Proving once again that there is no news event that it can’t turn into clowntime, “Fox & Friends” this morning took a look at the actions of Texas trooper Brian Encinia in the Sandra Bland case. According to widely circulated video, Encinia stopped Bland on July 10 for failing to signal a lane change; the encounter became contentious, Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman, was arrested and died in custody.
The turning point in the traffic stop came when Encinia requested that Bland put out her cigarette. “I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette,” she replies, at which point Encinia opens her car door and orders her to get out. Things get ugly from there.
To properly assess the officer’s actions, “Fox & Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasslebeck interviewed former NYPD officer John Rafferty, who criticized Encinia for making the cigarette a point of contention. “When you take somebody out of the car, it has to be that you have to feel your personal safety is in danger. It appears, obviously, he took this too personal. When she didn’t put out the cigarette, now all of a sudden you’re taking her out of the car.”
It was here that the trademarked “Fox & Friends Willful Idiocy Machine” kicked in. Apparently unwilling to accept the very clear evidence that Encinia had overreacted, Hasselbeck plunged deep into her imagination for a hypothetical that could exculpate him: “But, what if, I mean, there are times, I’m sure, someone has, in the history of this land, used a cigarette against a police officer, maybe chucked it at him, pushed it at him. … If he indeed felt it could be a potential threat, was that the wise thing to do?”
Rafferty responded that he wouldn’t want “somebody stepping out with a cigarette.”
UPDATE July 29: Hasselbeck responds:
I NEVER suggested Sandra Bland could have used a cigarette as a weapon. I asked whether it was wise to ask her to put it out. #StopTheLies
— elisabeth hasselbeck (@ehasselbeck) July 28, 2015