'Live PD' host clashes with CNN anchor who claims show lacked 'social responsibility'

"Live PD" host Dan Abrams had a fiery clash Thursday with CNN anchor Brianna Keilar over the show's cancellation, with the anchor suggesting the program was nothing more than "entertainment."

On Wednesday, A&E Network announced the hit show would no longer be in production following the Paramount Network's cancellation of the long-running series "Cops."

Abrams, an executive producer of the series, previously expressed confidence that "Live PD" would ultimately return after A&E pulled the show from its schedule and has since expressed his disappointment with the network's decision.

During an interview on Thursday, though, Abrams was on the defensive.

Keilar drew focus to the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler, whose arrest was captured by "Live PD," but Ambler ended up dying in police custody. Bodycam footage showing Ambler struggling to breathe was recently released following the death of George Floyd. However, what was seen in the footage never aired on the show.

"Police come off looking good in a lot of these videos... why was the video in the Javier Ambler case destroyed?" Keilar asked.


Abrams explained the show's policy was to only retain footage for roughly 30 days as a way to prevent the show from becoming an "arm of law enforcement," but Texas' Williamson County requested that the footage to be retained for "three months," which the show honored like any legal request, and was ultimately erased after the Ambler investigation was closed.

"Looking back on it, do I wish 'Live PD' had retained it? Yeah," Abrams said. "But the policy was put in place for the exact opposite reason that people are suggesting now."

"Did 'Live PD ever consider having an exception when people die?" Keilar later asked Abrams, who responded "there should have been" despite the network's policy not show deaths that occur on air.

The ABC News legal analyst and Mediaite founder stressed the difference between "Live PD" and "Cops," which was that "Live PD" frequently "does not portray police offers in the most positive light" and argued that supporting the show and supporting the recent protests aren't mutually exclusive.

The CNN anchor then had Abrams respond to a report about how innocent people who've been caught up in the police program have had their "lives ruined" because of the national exposure. Abrams compared what happened to them to what happens in the "news business," though noting "Live PD" itself is not a "news show."

"Dan, it's not a news show," Keilar interrupted. "It's an entertainment program."

"Well, it may be but the reasoning is still the same which is people are sometimes brought into situations that they don't want to be involved in because of certain things that happen," Abrams explained. "I know you don't like the comparison, but in the news business, when you're on a street, on a public street, they can film you there. And that's the same thing that would happen with us, but --"

"Dan, you know the news business. That is not the news business," Keilar shook her head. "You're telling me that 'Live PD' is a news show."

"No," Abrams said. "I'm telling you that there are news elements to 'Live PD,' absolutely. It does not apply to the same standards that a news show does but there's a lot of the news elements... This is a documentary-style show. I think it's unfairly dismissive to simply say it's an entertainment show because this is real life. These are real police officers and these are real people involved. And we took all of that incredibly seriously."


Keilar then accused Abrams of "hanging his hat" on A&E's policies about not preserving footage of individuals being killed in police custody and how, unlike documentaries, the police program "omits key things" and "doesn't show the whole picture."

Abrams pushed back, suggesting that "Live PD" is more transparent than documentaries because his show often doesn't edit what is being broadcast, noting that what happened to Ambler was not shown on the air as the program was covering other police officers live.

"I don't think that 'Live PD' is not on the air because of that incident," Abrams said when asked if he thought "mistakes" the show made are why it was canceled. "'Live PD' is not on the air, in my view, because there has been a massive movement in this country, which includes for many people eliminating any programming involving police."

Things got testy when Keilar took exception to Abram's claim that "Live PD" promoted police "transparency," reiterating that the program "doesn't show the whole story."

"What does that mean?" Abrams said.

"By our own admission, there are things that are not shown and communicated on the program," Keilar said.

"Right, because we follow eight departments at once and there is no way to do all of that at one time in a three-hour show. That is true," Abrams said.


"Whatever the reason, Dan," the CNN anchor shot back.

"What do you mean, 'whatever the reason?'" Abrams responded. "So when someone says when there's three press conferences playing at a news event and someone says, 'How could you guys not play all three news events?' And you say, 'Well, we had to make a choice between the events. And I know you don't like the comparison to news, but that's a reality."

"It's not a matter of liking, it's a matter of apples to oranges," Keilar said. "But listening to you, Dan, I'm hearing, like, an extremely legalistic argument which I guess I don't find particularly surprising, but we're talking about the death of someone and the video of someone -- and yes, I hear you saying 'Well, there's other video of it.' Well, there are potentially other instances where there's not body camera video of something... It gives the sense of hiding behind policies and washing your hands and not having a social responsibility -- you're sort of utilizing people who are in... you're saying it's transparency but I don't know if it is social responsibility."


"Then I think you're not listening to what I'm saying," Abrams said. "So when we're talking about transparency for the police, when you're talking about the reason to want body cams... what we're saying is that we want to be able to see more of how police do what they do. Your position is that if you can't show everything, it's not worth showing. And I would just disagree with that as a concept. And again, I think that you are underestimating how much time and effort that every show went into standards and practices associated with that program the same way they do in a news program."