questions of Live PD but I'm just amazed that that hasn’t been the focus of the attention here opposed to on a program that promotes transparency in policing.
KEILAR: That doesn't show the whole story. I just want to be clear about that, Dan. You leave stuff out. Stuff gets — has gotten left out.
ABRAMS: What does that mean? What does that mean? It doesn’t tell the whole story? What does that mean?
KEILAR: You leave — by your own admission there are things that are not shown and communicated on the program.
ABRAMS: Right because we follow eight departments at once and there is no way to do all of that at one time in a three-hour show. That is true. This event also didn’t happen during —
KEILAR: Whatever the reason, Dan.
ABRAMS: — what do you mean whatever the reason? Just think about that. So when someone says when there are three press conferences playing in the news event and someone says how did you not play all three news events? And you say, well, we had, to me, a choice between the events and I know you don't like the comparison to news but that’s a reality.
KEILAR: It is not a matter of liking. It’s a matter of apples to oranges but I guess, Dan, I’ll just be honest. Listening to you, I’m hearing, like an extremely legalistic argument which I guess I don't find particularly surprising but we’re talking about the death of someone and the video of someone and, yes, I hear you saying, well, there's other video of it. Well, there are potentially other incidents where there’s not body cam video of something and when Live PD was granted access for yes, in part, entertainment value to go along with police officers, it just — it gives the sense of kind of hiding behind policies and washing your hands and not having sort of a social responsibility —
KEILAR: — when your capitalizing — you're utilizing the people who are in — right? You're using the stories of the people who are in these videos and I hear you’re saying it's transparency, but I don't know that it's social responsibility.
ABRAMS: Yeah, then I think you are not listening to what I'm saying because, again —
KEILAR: Oh, I'm hearing you loud and clear, Dan Abrams.
With only seconds left, Abrams returned fire one last time at Keilar’s immaturity and tunnel vision: “Your position is that if you can't show everything, it's not worth showing and I would just disagree with that as a concept and again I think that you are underestimating how much time and effort every show went into standards and practices[.]”
After the exchange, the smiling Keilar didn’t have to say another word because far-left actor Sean Penn said it for her: “You do your job very well. It was great to see you challenge that used car salesman selling everything and saying nothing about what's going on in the country right now.”
In contrast, Fox News Channel host Bill Hemmer was able to spend just over six and a half minutes with Abrams, two hours later, that covered all of the above topics in a civil, respectful tone. Without coming to blows, they discussed how the show reminded the public of policing's unpredictability, and how the cancel culture couldn't accept a show showing a live, unvarnished look at the profession, warts and all.