Fox host scrambles after guest explains why officers were wrong to kill Rayshard Brooks

Steve Hilton cuts off his guest Joe Ested and then assures his viewers that he will have Bernie Kerik rebut Ested

This is a story about what happens when a guest on Fox News speaks the truth.

Steve Hilton’s Sunday night Fox News show started as one would expect, with a brief and unremarkable update from Steve Harrigan, who was reporting from Atlanta, where Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back and killed by police on Friday night.

Immediately after that report, Hilton brought in Bernie Kerik, a Trump pardon recipient and former New York Police Department commissioner under then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Kerik has been a staple on Fox News and Fox Business in recent weeks, where he has dismissed the idea of systemic racism in policing, defended the police officers who injured 75-year old protester Martin Gugino, called for Trump to send in an “enormous amount” of force into cities, and spread a conspiracy theory that financier George Soros is behind all recent protests against police brutality.

On Saturday night, Kerik appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show where he commented on Brooks’ killing by saying that “thugs” in the community should be told not to attack police.

He continued much in the same vein with Hilton on Sunday. Given nearly eight minutes to talk, Kerik repeatedly defended the officers who killed Brooks, saying police officers deserve the benefit of the doubt until a full investigation is concluded (Click here for a transcript).

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Citation From the June 14, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Next Revolution

Immediately after Kerik, Hilton brought on Joe Ested, a former police officer and author of the book Police Brutality Matters. And Ested went directly after Kerik, calling out his record and saying that people like Kerik and NYC police union head Patrick Lynch are some of the reasons why taxpayers have paid over a billion dollars in settlements for police brutality.

Ested also explained how the Atlanta police officers who killed Brooks disregarded training and specifically why Brooks should not have been killed:

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Citation From the June 14, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Next Revolution

STEVE HILTON (HOST): Joe, I'll just ask you to jump straight in there and respond to the conversation I was just having with Bernie and this incident in Atlanta.

JOE ESTED: Yes, sir. Bernie Kerik and [NYPD police union head] Pat Lynch is exactly why taxpayers have paid out over a billion dollars in police misconduct. There's no accountability. Did you hear what he said? He put all the emphasis on the untrained civilian. As a police officer, what I would like individuals to come and comply? Yes I would, what officer wouldn't. But that's why we as police officers have training, have policy, have procedures. The officers did not follow the use of force continuum.

When it comes to use of force, two things have to exist. The officer has to feel, right, that the presence of -- he has to look at it and say look, my life or the life or someone else is about to be lost at this very moment and there's no other options. We are looking at a taser that was taken from the officer. And if anybody knows and law enforcement knows that the taser, it has two positions. It has the prongs that extend out which the cartridge was already dispensed so there was no threat that he would get hit by a prong because it was already dispensed. Now there's what's called a dry tase, the officer has to now put the actual tase on the subject and to press to get the effect you would want from a taser. Individual running from you is not a use of force scenario. It's not. Bernie Kerik just said that he was in fear of his life. How are you going to be in fear of your life as an officer when the subject is distanced away and the only danger that taser can actually play is if the subject turns all the way around, comes up to the officer, and actually puts the taser on him.

HILTON: Well, I think --

ESTED: The community right now is screaming for accountability for bad policing. That's called bad policing what we just witnessed. Bad policing.

HILTON: Well, I think --

ESTED: I've been a part of aggressive units -- I've been a part of aggressive units -- guns and drugs. I chase people with weapons, and you have to follow your training. You have to follow your protocol. That's why we train.

HILTON: Can I just ask? Joe, I'm sorry, we don't have too much time, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I just want to take that point, put a line under this incident by I think saying, repeating another thing Bernie said, which is this is why we need an investigation that needs to be really clear about the facts and exactly what everyone was thinking at every stage.

But I want to go quickly to the broader point about police reform, because I've seen you make some comments about that, particularly about the bill that the Democrats published in the House last week and I think our audience would be really interested in your perspective on their proposals for reforming the police.

Hilton cut off Ested after just over two minutes, instead changing the subject to the House Democrats' policing reform plan.

After a commercial break, Hilton immediately noted that people on Twitter were “fired-up by that last discussion,” and he promised that Kerik would be on later in the show to respond:

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Citation From the June 14, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Next Revolution

Later in the show, Hilton did bring back Kerik but did not ask him about the specific criticisms Ested had given of the officers who shot and killed Brooks.

Instead, Hilton gave Kerik quite a bit of time to respond to Ested’s line about Kerik contributing to police misconduct that was paid out in settlements. Kerik largely repeated his talking points and agreed with Hilton’s criticism of Democrats, and he also juxtaposed the killing of Brooks with that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying that Floyd was murdered.

Kerik also claimed that he had “never had a problem in the Black community” when he was in charge of the NYPD or Rikers Island jail complex.

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Citation From the June 14, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Next Revolution

On Monday morning, Fox & Friends led the show with Kerik's comments defending the officers involved. Ested's remarks were unmentioned.

As for Kerik, as NYPD commissioner in 2001, he reportedly refused to punish the officers who shot and killed Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant who was shot 19 times by officers in 1999, before Kerik became commissioner. He instead decided to leave the officers assigned to desk duty.

In response to Kerik’s decision, Diallo’s mother Kadiatou declared at a press conference that Kerik “has sent a signal that a black child's life has no meaning.''