TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So, the head of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, said that enforcing our immigration laws -- said this at the conference -- American immigration laws, was tantamount to ethnic cleansing. Do you agree with that?
CRISTÓBAL ALEX: I'm grateful to be here. I'm grateful that the speaker invited us to this amazing conference, which is the first of its kind in the country. The idea behind the conference was to bring together local officials from around the country to develop policies that will strengthen sanctuary city policies and protect immigrants. The speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, was a champion for progressive values, a champion for immigrants, and the point that she was trying to make is that sanctuary cities are actually much safer. And what Jeff Sessions, and what this Department of Justice are trying to do is pass draconian laws that will make it much harder and unsafe for our cities in the United States.
CARLSON: I've heard this before, and, just to be clear, there's no social science to support your position on that. There are no actual studies that show a sanctuary city is safer. Sorry.
ALEX: I disagree with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: There's no disagreement -- there haven't been studies done on that that show it.
ALEX: Let me just correct you there. I can talk about it right now. The most comprehensive study to date is the University of California study done by Ted Wong. It basically looked at sanctuary cities across the country, and it said that there's 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 in sanctuary cities than nonsanctuary cities. It also said it's even better in smaller municipalities. And, importantly, sanctuary cities have stronger economies, lower poverty rates, lower uninsured rates --
CARLSON: I don't want to waste either one of our time here. That's not causation. There's no established connection between those two. It's merely speculative --
ALEX: I don't know that it is.
NY Times: Trump And GOP Move To Tax Reform “After The Bruising Collapse Of Their Health Care Plan.” On March 26, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress had set their sights on “the already daunting challenge of tax reform,” which had been made “even more difficult” by the president’s failure to enact major changes to the ACA. The Times noted that due to Trump’s inability to move on health care, his “grand plans” on tax reform “may have to be scaled back” in a way that could provide the White House with “an easy win.” The Times also reported that some supposedly fiscally conservative Republicans might abandon positions they maintained throughout the Obama administration and support tax cuts that significantly increase annual budget deficits:
The grand plans of lower rates, fewer loopholes and a tax on imports may have to be scaled back to a big corporate tax cut and possibly an individual tax cut.
A lot of people think Mr. Trump might go for this to get an easy win.
“They have to have a victory here,” said Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist who advised Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign. “But it is going to have to be a bit less ambitious rather than going for the big bang.”
Under pressure to get something done, some Republican deficit hawks appear ready to abandon the fiscal rectitude that they embraced during the Obama administration to help salvage Mr. Trump’s agenda.
In a rare shift, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, whose House Freedom Caucus effectively torpedoed the health legislation, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he would not protest if tax cuts were not offset by new spending cuts or new streams of revenue, such as an import tax. [The New York Times, 3/26/17]
Economist Austan Goolsbee: “We Set A Low Bar For The President And He Rammed His Head On It.” On the March 27 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom, University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, skewered Trump for his health care reform failure, noting that the bar for success was lower for the new president and he nonetheless “rammed his head on it.” Goolsbee continued that as “somebody who campaigned without specifics” and without any expressed “trade-offs” he might make in exchange for lower taxes, Trump had “not set the stage for a sober discussion” on tax reform. From CNN’s CNN Newsroom:
[CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/27/17]
WSJ’s Richard Rubin: Trump Tax Reform “Fraught With Squabbles, Procedural Hurdles And Difficult Trade-offs.” On March 26, Wall Street Journal tax policy reporter Richard Rubin found that Trump and the Republican Party had been “bruised and beaten” from the health care repeal failure and that Trump had turned to tax reform because he mistakenly believed it was “easier.” Rubin argued that “the GOP quest for a full overhaul of the tax code is fraught with squabbles, procedural hurdles and difficult trade-offs” as the party attempts to balance tax cuts against deficit increases -- while prioritizing which income groups should benefit from new tax rates -- and tackles Speaker Ryan’s proposal to tax imported goods. From the March 26 article:
None of those divisions inside the GOP have been resolved yet, and dozens more are lurking, including debates over tax breaks for renewable energy, credits that aid low-income households, and the treatment of carried interest income for private-equity managers.
“The notion that tax is easier than health is not borne out by the facts,” said a Senate GOP aide. “Having discussed health care for seven years, Republicans were 75% in agreement on the policy. On tax, none of the foundational questions have been answered.” [The Wall Street Journal, 3/26/17]
Wash. Post: Health Care Repeal’s “Stunning Collapse ... Imperils The Rest Of President Trump’s Ambitious Congressional Agenda.” On March 25, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s entire agenda was in peril after the health care defeat. The Post noted that tax reform was especially in danger because it is predicated on no longer providing federally funded assistance to help low-income people access to health care. With those ACA programs still intact, it will be harder for Trump to find the money to pay for tax cuts to corporations. From the March 25 article:
While Republicans broadly share the goal of Trump’s promised “big tax cuts,” the president will have to bridge many of the same divides within his own party that sank the attempted overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. And without savings anticipated from the health-care bill, paying for the “massive” cuts Trump has promised for corporations and middle-class families becomes considerably more complicated. [The Washington Post, 3/25/17]
Economist Paul Krugman: “Markets Don’t Seem To Think Tax Reform Will Happen.” On March 27, New York Times contributor and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tweeted that the stock markets appeared to indicate investors were not expecting tax reform to happen:
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 27, 2017
CAP’s Scott Lilly: Those “Pressed To The Edge Financially” Bear The Cost Of A Tax Reform Plan “Targeted To Helping Those Far More Comfortable.” In a March 26 op-ed, Center for American Progress senior fellow Scott Lilly argued that while the collapse of Trump’s health care repeal plan had ignited a “firestorm” among Republicans, Trump still plans to move forward with a disastrous tax reform agenda that’s overwhelmingly favorable to the rich. Lilly noted that Trump’s tax reform would be a win for those at the upper end of the income spectrum while those at the bottom -- many of whom had supported Trump -- would bear the brunt of such reforms. From the March 26 op-ed:
There is one additional irony to the unpleasant policy outcomes of the House attempt at tax reform. Remarkably similar to the American Health Care Act the group that is in the cross hairs to pay the biggest price under the proposal are those who voted in the largest numbers for this President and the party in Congress expected to provide the votes to enact it. Struggling families pushed to rural areas and the exurbs of major cities by high rents and housing prices, families forced to drive greater distances each week than the rest of America will be pay a disproportionate share of the tax. Despite the fact that they are pressed to the edge financially they are slated to become the biggest contributors to a “tax reform” bill that is heavily targeted to helping those far more comfortable. [The Huffington Post, 3/26/17]
Wash. Post’s Greg Sargent: Republicans Go From “Cutting Taxes For The Rich … To Cutting Taxes For The Rich.” On March 27, Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent mocked Trump and congressional Republicans for pivoting from health care to tax reform when both agendas amount to “cutting taxes for the rich”:
Republicans set to pivot from cutting taxes for the rich (AHCA) to cutting taxes for the rich (tax reform).
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) March 27, 2017
CNBC’s John Harwood: Tax Reform Adds To “Trouble” On “Trump’s Legislative Horizon.” CNBC correspondent and New York Times contributor John Harwood noted that tax reform was just part of the “trouble” looming on “Trump’s legislative horizon” for the rest of the year:
Trump's legislative horizon
--keeping government open: trouble
--2018 budget: trouble
--tax reform: trouble
--debt limit: trouble
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) March 27, 2017
Alec MacGillis Mocks Trump Team For Pretending Tax Reform Is “Simpler” Than Health Care. ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis mocked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for claiming that Trump’s health care reform was abandoned partly because it is “a very, very complicated issue” while tax reform would be “a lot simpler”:
Steve Mnuchin: “Health care is a very, very complicated issue. [Tax reform's] a lot simpler.”
Last health law: 2010
Last tax reform: 1986
— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) March 26, 2017
“What do most men do when they retire?” Greg Gutfeld asked the other hosts of Fox News’ The Five, three days before President Barack Obama left office in January. “They play golf. But what if you've been playing golf for the last eight years of your job? He should go back and work. He should get a job.”
A week later, when his colleague Eric Bolling claimed that President Donald Trump had already “accomplished possibly more than former President Obama accomplished in many, many years,” Gutfeld had a ready rejoinder: “That's what happens when you don't play golf.”
Right-wing media figures like Gutfeld spent years turning Obama’s golf hobby into a ready-made attack. They cited the president’s golf game as evidence he hadn’t “really been that engaged,” and claimed that false rumors that he was a Muslim circulated because he “is much more diligent at golfing than he is at church attendance.”
They criticized Obama for playing the sport during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the economy was “doing really poorly,” during a Washington, D.C., earthquake, after a series of tornadoes hit the southeastern United States, following an earthquake in Japan, instead of attending the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, and in lieu of visiting the Gulf Coast to assess the response to the 2010 oil spill (which he had already done). In the eyes of these critics, the president shouldn’t play while “men and women in uniform are still getting killed in Afghanistan.”
Those criticisms never made much sense.
“Presidents have regularly turned to golf as a way to relax from their abnormally stressful job,” as CNN has noted. Given that presidents carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, it seems pointlessly cruel to begrudge them the leisure they need to recuperate. The specific criticism from the right wing -- that Obama was playing golf instead of doing something more important -- also never added up: When one is president, there is literally always something critical happening somewhere in the world. And indeed, polls showed that the American people largely found this line of criticism against Obama unfair.
When Trump because president, conservative pundits suddenly stopped complaining about the “Golfer in Chief.” But 66 days after taking the oath of office, Trump has already taken 14 trips to golf courses.
That’s still a far cry from the 1,200 and 800 rounds that Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower played during their tenures in office. But there are a number of factors that make Trump’s golf habit worthy of note.
First of all, Trump was one of those conservative media figures who regularly lashed out at Obama for golfing. “Trump was adamant that his predecessor, Barack Obama, spent too much time on vacation while president,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted last month. “He tweeted his objections 38 times from 2011 to 2014.”
On the presidential campaign trail, Trump continued to slam Obama in office. During one 2016 event in Virginia, he claimed that if he was elected, "I'm going to be working for you; I'm not going to have time to go play golf." Obama has “played more rounds just about than people who play professionally on the PGA Tour,” he complained at another rally.
Meanwhile, just over two months into his presidency, Trump is visiting golf courses at a rate that translates to 77 trips per year, much more frequently than his predecessor, who played around 40 rounds per year. (The national average is reportedly 19 rounds. I have never played a round of golf.) And Obama didn’t play a round as president until April 26, 2009, more than three months into his tenure. By that time, he had negotiated through Congress and signed a $787 billion economic recovery bill, an expansion providing health care to 4 million children, and legislation making it easier to sue employers for wage discrimination based on gender. President Trump is still looking for his first legislative victory.
Second, Trump’s golf trips are part of his broader tendency to visit properties that bear his name, which he has done “on 21 of the 66 days he has been in office, meaning that for the equivalent of three full weeks of his just-over-nine weeks as commander in chief, he has spent all or part of a day at a Trump property,” according to the Post. From the White House, Trump has made three trips to Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, VA; in Florida, he has visited Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach 10 times and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter once.
Meanwhile, the president is calling his Mar-A-Lago resort -- which doubled membership fees following Trump’s inauguration -- the “Southern White House” and making regular weekend trips to his home there. And he’s stopped in at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for two meals as president. All of these businesses benefit from the publicity they received when Trump visits. And their success ultimately benefit Trump and his family financially.
“It is normal for presidents to get out -- and it can be a boost for small businesses across the city and the country,” Robert Weissman, the president of the nonprofit Public Citizen, told The New York Times. “But with President Trump, he spends his down time as a walking advertisement for his businesses. It is a major departure from historic norm and degradation of the office.”
Third, Trump’s White House is actively seeking to hide from the public whether he’s playing golf or not. Aides refuse to confirm to White House correspondents whether the president is playing golf when he visits his golf courses; reporters instead are piecing together what happened from social media posts of those Trump is playing with, concluding that he has played golf at least 12 times.
“The level of secrecy around golf is new for the presidency,” CNN noted. “While the Obama administration was hesitant to allow cameras to regularly get shots of the President hitting the links, they would tell reporters who joined the President for each round. Trump's nascent administration has not done that.”
In fact, press secretary Sean Spicer has tried to convince reporters not to assume that Trump is playing golf when he visits his golf courses. “Just because you go somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean you did it,” he told reporters last week. “So, on a couple of occasions, he’s actually conducted meetings there, he’s actually had phone calls. So, just because he heads there, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s happening.”
Of course, the White House has places to conduct meetings and make phone calls. What it doesn’t have is a golf course.
Finally, it is difficult to apply to Trump the argument that the president is working really hard and so deserves whatever leisure time he wants. The president is spending several hours a day watching cable news. He was so manifestly ignorant of the details of his top-priority policy agenda item, repealing and replacing Obamacare, that he lacked “sufficient command of the policy details to negotiate” on the legislation with members of Congress. It wouldn’t hurt him to spend more time learning how to do his job, before he gets all of us killed.
Nonetheless, the conservative commentators and Fox News hosts who spent years demonizing Obama’s golfing have gone silent under Trump.
The change has been so dramatic that on one broadcast last month, The Five’s hapless liberal host, Bob Beckel, complained that he “used to listen to Eric and Kimberly talk about how much -- Greg -- how much golf Obama played.” But he noted that Obama hadn’t played a round in his first several months in office while “Trump didn't even wait a week.” “Well, he does have excellent company that he golfs with,” Kimberly Guilfoyle responded. “He was with Rory McIlroy this weekend.”
In fact, Fox is helping Trump’s White House hide his golf habit. Late Sunday afternoon, after Trump visited his Virginia golf club on two consecutive days, the network tweeted:
“The sad thing about this tweet is that it really would be news if Donald Trump was at the White House working this weekend,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum commented. “But no: Trump played golf at his club in Virginia this weekend, so it's not clear what Fox was up to here. Perhaps they meant to say that by 5:26 pm on Sunday, Trump was back in the White House.”
Fox could have told its audience the truth about the president’s weekend. But after eight years of priming its fans by attacking Obama for playing golf, the network knows exactly which buttons that would push.
SEAN HANNITY: I liked watching Ted during Nightline days. I loved "America Held Hostage." I learned a lot. It broadened my desire to get into opinion journalism, because that's what I am, I'm an opinionated journalist and a talk show host. But the difference, Ted respectfully, is I'm honest with my audience, you're not. You pretend to be fair and balanced, I don't. And if you really cared about truth in journalism how do you work for a network that's so abusively biased with the history it has? How can I be bad for America when I offer the American people news and information your network will never touch because you have an agenda? I'm proud of the work I do on radio and TV. We have a team that works hard every single day to bring people news and information. Now if you're going to suggest I'm lying to people and I'm putting ideology ahead of facts, I want your examples.
BuzzFeed: Viral Post “Inaccurately Claimed 14 Girls Went Missing In DC In 24 Hours.” BuzzFeed News reported that the claims made in a viral Instagram post were inaccurate, explaining that public outcry about the missing girls may have been spurred by the D.C. police’s recently increased use of social media to publicize missing persons cases. BuzzFeed also explained that some of the photos used in the post were from earlier in the year, and that fewer missing persons had been reported in 2017 than in recent years. From BuzzFeed News:
Police have tweeted 20 missing person flyers since March 19 (10 of which are for minors), which have led many to believe the number of missing persons has dramatically increased — however, DC police told NBC Washington this is not true.
"We've just been posting them on social media more often," Rachel Reid, a spokesperson for the DC Metro Police Department, said.
The number of missing person reports in DC has actually decreased in 2017 compared with recent years.
Even so, the number of black people missing across the US is staggeringly disproportional — though that's not a new phenomenon. [BuzzFeed, 3/24/17]
Snopes: “Although There Are Still A Number Of Missing Teenagers In The D.C. Area, Local Police Refuted Claims Of A Mass Disappearance Of Girls There.” Fact-checking site Snopes.com declared the viral post a “mixture” of truth and fiction. It wrote that the D.C. police department had explained there was not a recent uptick in missing black and Latina girls in the area nor of 14 teenagers going missing within a 24-hour period, but that there were still 22 open cases involving missing teens in Washington, D.C., as of March 22, and 13 open cases as of March 27. It also explained the connections between this inaccurate social media post and a more accurate, though now outdated, viral tweet about the same topic. Snopes also noted that Metropolitan Police Department official Chanel Dickerson was trying to draw more attention to the cases (emphasis added):
However, Chanel Dickerson, who heads the department’s Youth and Family Services division, said that she is posting more reports of missing teens of color online in order to draw attention to their cases:
I’m not trying to minimize that other people are missing. But they look like me. I just want to make sure that every investigation [is] focused on every child the same way, [that] we give the same exposure to everyone, regardless of your race or where you live. [Snopes.com, 3/24/17]
Essence Special Report: “How D.C.’s Disappearing Girls Highlight The Nation’s Black And Missing Problem.” Essence, which posted several articles about the viral post and updates from local authorities, published a report telling the stories of specific missing persons cases involving black teen girls across the country. Reporter Donna M. Owens detailed the differences in media coverage between missing black girls and their white counterparts, and included quotes from experts about the dangers young black women face. From the March 24 report:
Across America, thousands of Black women, girls and gender non-conforming individuals are among the missing. They may be snatched by strangers, or abducted by family members. Some are mentally ill or injured. Still others are runaways.
[The viral] tweets generated significant public attention, what with photos of the missing that were at times haunting, disquieting, or strikingly normal. Brief descriptions hinted at their lives.
There was the 13-year-old Black girl with a wide smile and eyeglasses, whose outfit included pink sneakers. A 15-year-old Black girl with brown hair and brown eyes who had on her school uniform. “Have you seen her?” the posts asked.
According to the latest FBI data, as of February 2017, there are a total of 13,591 active missing person records for African American women stored in its National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Of that total, 8,042 were of the ages of 18 and under; 1,419 were between the ages of 19 to 21.
The numbers trouble Natalie Wilson, 47, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAM FI), a nonprofit she launched with her sister-in-law, Derrica Wilson, 38, back in 2008.
“Black women and girls are going missing and it’s not just in Washington D.C. It’s happening in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta and other urban areas around the country,” she said. [Essence, 3/24/17, 3/24/17, 3/17/17, 3/14/17]
Latina: D.C.’s “Black And Brown Residents Are Concerned (And Vexed)” That Media Aren’t Covering Missing Youth Cases Involving Children From Their Communities. Though Latina’s Raquel Reichard offered context to the viral post by talking to local authorities, she also underscored that statistics from D.C. officials haven’t “relaxed communities of color … and for good reason.” From the March 23 article:
According to officials, 95 percent of the children who have gone missing in 2017 have been located. In fact, some of the 10 teenagers who vanished this month have also been found in the last few days – but that hasn’t relaxed communities of color in the D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia (DMV) Area, and for good reason.
Black and brown residents are concerned (and vexed) that while their children account for the majority of missing youth cases they remain underrepresented in media reporting around the issue, a phenomenon termed by the late Afro-Latina PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill as "missing white woman syndrome."
This explains the absence of coverage for impoverished youth of color victims, like Maylin Reynoso, the young Dominican woman who disappeared and was later found dead in the Bronx, New York last year, and the around-the-clock reporting of middle-class white women who go missing, like 30-year-old jogger Karina Vetrano, who was beaten, raped and killed in Queens, New York in 2016 as well. [Latina, 3/23/17]
Teen Vogue: “It Remains Essential For People To Advocate For Missing Young People Of Color.” While analyzing the initial tweet and subsequent coverage of the issue, De Elizabeth wrote in Teen Vogue that the false statistics still highlighted a real trend in how missing black and Latina girls are covered in media. From the March 25 article:
The bottom line is that it remains essential for people to advocate for missing young people of color; studies have shown that 36.7% of all missing persons under the age of 17 are black. And, as [Shaun] King points out in his article, "the stories of young black girls and women who are missing don't get the Elizabeth Smart or Natalee Holloway treatment." This makes online awareness that much more essential – and effective.
But, as with anything you'd share on the internet, it's important to make sure that what you're sharing is, in fact, true. As with fake news, it's always a good idea to investigate the source of a photo, article, or infographic before you hit retweet. After all, spreading false information isn't going to help anyone, no matter how good your intentions might be.
Despite the confusion that the viral false image might have caused on social media, there is a cause for concern with regard to the situation in Washington, D.C. The Metropolitan Police Department has stated that there's been 501 reported cases of missing children in D.C. just in 2017 alone, with 22 cases still open. [Teen Vogue, 3/25/17]
Bustle: “The Problem Is That When Those [Missing] Children Are African-American Or Latinx, Their Disappearances Don’t Gain Adequate Media Coverage.” Bustle’s associate news editor, Hillary E. Crawford, explained to readers “Why You Should Pay Attention To DC’s Missing Girls If You Attended The Women’s March.” Crawford reported that the viral post was spurred by local authorities’ decision to post more missing persons cases on social media, but she also noted the long-term dearth of media coverage around those cases involving black and Hispanic children. From the March 24 article:
According to the Associated Press, over 500 D.C. children went missing in the first three months of 2017. However, according to D.C. Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid, there hasn't necessarily been an increase in missing persons in the district. Instead, the public is simply noticing more because the police department is posting missing girls' photos on social media. In other words, these missing persons are finally being realized.
The problem is that when those children are African-American or Latinx, their disappearances don't gain adequate media coverage.
Helping to draw even more attention to D.C.'s missing girls isn't unlike fighting for women's rights, abortion access, racial equality, or LGBT rights — all of which were intensely promoted by the Women's March. When it comes down to it, it's about representation. [Bustle, 3/24/17]
Refinery29: “The Disconnect In How The Media Reports About The Violent Crimes Against White Women Versus Women Of Color Is Incredibly Problematic.” Refinery29’s Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez also reported that coverage of missing persons cases involving white women far outpaced those cases of black and Latina women. From the March 15 article, which was also later updated to provide more information:
Cases in which young, attractive white women from middle- or upper-class households go missing tend to get much more media attention than instances where women of color disappear — especially if they are from low-income families. The late PBS reporter Gwen Iffil (sic) coined the term "missing white woman syndrome" to describe this phenomenon.
Think of all the media coverage about the case of Karina Vetrano, the 30-year-old jogger who was brutally beaten, raped, and killed in Queens, NY, last August. Now think of Marilyn Reynoso, the 20-year-old Latina from the Bronx, NY, who disappeared in late July, and whose body was found about a week later. It's likely that you have not heard about Reynoso, even though her disappearance and murder occurred at around the same time as Vetrano's, because it wasn't widely publicized.
The disconnect in how the media reports about the violent crimes against white women versus women of color is incredibly problematic, particularly when you consider that about 40% of all the missing people in the U.S. are people of color, according to the figures offered to the Post by Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black & Missing Foundation. [Refinery29, 3/15/17]
Black & Missing Foundation: 37 Percent Of Individuals Reported Missing In 2016 Were Persons Of Color. The Black & Missing Foundation, which aims to draw more attention to missing persons cases involving people of color, highlighted FBI statistics showing that at least 37 percent of individuals reported missing in the U.S. in 2016 were minorities. Because of the way the federal government gathers race/ethnicity data, this figure does not include some Hispanic individuals who are categorized as white -- Hispanic is not a “race” option in the federal FBI data -- or as members of other ethnicity groups. [Black & Missing Foundation, accessed 3/27/17; FBI.gov, accessed 3/27/17]
Journalism Center On Children & Families: “Cases Involving Kids Who Aren’t Privileged, White And Conventionally Attractive Go Largely Unreported.” According to an article from the University of Maryland’s Journalism Center on Children & Families, media coverage for missing black and brown kids is so low, it spurred the creation of a separate alert system designed for children of color: “Rilya alerts.” Media experts said significant racial and class disparities in coverage of missing children cases reinforce social privilege. From the article (emphasis added):
We've all heard of Amber alerts. But Rilya alerts? Probably not.
As with the Amber system, children whose disappearances are announced under the Rilya system must be 17 or under, reported missing to law enforcement and believed to be in danger. Rilya alerts — named in honor of Rilya Wilson, who disappeared unnoticed from Florida's foster care system at age 4 — also have one more criterion: they're only for children of color.
The need for an extra alert system for racial minorities stems largely from a phenomenon known as “Missing White Girl Syndrome" — a tendency by the news media to cover the murders and abductions of affluent or middle-class white girls far more than those of boys, poor kids and kids of color, especially African-Americans. An estimated 42 percent of missing children are black.
If you doubt the need for Rilya alerts, think about how many white kids you can name who've gone missing and turned up dead, then ask yourself the same question about racial minorities who've disappeared under similar circumstances. Polly Klaas, Elizabeth Smart and JonBenet Ramsey became household names after their cases made headlines for months, even years. Their stories, like others that tend to fascinate the news media, involved cute or pretty privileged girls whose cases centered on whodunit mysteries. Typically, such stories feature adorable photos or videos that are aired over and over again. As a general rule, kids whose cases get the most coverage come from families with connections capable of snagging media attention when it most counts — in the hours after an abduction or murder — and then keeping the story in the headlines.
Meanwhile, cases involving kids who aren't privileged, white and conventionally attractive go largely unreported. Rilya Wilson's is a case in point. The 4-year-old who was born into poverty and removed from her mother's custody went missing for eight months before anyone realized she was gone, according to Peas in Their Pods, the Georgia-based group that set up the national alert system in her name. [Journalism Center on Children & Families, accessed 3/27/17]
Study: Lack Of Newsroom Diversity And Media Profit Models Contributed To Significant Underrepresentation Of “African American Missing Children And Female Missing Children.” A 2010 study of national media coverage of children found that black and female children were “significantly underrepresented in television news coverage.” The research, conducted by two communication studies professors, spanned coverage in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and identified structural problems within national news media outlets as causes of the disparity:
When the proportions of race and gender from the news coverage of five national television stations between 2005 and 2007 were compared to official missing children statistics, it was found that African American missing children and female missing children were significantly underrepresented in television news cover-age. It is argued that such things as newsroom diversity, news operation routines, media ownership, and commercial motives of media contribute to the race- and gender-related media bias. [Communication Research Reports, July-September 2010]
Study: Coverage Doesn’t Improve Because Media Don’t Fully Grapple With “Missing White Woman Syndrome” In Their Own Reporting, Even Though They Recognize It. Media studies expert Carol Liebler wrote in 2010 that evidence showed mass media outlets don’t discuss their own biased reporting habits, but that they do critique others’ coverage of crime and missing persons cases, and they even identify racism “as the primary cause of the Missing White Woman Syndrome.” Yet “class, age, and appearance are not investigated in any depth, and more subtle aspects of the phenomenon go unexplored.” Because members of the media are largely unwilling to critique their own roles in the phenomenon, or to explore the other disparities in coverage when black and Latina women are victims of crimes, Liebler concluded “This lack of self-critique promises little for transformative change.” [Communications, Culture & Critique, 2010]
Image created by Dayanita Ramesh.
Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist radio host who is one of President Donald Trump’s media sycophants, appears to be monetizing his content as part of the YouTube Partner Program even though Infowars' content regularly violates the program’s policies and guidelines for advertising. Jones’ YouTube videos and other content feature extreme anti-LGBTQ and racist commentary, and Infowars promotes conspiracy theories that have encouraged harassment of families that lost children in the Sandy Hook massacre and led to a gunman firing shots in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.
The YouTube Partner Program allows content creators to “monetize content on YouTube in many ways, including advertisements, paid subscriptions, and merchandise,” as long as their content is “advertiser-friendly” and meets YouTube’s “community guidelines.” Google, which owns YouTube, recently changed its advertising policies after major European corporations and the British government raised concerns over their ads being placed next to extremist content. In response, Google wrote that it was “raising the bar for our ad policies” and that it would “tighten safeguards to ensure that ads show up only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program”:
We know advertisers don't want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values. So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.
We’ll also tighten safeguards to ensure that ads show up only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program—as opposed to those who impersonate other channels or violate our community guidelines. Finally, we won’t stop at taking down ads. The YouTube team is taking a hard look at our existing community guidelines to determine what content is allowed on the platform—not just what content can be monetized.
Google’s promise to better ensure that ads appear only alongside content of “legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program" indicates that Jones’ channel is a partner. An online post by the Houston Chronicle also explained that a YouTube partner can be identified by “look[ing] for advertisements on the user’s pages."
Jones’ videos, which often violate YouTube’s policies for its advertising partners, frequently appear with ads for brands such as Trivago, Playstation, and a corporation that is contracted by the state of Hawaii to promote tourism. These ads appear on a targeted, automated rotating system, so they may alternate or change.
On March 19, Jones claimed that his website “Infowars got knocked off of Google ads through AdRoll, their subsidiary company they work with.” AdRoll -- which is actually a Google competitor, though it does use some Google technology -- did in fact cut ties with Infowars, citing violations of its policies, which require that a website’s content be accurate and verifiable and that it not have “derogatory content” about a political candidate. But it appears that Google, through YouTube, has not taken any similar action.
YouTube’s community guidelines include banning content creators -- and not just their advertising -- for threats, including “harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people's personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts.” Infowars is no stranger to harassment and threats. In addition, YouTube’s content guidelines, which apply to pages hosting advertisements, say that videos with “inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language” are “inappropriate for advertising.” Jones, including on his YouTube page, regularly makes vulgar and harassing comments, and his role in spreading conspiracy theories has helped incite others to commit threatening and violent acts.
Jones played a crucial role in pushing the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which claimed that a Washington, D.C., pizzeria hid a pedophilia ring run by prominent Democratic politicians. Jones told his audience members in late November that they “have to go investigate" the conspiracy theory for themselves. Days later, a Jones listener fired his gun inside the pizzeria. After that incident, Jones scrubbed Pizzagate-related content from his YouTube page and elsewhere. In February, Jones uploaded a new video breaking down the “PizzaGate pedophile cult,” months after the shooting incident; an ad for LinkedIn appeared next to that video on March 23. On March 24, Jones apologized to the pizzeria and its owner for his attacks on them. An advertisement for TBS’ late night talk show Conan appeared before the video on March 27.
Jones also relentlessly pushed conspiracies about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were murdered during a shooting at an elementary school. Jones has attacked the families of the victims as “actors” who helped pull off a “hoax,” and family members have said that they have repeatedly faced harassment and threats and have criticized Jones for his smears. On March 23, an advertisement for FedEx appeared on a video exploring “false narratives vs. the reality” of Sandy Hook, and an ad for PNC showed up on another video alleging that Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Wolfgang Halbig was “stonewalled and threatened” as he investigated the massacre.
Jones has made other threatening and violent comments. In a now-deleted YouTube video, Jones told conservative Washington Post columnist George Will to “put a .357 Magnum to your head, and blow what little is left of your brains out all over yourself.” Jones also asserted that Will is a “constitutional rapist” who is “literally mounting America, raping it in the ass, and telling us how great he is.”
Jones also recently challenged actor Alec Baldwin to a “bare knuckle” fight, saying, “I will break your jaw, I will knock your teeth out, I will break your nose, and I will break your neck.” During the 2016 Democratic primary, Jones suggested that supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) needed to have their "jaws broken" and their "moron heads" slapped (following criticism, Jones claimed he was speaking only “figuratively” about breaking their jaws).
YouTube’s advertising guidelines also note that content “is considered inappropriate for advertising” when it includes “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.”
Jones has made his name weighing in on controversial subjects and spreading conspiracy theories. He is an ardent 9/11 truther who calls the attacks an “inside job.” He has also spread conspiracy theories about the Oklahoma City bombing, Boston Marathon bombing, a number of mass shootings, and vaccinations. A Google AdChoices advertisement appeared next to a video calling 9/11 a “false flag”
Jones has also made numerous disparaging comments about LGBTQ people. After more than 40 people were killed at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, FL, Jones charged “the LGBT community in general with endangering America and with the blood of these 50-plus innocent men and women.” Many of Jones’ comments about the attack were uploaded to his YouTube channel. Jones also once claimed that the U.S. government is trying to “encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children,” adding that being gay is a “destructive lifestyle.” A static in-video advertisement and, separately, an advertisement for Wix.com appeared in a March 16 YouTube video on Jones’ page during which Infowars guest host Anthony Cumia mocked a 15-year-old transgender girl and compared her decision to transition to children deciding they want “to be a dinosaur.”
A sponsored Funny or Die video appeared before one of Jones’ YouTube videos in which he lamented the introduction of an autistic muppet to Sesame Street and pushed the dangerous, debunked myth that vaccines cause autism by claiming “it burns out their pancreas. It burns out their brain.” The video and the video’s summary asserted that the character’s inclusion was “an effort to normalize the epidemic of childhood mental disorders.”
Jones also frequently makes controversial comments on race and gender, such as when he went on a racist rant against former President Barack Obama on his YouTube channel, saying he was “elected on affirmative action” and “ain’t black, in my opinion.” Jones also accused Obama of having “some big old donkey dick hard-on.”
Jones has made other vulgar comments about politicians and their families, particularly about women. These statements include calling Obama’s mother a “sex operative” for the CIA on his radio show and calling Hillary Clinton a “lying whore” on his YouTube channel. He has also said that Chelsea Clinton looks like Mister Ed the Horse and made numerous other sexist comments about women and their looks.
Removing Jones’ channel from the YouTube Partner Program would hardly be unprecedented. The Independent reported in February that YouTube removed user “PewDiePie from its advertising platform after anti-Semitic videos were posted to his account.” PewDiePie has more than 53 million subscribers and has been called “by far YouTube’s biggest star.” The report noted that the videos could no longer “be monetised because they are in violation of YouTube’s ‘advertiser-friendly content guidelines’, which are stricter than the normal guidelines.” The report added that YouTube’s community guidelines “include restrictions on hate speech”:
The videos are no longer allowed to be monetised because they are in violation of YouTube's "advertiser-friendly content guidelines", which are stricter than the normal guidelines and require that people cannot feature "controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown".
But they are still available to view on the site, where they were posted in January.
Google requires that all videos uploaded to the site comply with its community guidelines, which include restrictions on hate speech. The guidelines specifically note that YouTube will consider the "intent of the uploader", and that videos may stay online if they are "intended to be humorous or satirical", "even if offensive or in poor taste".
It would appear to be consistent with YouTube’s existing policies to pull advertising from Jones’ videos. If YouTube fails to take action, advertisers can request to have their ads removed from videos appearing on Jones’ channel; Google has pledged to implement “account-level controls to make it easier for advertisers to exclude specific sites and channels.”
Alex Jones: “Infowars Got Knocked Off Of Google Ads Through AdRoll, Their Subsidiary Company They Work With.” Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones claimed that his website “Infowars got knocked off of Google Ads through AdRoll, their subsidiary company they work with,” because “they said ... you criticize Obama and the Democrats and the UN and climate change, you’re not real, we’re banning you.” From the March 19 edition of The Alex Jones Show:
ALEX JONES (HOST): I have several clips I want to play, but before we do that, the crew’s pointing this out. Infowars got knocked off of Google Ads through Ad Roll, their subsidiary company they work with. And they said, because you criticize Obama and the Democrats and the UN and climate change, you’re not real, we’re banning you. They said the president isn’t real, they’re trying to ban him, they said he’s not legitimate. And so they took – that ad program, strangely enough, was just about all the extra money we had to budget for expansion in 2017. $3.3 million, we’ve been doing it three years, it was very successful. It would be $5 million or more this year. But that sounds like a lot of money. When you’ve got 60-something employees, and bandwidth, and expenses, and legal – and let me tell you something, that’s not a lot of money. We have a lot of other ways to fund ourselves, but that was just getting us there. And it’s funny what they blew away -- and all these leftist groups boycotting us and going after our sponsors -- what they blew away was the extra money. So now we’re in a position of not even having the money to go forward, and then they’re hitting us with other stuff behind the scenes. Because they know we’re hurting them, they know we’re real, they know we’ll tell the truth, they know we’re fearless. They know we want justice. They know we’re not stopping. They know we’re Americans, bitter clingers who want unity and prosperity and freedom in this country. The globalists don’t want that. Their own WikiLeaks show that. They want total monopoly of power -- that’s called dictatorship. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 3/19/17]
Infowars: Online Advertiser AdRoll “Cutting Ties With Infowars.com In An Apparent, Concentrated Effort To Shut Down Political Speech By Conservatives And Libertarians Online.” According to a February 21 Infowars post, “AdRoll, the online advertiser that accused Breitbart of ‘hate speech,’ is now abruptly cutting ties with Infowars.com in an apparent, concentrated effort to shut down political speech by conservatives and libertarians online.” The post included an image of the letter sent by AdRoll to Infowars’ legal department, which explained that AdRoll had “suspended the campaigns” for Infowars because the content on Jones’ site violated its policies and the policies of its partner ad networks. The post did not directly blame Google, but did note, “It’s also not surprising that AdRoll is partnered with Facebook and Google, two tech titans behind the technotronic takeover – and the ‘war against fake news’ intended to shut down alternative press critical of globalism such as Infowars and Breitbart.” From the February 21 post (emphasis original):
AdRoll, the online advertiser that accused Breitbart of “hate speech,” is now abruptly cutting ties with Infowars.com in an apparent, concentrated effort to shut down political speech by conservatives and libertarians online.
The advertiser sent a vaguely-worded email to the Infowars legal department saying it was ending its ad campaign in part because “all political content should focus on the merits of the candidate,” implying that corrupt, establishment candidates such as Hillary Clinton should be showered with praise and her scandals ignored.
This seems to contradict another statement in the same email in which AdRoll claims “all content on your website should be relevant, accurate, informative, and up to date;” if a news web site is to focus on only the “merits” of a political candidate and not the controversies, how is that accurate?
Will AdRoll likewise ban ads from appearing on mainstream media sites that constantly attack President Trump?
Here’s the email in full:
AdRoll Requires That Its Clients’ Websites Contain Accurate Content And That They Not Contain “Derogatory” Content About Political Candidates. AdRoll’s website standards for its advertiser clients state, “Your website must be able to stand by its claims,” and, “All content on your website should be relevant, accurate, informative, and up to date. Any claims should be easily verifiable.” In its additional guidelines, AdRoll states that websites using its software “can promote political campaigns” as long as they do not include “derogatory content” and “focus on the merits of the candidate.” [AdRoll, accessed 3/20/17, 3/20/17]
AdRoll Is Not A Subsidiary Of Google -- In Fact It’s a Competitor -- But It Does Use Some Google Products. AdRoll is an advertising network and agency that connects its clients’ ads with other advertising networks and exchanges so that the ads will appear on other sites. AdRoll is not a subsidiary of Google -- in fact, AdRoll’s CEO has described Google’s advertising services as a competitor -- but it does use some Google products such as DoubleClick and Google Tag Manager. [AdRoll, accessed, 3/21/17, 3/21/17, 3/21/17; TechCrunch, 6/21/16]
Google Continues To Place Ads On Jones’ YouTube Video Pages.
The Guardian: Ads On Extremist YouTube Video Pages “Help Fund Payments To The People Who Post The Videos.” In an article detailing the backlash from major European countries and the British government to ads on YouTube appearing next to extremist content, The Guardian noted that ads that appear attached to YouTube videos “help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6,” or approximately $7.50. The Guardian itself “is among the organisations to have withdrawn its advertising” from appearing “alongside extremist material.” [The Guardian, 3/19/17]
The credentialing committee for Capitol Hill reporters announced today that it will not grant Breitbart.com’s request for permanent credentials at this time, citing the website’s failure to demonstrate editorial independence from key supporters of President Donald Trump.
Members of the Standing Committee of the Senate Press Gallery referenced several concerns with Breitbart’s bid for permanent status at a hearing this morning. These included the lack of evidence proving that former Breitbart chief executive and current White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon had actually separated himself from the website; questions about whether Rebekah Mercer, who owns part of the outlet and was a key funder of Trump’s presidential campaign, also plays an editorial role; the fact that some on the masthead have also received payments from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a nonprofit group funded by Mercer and previously led by Bannon; and issues surrounding Breitbart’s apparent use of office space not zoned for commercial leases.
The committee is requesting more information from Breitbart by April 14.
For Breitbart to receive a permanent congressional press pass, its leaders must follow gallery rules by demonstrating that the website’s principal business is "the daily dissemination of original news and opinion of interest to a broad segment of the public" and that it is “editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government.”
Breitbart fails these standards in a number of ways, as Media Matters documented in a December letter urging the members of the standing committee to reject its application. Bannon’s position in particular raises significant concerns, as even if he did actually separate himself from the publication, the possibility that he could return to his position after serving in the Trump administration suggests that Breitbart News cannot be editorially independent. Moreover, Bannon, at-large editor Peter Schweizer, and managing editor Wynton Hall each have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary from GAI while simultaneously working for Breitbart.
These ties between Bannon, Mercer, and GAI suggest that Breitbart is and will remain a propaganda arm for President Trump, not an editorially independent news outlet.
The conservative operation’s status as a provider of “original news and opinion” is also in question -- according to a Media Matters review of Breitbart’s October 2016 content, only 17 percent was original; 78 percent of the website’s articles were wire copy, and the remainder were aggregated.
Permanent congressional credentials would represent a substantial step forward for Breitbart. As BuzzFeed reported: “For newer outlets in Washington, winning permanent congressional press passes is a tedious process — but an important one. The hard passes are seen as the first step towards joining the White House Correspondents’ Association, where member news organizations rotate their reporters to travel with the president at home and abroad. Reporters also use the hard passes to get into other events around Washington.”
Below is the full text of the letter Media Matters president Angelo Carusone sent the standing committee in December:
To the members of the Standing Committee of the Senate Press Gallery:
Breitbart.com has reportedly come before the Standing Committee of the Senate Press Gallery seeking permanent Capitol Hill credentials. We urge you to reject the request based on Breitbart’s disqualifying inability to demonstrate editorial independence as required by your rules.
According to Rule 4 of the standards for issuing a permanent congressional press pass, if an outlet does not have General Publication periodicals mailing privileges under U.S. Postal Service rules and publishes daily, then the outlet's principal business must be "the daily dissemination of original news and opinion of interest to a broad segment of the public."
Additionally, “publications must be editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government.” In rejecting the application of the Supreme Court reporting outlet SCOTUSBlog, the committee explained that editorial firewalls are insufficient when personnel are inextricably connected between the federal government and an applying publication.
Breitbart fails these standards in several ways:
a. Media Matters analyzed all content published on Breitbart.com in the month of October and found that Breitbart published 82.7 percent unoriginal content. In fact, 78 percent of all Breitbart.com articles in October were wire copy. By contrast, just over 17 percent of Breitbart's content was original.
b. Breitbart Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon is on leave while working as the top adviser for President-elect Donald Trump, and he has been appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to Trump once he is sworn in as president. Bannon also serves on the board of the data mining company Cambridge Analytica, which is reportedly seeking White House contracts.
c. Even if Bannon completely severs his position with Breitbart, his likely financial interest and the possibility that he could return to his position after serving in the Trump administration suggests that Breitbart News cannot be editorially independent.
d. Many of Breitbart's top staff members have regularly been involved in other activities that raise questions about their editorial independence. They are intertwined with the Government Accountability Institute, a non-profit conservative research organization
Stephen Bannon served as chief executive of both institutions, receiving $376,000 from GAI from 2012-2015.
At-large editor Peter Schweizer received $778,000 over that term to serve as GAI's president, secretary and treasurer.
Managing Editor Wynton Hall received $600,000 from GAI over the same period to serve as its communications strategist.
e. Additionally, Wyton Hall is the owner of Wynton Hall & Co., a celebrity ghostwriting agency. His website claims he has worked for "NBA stars, White House presidential officials, Hollywood producers and movie stars, Fortune 500 CEOs, college presidents, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, NCAA Hall of Fame coaches, top international motivational speakers, TV celebrities, and fashion models," all of which could presumably be written about at Breitbart.
h. Breitbart has already engaged in similar conduct internationally. Notably, Breitbart London editor in chief Raheem Kassam left the website to become chief of staff to UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage during the 2015 UK General Elections; rejoined the website following the elections and spent the next year using his editorial post to support and advocate for UKIP’s signature policy initiative, Brexit; then briefly ran for UKIP leader.
It is simply not credible for an outlet to claim the editorial independence required under your rules given that their longtime executive chairman is about to become the closest advisor to the president.
In addition to these documented, inextricable, and disqualifying links between the outlet and the Trump administration, Breitbart has secretive business ties that it refuses to disclose as a matter of policy, including financial ties to foreign businessmen that are kept equally secret. The Committee should also be wary of granting additional credibility to an extremist website -- Bannon himself called it “the platform of the alt-right,” an ideology that features white nationalism.
Given these facts, I urge the Standing Committee to reject the Breitbart application.
President, Media Matters for America
KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): You guys have been digging deeper into last week's Intel news, and all we're talking about now, with the chairman of the House Intel Committee [Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)]. Your reporting had to do with a phone call, swapped cars, time unaccounted for, with the chairman. How does that play into this timeline?
GREG MILLER: Yeah, I mean it's unclear how -- I mean, so he's now acknowledging that he met with this source at the White House. I haven't seen the statement, so I can't tell you what time of day that meeting occurred, but we were hearing throughout last week that he had disappeared for a stretch of time on the day before he makes this big, dramatic announcement, the big unveil, and that was in the evening, that he'd gone, separated from his own staff, went off on his own for some period of time and comes back, and all of this is set in motion. And all of this is sort of really central to this question now of who is Devin Nunes working for? Is he working on the White House behalf or is he working for the House Intelligence Committee? Because you can't be -- you can't be doing both.
BOLDUAN: In your report, Greg, you had that the aides to the chairman had denied the account that you were offering them. It now seems that they're confirming some of what your account was. I'm confused as to what's changed overnight from your reporting that they're now putting out this statement saying, yes, he did have this meeting.
MILLER: Well, the denial that they gave to us was really strange, OK? So, it was -- they wouldn't discuss the particulars. They wouldn't say -- so, they wouldn't go point by point on the chronology here and say, "Well, that part's wrong" or "that part's wrong." They just wanted to say, "No, that account is wrong." So they could have been -- that denial could have just been pertaining to one small detail in the sequence of events, even though the larger story was completely accurate.
BOLDUAN: And from your reporting, you checked with the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], the CIA, you checked with the other agencies where this kind of classified information and a briefing would have been held. There's no account of the chairman going there. How unusual in your view in all your reporting is that the chairman would go to the Old Executive Office Building on White House grounds to meet a source?
MILLER: It's extraordinary. I mean, no whistleblower that I've ever heard of is setting up a meeting with the head of a congressional intelligence committee at the White House. It just doesn't work that way. I mean, the thing is, he has to be in a secure facility to be able to review these classified documents. Right? S
o, there's only so many locations in Washington, D.C., where he can do that. And we were just going through sort of process of elimination. Well, he didn't go to the agency, CIA, didn't go to FBI. We were just trying to point readers to the probability that he ended up going to the White House, which it turns out, he did.
On March 26, The Washington Post’s editorial board highlighted the misleading tactics of the latest Planned Parenthood attack ad from the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List).
SBA List released an ad in February titled “What is Planned Parenthood really about?” to encourage congressional support for defunding Planned Parenthood -- despite the organization’s essential role as a safety net health care provider. The ad contained several points of misinformation about Planned Parenthood’s services and the feasibility of other providers filling the resulting gap if Congress succeeds in defunding its clinics.
As the Post’s editorial board noted, however, while SBA List’s ad may seem “effective in delivering its message ... it is easy to make a point if you cherry-pick information and don’t worry about staying true to the facts.” For example, the ad repeated the frequently debunked argument that defunding Planned Parenthood would create more resources for "real health-care centers for women." As the editorial board explained, the “truth is that a cutoff would tear a huge hole in the safety net for the 2.5 million patients - the majority of them low-income."
From the March 26 editorial:
Not “even a scintilla of evidence.” That was the judgment of a federal judge last month in Texas about allegations of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. He was not alone in finding that the health-care organization did not illegally profit from fetal-tissue donation: Three Republican-led congressional investigations, 13 states and a Texas grand jury all could find no substance to claims about the alleged sale of “baby body parts,” which gained currency through videos released by anti-abortion activists.
It is important to point out these facts in light of an advertising campaign that uses misleading data and half-truths in a bid to whip up support in Congress for a cutoff of federal support to Planned Parenthood. While the would-be cutters suffered a setback with last week’s collapse of the Republicans’ attempted overhaul of health care, which also targeted Planned Parenthood, it is clear the threat remains and that misinformation will continue to be a key weapon.
The ad is effective in delivering its message — but then, it is easy to make a point if you cherry-pick information and don’t worry about staying true to the facts.
The ad’s most pernicious distortion centers on the argument that Congress should redirect the federal dollars that go to Planned Parenthood to “real health-care centers for women.” Studies and real-life practice have established that there simply are not enough community health centers to fill the gap that would be created if Planned Parenthood lost Medicaid funds. The truth is that a cutoff would tear a huge hole in the safety net for the 2.5 million patients — the majority of them low-income — who each year go to Planned Parenthood centers for basic medical needs. Congress should reject it.
CBS’ Pelley Describes Cernovich As A “Lawyer Who Describes Himself As ‘Right-Of-Center Politically’” And Who Has “A Taste For Stories With No Basis In Fact.” During a March 26 segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes focusing on fake news, correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed self-professed “alt-right” figure and men’s rights activist Mike Cernovich. Pelley described Cernovich as “a Southern California lawyer” who calls himself “‘right-of-center politically,’ but who has become a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact.” Pelley pointed out that Cernovich was involved in promoting false stories, including one claiming, “‘Clinton’s inner circle includes child traffickers, pedophiles and now members of a sex cult,’” referring to the debunked "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. From a CBS transcript of the interview:
The police say there is no sex-trafficking conspiracy. But millions read about it on dozens of websites including one called “Danger and Play,” which wrote, “Clinton’s inner circle includes child traffickers, pedophiles and now members of a sex cult.” “Danger and Play” is written by Michael Cernovich, a Southern California lawyer who describes himself as “right-of-center politically,” but who has become a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact.
Scott Pelley: These news stories are fakes.
Michael Cernovich: They’re definitely not fake.
Scott Pelley: They’re lies.
Michael Cernovich: They’re not lies at all. 100-percent true.
Scott Pelley: Do you believe that, or do you say that because it’s important for marketing your website?
Michael Cernovich: Oh, I believe it. I don’t say anything that I don’t believe.
Scott Pelley: That doesn’t seem like a very high bar.
Michael Cernovich: It’s a high bar because I’m an attorney. I know how to weigh and measure evidence.
Cernovich streams commentary daily and publishes on social media. He reached Twitter users 83 million times last month.
Michael Cernovich: That was a slow month, too. We hit 150 million sometimes. What I’m doing is, it’s punchy, it’s fun, it’s counterintuitive, it’s counter-narrative, and it’s information that you’re not gonna see everywhere else.
In August, he published this headline.
Scott Pelley: “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease, physician confirms.” You don’t think that’s misleading?
Michael Cernovich: No.
Scott Pelley: You believe it’s true today?
Michael Cernovich: Oh, absolutely.
That story was sourced to an anesthesiologist who never met Clinton. It got so much traction it had to be denied by Clinton’s doctor and the National Parkinson Foundation.
Michael Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day.
Scott Pelley: Well, she had pneumonia. I mean--
Michael Cernovich: How do you know? Who told you that?
Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.
Michael Cernovich: Why would you trust the campaign?
Scott Pelley: The point is you didn’t talk to anybody who’d ever examined Hillary Clinton.
Michael Cernovich: I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I’m not gonna take her on her word. The media says we’re not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes. [CBS News, 3/26/17]
BuzzFeed: "Scott Pelley Wasn't Prepared" For Cernovich. BuzzFeed News explained that "Scott Pelley wasn't prepared for a troll" during the interview with Cernovich, adding that "Pelley didn't do his homework on Cernovich and the ecosystem he's a part of." From the March 27 piece:
Scott Pelley wasn’t prepared for a troll.
Pelley and 60 Minutes’ decision to focus on fake news proved that it took the threat of the far-right’s information war seriously. But Pelley didn’t do his homework on Cernovich and the ecosystem he’s a part of. And it showed, despite the fact that CBS got to edit down the video.
“They don't understand new media,” [Cernovich] wrote Sunday evening. “Also they all think I'm a moron. It's perfect microcosm of the election and media's view on Trump.”
I asked him to elaborate.
“They don't understand me and didn't even try.” [BuzzFeed, 3/27/17]
Cernovich Became Involved In The “Alt-Right” After “Realizing Tolerance Only Went One Way And Diversity Is Code For White Genocide.” In a since-deleted August 2015 tweet, Cernovich declared his allegiance to the “alt-right” -- a self-declared name for a faction of the white nationalist movement -- writing that he made his choice after “realizing tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide.” [Twitter, 10/28/15]
Cernovich: “White Genocide Is Real” And Will “Sweep Up The SJWs.” In a series of since-deleted tweets, Cernovich declared that “White genocide is real” and will “sweep up the SJWs,” referring to so-called “social justice warriors.” [Media Matters, 11/18/16]
Cernovich: “Detroit Schools Are A Mess? Who Runs Detroit? Blacks!"
Detroit schools are a mess? Who runs Detroit? Blacks! #DemDebate
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 7, 2016
Cernovich: There Are “Zero” Videos Of “EVIL White Nationalists Committing HATE CRIMES,” But There Is “Lots Of Videos Of Black Teens Knocking Out Whites!”
Where are videos of EVIL white nationalists committing HATE CRIMES. Zero. Zip. Nada. Lots of videos of blacks teens knocking out whites!
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 8, 2016
Cernovich: “The ‘Alt-Right’ Hasn’t Killed Anyone, But #BlackLivesMatter Regularly Slaughters The Innocent.”
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) July 8, 2016
Cernovich: “Date Rape Does Not Exist.” In August 2012, Cernovich suggested in a since-deleted tweet that men “try” to rape “a girl without using force,” claiming that “it’s basically impossible,” and adding, “Date rape does not exist.” [The Daily Beast, 8/9/16]
Cernovich: “If You Love Black Women, Slut Shame Them” To Keep Them From Getting AIDS. In February 2016, Cernovich wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS,” adding, “If you love black women, slut shame them.” [The Daily Beast, 8/9/16]
Cernovich: “Misogyny Gets You Laid.” In a since-deleted 2011 post on his website Danger & Play titled “Misogyny Gets You Laid,” Cernovich wrote that “sex with fussy womenchild is boring” and “I am not so in need of sex that tolerating bullshit is worth the payoff.” [Danger & Play, 8/24/11]
Cernovich: “If You Believe In College Rape Culture … You’re A Gullible Fool Who Believes Feminists.” In a February 2016 post on his website Danger & Play, Cernovich declared that “if you believe in college rape culture … you’re a gullible fool who believes feminists.” From the February 28, 2016, post (emphasis original):
If you believe in college rape culture, I understand a lot about you:
- You’re a gullible fool who believes feminists.
- You trust the mainstream media.
You are afraid to question narratives. [Danger & Play, 2/28/16]
Cernovich Attacked Satirist Vic Berger Using Pizzagate Tactics. Cernovich used “pizzagate”-like tactics to attack video editor and satirist Vic Berger, subjecting him to online harassment and threats after he mocked Cernovich. [Media Matters, 12/19/16]
Cernovich Led A Harassment Campaign Against NY Times Reporter. Cernovich led an online harassment campaign against The New York Times reporter Sopan Deb after he tweeted a joke regarding rapper Bow Wow and First Lady Melania Trump. He urged his followers to email Times Public Editor Liz Spayd about Deb. As a result, Spayd wrote a piece criticizing Deb, not realizing that much of the criticism she saw of his tweet came from Cernovich’s harassment campaign. [Media Matters, 3/17/17]
Cernovich Was A Leader Behind “GamerGate.” In 2014, Cernovich was a “champion” of “GamerGate,” which The New Yorker characterized as “a vicious campaign against feminists in the video-game industry.” [The New Yorker, 10/31/16]
Cernovich Has Repeatedly Pushed The “Pizzagate” Conspiracy Theory. Cernovich has repeatedly claimed that the conspiracy theory known as “pizzagate” is “worldwide” and “real.” [Twitter, 11/3/16, 11/20/16, 11/25/16, 11/29/16, 12/2/16, 12/4/16; YouTube, 11/24/16]
Cernovich Was “Among The First” To Claim That Hillary Clinton “Had A Grave Neurological Condition.” According to an October 31 New Yorker profile, “Cernovich was among the first to insinuate publicly that Clinton had a grave neurological condition, and that the media was covering it up.” [The New Yorker, 10/31/16]
Cernovich Claimed That “There Was More Than One Shooter At Pulse In Orlando.” Cernovich claimed that “there was more than one shooter at Pulse in Orlando” during the 2016 shooting. In a blog post, Cernovich wrote, “As you follow the story, look for” certain “evidence.” He added, “If we don’t see all of this, then there was a second shooter.” [Danger & Play, 6/12/16]
Peering into his laptop camera while filming a fidgety monologue for his Periscope audience last week, Breitbart.com investigative reporter Lee Stranahan spelled out an internal crisis that was unfolding at the "alt-right," pro-Trump media hub.
Convinced he was sitting on "the biggest political story in the world," Stranahan announced that his boss, Washington political editor Matthew Boyle, had ordered him to stay away from future White House briefings, which meant Stranahan couldn’t ask press secretary Sean Spicer about the supposed blockbuster. (Short version: Stranahan has strung together a conspiracy theory that would suggest the Russian hacking narrative is a complete fabrication by so-called deep state actors and a firm called Crowdstrike.)
“I’m probably going to lose my job,” Stranahan lamented during his televised update, noting “I have five kids to feed. … But I’m not going to let this story get killed.”
Indeed, by week's end, Stranahan was gone from Breitbart. He said he will now team up with The Gateway Pundit, the hyper-dishonest “alt-right” site that now boasts a White House press pass and commits itself to trolling journalists on the presidential beat.
The weird public Stranahan meltdown was just the latest example of far-right media outlets seemingly cracking under the strain of the Trump era. Along with at Breitbart, internal dramas have recently played out publicly at Fox News, TheBlaze and Independent Journal Review, as right-wing media sources struggle to find their footing with Trump now in charge, and with the attention that comes with that.
Accustomed to robotically blaming Democrats for all the supposed evils in the world, conservatives now have to deal with a political landscape where Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House, and, possibly soon, the Supreme Court.
Is dissent allowed? Or is the new role to simply cheer whatever Republicans do, and serve as a convenient shield for the administration?
“For years, conservatives breathlessly accused the media of being too easy on President Barack Obama and acting like a bunch of sycophantic boot-lickers for his administration. Turns out, some only wanted the chance to try it out for themselves once a Republican was in office,” conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter wrote in Politico. “Some of those who used to be the conservative movement’s most loyal government watchdogs are nothing but lapdogs now for Trump.”
At Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, popular conservative host Tomi Lahren was temporarily suspended after she went on The View and made comments critical of anti-abortion activists. (Lahren: “I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies.”)
In an usual display of newsroom friendly fire, Lahren’s comment was immediately condemned by her own colleagues at TheBlaze:
Beck himself soon joined the pile-on. “It takes intellectual honesty, and it takes a willingness to actually think these things through and to do more than just read Twitter or Facebook to get your news and your political opinions,” Beck said on his radio show while denouncing Lahren, according to The Daily Caller.
Beck has now reportedly fired the host. “Glenn is reminding the world of his conservative principles by sidelining Tomi after she insulted conservatives by calling them hypocrites,” one Beck "insider" told the New York Post.
Over at Fox News, executives were recently left scrambling when the White House pointed to Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano as a source for the inexplicable claim that former President Barack Obama had asked British intelligence to spy on Trump during the campaign. It was part of the White House’s larger failed attempt to support Trump’s baseless claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.
The claim of British involvement sparked an international incident.
Initially, a Fox News spokeswoman reported that Napolitano “stands by his report on FOX & Friends,” but then the full-on retreat began. By March 20, Fox had taken the extraordinary step of yanking Napolitano off the air “indefinitely.”
Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison spoke with a "Fox News insider" who told her: “The key thing Judge Napolitano did was to say ‘Fox News is reporting that ... ,’ and he can’t say that.' That breaks the trust, and you saw what it cost him. He is not a reporter and knows he's not a reporter." The source claimed that Napolitano’s comments, and Trump’s championing of them, had created what Ellison described as "an internal headache" for Fox News: “It’s a disaster," said the source. "It’s a nightmare.”
Speaking of headaches, Independent Journal Review (IJR) handed out suspensions last week after the GOP-friendly news site published a bizarre column suggesting Obama might have pressured the federal judge in Hawaii whose ruling halted Trump’s latest attempt to establish a travel ban for six Muslim-majority countries. (IJR column headline: "Fmr President Obama Made 'Surprise Visit' to Hawaii, Days Before Judge Issued Travel Ban Ruling.")
IJR editors later apologized for and retracted the story, but not before one staffer reportedly quit over the embarrassing episode. The site then suspended its chief content officer and two editors. (On March 27, Politico’s Hadas Gold reported that IJR video producer Colin Chocola also reportedly quit, citing issues he had with the “direction” of IJR that predated the Hawaii conspiracy theory flap.)
The dust-up was significant because the conservative-leaning IJR, founded in 2012 by former Republican operative Alex Skatell, was the only media outlet allowed to accompany Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his recent trip to Asia -- a trip that yielded a laudatory puff piece published by IJR.
The move to invite IJR was "part of an effort to include a broader representation of U.S. media,” according to the State Department.
“If willingness to tar a former president with conspiratorial garbage constitutes an element of media diversity, then the State Department succeeded,” quipped Erik Wemple at The Washington Post, after IJR published its conspiratorial column about Obama.
Last week, Business Insider provided a detailed look at the internal dissension swirling within IJR since Trump’s election, as editorial factions battle over how far to the right the site should tilt. “It's basically becoming a giant native ad for the Trump administration," one former IJR staffer complained.
For eight years, Obama bashing largely unified the right-wing media in America. Now without that security blanket to cling to, they’re finding life in the spotlight’s much more complicated.
A coalition of 21 civil rights and gun violence prevention groups signed a letter expressing concern that iHeartRadio has not confirmed whether it gave a “talk personality of the year” award to a conservative radio host who regularly featured a racially charged segment dedicated to mocking victims of Chicago gun violence.
For several years, conservative syndicated radio host Michael Berry hosted a “Butcher Bill” segment in which he ridiculed Chicago’s gun violence victims and smeared the Black Lives Matter movement. Berry also played “bingo” with the victims’ injuries and mockingly suggested that if “you don’t want to hear shots and feel pain” in Chicago -- referring to the common police blotter description of what happened to victims -- you should wear “earmuffs.” In a February 27 press release, Talkers magazine announced that Berry would receive an award for “best news/talk” personality of the year at the March 5 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles.
After receiving criticism for his segment, Berry announced that The Michael Berry Show would stop airing the weekly “Butcher Bill” segment, saying he has “to make better decisions.” But it is not clear whether he actually received the award, and iHeartRadio has not answered questions about the matter.
Media Matters and 20 other civil rights and gun violence prevention groups are asking iHeartRadio to break its silence and publicly state whether it honored Berry. From the March 24 letter:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Meanwhile, yesterday Ted Koppel had about -- I guess he's on CBS now, and he had the CBS morning show. And he did a feature on why Americans are so divided in this country, at which time he decided to sit down with Sean Hannity, and for some reason Sean said yes. So Sean sits down with him for 45 minutes and they take out --
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): That was a waste. He should have sat down with him for a minute.
EARHARDT: They only aired a minute.
KILMEADE: But we do know this. We know what it's like to put together a long story, and you only have to use one soundbite. So I get that.
EARHARDT: But you have to be fair.
KILMEADE: Yeah, but I don't think this is. Listen.
SEAN HANNITY: We have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show. You’re cynical. Look at that.
TED KOPPEL: I am cynical because --
HANNITY: You think we're bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?
HANNITY: You do.
KOPPEL: In the long haul, I think you and all these opinion shows --
HANNITY: Really? That’s sad, Ted. That’s sad.
KOPPEL: No, you know why? Because you’re very good at what you do, and because you have attracted a significantly more influential --
HANNITY: You're selling the American people short.
KOPPEL: Let me finish the sentence. Let me finish the sentence before you do that.
HANNITY: I’m listening. With all due respect. Take the floor.
KOPPEL: You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
EARHARDT: So Ted Koppel gave his opinion. He's complaining because opinion shows are affecting the way America thinks now. Yet, he's giving his opinion.
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Of course, and he's revealing what Donald Trump very effectively revealed through the course of the campaign by challenging the press, that these arbiters of calling balls and strikes -- the folks that say they do straight up facts and news -- they've always had a bias, and a left-wing bias. And they have even more bias against Donald Trump. So a Ted Williams or a -- excuse me, Ted Koppel, or Brian Williams, or a Dan Rather -- the inventor of fake news -- these guys have been leftists for a long time and never been called out on it. Someone like Sean Hannity and his program just simply provides the other side.
KILMEADE: When Walter Cronkite was the voice of America and decided the Vietnam War was lost, it was lost. And I think a lot of people in those outlets feel as though -- what happened to the power we used to have? And, for example, if you want to call out people with opinions, then you shouldn't be in America. America is full of opinions. Go to a bar. Everyone has got an opinion. It just so happens Sean Hannity does it better than almost everybody, and he's more successful than almost everybody. But if you want to say opinions are a problem, and you say that's a problem with America, then where is Rachel Maddow in this piece? Where is Bill Maher in this piece? Where's Jon Stewart in this piece? Would he have sat across from Jon Stewart and say, "You are the problem?"
EARHARDT: Well it's like what Sean was saying. There is a difference between news and an opinion show, and the American people know the difference in that. People who agree with Sean Hannity want to hear his messages. That's why his radio show is so successful. That's why he has nearly a three million people on average every night watching him and staying up till 10:00 to see what he's going to say.
HEGSETH: And that statement from Ted Koppel, it's so condescending. It's sort of like, "No, we know what's right and true. We know what the facts are, the American people aren't smart enough." As Sean said, he's like, "You're selling them short." People can listen and learn and decide for themselves.
Later in the show, Fox & Friends hosted conservative radio host Dana Loesch, who said that she "grew up watching Ted Koppel be one of the most biased reporters, biased anchors in America":
DANA LOESCH: I grew up watching Ted Koppel be one of the most biased reporters, biased anchors in America. And so for him to kind of turn that around, it was one of those moments where do you a double take. But he has been accused of bias, Ted Koppel, throughout his entire career. He is the last person on Earth to be accusing anyone of being bad for America simply because they are offering opinion. And this is the problem with so much of legacy media. This is why you've seen new media crop up, because people are tired of these anchors and these reporters giving their opinion as unfettered fact and acting as though there's no bias on their part at all whatsoever. I appreciate people who give their opinion, and they openly say, "You know what? This is my opinion." Like for me, for instance, I'm completely biased towards the Constitution and towards natural rights. Obviously everything that I talk about is going to be through that perspective. That's the difference between people like me and people like Ted Koppel is that we're honest whereas they are not.
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Is he just utterly and completely unaware, just no self-awareness, that he himself would also have a bias?
LOESCH: Yes. And it's also a huge insult to the American people, who I think don't need Ted Koppel to come to their rescuing. We don't need Ted Koppel to save us. We're smart enough to figure out what is propaganda and what is not, and for someone like Ted Koppel to act as like the ombudsman now -- considering everything that he has done to contribute to this problem -- that's the height of hypocrisy. No.
Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin has become a fixture on Fox News and at conservative political events, regularly serving as a shameless advocate for President Donald Trump.
But local journalists who report on the 15-year sheriff of Wisconsin’s most populous county say his newfound national spotlight sharply detracts from his law enforcement duties. They note that he spends much of his time away from home, either promoting Trump or pushing his new book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America.
Wisconsin reporters also point out that his local approval ratings continue to fall as he ignores his responsibilities, as well as a string of troubling incidents that have occurred in the past few years. Chief among the concerns are four inmate deaths that occurred in his jails in 2016, which Clarke has failed to adequately explain, they say.
“It gives the impression that he is missing in action and that he is an advocate for the Trump administration,” Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who has reported extensively on Clarke, said about his recent actions. “The perception is that he has gone from being the sheriff to being an advocate for Trump -- that is his primary role right now.”
Clarke, a Democrat and African-American, is amon
In addition, a recent Journal Sentinel review of Clarke’s outside income disclosure statements found he had earned more than $220,000 in 2016 from speaking fees and related expenses, along with other gifts, during speeches to 34 different groups in 20 states outside of Wisconsin. These earnings outpace his sheriff salary which is $132,290.
“He’s not around and he’s not doing his job and not providing any leadership,” said Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative Wisconsin talk show host now appearing on MSNBC and WNYC Radio in New York. “His approach has been to refuse to comment, refuse to be transparent in any way, and attack anyone who raises questions about it.”
Clarke also called for a boycott of a local Fox affiliate, claiming it presented “fake news” and “racist” coverage.
“He doesn’t talk to the local press except through the county sheriff’s Facebook page, but he does talk to Fox News, which is a contrast,” Bice said. “The assumption nationally among the conservatives is that he is beloved here, but even conservatives are frustrated with how long he is gone and not doing his job.”
Clarke was first appointed sheriff in 2002, winning re-election later that year and again in 2006, 2010 and 2014. He is up for re-election again in 2018.
But he didn't gain national prominence until his last election, when groups of gun-safety advocates helped support an effort to have him voted out.
When he won that election, local reporters say, he started getting national attention as a gun-rights advocate and law enforcement voice. He drew further attention last year when he spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a hate group. He was also an early Trump supporter.
One of the misconceptions about Clarke, however, is his image as a crime-fighter, local journalists say. His office does very little in the way of policing, with most of its work focused on the county's jails, high
“The county sheriff has almost nothing to do with crime. The police handle the crime,” said Bruce Murphy, editor of UrbanMilwaukee.com, former editor of Milwaukee Magazine and onetime Journal Sentinel reporter. “He’s the classic example of all hat and no cattle. He talks tough and he has the impression of being this guy who is taking care of crime, and he has very little to do with it.”
A January 31 report from Public Policy Polling found that Clarke had a 31 percent approval rating among local voters, and it noted that “voters consider him to be somewhat of a national embarrassment.” It also revealed that 65 percent believed Clarke has had a negative impact on Milwaukee County’s image.
PolitiFact, meanwhile, has deemed 75 percent of his statements that it reviewed false or mostly false.
“He’s very thin-skinned. He enjoys the limelight, likes the big checks and flying first class,” said Mike Crute, a talk show host on WRRD News Talk 1510 in Milwaukee. “It’s horrible. He’s got people dying in his own jails and he is nowhere to be found.”
Crute added: “He is a guy who undermines the office and the public service office. It’s all narcissism, building himself as a TV brand, following Trump’s example. The sheriff’s office and its duties are just tedious to him. He doesn’t do anything.”
James Wigderson, assistant editor of the conservative website RightWisconsin.com, called the outside appearances “a distraction.”
“The fact that he probably earns more from speaking fees than he does at his day job leads you to believe that his day job has to be suffering at some point in this process,” Wigderson said. “It’s a mixed bag in Milwaukee County when you are more frequently appearing on Fox News nationally than you are on the local news discussing what is going on in Milwaukee County.”
Journalists also say that he has not properly addressed the jail deaths or his constant trips out of town. When Media Matters approached him at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in February outside Washington, D.C., Clarke declined to comment on either.
Most reporters who cover Clarke believe he will not run for re-election in 2018, due in part to his diminishing local image and popularity, but also because of his continued support for Trump, as many believe he still hopes to serve the president in some capacity.
“He’s become a Fox News commentator/Trump surrogate and at that point has become almost completely disconnected with the community,” said Sykes.
In response to a request for comment, Fran McLaughlin at Clarke's office sent the following:
I spoke with the sheriff :
The left (Progressives, Democrats) doesn't think a black guy is capable of handling many things at one time. Let me introduce them to Sheriff David Clarke. He's added Tammy Baldwin to the list. He's EVERYWHERE! He's too busy to talk to you right now though. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain