Huh? Fox News falsely blames NYC Christmas tree fire on 'defund the police.'


New York City hasn't 'defunded' its police: It just increased its budget by $200 million.

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday blamed the fire that destroyed the company's Christmas tree on purported efforts to defund the police. But in reality, the police budget in New York City was recently increased.

A large Christmas tree outside of Fox News headquarters in Manhattan was set on fire early Wednesday morning, and the alleged arsonist was immediately arrested and taken into custody.

On Wednesday's edition of "Fox & Friends," Kilmeade blamed the incident on criminal justice reform.

"From Chicago to Philadelphia to Los Angeles, San Francisco, to Beverly Hills on down, there is so much crime in places that were always safe, including 48th and Sixth here. This is emblematic of these cities' out-of-control defame and defund the police and this bail reform that has these men and women, these assailants, these suspects, out before they even can finish off the paperwork," said Kilmeade.

But the allegation that police in New York City have been defunded is untrue.

In July, the New York City Council approved a budget submitted by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio that increased funding for police by $200 million over the previous year. The increased budget had the support of an overwhelming number of council members, passing by a vote of 39-6.

Even before the budget increase was passed, New York City had the largest police department in the United States, with over 36,000 officers.

NYPD also has more police officers per resident than other large cities in the country. As of 2019, there were 436 NYPD officers per 100,000 city residents. By comparison, in Los Angeles there were 249 officers per 100,000 residents, and in Houston there were 223 officers.

Kilmeade's connection of the Christmas tree fire to police reform efforts is the kind of strategy that Fox has employed before.

In November, Kilmeade called on Republicans to "take advantage" of the SUV driven into parade-goers in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21, connecting the bail set in a previous case for the suspect in the rampage that killed six people to wider efforts to enact bail reform. But Waukesha has not enacted bail reform, and the suspect's earlier bail was not a result of reforms to the system.

In the past, Fox News personalities have celebrated acts of police violence and abuse, particularly acts targeting Black people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.