President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a summit in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16.
During a Memorial Day Service at Veterans Memorial Park in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday, Biden pledged that he would press his Russian counterpart on human rights issues.
Biden said, “I’m meeting with President Putin in a couple weeks in Geneva making it clear we will not, we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights,” according to Reuters.
On Monday, Agence France Presse reported that Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are delighted to discuss human rights issues with the American president. They plan to question Biden about the rights of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, some of whom still remain incarcerated.
Speaking to reporters, Lavrov said, “Of course, we will be ready to discuss everything, including problems that exist in the United States.”
He said, “Putin could raise the January 6 protests in support of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.” Lavrov noted that the Russian government was monitoring the “persecution” of the Jan. 6 protestors and the “protection of opposition rights” in the U.S. “A lot of interesting things are happening there.”
JUST IN – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says Russia is monitoring the persecution of those behind the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, hints at violations of human and opposition rights. pic.twitter.com/GjndRRjA3f
A good day for Biden is being able to read a speech off of a teleprompter without a serious blunder.
I don’t think he’s capable of matching wits with Vladimir Putin.
Aside from his waning cognitive abilities, Biden fails to grasp that he has lost the moral high ground. For over four months, he and his party have ignored the Constitution and stomped all over the Bill of Rights. He doesn’t get to lecture Putin about human rights.
The Democrats’ portrayal of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as an insurrection and the FBI’s subsequent overzealous efforts to hunt down those who “stormed the Capitol” with unwarranted and often dramatic arrests to bolster their false narrative is seen clearly by the rest of the world. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in particular, recognize authoritarian tactics when they see them.
The Department of Justice told CBS News that as of May 6, there had been 440 arrests and they were planning 100 more. According to CBS:
More than 125 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, and at least 35 of those were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon, the Department of Justice said. About 140 officers were assaulted during the attack, according to a Justice Department spokesperson.
More than 350 were charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and more than 35 were charged with entering the Capitol with a dangerous or deadly weapon, the spokesperson said.
Just as Chinese diplomats proved that China had neither fear nor respect for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his team at their March talks in Alaska, Putin will show he has neither fear nor respect for Biden when the two meet in Geneva.
Putin intends to humiliate Biden at this meeting just as he did the last time they met. The occasion was Biden’s 2011 state visit to Moscow.
This little known episode was not reported by the press at the time. Most of us only learned about it after former White House stenographer Mike McCormick published a book about his six years (2011-2017) spent at Biden’s side as he met with world leaders, delivered speeches and interacted with members of the media. The book is entitled “Joe Biden Unauthorized: And the 2020 Crackup of the Democratic Party.”
It’s important to remember that, contrary to Biden’s current frail condition, he was at the top of his game in 2011. But even in his prime, Biden was never considered a formidable or even a particularly strong leader. Putin’s lack of respect for the U.S. Vice President was unmistakable, even then.
Ahead of the meeting, McCormick notes that Biden’s staffers had “made a big deal about how Putin really dominated the conversation [with] Obama” during his visit to Russia. They were sure that Biden, because of his “decades of Senate foreign policy experience,” would never allow that to happen.
During a joint news conference with Putin, Biden “launched into a soliloquy about his visits to Russia during the Cold War,” McCormick told The Free Beacon. Suddenly, Biden’s microphone was cut off. Then “the press lighting was switched off, and Putin’s aides ushered the media out of the room.”
Biden was saying, “I’ve been around a long time. The first time I was here…”
“Joe Biden got about one sentence further into that spiel when off went his microphone, off went the lights for the TV cameras, and stern Russian voices were commanding the press to leave. And leave they did,” McCormick wrote in a March article about the incident.
He added, “They went out quickly and efficiently, with videocameras popping off of tripods. Equipment snapping shut. Portable lights clattering down retractable poles. No one spoke, and no one dared linger.”
Putin had “publicly humiliated” Biden.
“He basically got body-slammed by Putin, really. I mean, I don’t know how else to describe it,” McCormick told the Beacon. “To me it was like, here’s our great foreign policy expert and he just got punk’d. And Vladimir Putin just had no fear or respect for him.”
Unsurprisingly, news of this very public, very deliberate indignity “never made it into media coverage of the trip.”
Recounting this moment in his book, McCormick wrote: “[Putin’s] message was unmistakable: I’m in charge of the room, I’m in charge of my country, and I’m in charge of the reset. As you might imagine, the vice president’s staffers were furious with the Russians. I was instructed to have the transcript reflect how the vice president had been cut off in mid-sentence.”
The official White House transcript reads: “VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: There’s a reason, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, I’ve been around a long time. The first time I was here — the second time I was here, I was meeting with President Brezhnev. We were trying to pass SALT II — END”
McCormick described the scene in the immediate aftermath of the snub in his article. “This was Putin in all his KGB ruthlessness. Whether by some prearranged signal or simply an undisclosed time limit, he had pulled the plug and done the unthinkable: he’d stolen Joe Biden’s audience and rendered him speechless. Shut him down in mid-sentence with the flick of an invisible switch.”
“Across the table,” he wrote, “I could see Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, in the now dimly lit room, looking as duped as an exhausted fish in the bottom of a boat. No protest, no complaint. No, hey, I wasn’t finished. Nothing. He was humiliated.”
“To me, the revelation was the premeditated precision of the snub. Putin or his team had likely plotted this all out. They knew exactly what bait to use, exactly how Joe Biden would take it, and then when he did, they reeled him helplessly in.”
“The most powerful man in Russia had neither fear nor respect for Joe Biden. He had just played with him for sport.”
Ten years have past. The two will be together on the world stage. Biden is much diminished and Putin is as sharp as ever.
American Greatness‘ Julie Kelly published an amazing video on Sunday showing Jan. 6 protestors speaking with U.S. Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol building. One officer is heard telling them, “We’re not against . . . you need to show us . . . here’s what you need to show … you understand … no attacking, no assault, remain calm.” This blows a rather large hole in the Democrats’ Capitol insurrection story and makes the U.S. media look like Pravda.
The officer, “identified in the video and confirmed by charging documents as Officer Keith Robishaw, appears to tell Chansely’s group they won’t stop them from entering the building,” according to Kelly.
The video directly contradicts what government prosecutors allege in a complaint filed January 8 against Chansley: “Robishaw and other officers calmed the protestors somewhat and directed them to leave the area from the same way they had entered. Chansley approached Officer Robishaw and screamed, among other things, that this was their house, and that they were there to take the Capitol, and to get Congressional leaders.”
Chansley later is seen entering the Senate chambers with a police officer behind him; he led several protesters in prayer and sat in Vice President Mike Pence’s chair. (The man in the yellow sweatshirt is William Watson, a drug dealer out on bond. He was arrested in January.)
Chansley is not charged with assaulting an officer; he faces several counts for trespassing and disorderly conduct. He has been incarcerated since January, denied bail awaiting trial. He has no criminal record.
Watson takes a microphone and tells protestors, “Listen up. The police here are willing to work with us and cooperate peacefully like our First Amendment allows. Gather more Americans under the condition that they will come and gather peacefully to discuss what needs to be done to save our country. … We’re going to be heard. This must be peaceful.”
Jacob Chansley, better known as the man wearing the Viking horns, or the “QAnon Shaman,” shouts to the others, “This has to be peaceful. We have the right to peacefully assemble.”
Kelly writes that she obtained the video from RMG News and that it is alleged to be a portion “of a much longer video that has yet to be released.”
Two tragic unintended police shootings. The officer responsible for the first and arguably more egregious death was given complete anonymity and was not criminally charged for his actions. His victim was unarmed. She was trespassing in the Capitol building. The other officer’s name was immediately revealed to the public and she was charged criminally within days of the incident. Her victim was armed and there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was facing first degree aggravated robbery charges for pointing a gun at and choking a woman (twice) who would not hand over her cash to him. The difference? The color of the victims’ skin. There are now two tiers of justice in America.
The Biden Department of Justice issued a press release on Wednesday to announce they had closed their investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, the thirty five-year-old Air Force veteran who was shot dead by a U.S. Capitol police officer during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The DOJ “will not pursue criminal charges against the officer involved.” The identity of the officer remains unknown.
The DOJ’s decision sparked no riots, no looting, no destruction. Just sadness.
The statement (printed below) explains that not only would prosecutors have to prove that “the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so ‘willfully,’ which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law. As this requirement has been interpreted by the courts, evidence that an officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required under Section 242.”
The Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer, Kimberly Potter, who mistakenly drew her firearm instead of her Taser and shot Daunte Wright on Sunday, did not do so willfully. Yet, her identity was immediately revealed publicly. Riots erupted in the city. Additional riots broke out in other U.S. cities. And it took only days for her to be charged with second degree manslaughter.
So, what’s the difference? Oh yeah, one victim was white. The other was black.
America is no longer the land of the free. Justice is dead.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, the Office announced today.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section and the Civil Rights Division, with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD), conducted a thorough investigation of Ms. Babbitt’s shooting. Officials examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy. Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution. Officials from IAD informed a representative of Ms. Babbitt’s family today of this determination.
The investigation determined that, on January 6, 2021, Ms. Babbitt joined a crowd of people that gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election. Inside the Capitol building, a Joint Session of Congress, convened to certify the results of the Electoral College vote, was underway. Members of the crowd outside the building, which was closed to the public during the Joint Session, eventually forced their way into the Capitol building and past U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers attempting to maintain order. The Joint Session was stopped, and the USCP began evacuating members of Congress.
The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside “Speaker’s Lobby,” which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways. USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker’s Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob. Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects. Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate. As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out. An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor. A USCP emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.
The focus of the criminal investigation was to determine whether federal prosecutors could prove that the officer violated any federal laws, concentrating on the possible application of 18 U.S.C. § 242, a federal criminal civil rights statute. In order to establish a violation of this statute, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted willfully to deprive Ms. Babbitt of a right protected by the Constitution or other law, here the Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure. Prosecutors would have to prove not only that the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so “willfully,” which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law. As this requirement has been interpreted by the courts, evidence that an officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required under Section 242.
The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber. Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter.
One of the hallmarks of the American justice system used to be its fairness at all levels. There was a time when individuals who were accused of a crime were presumed innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of the personal and political beliefs of a prison guard or a corrections officer, U.S. prisoners were expected to be treated with respect and their rights maintained while behind bars.
If the stories about the brutal treatment endured by some of the Capitol riot suspects are true, then justice itself has become the latest casualty in the left’s war on America.
Politico reports that one Capitol riot suspect, Ryan Samsel, was beaten so severely by a corrections officer at a Washington, D.C. jail, that he is now said to be partially blind.
One of the Capitol riot suspects, Ronald Sandlin, appeared in court last Tuesday and described conditions at the D.C. jail where many of them are being held. According to Politico, the defendant said, “Tensions are running high between guards and inmates” and they are “locked in their cells with virtually no human contact for 23 hours a day.”
Sandlin appeared remotely for a bail hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich. He told her that “the guards have subjected those charged in the Jan. 6 events to violence, threats and verbal harassment” … and “mental torture.”
“Myself and others involved in the Jan. 6 incident are scared for their lives, not from each other but from correctional officers,” Sandlin said. “I don’t understand how this is remotely acceptable.”
Referring to Samsel, Sandlin said he “was severely beaten by correctional officers, [is now] blind in one eye, has a skull fracture and a detached retina.”
Sandlin said that another suspect, Richard Barnett, 60, who was photographed during the riot with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was “tackled to the ground” by a guard. Barnett was charged with “entering the Capitol with a stun,” entering Pelosi’s office and “stealing a piece of mail from her office.”
He spoke of the racial tensions between the guards, who are primarily minority, and the suspects, who are mostly white. One guard shouted, “I hate all white people and your honky religion.” Politico notes several suspects have been “publicly accused of membership in or association with white supremacist groups.”
Sandlin, who posted photos “of himself smoking a joint in the Capitol Rotunda, is accused of tussling with multiple U.S. Capitol Police officers guarding the Senate chamber and trying to rip the helmet off of one of them.”
Samsel, “who is currently on parole in Pennsylvania and is wanted for an unrelated alleged assault in New Jersey, is charged with toppling barricades on top of police officers, telling one, “We don’t have to hurt you, why are you standing in our way?”
Attorneys for Samsel and Barnett told Politico they confirmed the events that Sandlin had discussed with the judge. One of Barnett’s attorneys, Joseph McBride of New York said. “There is a pattern of abuse and of targeting of the defendants who are being held pursuant to what happened on Jan. 6. It is targeted. It is ruthless. It is nonstop.”
The Washington Post spoke to Steven Metcalf, one of Samsel’s attorneys on Wednesday, “This is unjustified, and the way that these guys are being treated is completely unreasonable, it’s wholly unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter what these guys are being charged with. All of these guys are still pretrial detention; they have not been convicted of any crimes. And this is what they’ve been forced to endure.”
Metcalf said he had learned about the incident from Samsel. On March 20, Samsel had complained that it had “taken hours” for the guards to bring him toilet paper.
According to the Post, “An argument ensued. That evening, according to Metcalf, Samsel was moved to another cell. Around midnight, the lawyer said, two guards came to that cell, restrained Samsel’s arms behind his back with zip-tie handcuffs and ‘beat him to a bloody pulp.'”
“Samsel did not regain consciousness until the next day, according to Metcalf, and has since suffered seizures for the first time in his life. His nose was allegedly broken, his jaw dislocated and his vision in one eye damaged. Metcalf said he saw Samsel by video two weeks later, and his client’s face was still black and blue and the skin around his wrists stripped off.”
The D.C. Department of Corrections issued a statement which said the jail “takes the safety and well-being of all residents, staff, and contractors extremely seriously. We are aware of the allegation made by an inmate and it is under investigation by the Department of Justice.”
According to the Cornell Law School website, even convicted prisoners are entitled to some citizenship rights. First and foremost, they are protected under the Eighth Amendment from cruel and unusual punishment. They are entitled to due process, appeals and other rights.
While these stories have not yet been proven, we’ve heard of dramatic, Roger Stone style arrests of individuals charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion. And we know that law enforcement has been hyperfocused on rounding up and prosecuting as many individuals as possible.
And many of us wonder why they chose to ignore the riots that took place in the summer of 2020 which caused death, injury and billions of dollars worth of property damage throughout the U.S.
Much ink has been spilled about the systemic racism that exists in America. This, of course, became front and center following the death of George Floyd last May. That event, which it turns out was grotesquely misreported, served as the green light for an all-out war against the evil white man who continues to oppress blacks to this day.
It gave license to domestic terrorist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa to burn and loot American cities without consequence. Contrast the anemic efforts by law enforcement to pursue those responsible for what became billions of dollars of property damage and injury to police officers and civilians, with the FBI’s robust campaign to chase down citizens who attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. We’ve heard reports of FBI SWAT teams conducting pre-dawn raids, similar to the Roger Stone raid, at the homes of these “dangerous criminals.”
Where the %&$# was the FBI when former President Donald Trump was being targeted for colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election? Oh yeah, they were in on it. They were busy preparing their fraudulent applications to the FISA Court for a warrant and three renewals to spy on members of the Trump campaign. And wracking their brains to find a way to set a perjury trap for Gen. Michael Flynn so they could turn his life into a living hell for the next four years.
The riots that spread like wildfire throughout the U.S. last summer thrust the issue of systemic racism to the fore. In the midst of a pandemic and a deep recession, systemic racism became the most pressing issue of the day. The country needed to find a way – and fast – to atone for the heinous behavior of nineteenth century southern plantation owners even though hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting a war to abolish slavery.
The mainstream media has been moving away from the practice of journalism for years. With the arrival of candidate Donald Trump, it was abandoned altogether. The media collectively embraced activism. They operate as a unit.
Unlikely as it may sound, the adoption of “race” as a top issue in American discourse was actually a deliberate decision made by The New York Times, which is arguably the most influential newspaper in America.
It happened in August 2019, long before Americans ever heard of George Floyd. The manner of Floyd’s death, as it was represented in the viral video of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, merely served as a catalyst.
The occasion was a “crisis employee town-hall,” a staff meeting held by The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet. A recording of his remarks was leaked to and published by Slate. (The full transcript of the meeting, via Slate, is reprinted at the bottom of the page.)
At the time, Trump had just delivered a positive and widely praised speech on two mass shootings that had taken place nearly simultaneously in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The President had denounced racism in the strongest possible terms.
The headline in The Times read, ““TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM.” Following harsh criticism from the left for their positive take on the speech, the newspaper changed its headline to “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS.”
The Times’ title change became a huge story, as it should have.
Baquet opened the meeting with a discussion of the “significant missteps” they had made in handling the “crisis.” But, he told employees, “there’s something larger at play here and that was their coverage of Trump.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller had given his disastrous testimony several weeks earlier which pretty much ended the Trump/Russia collusion story they had spent years covering. “We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” Baquet said. “Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”
The story that would dominate the news over the next two years, he said, would be race.
Race in the next year and I think, to be frank, what I hope you come away from this discussion with – race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.
Baquet offered his “vision” of what this meant for them.
I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
So Baquet had two goals. The first was to paint President Trump as a racist. The second goal was to reshape American history putting slavery at the center of the story. This was the introduction of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 project, for which she has subsequently won a Pulitzer Prize.
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote that The Times hopes to “reframe America’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
“The basic thrust of the 1619 project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race.”
The essays go on to cover the economy (“If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.”), the food we eat (“The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery.”), the nation’s physical health (“Why doesn’t the United States have universal healthcare? The answer begins with policies enacted after the Civil War.”), politics (“America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.”), daily life (“What does a traffic jam in Atlanta have to do with segregation? Quite a lot.”), and much more.
Newt Gingrich appeared on “Fox and Friends” to weigh in on this travesty. He told viewers:
The whole project is a lie. Look, I think slavery is a terrible thing. I think putting slavery in context is important. We still have slavery in places around the world today, so we need to recognize this is an ongoing story. I think certainly if you’re an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see as the American experience. But for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on. There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.
I saw one reference that the New York Times claims that the American Revolution was caused, in part, to defend slavery. That is such historically, factually false nonsense that it is embarrassing the New York Times is doing this.
But, if you saw the recent leaked interview town hall meeting with the New York Times editor, he basically said, look, “We blew it on Russian collusion, now we’re going to go to racism, that’s our new model, the next two years will be Trump and racism.” This is a tragic decline of the New York Times into a propaganda paper worthy of Pravda.
Baquet, in his wildest dreams, couldn’t have envisioned how perfectly his vision would be executed. This is an illustration of the enormous power the major media outlets wield over us. They not only influence events, they shape events.
Just as they perpetuated the Russian collusion hoax, they’ve methodically worked to create the systemic racism hoax.
Of course, the death of George Floyd handed them an extraordinary opportunity which they seized upon and ran with. Additionally, they worked in tandem with the like-minded leaders of Big Tech and the Democratic Party.
Their efforts have inflicted deep wounds upon our once great country.
Liberals writers and politicians will continue to rail against the systemic racism inherent in America.
But it’s not really about race. It’s about power.
Full transcript of Dean Baquet’s staff meeting: (Via Slate)
Dean Baquet: If we’re really going to be a transparent newsroom that debates these issues among ourselves and not on Twitter, I figured I should talk to the whole newsroom, and hear from the whole newsroom. We had a couple of significant missteps, and I know you’re concerned about them, and I am, too. But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that. As Audra Burch said when I talked to her this weekend, this one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions. I really want your help in navigating this story.
But I also want to [inaudible] this as a forum to say something about who we are and what we stand for. We are an independent news organization, one of the few remaining. And that means there will be stories and journalism of all kinds that will upset our readers and even some of you. I’m not talking about true errors. In those cases, we should listen, own up to them, admit them, show some humility—but not wallow in them—and move on. What I’m saying is that our readers and some of our staff cheer us when we take on Donald Trump, but they jeer at us when we take on Joe Biden. They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president. And our job is to figure out why, and how, and to hold the administration to account. If you’re independent, that’s what you do. The same newspaper that this week will publish the 1619 Project, the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken in [inaudible] newspaper, to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump. And that means trying to understand the segment of America that probably does not read us. The same newspaper that can publish a major story on Fox News, and how some of its commentators purvey anti-immigrant conspiracies, also has to talk to people who think immigration may cost them jobs and who oppose abortion on religious grounds. Being independent also means not editing the New York Times for Twitter, which can be unforgiving and toxic. And actually, as Amanda Cox reminds me, doesn’t really represent the left or the right. [inaudible] who care deeply about the Times and who want us to do better, we should listen to those people. But it is also filled with people who flat out don’t like us or who, as Jack Shafer put it, want us to be something we are not going to be.
By the way, let’s catch our breath before tweeting stupid stuff or stuff that hurts the paper—or treats our own colleagues in a way that we would never treat them in person. It is painful to me personally, and it destabilizes the newsroom when our own staff tweets things they could never write in our own pages or when we attack each other on Twitter. But let me end where I began: This is hard stuff. We’re covering a president who lies and says outlandish things. It should summon all of our resources and call upon all of our efforts to build a newsroom where diversity and open discussion is valued. We will make mistakes, and we will talk about them openly. We’ll do things that cause us to disagree with each other, but hopefully we’ll talk about them openly and wrestle with them. I want your help figuring out how to cover this world. I want the input—I need it. So now I’m going to open the floor to questions.
Staffer: Could you explain your decision not to more regularly use the word racist in reference to the president’s actions?
Baquet: Yeah, I’m actually almost practiced at this one now. Look, my own view is that the best way to capture a remark, like the kinds of remarks the president makes, is to use them, to lay it out in perspective. That is much more powerful than the use of a word.
The weekend when some news organizations used the word racist, and I chose not to, we ran what I think is the most powerful story anybody ran that weekend. [inaudible] [chief White House correspondent] Peter Baker, who stepped back and took Trump’s remarks, looked at his whole history of using remarks like that, and I think it was more powerful than any one word. My own view? You quote the remarks. I’m not saying we would never use the word racist. I’m talking about that weekend. You quote the remarks. The most powerful journalism I have ever read, and that I’ve ever witnessed, was when writers actually just described what they heard and put them in some perspective. I just think that’s more powerful.
Staffer: But what is [inaudible] the use of a very clear word most people [inaudible]?
Baquet: I think that that word it loses its power by the second or third time. I do. I think that these words—can I talk about the use of the word lie for one second?
Staffer: As long as you come back to my original question.
Baquet: I will, I will. I’m not running away from you, you know me.
I used the word lie once during the presidential campaign, used it a couple times after that. And it was pretty clear it was a lie, and we were the first ones to use it. But I fear that if we used it 20 times, 10 times, first, it would lose its power. And secondly, I thought we would find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding which comment by which politician fit the word lie. I feel the same way about the word racist.
I think that a bizarre sort of litmus test has been created: If you don’t use the word racist, you’re not quite capturing what the president said. I’m going to argue that, first off, if you go back and look at what Peter Baker wrote that weekend, it was more powerful than the news organizations that just tossed the word out lightly as the first thing. Secondly, I’m going to ask you to go back and read the most powerful journalism of the civil rights movement. The most powerful journalism of the civil rights movement—for instance Joe Lelyveld’s portrait of Philadelphia, Mississippi, after the murders of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman—were vivid descriptions of what people in Philadelphia, Mississippi, said and how they behaved. The lead of the story described an old white man sitting on his front porch, saying that the town wasn’t racist, saying that everybody lived peacefully in the town. And as he was saying that, a much older black man walked by, and the guy called him “boy.” That is 20 times more powerful, by my lights, than to use the word racist. If the lead of that story had been “Philadelphia, Mississippi, is a racist town,” it would have been true, but it wouldn’t have been as powerful. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me. In fact, some of the people who were in the discussion that weekend don’t agree with me, but that’s how I feel, strongly.
Staffer: Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I guess I have a two-part question. The first part is: Would it be fair to say that, if [contributing op-ed writer] Roxane Gay hadn’t tweeted out what she tweeted out, that we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now? And if that is true—or, regardless of whether it’s true—I think that something that some people have been wondering is: Do you feel that there is a person in a high position of power who can be as explicitly self-critical of this organization as Roxane Gay has, and is in a position to be, because she’s on the outside? Do you think that we would benefit from that?
Baquet: I know what you’re getting at—this is a roundabout public editor question, right?
Staffer: No, it’s not. It’s just true. I mean, I don’t know if Roxane hadn’t shared those tweets or those emails, whether we’d be having this conversation.
Baquet: Well, all I can say is, long before that happened I was out in the world meeting with groups of people, having one on one discussions with people. Meeting with, like, large groups of people who wanted to talk about using the words. I gave three interviews in one day. I mean, it’s possible, but I guess I think that—maybe I’m kidding myself, and tell me if I am—I guess I think that we have been having self-critical discussions before that. Do you all think we haven’t had enough of them? Let me turn it to you all, to the room.
Staffer: I mean, it doesn’t seem like there’s that much comfort with having certain kinds of discussions. And I think understanding that certain people’s jobs weren’t at risk, and that it was explicitly their job to be critical, is something that some people might relish or appreciate.
Baquet: Well, let me say something I would relish and appreciate. I would relish and appreciate anybody who wants to come to my office. And some of you have—a lot of people have—to tell me when there are things you don’t like about the New York Times. I get the question about having an outside critic, and it’s an interesting one. But to be frank, the best thing we can do is have a newsroom where, if you don’t like something the newsroom is doing, you can come to me and talk about it. I hope some people feel that way. Some people don’t, but I think that’s more important. And I promise you, if anybody wants to come talk to me or members of the masthead about anything involving coverage—and I’ve had 20 conversations in the last two weeks with people who disagree with me about coverage, or disagree with me about using the word racist, who disagree with me about a lot of stuff—we only get through this if we get to the point where we can have those kind of conversations.
Staffer: Hi. You mentioned that there could be situations when we would use the word racist. What is that standard?
Baquet: You know, we actually should have a written standard. I wasn’t expecting two weeks ago—and [associate managing editor for standards] Phil [Corbett] is working with me and the masthead to come up with it. I can think of examples, like, you know, the governor—was it the governor of Virginia with the costume? I mean, it’s hard for me to answer, but yes, I do think there are instances when we would use it. It’s hard for me to articulate an example of it.
A.G. Sulzberger: So I’m no longer in the newsroom, but Dean tends to bring me in on some of these conversations. And I think it’s useful sometimes to show the journey a little bit of how we reach these decisions. Because otherwise it can feel a little bit like this is a single case in which we’re deciding whether something is or is not racist. The conversation that I heard was really a conversation about labels and about whether we’re going to use labels as shorthand for something that we can convey through words and actions and with greater color and detail. And the moment that, for me, really hammered home the risk of some of these labels was actually when someone passed along to me a headline that we had run six months before the “Trump Makes Comments Condemned as Racist” headline. And the headline we had used six months before was, “Omar Makes Comments Condemned as Anti-Semitic.” And the amount of pushback that that I and others received in that moment from leaders in the Jewish community was really considerable. People wanted us to call this phrase, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” an anti-Semitic phrase. They pointed out that this is actually an historically anti-Semitic trope. Though that it was an anti-Semitic trope was actually referred to in the body of the story, which I pointed out.
But we’re really cautious with labels, because labels tend to slip. They tend to stick to each other. And I think that the conversation I heard Dean and other members of the leadership have was about whether or not those types of shortcuts actually end up doing the exact thing that we don’t want, which is keep people from reading, would keep people from actually understanding, by giving folks who are inclined to be skeptical that that label is fairly applied—whether it’s anti-Semitic or racist or anything else—to keep those people from having an easy out not to look at what actually just occurred, and what happened, and what the implications are, and what the effects are on the community. And I think this is a really tricky moment right now. You know, someone did a study of Twitter shares that showed that 70 percent of all stories shared on Twitter were never opened. And to me, that’s just a reminder that so much of the world is judging before they’re actually engaging. And I don’t think any of us would defend the headline from last week. Not only would you not defend it, we changed it. But I do think that if you take a step further back, and you look at the entire front page, or the entire body of coverage, I actually think that you saw in unmistakable clarity all the themes that we rightfully should be addressing. I just wanted to say that.
Staffer: I wanted to ask about the Atlantic interview from last week, where you were talking about how the headline happened, and you said that the copy editors had written [inaudible] I believe that was a slip of the tongue. I do. But I think it raises important issues, because the copy desk was in fact [inaudible] frequently flagged things like this. It was the place that wrote a lot of headlines. I can recall, personally, numerous times on the copy desk when I and my fellow copy editors flagged and got changed problematic headlines or phrasings before they went into print. And I’m just wondering if there has been any discussion of the extent to which streamlined editing system increases the risk of errors like this.
Baquet: I don’t think this one was the streamlined editing system. I mean we are having conversations about the streamlined editing system and whether some desks need more help, but I don’t think that’s what happened here.
Staffer: I’m not talking specifically about, you know, was this headline attributable to it. I’m talking about, in general, there are fewer eyes on stories and the copy editors would normally have been—
Baquet: I know. I honestly don’t think there are fewer eyes on that kind of story. There were a lot of eyes on that particular story. The eyes didn’t come in all at the right time. I know. I get what you’re saying. I don’t think this was a copy desk issue. I really don’t.
Staffer: To come back to the discussion of the word racist for a second, I’m sensitive to how charged a word it is. I’m sensitive to not using labels. But I was struck a couple of years ago. I went to Little Rock for the 60th anniversary of Central High School. And I went back and I reread Homer Bigart’s story, you know, the day it happened, and it was a triple banner headline across the front page. And Homer Bigart, who was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, his lead was, “An impressive array of federal force cowed racist agitators outside Central High School.” And I was thinking, wow, that’s blunt, it’s powerful, it’s simple, it’s direct. And I was thinking, I wonder if that would ever be the way we would do it today.
Baquet: Oh, sure. The scene he described is—I mean, I’ve actually read this, I’ve gone back and looked at those stories. I don’t think anybody would avoid using the “racist” in a scene like that. It was only Charlottesville times 100, in a historic moment. I think that headline would appear in the New York Times. And I can say, because—.
Staffer: The flipside that I worked out—
Baquet: But I think you’d also… In a weird way, I would argue that proves my point. That was such a powerful moment in American history. It still resonates in American history. It was such a powerful scene of the American South at that moment, that in that instance, to have not used the word would have been weak. And I think, to me, I would argue that that proves my point.
Staffer: But the part that got me a little bit worried about is, if you compare it to how we would cover Charlottesville, which is different, sometimes we use these other words that sound like euphemisms or like—
Staffer: —you know, “white nationalists who are racially tinged” or we use things that seem to normalize and clean up and sanitize an ugly reality.
Baquet: Yeah, I hate racially tinged, racially charged, too. I think those are worse. If you’re going to do what I said, if you’re gonna put your money where your mouth is and actually just describe it, you shouldn’t use sort of half-assed words like racially charged or racially tinged either. You should either say it when the moment comes or you should describe the scene. I agree with that.
Staffer: Hello, I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country. And I think particularly as we are launching a 1619 Project, I feel like that’s going to open us up to even more criticism from people who are like, “OK, well you’re saying this, and you’re producing this big project about this. But are you guys actually considering this in your daily reporting?”
Baquet: You know, it’s interesting, the argument you just made, to go back to the use of the word racist. I didn’t agree with all of this from Keith Woods, who I know from New Orleans and who’s the ombudsman for NPR. He wrote a piece about why he wouldn’t have used the word racist, and his argument, which is pretty provocative, boils down to this: Pretty much everything is racist. His view is that a huge percentage of American conversation is racist, so why isolate this one comment from Donald Trump? His argument is that he could cite things that people say in their everyday lives that we don’t characterize that way, which is always interesting. You know, I don’t know how to answer that, other than I do think that that race has always played a huge part in the American story.
And I do think that race and understanding of race should be a part of how we cover the American story. Sometimes news organizations sort of forget that in the moment. But of course it should be. I mean, one reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year—and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with—race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration. And I think that one of the things I would love to come out of this with is for people to feel very comfortable coming to me and saying, here’s how I would like you to consider telling that story. Because the reason you have a diverse newsroom, to be frank, is so that you can have people pull together to try to tell that story. I think that’s the closest answer I can come.
Staffer: Yeah, I want to follow up and disentangle a couple of things that I’ve often seen conflated in these meetings. You have questions like “should we call Donald Trump a racist” and these broader discussions of our coverage getting flattened with the reason that I think we’re here today, which is really narrowly the question of how we present the work that we do and the headlines that end up on our work. Because this is sort of the thing that a lot of us who are, in some capacity, public representatives of the Times feel ourselves called to answer for. Because there are these patterns of getting headlines wrong in a very specific way that recur repeatedly and in a way that makes me think that it’s a process issue. And to me, the question of whether you put a phrase like “racial fires” in a headline is not actually about whether we think it’s OK to call Donald Trump racist. It’s whether we think it’s OK to use euphemisms instead of direct, clear speech in a headline. Which I think is a question you would ask of any administration.
And the issue with last week’s headline was not really about Trump per se. It was really more broadly about what kind of credulousness we want to reflect in terms of an administration—any administration. Or about other cases where we’re sort of shying away from the real content of the story to put a milder spin on it in the headline, which is sometimes actively misleading. And the process by which these headlines end up on stories is often kind of opaque, and it’s not always clear whether we’re taking on board the criticism that I think is very valid of a lot of these headlines. It is a real storyline about the Times out there now, that we are kind of repeatedly making mistakes that other people aren’t making so much. And it is something that’s kind of baffling to me from where I sit, and I guess I’m curious what is our process? How are we thinking about it? Do we perceive ourselves making the same errors repeatedly, or do we see these as sort of isolated episodes?
Baquet: I’m going to be really honest. I actually don’t think we make a whole lot more mistakes. I think I’ve made clear I’m going to own up to my mistakes. I don’t think we make a whole lot more mistakes than the Washington Post or anywhere else. After the headline issue came up, I think I heard from 10 executive editors, pretty much every major news organization. My favorite one was from somebody—I guess I shouldn’t use their names—was somebody who said, “I wish people cared about my headlines as much as they care about yours.”
Look, we are scrutinized. I ran another newspaper. I’ve never seen anything like this. We are scrutinized more than any other news organization in the country, in the world probably. To be frank, some of that comes with being the biggest and, I would argue, the best. And as hard as it is to do this, I think we have to accept it. We have to accept that maybe what goes along with being the New York Times is that we get scrutinized more. Maybe we should even say we deserve it more. You know? That’s the position I’m going to take. I mean, it’s almost funny when I read all of the attacks on the New York Times for not having a public editor. Nobody has a public editor! We’re not the only ones that made the decision to not have a public editor.
My main point is, yeah, we do get beat up more. And I think we just have to own up to [inaudible] in the process. Should I, do you want me to walk through what happened in this headline again, or is that—
Staffer: I would like to know. I mean I think in this specific case that’s now been made public. But in general, kind of, how does this happen?
Baquet: I mean, I think that if I had to (and I will) engage in a little bit of self-criticism, I made a decision. So we’re talking about print headlines here for a second. I made a decision that I still think was the right decision for the New York Times. We’re not just a print newspaper anymore. We have a television show. We have a podcast. We have a daily website that reaches tens of millions people. I thought that the days when the executive editor sat and sort of picked the stories, fly spec-ed the headlines … I just thought that that was sending the wrong signal to the room. What does that say to our video team if executive editor only cares about the print front page? I also, by the way, assembled a remarkable group of people who worry over the print front page. I’m going to also say that nobody puts out a print front page like the New York Times. Don’t let getting whacked the last couple of weeks make you forget that. But I think I should probably spend a little more time thinking about it. You know, again, I’ve said half of the big decisions I’ve had to make as executive editor I’ve made in my bathrobe at home.
You know, I didn’t look closely enough at it. I should make sure that the front page of the New York Times, which is still our glory, gets more scrutiny than it does, and we should all look at it. In this case, I’ve said it before, I think the layout boxed in the print hub in a way that probably made it impossible to put a great headline on it. But I think I should probably spend a little more stewing on the front page. Does that answer your question?
Staffer: Kind of. I mean, I think—
Baquet: Push! Push, man. They’ve never been shy.
Staffer: I do think, I mean, I guess I see it as not a matter of like getting beat up over the past couple weeks. I feel like there’s a sort of weariness with the share of the criticism directed towards us that is about the headlines that detracts from the discussion that we’d like to be having about the actual [inaudible].
Baquet: I agree, but I’m going to say one thing. And then [associate managing editor and Metro editor] Cliff [Levy] wants to say something. We let it distract us, if you don’t mind my saying. You know, there’s a little bit of … there are HR people in the room? There’s a little bit of a wallowing gene in the New York Times. Look, I don’t think any executive editor has owned up to more mistakes than I have. I don’t know if that means I’ve made more mistakes. Maybe it does. Or if it means I just believe in transparently owning up to your mistakes. But the last few months of the New York Times, we have produced some remarkable reports. Before I came in here, somebody from the national desk sent me a note pointing out just how amazing our coverage of El Paso was and how much it happened to have been driven by Latino reporters who felt powerfully about that story and wanted to surface it. We’ve got to move away from the position where we want to just beat ourselves up and not think about that stuff a little bit, too.
Cliff wanted to say something.
Cliff Levy: I just want to kind of delicately push back a little bit on this question of headlines. Headlines are very, very hard, as you well know. I spent a lot of time thinking about headlines. My colleagues on Metro might tell you that I’m kind of obsessed with them in an unhealthy way. A lot of the pushback that we often receive about headlines, particularly on social media is from people who have never written a headline, don’t have an understanding of how hard it is, the burdens on a headline. Particularly the burdens on a headline in print space where you are really limited. But the burden’s in digital, as well. We are limited by length and SEO and all these other factors. People who criticize our headlines—particularly people who are not in this newsroom—you’ll say to them, “Well, what would you want this headline to be?” And they repeat back something to you that’s like 15 lines or 15 words. You know, people want headlines that blitz out any nuance. They want headlines that say, “Donald Trump Is a Racist,” or “Donald Trump Is a Liar” or things that really take out all the texture and fabric of the article itself. And I will just say, you know, they’re extremely hard to do well, and I think in general we do them extremely well. And I think Phil would probably want to add something to that.
Philip Corbett: I did want to push back just a little bit more. Sorry, we’re all pushing back on you. This might not be a widely held view, but I would dispute the idea that when we have made mistakes about headlines in the last months or couple of years that they have always been in the same direction, which I think is how you put it. In other words, that the mistakes you’re seeing are when we’re going, shall we say, too easy on Donald Trump. There certainly have been headlines where I feel like that has been a failing. But I will say, honestly, there have been headlines that many of us have been concerned about or asked to have changed or have had discussion about where I felt the problem was the opposite. Where we were showing what could be read as bias against Trump, and were perhaps going too far in the opposite direction. So this goes to Cliff’s point that headlines are hard to write anyway, and we’re going to get them wrong sometimes. But I would not accept the criticism that the ones we get wrong necessarily show that we’re bending over backwards in one direction, because I’ve definitely seen headlines that I’ve been uncomfortable with that have fallen too far on both sides of the line.
Staffer: So I share the concerns about how coverage can be done aggressively, but not from a default point of view, which can feed into outcomes that repeatedly read to a number of people across the newsroom—and then outside as well—being too cautious or winding up in a zone that fails to accurately represent the situation to the readers. Which is, of course, the mission that we all do believe in. And I have had conversations and exchanges with a number of colleagues in different roles, from different backgrounds across the newsroom in the past week. And one of the things that I’ve brought up—and I know, Dean, you and I have talked about this a bit, too, is that some people, despite your welcoming stance as far as bringing feedback to you, are hesitant to speak up. Or don’t necessarily feel like they can do that safely, or have the standing to do that. Or some may not even have the access to do that. I wondered if it would be OK for me to share some of the feedback that I got that people asked for to be anonymous, but that I thought was thoughtful and could be useful.
Staffer: OK, so here’s just a selection that I thought was thoughtful.
“Saying something like divisive or racially charged is so euphemistic. Our stylebook would never allow it in other circumstances. I am concerned that the Times is failing to rise to the challenge of a historical moment. What I have heard from top leadership is a conservative approach that I don’t think honors the Times’ powerful history of adversarial journalism. I think that the NYT’s leadership, perhaps in an effort to preserve the institution of the Times, is allowing itself to be boxed in and hamstrung. This obviously applies to the race coverage. The headline represented utter denial, unawareness of what we can all observe with our eyes and ears. It was pure face value. I think this actually ends up doing the opposite of what the leadership claims it does. A headline like that simply amplifies without critique the desired narrative of the most powerful figure in the country. If the Times’ mission is now to take at face value and simply repeat the claims of the powerful, that’s news to me. I’m not sure the Times’ leadership appreciates the damage it does to our reputation and standing when we fail to call things like they are.”
And then this is a question that is more specifically about the process that you are also addressing: “Why are we passing off the biggest, most important part of the stories that we know very well”—this is from a writer—“that we know very well to this strangely anonymized print hub I am often completely unaware of who is even writing the headlines for my stories. Why can’t I or one of the editors who actually worked on the story just write it?”
Staffer: You know, I hurt the print hub in this case because I didn’t think sufficiently about. … We had created a front page, because we had two big stories, one of which had a two-column headline. One had a single line, four-column headline. It was designed with the print hub, but I don’t think I sat and thought about, what can you really say in four words. Right? Now, I do not scrutinize the print hub headlines before it goes to press. I happen to think that many of the people on the print hub are some of our best editors and are extremely talented. The second I saw that headline—I always get the front page that night—I kind of put my head in the hands. And I called in before I knew there was a Twitter storm and said, you know, this is off. We’ve really got to fix this. But I think in some ways, you know, those of us involved that day did a disservice to our colleagues, because it was a very hard thing to write. They were writing it on deadline. And because the headline had seemed fine on the web all day, it didn’t occur to me it would be problematic. But on the web they had a very large banner, and I think one of the things we’ve learned is that, if we’re going to do something that’s a banner, more of us should be involved. But I think I should’ve thought more about, if you have just four words, what can you write? I had been envisioning something like “A Day of Reckoning.”
Staffer: Hi, I actually wanted to raise a different issue, not to stop the discussion about language. About the push for social media and audience engagement, it’s very clear that the direction of the paper and of management is to incentivize and reward more engagement on social media. But then you have the things that get the most traffic on social media or something like people’s Twitter accounts, where it might push them to write inflammatory or stupid or ill-thought-out things. So we’re kind of incentivizing people to get eyes, but that also incentivizes people to say stupid things on social media.
Baquet: You know, other people can jump in here, I’m sort of unconvinced that the tweets that have made me uncomfortable happened because people wanted to get eyes. I mean, I don’t think the tweet that sparked part of this discussion, from an editor in the Washington bureau, was because he wanted to get eyes. I think he just. … We somehow have convinced ourselves that Twitter is not the real world, and that you can say things on Twitter that you wouldn’t be able to say in a newspaper story. And we need to just convince ourselves that that is not true. I mean, others should jump in, but I’m not sure that the tweets that have made me uncomfortable are tweets that were just done to attract attention. But others?
Staffer: I’m wondering what is the overall strategy here for getting us through this administration and the way we cover it. Because I think one of the reasons people have such a problem with a headline like this—or some things that the New York Times reports on—is because they care so much. And they depend on the New York Times. They are depending on us to keep kicking down the doors and getting through, because they need that right now. It’s a very scary time. And when something like this happens, or we have opinion columnists—because people really can’t tell the difference between op-eds and news anymore—but when we have people who post and tweet incendiary things, like Bret Stephens, people don’t understand. I think they get confused as to what we’re trying to do.
Staffer: And I’m just wondering, how can we tighten that up?
Baquet: Are you talking about coverage, or are you talking about social media?
Staffer: I’m talking about all of it.
Baquet: OK. I mean, let me go back a little bit for one second to just repeat what I said in my in my short preamble about coverage. Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.
The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?
I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
This is no longer a story where the Washington bureau every week nails some giant story by [Washington correspondent] Mike Schmidt that says that Donald Trump or Don McGahn did this. That will remain part of the story, but this is a different story now. This is a story that’s going to call on different muscles for us. The next few weeks, we’re gonna have to figure out what those muscles are.
In terms of how to keep people from having these discussions on social media, I’m not 100 percent sure. I think we should tighten the rules a little, which always upsets people a little bit. I mean, there were tweets that people at the New York Times retweeted or liked last week that were really painful for this newsroom and for me personally. So I’m gonna keep saying that, and maybe we should talk about the rules, too.
Staffer: It appears to be that the public narrative around the headline is different from the internal narrative that I’ve been hearing. So for example, I know that the copy desk thing was a slip. But I have also heard that someone actually raised concerns about the headline and was overruled. So, I’m just trying to reconcile what I’m hearing from my co-workers internally and what I’m hearing from my other co-workers in the public.
Baquet: I reached out to the person who raised questions about the coverage that day, who works on the print hub, and it’s a little more complicated than that. She was leaving town, and I was leaving town. She thought it was a bad headline, but mainly she thought that particular story shouldn’t led the paper. Her complaint was different than the narrative that has developed, which is that one person on the print hub threw their body in front of the headline. In my exchanges with her, that wasn’t the case. She thought that that story should not have led the paper. And she thought the headline was bad, but mainly she thought the whole package, the whole architecture—but mainly the story—is what was wrong. And I told her frankly, in my exchange with her, which was good and helpful, I said look I disagree with you on this one. I’m happy to sit down and talk to you in person. I thought that was the right lead of the paper. I would not have minded, by the way, if she’d wandered into my office, knocked on the door, which I told her and which I will keep telling her when I talk to her in person. If she had come in and said, I think you picked the wrong lead of the paper, that’s a little bit of a different narrative from the headline narratives. That make sense?
Staffer: Hi. I just kind of wanted to return to the internal debate before the headline went to print. Do you think there was a breakdown there other than space pressure or time pressure? And if so, I wonder what you think that that breakdown was?
Baquet: Again, I had this exchange with an editor as she was going away and I was going away. I’m not sure that was a breakdown. I think the breakdown was that we drew a page that was really, really, really hard to put a thoughtful headline on. This was a really complicated story. It was not a story that said, Trump said X. In fact, what was wrong with the story is that the “Trump said X” headline wasn’t enough to capture the hypocrisy and all the kind of nuance we’re talking about. So I think we built a page on deadline that made it really hard to put a headline on it. So we set it up for a bad headline, and the people who were in a position to judge it quickly and change it, like me, did not look at it until too late. So I guess this is a system breakdown. We didn’t have a system in place where the people who would recognize it and then change it—And maybe, by the way, the right change—if you want me to tell you—the perfect scenario for this headline would have been like this: The print hub—I’m not blaming the print hub, I’m blaming me, because I set up this system—the print hub comes in and says, “We tried, we cannot put a headline on that story with this layout. You need to redraw the page.” We would have redrawn the page in a way that allowed us to put a more nuanced headline on it. That would have been, in retrospect, the ideal situation.
Staffer: But the editors were looking at it, do you have the impression that they felt that that was necessary, or there was a recognition that there was a problem?
Baquet: I should ask [associate masthead editor] Tom [Jolly] and others on the print hub. I mean, there was a recognition among the masthead when it got sent around. As soon as the mockup of the front page got passed around, I looked at it. Matt looked at it. Everybody looked at and said, “Oh shit.” The first edition had already closed, so that was a system breakdown. Does that answer it? I’m trying to walk you through the process a little bit. Go ahead.
Staffer: It just seems like the people who could have recognized that, perhaps, did not or were not on the team to look at the first edition.
Baquet: Tom, do you have a thought about that? Tom runs the print hub.
Tom Jolly: Well, I think, a) the problem was that the editor felt like that difficult headline had to tie directly into the lead story. If we had made it a broader headline that addressed the package of four different stories, “the day of reckoning” or something along those lines, it would have solved it. In terms of a system problem, print hub had a meeting Thursday, and one of the things that we’ve realized is, we need to be looking at the front page. First of all, we need to be talking to the editors who are going to be writing the headlines that come in in late afternoon. They’re not a part of the discussion during the day. We need to talk to them, give them a sense of what the storyline is. And then we need to review the page before it comes out. One of the problems here was that the page was already published, and that page goes to half of our print readers. So at that point, there was no bringing it back. Right? So yes we’ve addressed system issues that we’ve identified, and I’ve also talked with the editor from the stories going around. And she doesn’t feel that she was rebuffed. Obviously, we would never want that to happen. And I think as Dean explained that was a little bit of a bigger issue. But I think the biggest thing is discussing the storyline at a time in the late afternoon or early evening when the editors who are just coming in have an opportunity to think it out one more time.
Baquet: Can I say something in support of the print hub? Because just for the record, I’m not sure I love this narrative of these sort of anonymous editors you know sitting on another floor fucking up the New York Times. The print hub builds the front page of the New York Times every day. Pick up today’s front page. It is it is a thing of beauty. They do it every day. They’re not some anonymous nobodies. They’re fine journalists, assembled from across the newsroom, assembled from other news organizations. The original sin, I can say since I’m a Catholic and a former altar boy, the original sin was ours. Was setting up a front page that was really, really difficult to build a headline around. But don’t, do not… Go visit the print hub. I mean these are journalists just like us. I talked to the editor who wrote the headline. He’s sick, you know. I mean he feels terrible. He feels more terrible than he should, to be frank. But it feels terrible, and I don’t want to walk away from this with all of us thinking that they’re a group of fumble fingers on another floor of the New York Times secretly fucking up the New York Times. They’re not.
Staffer: When it came to actually changing that headline, how much influence did the reader input have? I mean, OK, all you guys didn’t like it. You were unhappy. But was a change in the works, or was it the response?
Baquet: We were all—it was a fucking mess—we were all over the headline. Me. Matt. The print hub. Probably [assistant managing editor] Alison [Mitchell]. We were all over it, and then in the middle of it, [deputy managing editor] Rebecca Blumenstein sent an email—but we were already messing with it —saying, “You should know, there’s a social media firestorm over the headline.” My reaction [inaudible] was not polite. My reaction was to essentially say, “Fuck ’em, we’re already working on it.” And we were working on it, on deadline. We had already lost half of the papers, and it was too late to redraw the whole page. We would’ve lost the whole thing.
Baquet: Can I just say one thing? This is a hard story. This is larger than the headline. This is larger than the other stuff. This is a really hard story. This is a story that’s going to call on like all of our muscles, all of our resources, all of our creativity, all of our empathy. Including all of our empathy for each other. It’s going to call on us to be maybe a little less harsh with each other, because we’re gonna make other mistakes. It’s going to call on us to listen to each other more, including me listening to you all more. If you ask me how we end up getting through this with the best coverage, it’s by having honest conversations. It’s by inviting people into the Trump story who ordinarily might not have played on stories like this and making sure they get to participate in the coverage. But I hope this is a start, and I hope people take me at my word when I say you may come into me and tell me something you don’t like. I may not agree with you. I will be direct, and I will say I don’t agree with you. But I promise you I will listen and I promise you that in the end all of this influences the coverage. So thank you. Thank you.
On March 23, 2020, police in Rochester, NY, received a report that a naked man under the influence of PCP was running through town, shouting that he had the coronavirus. When police tried to subdue him, he spit on them which caused them to place a mesh hood, otherwise known as a “spit sock” over his head. The man, Daniel Prude, was placed on the pavement and subdued for two minutes by police.
Prude, who had a history of mental illness, was black.
After Prude became unresponsive, he was resuscitated and brought to a hospital where he died one week later.
“The Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Prude’s death a homicide. The autopsy report concluded he died of asphyxiation ‘in the setting of physical restraint’ and acute intoxication with the hallucinogenic drug PCP,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
In February, a New York grand jury voted against indictment of any of the police officers involved in the case.
Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of this incident, and a group of approximately 200 members of Black Lives Matter gathered for a protest. As they marched toward Wegmans, a popular Rochester grocery store, they shouted, “We have a long walk today. We’re shutting s— down.”
The Washington Examiner reported that, as the group approached the store, the owner locked it down, trapping around 100 customers inside.
The group banged on the glass doors and repeatedly chanted, “Black Lives Matter.”
In a tweet, Rochester journalist and radio host Bob Lonsberry wrote, “Hundreds of people trapped in the East Avenue #ROC Wegmans by this mob, The Rochester Police Department is just watching and letting it happen. I guess fire codes and trespassing aren’t things in Rochester anymore. What an embarrassing day for the city and the PD.”
He continued in a second tweet. “Allowing the mob to shut down the East Ave [Wegmans], trapping at least a hundred people, is an immoral failing by the mayor at @CityRochesterNY and the @RochesterNYPD. To kiss the a– of the mob, the rights of others are trodden, and the city dies even more.”
Hundreds of people trapped in the East Avenue #ROC Wegmans by this mob. The Rochester Police Department is just watching and letting it happen. I guess fire codes and trespassing aren't things in Rochester anymore. What an embarrassing day for the city and the PD. https://t.co/ICeNJy5jGK
Rochester based journalist Justin Murphy spoke to one of the BLM protestors who said, “We’re more than just taxpayers in their capitalist system; we’re human beings, and we demand to be treated as such.”
They’re taxpayers? I’ll bet most of them pay little or no taxes. They’re human beings, and they demand to be treated as such? Need I even respond to the irony in that remark?
Craig Carson: “We’re more than just taxpayers in their capitalist system; we’re human beings and we demand to be treated as such.”
In the tweet below, Monroe County legislator Rachel Barnhart makes an equally stupid comment. “Reasonable people can debate tactics and messaging. It’s normal to be annoyed or inconvenienced if the grocery store is blocked off by protesters. But I care more about Black lives than Wegmans. The protest will end. The store will reopen. The injustice will go on.”
Barnhart’s comment is even more egregious than Carson’s, if possible. One would expect such an inane remark from a member of BLM. I am not a lawyer, but here’s a county legislator who overlooks the obvious crimes being committed, entrapment and threatening, for starters.
And she views the shoppers trapped inside as being “annoyed or inconvenienced” rather than frightened. BLM has a long history of violence. Any reasonable person in that situation would feel some degree of fear.
Reasonable people can debate tactics and messaging. It’s normal to be annoyed or inconvenienced if the grocery store is blocked off by protesters.
But I care more about Black lives than Wegmans. The protest will end. The store will reopen. The injustice will go on.
America defeated Nazi Germany and Japan’s Imperial Army. How do we fight the enemy from within? Especially now that they control the presidency and both chambers of Congress. The Democratic Party is fast becoming the greatest foe this nation has ever faced.
The Democrats are trying to destroy America. It’s as if they’re in command of our ship and they’re aiming it right for an iceberg at flank speed.
Tell me again how Jan. 6 was the most shameful day in America’s history..
The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III approved a request from the U.S. Capitol Police for 2,300 National Guard troops to remain in Washington, D.C. through May 23, 2021. There are currently 5,200 troops deployed to the Capitol.
On Thursday, the Fox News Channel obtained a copy of a memo written by Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, in which he explained why the National Guard “cannot and should not fulfill the Capitol Police’s troop request at this time.”
Hokanson argued that “the National Guard is already over-stretched due to coronavirus constraints, civil disturbances and wildfires. Efforts to date have not secured enough volunteers among supporting states to meet the USCP request of 2,280 soldiers, nor Option B of 1000 soldiers.”
“I am concerned that the continued indefinite nature of this requirement may also impede our ability to man future missions as both adjutants general and guardsmen alike may be skeptical about committing to future endeavors,” he added.
According to Fox, Hokanson’s memo circulated within the White House National Security Council over the past week.
“[Y]es, the Department of Defense will be funding this as we’ve funded the previous mission, which ends at the end of the week,” he said. “But that’s not how anybody’s looking at this or foisting that on the Capitol Police, that they’re looking at this as free labor.”
Kirby claimed “they have a legitimate need for some capacity assistance in a time which is fairly uncertain right now … [I]t’s not just about the threat environment in a highly polarized, hyper-charged environment that we’re in right now. It is very much about a capacity assistance to the Capitol Police as they begin to flesh out and develop what they’re going to need long term to deal with a new reality on Capitol Hill.”
The price tag for the National Guard troops from January through March is $410 million, and the extension from March through May will cost an additional $111 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to The Hill, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and committee ranking member Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama issued a joint statement on Thursday which said they were “deeply troubled” that “the seat of our nation’s democracy remains heavily protected by guardsmen and surrounded by a perimeter fence.”
“As the U.S. Capitol Police continues to build its personnel capacity, there is no doubt that some level of support from the National Guard should remain in the National Capital Region to respond to credible threats against the Capitol,” the statement said.
“However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time. … We appreciate our guardsmen answering the call to protect the Capitol, but it’s time for us to review what level of security is required, so they can return home to their families and communities.”
Following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted upon an overwhelming, unprecedented and unnecessary level of security. Ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, there were over 25,000 National Guard troops protecting the Capitol.
In addition, a seven-foot tall, three-mile long security fence with razor wire wrapped along the top was installed. Pelosi, trying to create the impression that supporters of President Donald Trump were a serious threat to lawmakers’ safety, even had magnetometers set up at the entrances to the House chamber.
In January, Ken Cuccinelli, who served as acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security at the time of the Capitol incursion, made an alarming revelation during an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on her show, “The Story.”
The two had been discussing the massive presence of National Guard troops deployed to Washington, D.C., and MacCallum pointed out that 25,000 was several times the troop levels currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Agreeing with MacCallum, Cuccinelli replied that 25,000 troops was the equivalent of an entire division. He then disclosed that Pelosi had requested the “last up of the final troops” and had asked for crew-manned machine guns.
“A division. You have a division,” he told the host. “The last up of thousands of these troops was requested by the speaker through the Capitol Police. She even wanted crew-manned machine guns in Washington. That was rejected because there’s simply no use for that in a security arrangement for a civilian undertaking. Just — so some of this has gone beyond any legitimate security need.”
It’s pretty astounding that Pelosi thought this was a reasonable request. Crew-manned machine guns are the types of weapons you see deployed against citizens in places like North Korea, Russia and nearly every African dictatorship.
These aren’t rifles or pistols, but crew-served weapons. They can dish out the hurt in ways a standard-issue carbine cannot. Fully automatic and made to confront armed enemy combatants, these should never be used against civilians.
So, the question remains, why did the Biden Administration overrule the chief of the National Guard Bureau’s decision? He made it clear his branch is stretched way too thin and their current position is untenable.
These troops have been forced to be away from family and friends only to serve as props for the speaker of the House, and the total cost to U.S. taxpayers will top $500 million.
As I wrote in a previous post, I can think of two reasons for the troop presence.
First, it allows the Democrats to maintain the fiction that they need protection from the unhinged “domestic terrorists” who support former President Trump.
The other possibility is, well aware of their unprecedented and un-American power grab and their transformation of a once-great nation, Democrats may fear reprisal from the people.
If I had done everything the Democrats have to undermine our democratic republic, it wouldn’t be crazy for me to think I might need some protection too.
The FBI released videos of the suspect placing pipe bombs outside the DNC and the RNC the night before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot along with a press release in which they ask the public for assistance in identifying the individual.
The FBI is asking the public to watch the videos of this person—you may recognize their gait, body language, or mannerisms. We are asking the public to come forward with any information that could assist us, including any odd or out-of-character behavior you noticed in a family member, friend, or coworker, leading up to or after January 5. Regarding the evening of January 5, we are asking for information about an individual who you may have observed matching this description in the vicinity of North Carolina Avenue SE and Folger Park between 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.. This person may have entered a vehicle or taken an item from a vehicle and placed it into the backpack.
Together with the ATF, the FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the person who placed these devices on the night of January 5.
When we last left Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, he was laying low after revelations of his years-long romantic involvement with Chinese spy “Fang Fang.” Over the course of their relationship, she had raised funds for his campaign and also placed at least one Chinese intern on his Capitol Hill staff. This was especially dangerous because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had seen fit to assign him to the sensitive House Intelligence Committee.
Next to Rep. Adam Schiff, no other Democrat in Congress made more false accusations with zero evidence against former President Donald Trump during his presidency than Swalwell.
You may or may not know that Swalwell, who is best known for farting on national TV, filed a lawsuit last Friday against Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The complaint “alleges nine counts for relief, from negligent emotional distress suffered by Swalwell to negligence in the incitement to riot.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who is a Democrat, likens Swalwell’s action against Trump to the French philosopher Voltaire’s oft-repeated prayer, “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.”
Turley writes that “the answer to Donald Trump’s prayers may be Rep. Eric Swalwell. It is because Swalwell’s lawsuit against the former president could offer Trump the ultimate vindication over his role in the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.”
Enter Swalwell, who has long exhibited a willingness to rush in where wiser Democrats fear to tread, with what may be his costliest misstep yet.
First, his lawsuit will force a court to determine if the defendants’ speeches were protected political speech. As if to guarantee failure, Swalwell picked the very tort — emotional distress — that was previously rejected by the Supreme Court. In 2011, the court ruled 8-1 in favor of Westboro Baptist Church, an infamous group of zealots who engaged in homophobic protests at the funerals of slain American troops. In rejecting a suit against the church on constitutional grounds, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” Roberts distinguished our country from hateful figures like the Westboro group, noting that “as a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
Next, Swalwell’s team will have to show that “Trump was the factual and legal cause of his claimed injuries.”
With each passing day, it’s becoming more and more difficult, if not impossible to prove that Trump’s speech caused the riot.
Claims of blame would have been easier to make before the House refused to hold hearings on Trump’s impeachment, including weeks after its “snap impeachment.” Now, facts have emerged that implicate Congress itself in the failure to take adequate precautions against rioters, despite advance warnings. Former House officials claimed an FBI warning was sent only in an email, a day before the riot — but FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified that a warning of plans to storm the Capitol was sent on all of the channels created for sharing such intelligence. Moreover, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that he asked for National Guard support but was refused six times; one key official, Sund said, did not like “the optics” of troops guarding Congress. Delays at both the Capitol and the Pentagon allegedly left the Capitol woefully understaffed. And Trump has been quoted by former Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller as warning him the day before the riot that “You do what you need to do. You do what you need to do. You’re going to need 10,000 (troops).”
There also is a growing problem with the riot’s time line.
Turley points out that the events of Jan. 6 didn’t take place in a vacuum. “Various people took actions (or failed to take actions) that left the Capitol vulnerable.”
And, at trial, a comparison could be drawn to the violence around the White House during the previous summer: Fearing a breach of that complex, overwhelming force was used to create an expanded security perimeter — but the use of National Guard troops then was denounced by congressional Democrats, D.C.’s mayor, and the media.
Swalwell “accuses Trump of reckless rhetoric – but Swalwell could find himself on the witness stand having to answer for his own rhetoric.” For example, when “angry protesters surrounded Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-ME) home in 2018, he tweeted “Boo hoo hoo.”
And the best part of all is:
Swalwell’s complaint is timed beautifully to collapse on appeal just before the 2024 election, giving Trump and Republicans the ultimate repudiation of prior Democratic claims.
Finally, Turley brings it back to Voltaire who also once said that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” Luckily for Trump, Swalwell not only already exists, but he may be the very answer to Trump’s political prayers.
Victor Davis Hanson is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is a military historian, a columnist, a former classics professor, and one of the smartest conservative commentators ever.
In his latest column at American Greatness, he asks if America is (hopefully, finally) hitting woke herd immunity as two recent polls suggest. He begins:
There are tens of millions of Americans who either have been stung, or turned off by McCarthyite wokeness (and thus have anti-wokeness antibodies). More have been vaccinated from its latest virulent strains by their own values of judging people as individuals, not as racial or gender collectives. So lots of Americans have developed peremptory defenses against it. The result is that daily there are ever-fewer who are susceptible to the woke pandemic. And it will thus begin to fade out—even as the virus desperately seeks to mutate and go after more institutions.
Peak wokeness is nearing also because if it continued in its present incarnation, then the United States as we know it would cease to exist—in the sense that 1692-93 Salem or 1793-94 Paris could not have continued apace without destroying society. Woke leftism exists to destroy and tear down, not to unite and build. It is not designed to play down and heal racial differences, but to accentuate and capitalize on them.
Dr. Hanson says “the shark was jumped” with last week’s cancellation of Dr. Seuss books.
But what are to be the new standards of Trotskyization as we go forth? Can the Governor of New York be excused for months of policies that led to nearly 15,000 unnecessary deaths, but not for inappropriate kisses and touching of women? Or will he, as an Emmy-winning woke official, be exempt from punishment for both types of transgressions?
There are no logical standards that dictate who is and who is not canceled. For now, all we know about the rules of wokeness is that living leftists are mostly not canceled by the woke mob for the thought crimes that ruin both the non-Left or the generic dead.
There is a price to be paid for “wokeness.”
Wokeness is siphoning off billions of dollars from a productive economy through a sort of value-subtracted tax. We are spending a great deal of labor and capital for merit to be replaced in college admissions, in hiring, in grants, in publication, in the selections of awards, and in movies and videos, in everything—as racial, ethnic, and sexual identity considerations replace meritocratic, literary, artistic, and technological criteria, rather than just augment, them.
Americans also are investing lots of capital in preempting wokeness—writing/saying/acting in ways that are not productive, but simply defensive. Diversity oaths, and diversity applications, pledges, and statements take some time to read and digest. It will not be long before insurers will sell “woke insurance,” the premiums adjusted upward for those more conservative and of the wrong genealogy. It won’t be long before we all carry cards certifying that “At no time, did I say, hear, or think anything . . . .”
Our economy will soon mimic the totalitarian ones of old. Our commissars are like those of the old Red Army—ordering Soviet commanders’ counter-offensives during the Great Patriotic War to ensure that tank battalions were advancing ideologically correctly rather than just tactically or strategically soundly.
If that sounds overly dramatic to some, Dr. Hanson reminds us that at the height of the riots last May and June, then-President Donald Trump considered bringing in federal troops to maintain order. It was then that “280 former generals, admirals, and national security officials signed a letter warning that if Trump” were to do so, “he should be considered a dictatorial threat.” The letter read, “There is no role for the U.S. military in dealing with American citizens exercising their constitutional right to free speech, however uncomfortable that speech may be for some.”
Yet when Democrats insisted on bringing in 25,000 National Guard troops after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, this “group remained mute.”
No society can long exist if it believes that its own founding principles, its customs and traditions, its very origins are evil and must be erased. Tearing down statues of Abraham Lincoln, and redefining 1776 and 1787 as 1619, are many things, but one thing they are not is coherent. Trump was considered nutty when he warned that the statue topplers would go from Confederate monuments to Washington and Jefferson—and then when they did just that he was further ridiculed for being prescient.
Who were the long-dead men who devised a system whose natural and eventual fruition is what attracts indigenous people from Oaxaca, the destitute from Somalia, or the politically oppressed from Vietnam? If evil white people founded an evil system solely for their own evil purposes, why would anyone nonwhite dare risk his life to eat from the alluring fruit of the inherently long-ago poisoned tree?
If Americans are to accept that their Declaration of Independence and Constitution were frauds, abject falsifications of the real unspoken founding of 1619, then again what is to replace them? Whose statues are to rise, which books are we to be authorized to read, whose science are we to turn to?
“Everyone has feet of some clay,” Dr. Hanson reminds us. “Is there no adultery, or unkind treatment of women or plagiarism in the past of Martin Luther King, Jr? No violence or criminality in the life of Malcolm X? Did Cesar Chavez never send his goons to the border to beat back illegal aliens? Was Margaret Sanger only a sometimes advocate of eugenic abortion? Are the written biographies of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to be freed of anti-Semitism and petty corruption? Is Louis Farrakhan an ecumenical leader in the way FDR was not? Was JFK really our first feminist?”
Are we to look to those who erased our supposedly awful past for guidance?
Is it to be the architect of the 1619 Project? Long ago the ecumenical Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote that “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world . . . The descendants of these savage people pump drugs and guns into the Black community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos and continue to be bloodsuckers in our community.”
Last summer, he points out, “Hannah-Jones bragged that, yes, it would be ‘an honor’ if the summer rioting—700 police officers injured, 40 deaths, and billions in property damages and hundreds—be called henceforth ‘the 1619 riots.'”
She also said, “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. … Any reasonable person would say we shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property, but these are not reasonable times.” He wondered if the Times considered Hannah-Jones “inflammatory?”
Moreover, he asks how we “ascertain who is and is not white or black or brown?”
Most illiberal societies in the past that tried such stigmatization of race, ethnicity, or religion did not end so well—from the Ottomans and the Third Reich to the former Yugoslavians, Rwandans, and Iraqis. One eighth, one fourth, or one half makes one a person of color—or not color? Shall we seek knowledge of one-drop of tell-tale bloodlines from the archived jurisprudence of the antebellum South?
If Peruvian George Zimmerman had only used his matronymic, and Latinized his first name, then would a Jorge Mesa have become a sympathetic character who lost a fair fight with Trayvon Martin rather than reduced by the New York Times to a strange category of “white Hispanic” hoodlum, with the additional odor of a Germanized patronymic.
Why does class bow to race, since the former seems to trump the latter. If we forget percentages for a moment, and also forget that we are individuals, not anonymous cogs of vast racial wheels, in absolute numbers, there are roughly (in some studies) more poor white people—both those earning incomes below the poverty level and those with no income at all—than all other commensurate poor minorities combined. Were these supposed to be the targets of Barack Obama’s “clingers” remarks, or Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables,” John McCain’s “crazies,” or Joe Biden’s “dregs,” “chumps,” and “Neanderthals”?
Predicating wokism on race is a tricky business, even if one could define and identify race, quantify its role in determining class status, and convince millions that it is moral to judge people by how they look.
Like the Salem witch trials and the McCarthyite hysteria, when wokism fades, we are likely to see its real catalysts revealed. And they will not be found to be misplaced idealism, nor heartfelt desire for a more ecumenical society, but mostly the age-old, narcissistic destructive road to career enhancement, fueled by customary ancient fears, envies, and hatreds.