Former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Mark Fuhrman appeared as a guest on the June 23 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes to discuss the videotaped beating of an African American man by white police officers in Los Angeles that, according to the Los Angeles Times, has been "described by a top [Los Angeles Police] department official as 'Rodney King-esque.'" Fuhrman, who since leaving the LAPD has become an author, was discredited for his role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial; after he had retired from the LAPD, Fuhrman pleaded no contest* to a perjury charge in which he was accused of lying under oath about using a racial slur against African Americans.
During a discussion opposite Catherine Crier (author, host of Court TV's Catherine Crier Live, and former host of FOX News Channel's The Crier Report), Fuhrman sought all possible explanations to defend the actions of the LAPD officers on the new videotape. Fuhrman first argued that it is inappropriate to criticize the LAPD without knowing what was said by the officers and the suspect, stating that "the first level of use of force is verbalization" and that the video doesn't indicate "what is going on with the verbalization." Fuhrman later said that often a suspect "pulls their hands underneath them," ostensibly to reach for a concealed weapon; therefore, if the suspect was attempting to do as such, the video shows what Fuhrman described as "the way they do it in the LAPD," because, in Fuhrman's view, "that arm should either be seen or broken."
When co-host Alan Colmes noted that "the Justice Department identified a pattern of practice [sic] of civil rights violations in the LAPD," Fuhrman continued to defend the officers, disregarding their past abuses: "[W]hen an attorney files a federal civil rights violation on a suspect that tries to shoot a cop and he loses the gunfight, it's still a federal rights violation lawsuit. Did they win? Let's look at the wins and the losses, not the suits."
Co-host Sean Hannity and Fuhrman agreed that accusations being leveled against the LAPD in response to the new videotape are a "rush to judgment." For his part, Hannity noted that, in terms of the tool used to beat the suspect, "we're not talking about a big stick. We're talking about a flashlight here." Hannity also asserted, "I have to believe something is going on here that we're not quite getting."
Like Fuhrman, Hannity's credibility in discussing racial issues in conjunction with police beatings is questionable. As Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) documented, citing a OnePeoplesProject.com report:
When Haitian immigrant Abner Louima accused New York City police officers of sodomizing and badly injuring him with a wooden rod in 1997, Hannity used his WABC [radio] show for a vicious counter-offensive targeting the victim.
The father of chief defendant Justin Volpe, an NYPD police officer, regularly appeared on show [sic] during the 1999 trial. And Hannity and various guests repeated rumors that Louima's injuries resulted from a "gay sex act" and not from police brutality. Playing on the homosexual rumor and inconsistencies in Louima's story, Hannity and his producer sang a parody of Lionel Richie's song "Three Times a Lady," changing the words to "you're once, twice, three times a liar." Hannity stopped referring to the victim as "Lying Louima" only after Volpe confessed to sodomizing Louima with the help of another officer (OnePeoplesProject.com http://www.onepeoplesproject.com/hannitylies.htm).
Meanwhile, at Hannity & Colmes, the Louima story got somewhat less, and less sordid, play; Hannity only repeated the homosexual rumor once on the national cable show (5/13/99).
*Correction: When this item was first published, we incorrectly wrote that Fuhrman "resign[ed] from the LAPD after being convicted of perjury." In fact, Fuhrman pleaded no contest to a perjury charge after he had retired from the LAPD. Thanks to alert reader Ron for informing us of the error. [back up to article]