Fox News disingenuously blames rising crime on police reform efforts

Following reports of a nationwide rising crime rate, Fox News disingenuously blamed the violence on efforts to reform the police, declaring that the increasing crime is the inevitable result of handcuffing law enforcement.

There was a significant increase in homicides last year. Between January and November, the country saw a 29% increase compared to the same time period in 2019. And by late December, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles had seen 55%, 41%, and 30% increases, respectively. 

And it’s not just big cities: Data consultant Jeff Asher pointed out that of 57 cities reporting year-to-date data, 51 saw a homicide increase. Additionally, 63 of the 66 biggest police jurisdictions saw an increase in at least one category of violent crime. 

Criminologists attributed this increase to a “perfect stormcaused by stress and anxiety due to the pandemic, unemployment, social unrest, and even changes in policing. Fox News, however, immediately homed in on efforts to reform police departments: 

  • In a May 17 segment on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom about an increasing risk of domestic extremism attacks, guest Andy McCarthy pivoted to focusing on “the reality that crime is rising,” which he said is because “they’ve made policing very, very difficult to do.” Co-host Dana Perino asked if the increasing crime and threats have anything “to do with the backlash against police,” to which McCarthy replied, “Absolutely.” He also said that “the backlash against police” has the police being too careful about “the things that they need to do, including using force, to maintain order because they don’t want to be the next, you know, cops that are involved in a big scandal.”    
  • On the May 24 edition of Fox News’ The Faulkner Focus, Fox’s Pete Hegseth questioned what people thought would happen in cities after attempting to reform police, before concluding that “you’re going to get more crime.” Hegseth said the most dangerous aspect of reforming police is demoralizing police officers, because they have no incentive to be proactive which means “you get more broken windows, you get more crime.” Anchor Harris Faulkner responded by highlighting the murder rate in Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, and Portland before saying defunding the police “does not work.” 
  • During the May 24 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, Faulkner, who co-hosts the program, introduced a segment on the rising violence before Fox News contributor Joe Concha said that “the bottom line of what’s going on in these cities” is Democratic mayors reallocating funds away from the police. He said police officers are retiring because they’re tired of being attacked and called racist, which he said will cause departments to lower standards in order to recruit more officers. 
  • During the May 24 edition of Fox News’ America Reports, Fox contributor Ted Williams slammed St. Louis for considering police department reforms, suggested the city “look at what happened in Minneapolis,” and called New York “stupid” for cutting funding. Host Gilian Turner questioned whether proposals to cut funding in the hopes of reducing crime were “magical thinking.”  
  • During the May 24 edition of Fox News’ The Story, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera called the increasing homicides a “ghetto civil war” and concluded that “the more active Black Lives Matter, the less active the police, the more crime has increased.”  

In reality, there’s actually very little evidence to suggest that flooding a city with police officers reduces crime or that cutting police funding has resulted in the crime increase. A Washington Post investigation found that there’s no evidence that funding to police departments has any correlation with rising crime rates. 

For example, the number of police officers declined in the country from 2013-2019 and so did the violent crime rate. A former New York City police department official also noted that when the city decided to reduce the number of officers on the street, the crime rate decreased. He concluded it’s not the number of officers you have, but rather what you have them doing. 

Fox’s dishonest argument is a transparent attempt to stunt the efforts to reform policing and fearmonger about rising crime, rather than examining the “perfect storm” that led to this level of violence and have an honest dialogue about the need for police reform.