A&E Networks announced earlier this week that it intended to “cease production” on the popular series, “Live PD”.
The show, which follows police officers in the field, came under public scrutiny for destroying footage of the 2019 arrest of Javier Ambler.
According to a report, published by the Austin American-Statesman, the bodycam footage of the arrest was not destroyed but it showed Ambler being tasered four times. He informed police that he couldn’t breathe and noted that he had congestive heart failure.
Sound familiar? It is eerily similar to the death of George Floyd and Eric Garner who both said they couldn’t breathe before perishing at the hands of police.
Floyd’s death has ignited worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Now, as more stories come out nationwide, the morbidity of entertainment has entered the social justice mix.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live P.D. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them,” A+E Networks said in a statement regarding their decision to cancel Live P.D. “And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
Protect & Detain To Entertain?
A&E networks canceled hit show Cops and Live PD due to the national outrage over police brutality. Host Dan Abrams has insisted that destroying the footage was not an effort to “protect” the police.
Rather, he explained on Entertainment Tonight that it was Live P.D.’s policy to destroy footage after 30 days. This was so that it could not be used as “an arm of law enforcement to use us as a video repository or so other attorneys could come and take our video and use them in a case.”
The show retained the footage for 30 days while the police carried out their investigation. According to Abrams, law enforcement never requested Live P.D.’s footage because they had their own body cam videos. He also claims that A+E Networks has a policy against showing fatalities.
Abrams, who is a co-executive producer of the show, says he would have changed those policies and felt “an exception” should have been made in the case of Ambler.
“As a news person, if I’d seen that video, which I never did, I know I would have said we have to show this,” Abrams insisted.
“In my view, the same people who are calling for body cams on police officers — which I support and I support the uniformity of the use of them as well — should be saying there’s a place for Live P.D.” Abrams says. “They may say they want changes, they may say they want to see the show different, but the bottom line is I still think they should be also saying there’s a place for Live P.D.”
A+E: Acquiescence + Endangerment
For many, this latest “gaffe” by A+E Networks is a signal of who they believe their core audience is: poor whites. This is the same network that made popular “Duck Dynasty”.
Phil Robertson, the Louisiana star of Duck Dynasty was forced to leave the show after making disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ community.
#LivePD @AETV these are the channels that are part of the A& E group and have been blocked in my house.
A+E Networks® is a collection of culture brands that includes A&E®, HISTORY®, Lifetime®, LMN™, FYI,™, Vice TV and BIOGRAPHY®!!!!
— Charles (@dawgster1969) June 11, 2020
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” Robertson said in an interview with GQ. He went on to add that he thinks being gay is illogical because, well, “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus.”
However, his comments about race in the same interview were even worse, insinuating that people of color were content in the Jim Crow South:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field …. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
A+E Network also, against a backdrop of increasing white nationalism, had planned to air a documentary series that would have given Ku Klux Klan members an uninterrupted, televised pulpit from which to preach hate. The show was eventually cancelled but only after news that talent was being paid by third-party producers for their participation was exposed by organizations like Color Of Change.
“Color Of Change recognizes the powerful role of media images,” said executive director, Rashad Robinson in a statement. “As a national racial justice organization committed to creating a less harmful and hostile world for Black people and all people through powerful campaigns that hold decision makers in corporations, media and government accountable.”
Since the protest movement began, A+E Networks released, “The Time Is Now: Race and Resolution” in partnership with the NAACP and OZY. They billed it as an important conversation featuring influential social justice voices discussing the ways systemic racism, implicit bias, and economic inequality are afflicting our nation, and pathways forward to help achieve lasting change.
If you truly believe in what you claim to stand for, you should put an end to this glorification of murders with badges, but you won't. To that end, I propose a BOYCOTT of ALL A&E owned channels until Disney & Hearst force @AENetworks to pull the plug#CancelLivePD#BoycottAandE https://t.co/MdkcBiHHHx
— 🌻 B-Rep on Caffeine & Stuff 🌻 (@biafrarepublic) June 9, 2020
There are departments within all broadcast networks called Standards and Practices as well as a Risk group in the legal department. They view all shows before they air to mitigate lawsuits and the risk the company faces from the content.
A source familiar with the situation has told The Shadow League that A+E Networks has maintained a predominantly white group of employees and not until recently was a woman of color hired.
She was conveniently, African-American.
A&E Networks has always been suspect and as time progresses, the decision-making reflects a culture. However, it is too little to late with the network as this country is being purged of those straddling the line.
You are either with us or against us, is the motto for the times, and A&E is definitely not with us.