The Potluck

Minneapolis mayor didn’t know about MPD interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News

By: - August 5, 2022 5:07 pm

Laura Ingraham of Fox News interviews two Minneapolis police officers about the aftermath of George Floyd’s police murder more than two years ago. Fox News screenshot.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham recently aired a segment in Minneapolis where she interviewed police officers and painted a grim picture of the city. 

Ingraham interviewed Lt. Jeff Waite and Sgt. Andrew Schroeder as they walked around the former Third Precinct police station, which was destroyed in the riots after George Floyd’s police killing in May 2020.

“It’s a monument to anarchy,” she said.  “It’s a shock that this is allowed to stand.”

The chyron on the bottom of the screen at one point read, “Two years after Floyd riots, radical leadership leaves Minneapolis in shambles.”

That Ingraham was allowed to interview the officers was surprising, given the curtailed access of local reporters to Minneapolis police officers, who in the past have required permission from command staff to speak to the media. 

Former officer Colleen Ryan was disciplined for anonymously alleging to GQ magazine that the MPD has a toxic culture; she later won a settlement with the city after alleging she was discriminated against for being gay. 

Ingraham’s appearance with Minneapolis police raised questions about why a broadcaster with a history of inflammatory right-wing opinions and a sour view of Minneapolis was allowed access to officers for her national opinion/entertainment program. 

Ryan, the former officer, tweeted: “MPD only likes interviews that fit their narrative.”

MPD spokesman Howie Padilla said media interviews must be arranged through a public information officer or the police chief.

Asked how a national Fox News host got an interview when so many local journalists are rebuffed by MPD, Padilla said MPD has given many interviews, particularly since he arrived a few months ago. A couple more public information officers will be joining the department in a few weeks to help do more communicating, he said.

“We’re going to be in better shape in a few weeks and I think reporters are going to be happier with the response,” he said. “It’s gotten better in the last four months and it will continue to get better.”

Padilla said he facilitated the Ingraham interview and was there when it happened.

“Sometimes there’s officers who just don’t want to talk, and obviously, that wasn’t the case here,” he said.

Padilla said he alerted department officials about the interview. 

(Katie Lauer, a spokesperson for Mayor Jacob Frey, said the mayor was not aware the interview was happening.) 

Ingraham’s interview with the officers brought to light attitudes of some of the rank-and-file.

Ingraham asked Schroeder what it felt like to see the old Third Precinct station house. (A precinct that the Star Tribune has reported was notorious for its cowboy culture.) 

He said it was “kind of weird” and brought back memories of what everyone in the city went through.

Schroeder said MPD’s biggest challenge is the short-staffing.

Waite, the lieutenant, told Ingraham that working conditions have worsened, with onlookers often on the scene, recording officers. (Derek Chauvin’s murder of Floyd was filmed by a 14-year-old girl and others.) 

“You constantly have people questioning how we do things and telling us that we’re not doing things right, and it’s just nonstop,” Waite said.

Ingraham also was in town Wednesday to speak at a campaign rally for state Senate candidate Doug Fulton, who’s running in the west metro. Jill Vujovich-Laabs, Fulton’s campaign manager, said Ingraham gave a short speech that “rallied the troops.” 

Ingraham and Fulton went to Dartmouth together.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.