Justice & Civil Liberties

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  • Trump And The Pitfalls Of Relying On Stop-And-Frisk Myths Three Years Too Late

     After Lester Holt Fact Check, Trump Now Confused About What Version Of Stop And Frisk He Wants

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    One of the dangers of haphazardly reviving right-wing media myths is that some falsehoods are much trickier than others to walk back. During the first presidential debate of 2016, GOP nominee Donald Trump learned this the hard way, when moderator Lester Holt of NBC News fact-checked him cold about the unconstitutional version of stop and frisk that the Republican presidential nominee recently proposed as a nationwide model.

    During the September 26 debate, Trump once again invoked his support for New York City’s past application of stop and frisk, which was struck down by a federal judge three years ago and abandoned on appeal, much to the disappointment of right-wing media proponents of “order” over constitutional protections. When Holt responded that “stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” Trump snapped back, “No, you’re wrong. … If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it's allowed.”

    But Holt was right. And that’s true without even getting into the fact that contrary to Trump’s assertions, the tactic was a proven failure at reducing violent crime in New York City.

    The generalized police practice of stop and frisk may be a common one used across the country, but if the way it’s specifically practiced results in racial profiling, it violates the federal Constitution’s protections against equal protection violations and unlawful search and seizure. That’s exactly what happened in the since-abandoned version practiced in New York City, which was exactly what Holt pointed out. If that’s the version Trump supports, he is supporting an unconstitutional policy that impermissibly discriminates on the basis of race. If he instead merely supports the version that is “allowed” “throughout the country,” then how is that a solution for reducing crime rates when it’s already in effect?

    This issue first cropped up during this campaign season on September 21, when Fox News’ Sean Hannity hosted a town hall for Trump, this one advertised as part of the nominee’s outreach to African-American voters. During the recorded event (which was bumped from airing that night due to protests over another questionable police shooting of a black man, this time in Charlotte, NC), Trump made the surprising proposal that his plan for protecting black residents of the “inner cities” was to bring back the widely reviled New York twist on stop and frisk that was struck down in federal court as unconstitutional racial profiling.

    When Trump’s unaired comments leaked, media outlets immediately began calling out his support for an abandoned and racially discriminatory policing method as a peculiar form of outreach to black voters. In response, the next morning Trump falsely claimed on the September 22 edition of Fox & Friends that he really only meant that it should be brought back in Chicago – a city he apparently was unaware already employs the practice.

    It was these confusing contradictions -- and Trump’s refusal to admit that his much-promoted “outreach” to African-American voters included a promise to stop and search them on the street because of the color of their skin -- that led Holt to try to set the record straight during the debate.

    In the wake of this and the many other aspects of Trump’s disastrous debate performance, the nominee’s supporters began spinning hard, including by making the false claim that Holt had somehow claimed stop and frisk was unconstitutional everywhere. Trump supporter, former New York City mayor, and frequent stop-and-frisk defender Rudolph Giuliani was particularly vocal. First he falsely smeared Holt’s fact check, arguing on Fox News that “Lester Holt's statement was completely ignorant and completely uncalled for, and he shouldn't get involved in a legal issue he doesn't know a darn thing about.” Later, Giuliani added Clinton to his criticism on the issue, saying she’s “totally wrong and completely ignorant” about stop and frisk. He also tried to separate himself from the actions of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who were at the helm when the stop-and-frisk policies they inherited from Giuliani’s mayorship were ruled unconstitutional. “It’s not unconstitutional if you do it the right way -- and that's what [Trump] is talking about, doing it the right way,” said Giuliani. “It was never found unconstitutional when I did it.”

    But Trump has specifically praised Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policies that were ruled unconstitutional – and he recently affirmed (intentionally or not) that this unconstitutional version of the practice still has his support.

    And this was the dilemma Trump faced as Holt accurately fact-checked his embrace of New York City’s past application of unconstitutional stop and frisk. The right-wing media bubble out of which Trump plucked his stop-and-frisk soundbite has regularly been concerned with “order” first and the U.S. Constitution second (if ever). If he stuck with that, at least it would be intellectually honest. On the other hand, the “doing it the right way” stop and frisk approach Giuliani is falling back on to cover up for Trump has been in place for almost 50 years under the Supreme Court decision Terry v. Ohio -- so there’s no need for Trump to claim he’ll bring it back.

    So which one is it?

    It’s not Lester Holt’s fault that Trump and his surrogates can’t or won’t explain themselves. Some myths can’t survive outside the bubble.

  • Debate Guide For Media On Trump And Gun Policy

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    While the issue of gun violence and gun policy was a common topic of discussion during the Democratic presidential primary debates, Republican nominee Donald Trump gave less than three minutes worth of answers on the issue across 12 GOP primary debates. But gun-related issues have caused several flashpoints throughout Trump’s campaign, including when he claimed that “Second Amendment people” could do something about the election of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

  • Fox Lines Up Behind Trump's Stop-And-Frisk Proposal, Despite Overwhelming Evidence That It Doesn't Work

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Fox News praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for police departments across the country to engage in a stop-and-frisk policing policy based off of the unconstitutional New York City program. However, the policy is ineffective, unconstitutional and has increased “animosity between minority communities and law enforcement.”

  • NRA’s Ted Nugent Promotes His Trump Campaign Ad Appearance By Comparing The Present To Revolutionary War Times

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent promoted his appearance in a campaign video for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with a message claiming that politicians currently engage in the “very stuff our forefathers declared their independence from, fought a revolution over, died for and warned us against allowing.”

    Nugent appeared in a September 18 ad about hunting and the Second Amendment released by the Trump campaign where he claimed that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American.”

    In a September 21 post on his Facebook page promoting the video and urging people to vote for Trump, Nugent wrote, “The list of high crimes and misdemeanors professional politicians have committed against us is the very stuff our forefathers declared their independence from, fought a revolution over, died for and warned us against allowing”:

    Nugent has previously invoked revolutionary times to threaten political violence. During an appearance at a 2013 gun industry trade show, Nugent claimed the Obama administration "is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George" and that "if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies." The Battle of Concord, one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, was fought at the North Bridge in Concord, MA.

    That same year at a concert, Nugent said, “When the British came to take our guns we met them at Concord Bridge and we blew their fucking brains out ... 2013, happening all over again, we got to be ready.”

    Nugent has recently repeated a similar line at a July concert, saying, “I love when American shit-kickers hear that the British are coming to Concord Bridge to take away our guns, so we went to Concord Bridge and we shot the motherfuckers dead. So next time if any assholes try to come and try to take your guns, meet them at the bridge and shoot the motherfuckers dead. That’s what I said. I don't care who the fuck they are.”

    Earlier this year Nugent called for Clinton and President Obama to be hanged for treason.

    Nugent has a long history of making racist and other inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent has promoted anti-Semitic content, used a racial slur against a Latino critic, promoted misogynist reasons why guns are better than women, shared a racist meme advertising the fake moving company “2 niggers and a stolen truck,” and smeared Minnesota police shooting victim Philando Castile as a criminal. In 2015, Nugent devoted an entire column to praising the use of the word “nigger,” even in a racist context.

    In May, Nugent, who has endorsed Trump for president, promoted a fake video of Clinton being shot. In an August post on his Facebook page calling for people to vote for Trump, Nugent termed Clinton a “lying hypocrite bitch.” He has also called the former secretary of state a “toxic cunt.” In a viral 2007 concert video, an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent called Clinton a “worthless bitch” and said that she should ride on his machine gun.

  • NY Times Editorial Board Calls For Repeal Of North Carolina’s Discriminatory HB 2

    Editorial Board: HB 2 Is “Based On The Specious Notion That Transgender People Are Sexual Predators”

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The New York Times' editorial board slammed North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for his “desperate” offer to repeal the state’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 (HB 2) on the condition that Charlotte, NC, drop its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. The board called for McCrory to “come to his senses” and “admit ignorance and error and repeal the law.”

    In the immediate aftermath of the NCAA and ACC pulling events out of North Carolina because of HB 2, McCrory proposed a widely condemned “compromise” to repeal the discriminatory law. McCrory called for the Charlotte City Council to first drop the city’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. If Charlotte were to comply, he indicated, the General Assembly might call a special session to repeal HB 2 -- which, among other measures, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate.

    On September 21, the New York Times editorial board lambasted McCrory for having “some nerve” in his “desperate” move to propose a compromise on HB 2. The Times called out the “specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators” and debunked the talking point that’s been used by McCrory and the North Carolina GOP to justify HB 2. The board noted that HB 2 was never even enforceable, as police can’t “reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals” outside of all public restrooms, highlighting that the “point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens.” The board called for McCrory to repeal the harmful law, writing that it’s “not too late for Mr. McCrory to come to his senses” and admit his “ignorance and error.”

    From the September 21 edition of the New York Times:

    Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina has some nerve. Alarmed by the rising financial fallout from the discriminatory law he and Republican lawmakers hastily passed in March to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity, the governor seemed desperate for an off-ramp last week.

    [...]

    It was a desperate move by Mr. McCrory, who appears likely to lose his re-election bid in November, in large part for championing a measure based on the specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators.

    Mayor Jennifer Roberts of Charlotte sensibly refused. Although she was under pressure from some in the business community, including the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, it would have been wrong to cave in to Mr. McCrory’s demand.

    [...]

    It’s not too late for Mr. McCrory to come to his senses and take the only way out — admit ignorance and error and repeal the law. While he and lawmakers are at it, they can acknowledge that no one has been made safer by preventing transgender people from using appropriate public restrooms, the ostensible reason for passing the law. The rule was never enforceable, since police officers can’t reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals outside bathroom stalls. The point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens, and for that all North Carolinians are having to pay an ever growing price.

  • Media Credulously Repeat NRA’s False Claim That Clinton Opposes Gun Ownership

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Media outlets reporting on the NRA’s new $5 million ad buy that claims Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “could take away” your “right to self-defense” failed to hold the gun organization to account for the falsity of that claim. While media reporting on the ad repeated and gave credence to the NRA’s claims, they often failed to cite Clinton’s actual positions on gun regulation or mention the fact-checkers who have debunked a nearly identical NRA ad targeting Clinton as “false.”

  • Trump’s Extreme New Anti-Choice Agenda Is Full Of Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Misinformation

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On September 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing a new “pro-life coalition,” led by a known anti-choice extremist. As part of the announcement, Trump also pledged a commitment to four anti-choice policy priorities that have been long promoted by right-wing media, involving defunding Planned Parenthood, banning abortion, and entrenching the Hyde amendment as federal law.

  • “Always A Good Point”: Fox News Anchor Boosts NRA’s New False Attack Ad On Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News aired a new attack ad from the NRA that misrepresents Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s record to falsely claim she “could take away” your “right to self-defense.” Before and after airing the ad, Fox personalities gave credence to its faulty premise.

    A new $5 million ad buy from the NRA depicts a home invasion attack where a woman is awoken in her home as a man kicks in her door. The woman begins to open a gun safe to retrieve a weapon but the gun vanishes as a narrator says, “Hillary Clinton could take away her right to self-defense.” The premise of the ad, which suggests Clinton would ban gun ownership, is false: Clinton has repeatedly said that legitimate Second Amendment rights should be protected while she advocated for expanding background checks on gun sales and other measures to prevent dangerous people from accessing guns. She has also explained that you can call for stronger gun laws “and still support the right of people to own guns.” Fact-checkers have repeatedly rated as false the claims that Clinton opposes gun ownership by law-abiding Americans and that she would abolish the Second Amendment.

    Fox’s The Real Story aired the NRA ad on September 20. Fox News national correspondent John Roberts credulously gave credence to the ad’s claim with his lead-in: “It's a $5 million buy in five battleground states in which they take aim at Hillary Clinton and her push for new gun control and what that means -- might mean, rather, for people's safety. Watch this.”

    After the ad aired, Roberts said an NRA representative told him that “this ad is particularly timely right now considering what happened in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend and the fact that Donald Trump last week called out Hillary Clinton for wanting to implement new gun controls while at the same time keeping a phalanx of armed guards around her.”

    Real Story host Melissa Francis responded, “Right. Right. Always a good point.”

    In fact, the Republican nominee's claim that Clinton’s Secret Service detail should disarm, which echoes a common NRA attack on Clinton, is also based on the falsehood that Clinton opposes private gun ownership.

    From the September 20 edition of The Real Story: