Reporting on the arrest of a CNN reporter and his crew by Minnesota state police on Friday morning, Fox News anchor Sandra Smith framed the incident as a he said-he said situation despite the entire ordeal being broadcast on live television.
Reporting from Minneapolis after another night of violent protests over the death of George Floyd, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez found himself surrounded by a group of cops clad in riot gear. As the situation was broadcast on CNN’s New Day, Jimenez showed the officers his credentials and calmly asked them where they would like the crew to move.
“Just put us back where you want us, we were getting out of your way,” Jimenez is heard saying to several officers. “So, just let us know. Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way while you were advancing through the intersection. Just let us know, and we’ve got you.”
A moment later, Jimenez was told that he was under arrest and placed in handcuffs. Shortly after the CNN reporter was marched off, officers grabbed the producer and cameraman, placing them under arrest as well. All three were released within hours, with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologizing to CNN over the incident.
During Friday’s broadcast of America’s Newsroom, Smith delivered a short news report on Jimenez’s arrest. “Police in Minneapolis arresting a CNN reporter and his crew as the reporter was covering the protests there earlier this morning,” she said. “They were all released a couple of hours later and are back on the air.”
Smith continued: “Police are saying the crew was asked to move and they refused, CNN is denying that. The governor of Minnesota issued an apology calling the arrest unacceptable, and we will hear from the governor at the top of the next hour.”
Fox did not broadcast the video showing Jimenez specifically offering to move out of the way and go wherever the cops wanted his crew to go.
The Minnesota state police would later issue a statement—to much ridicule—that said the troopers released the crew “once they were confirmed to be members of the media,” despite the fact that Jimenez showed his credentials and the situation was broadcast on live television.
Earlier in the Fox News broadcast, Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones did briefly discuss Jimenez’s arrest during a panel discussion on the protests, noting that while he’s been “critical” of the network Jimenez “was arrested today on live television doing his job as a reporter.”
“I’ve been there reporting on these types of cases,” he added. “You asked the cops, you say, where do I stand? He did that and he was still arrested on live television with his camera crew. That should not happen, this is not China, this is America.”
With other networks offering statements of solidarity with CNN and Jimenez on Friday, Fox News followed suit later in the day, issuing the following statement: “FOX News has always supported the First Amendment and this instance is no different. We denounce the detainment of the CNN crew and stand with them in protecting the right to report without fear or favor."
Hours after Smith's report, Outnumbered Overtime anchor Harris Faulkner addressed that segment on-air, noting that the report should have highlighted that Jimenez offered to move wherever the officers to him to go.
“Police in Minneapolis have arrested a CNN reporter and his crew live on the air and they covered the protests breaking out on the ground over George Floyd’s death,” Faulkner said. “It was all caught on camera. It played out live. There is the video. They have since been released - a couple hours later from that event.”
“Police said the crew was asked to move and they refused. We can all watch the video and it shows the reporter offered to move many times if the officers would tell him where to go,” she added. “That point should have been noted in earlier reporting on Fox News. The governor of Minnesota apologized directly to CNN and that team during his news conference a short time ago, we showed you that live, calling the arrests 'unacceptable.'”