News Brief: Boudin Recall Coverage and How the NYT Sells Tough-on-Crime Dogma to Squishy Liberals

Citations Needed | June 8, 2022 | Transcript

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (Beth LaBerge / KQED)


Nima Shirazi: Welcome to a Citations Needed News Brief. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: You can follow Citations Needed on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, and become a supporter of the show through All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated as we are 100 percent listener funded. We do these News Briefs in between our regularly scheduled full length episodes when there’s an article — I don’t know — say in The New York Times that encapsulates everything shitty about police funding reporting, and Adam, you actually recently wrote about a new New York Times article, kind of an opinion piece masked as straight news on your Substack — which everyone should check out, that’s The Column — but Adam, why don’t you lay out for us this new egregious example of a trope that we’ve seen for years?

Adam: Well, yeah, so obviously there’s the defund the police movement in the summer of 2020. It was endorsed by about, I don’t know, five elected Democrats, pretty much went away as an actual thing that was ever going to happen, but it’s now become this, I believe very much kind of right-wing watchword, and it’s a way of kind of doing a little bit of a micro Willie Horton whenever you want to, right? You sort of, whenever you need to kind of wink/nod, ‘I’m not going to be one of those liberals,’ you say, ‘I oppose defund the police.’

Nima: Right. I mean Biden did this in the most public way possible.

Adam: Right, and so what you see is, you see, the reason why the fund emerged, as we talked about in the show before, is an emergent frustration to the failures of the Black Lives Matter movement as a kind of slogan that had become very much stripped of its revolutionary or subversive capacity, and had become a kind of Shell Oil, Doritos catch phrase that was watered down to the point of meaninglessness because it’s more of a sort of gesture towards some kind of political awareness versus an actual concrete policy, which is how abolish or defund the police, which is of course a kind of watered down version of abolish the police, can do emerge because it couldn’t be co opted, right?

Nima: Pepsi can’t be like, ‘Hey, defund the police, man.’

Adam: Right. Pepsi can say Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t mean anything, right? Gwyneth Paltrow can put on Instagram saying Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t really mean anything.

Nima: Right. But defund the police is actually an action item, right? There’s a real thing that happens and therefore, yeah, it can’t be kind of commercialized.

Adam: Which for the consulting class of the Democratic Party is very much not good, and that’s why it was created as a slogan. It was created as a sort of, inoculated against meandering liberal co option, and then that turned into this is bad for Democrats, because people think the point of political slogans is to win elections for Democrats, which of course, it’s not. So what you see is you see, over the last year, there’s been a ton of polling, some of it push polling, basically badgering Black and brown voters into saying that they want more cops, and it’s true. If you ask the question a certain way, Black and brown voters will say they want more policing in their neighborhoods, but they’ll sort of hyper qualify it. Some of the more intellectually honest writers will explain, sort of say, ‘But along with this, this and this, this social program, more mental health centers, more rec centers, better schools, clean water,’ all the kinds of things that the defund movement supports, the sort of social interventions that can be used to reduce crime not just cleaning up the aftermath of crime, which is fundamentally what policing is, right? It’s taking social ills and jailing and arresting your way out of it.

Nima: So for example, one of these polls came out very soon after the uprising of 2020 kicked off, at the end of May, early June 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, but Gallup had a poll that came out August 5, 2020 with this headline, “Black Americans Want Police to Retain Local Presence.” Newsweek reported on this poll the very same day with the headline, “81% of Black Americans Don’t Want Less Police Presence Despite Protests — Some Want More Cops: Poll.” And so immediately, you didn’t get two months into an uprising, into the largest civil rights liberatory protests that had been seen in this country in, you know, at least one generation, probably more, and so you then have this polling that comes out that effectively supports the anti-sloganeering of the Democratic Party. So then you have this whole kind of pushback, oh, well, the protesters don’t speak for the quote-unquote “majority of communities of color,” and then that is leveraged to then say defund is not the answer therefore you have to keep funding, refunding and support Democrats who do the same because they can nod to Black Lives Matter, but they’re not trying to do anything that’s going to actually change anything.

Adam: Yeah. Now, of course, the whole point of this is that here’s the thing that ostensibly is supposed to be for Black people, which is defund the police, but Black people don’t even want it. The point of this is that it’s supposed to say that, it’s supposed to reduce, even though the defund movement was led by Black organizations, Black leaders, Black intellectuals, Black academics, they want to sort of paint the picture that it’s a bunch of white lefty George Soros radicals kind of, or even occasionally they’ll say like the nonprofit sort of Soros Black leaders, pushing this unpopular agenda on people. Now, when you poll people and you say, ‘Do you want to take money from the police and give it to social services?’ Black people overwhelmingly support that. It’s really how you kind of phrase the question. But more to the point, there’s kind of two scams going on here with how this is phrased. Number one, policing is a last resort for when you have no other option to handle the social ills. So if this is something abolitionists have interrogated and discussed and written books about. Derecka Purnell, who we’ve had on the show, Mariame Kaba has written about it extensively and talked about it extensively in public appearances. Nobody listens to this, by the way, but these issues have been addressed, which is to say, and the analogy I use of the piece, the analogy I’ve used in the show, and the analogy I’ve used, I think, in another article, I’ll keep using it, is that poor communities are drowning, and the Democratic establishment is offering them the barbed wire of more policing, and they grab on to it, because it’s the only thing they have, and then the New York Times says, ‘Look, people want barbed wire, we polled them, they prefer barbed wire over drowning.’ And what abolitionists attempt to say is what if there’s another option other than barbed wire? What if we can envision a world where we handle quote-unquote “crime” as a social ill rather than a collection of discrete moral failings on the part of individuals, and so they have ten things that Black people say they want in these very same polls, if you ask them, they’ll say, green spaces, cleaner neighborhoods, more investment in social services, higher wages, better jobs, name it, right? The sort of social welfare state, that abolitionist claim, and I think empirically we can show, helps prevent crime. Not going to stop it 100 percent, you can’t stop the problem of evil, right? They’re not, this isn’t a Thomas Aquinas thing, but they believe that you can stop 70, 80 percent of crime by having social interventions that lessen the likelihood and motivations in the stew with which crime emerges, okay? Now, those ten things they list, if the tenth one is more policing to help with the rest of it, or help with the sort of stuff that falls through the cracks, the only thing that becomes an urgent priority for Democrats is the policing. The other nine things are literally unimportant.

Nima: They’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, whatever, everyone wants that.’

Adam: Right.

Nima: Pie in the sky, nine things, and then there’s the concrete, ‘Oh, but they say they want more policing or they want to refund or they don’t want to defund.’

Adam: And mysteriously, that the police thing is the only political preference that Black voters have, it seems to be terribly urgent. Now, the reason why that is, is because it just so happens to be, and again, it depends on your kind of badger the respondent into answering the question, this just so happens to be the politically urgent and very important priority of white rich liberals who read The New York Times and the real estate industry who supports more police, which is a very compelling coincidence, and so The New York Times, which has written this article now about 50 times, they do this whole hand wringing, very patronizing, ‘Black communities want more cops, and it’s dividing the Democratic Party.’ So they wrote Alexandria Burns, one of their reporters wrote this article on June 3, “Democrats Face Pressure on Crime From a New Front: Their Base,” where he kind of hand-wrings about how there’s this organic movement amongst Black and brown voters for more police that’s coming into tension with the radical activist crowd.

Nima: The entire framing of the article, even from the start, even from the headline, and I know, you know, headlines are not written by the reporters, often, it’s the editors, but this is a thread throughout the article, the idea that there’s Democrats over here, like Democrats as a thing, as a political entity, that is somehow at the beginning of this article framed to be radical and pro defunding the police, that then their quote-unquote “base,” which by this article it actually means reliable Black voters and other voters from communities of color, that now, you know, those otherwise reliable radicals just like the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the radical defund party, now those communities of color are pushing back and this is what is making everyone kind of like thrown for a loop. But like, obviously, “Democrats,” quote-unquote, writ large, especially not Democratic Party officials or the establishment of that party, they don’t support defunding the police to begin with.

Adam: Well, yeah.

Nima: So, the entire frame-up of the article is disingenuous.

Adam: Yeah. Because what they want to do is they want to create this idea that there was this progressive, nonprofit, far left radical fringe that took over the party and now it’s getting pushed back from the sort of real deal, working class Black and brown, real authentic, not Twitter people, and they’re kind of scrambling to respond.

Nima: The voters that won Georgia, the voters that put Biden in the White House.

Adam: And so one of the things that the author does, which we’ve seen time and time again, is they confuse polls showing public safety and tackling violence is very important to Black voters, and then he completely pivots without showing any homework at all, how that equates to having more police and longer sentences. Burns writes, quote:

A study published in April by the Pew Research Center found that Black Americans were likeliest to name violence or crime as the top concern facing their communities, followed by economic issues and housing.

And then it pivots directly to saying this desire for public safety equates to them supporting police and that’s not true, because again, if you drill down and you ask people, ‘What do you think would help crime?’ Police, again, are an answer that people of color give, obviously, because that’s kind of a normal way we understand crime, but they also talk about things like social services, and notice how they separate things like housing and economic issues from criminality. But of course, you can’t really do that, and so again, it’s very much how you ask the question.

Nima: Right. Because public safety is just understood to be synonymous with policing.

Adam: Right. Because what they’ll say is they’ll say the majority of African American voters don’t support defund. But what they never mention is that of the people who support defund, the disproportionate amount of them are Black. If you are Black, you are more likely to support either defunding, again, depends on how you ask the question, to funding or transferring the funds of police to social services way more than white people, especially way more than the white liberals who read The New York Times, who the article is actually for, and one other thing they do, one little sort of trick they do, so what they do is they love to talk about Eric Adams, the pro carceral crowd loves Eric Adams, because he’s the Black mayor of New York and he won the election. Now he had a very organic and authentic, he was borough president of Brooklyn for a long time, very good politician, but of course, basic kind of one-on-one influence on how these things work is that Burns here in The New York Times, and this is a pathology within their reporting on this in general, it treats political currents as these kinds of discreet organic things that emerged from voter preferences that have no corrupting or external forces at all. So Eric Adams defeated Maya Wiley by about nine percentage points, who came in second place and was also a Black candidate who was very much not pro cops. So Eric Adams had the full time support of the right-wing New York Post, the full time support of The Daily News, had tons of puffy write ups in The New York Times and outraised Maya Wiley by more than four times and largely based on real estate funding. Now, you would sit back and say, okay, clearly there are dozens of Black leaders in New York, why do certain Black leaders get flooded with real estate money and some don’t, and Black leaders, like white leaders, like any other leader, are going to appeal to certain constituencies, namely large donors, real estate and police unions. Now, there’s a filtering process in our democracy. Who gets elected is not a one-to-one organic representation of some pure political preference on the part of voters, right? If we thought that we would have a media criticism podcast because we believe that the media largely exists to produce and reproduce our new logical premises, and so this idea that maybe Eric Adams is not some organic manifestation of voters of color, it’s not really a concern of Burns. He doesn’t really think about maybe some of the pro-policing forces that had influence on the mayoral primary.

Nima: Eric Adams says it well, he was elected mayor of liberal New York and therefore, is emblematic of how entire communities of color, let alone an entire quote-unquote “liberal” city thinks, right? It has nothing to do with being a former cop, a politician and receiving a ton of real estate money in campaign funding.

Adam: Yeah, and he says this throwaway line about how, ‘Well these pro-police Democrats also support social interventions and social,’ but they don’t. Eric Adams hasn’t done any of that. Eric Adams has literally just increased the police budget and locked up homeless people and talked about how much he loves the police. So again, rhetoric is meaningless. People can say they want social interventions as well as policing, but at the end of the day, one gets priority, one gets money and one becomes an afterthought or they blame it on budgetary issues in Albany or whatever it is, and so you have this very cynical framework where the things that Black voter preferences want that are part of the social safety net that involve high taxes on the rich, which involve regulating real estate, which involve rent control, these things are not said to be that urgent, however, the one Black preference they can kind of pinpoint and turn to that happens to align with the interest of their rich white liberal readers in real estate suddenly becomes the most urgent Democratic Party in the world. Two to one Black Americans support reparations, but for some reason that’s not on the docket to The New York Times.

Nima: Yeah, that’s a long-term thing, whereas crime is right outside your door, Adam.

Adam: Yeah. So what you have here is a kind of, is a very typical sort of selective concern that using Black voters to ventriloquist what is ultimately the interest of wealthy New Yorkers, which is they love more police, they fund the police, they support the police, they backed Eric Adams because he was going to be the biggest cop humper other than Andrew Yang in the race, and all these kinds of more complex or nuanced political forces are just to remove from the scenario, because the ultimate media liberal virtue is good faith, everything’s in good faith, everything is right on the nose and everything’s out, and so he quotes three quote-unquote “centrist groups,” one of which, of course, is Third Way, all of which are corporate funded, all of which are backed by Wall Street and real estate interests, and says, ‘Oh, well, they found out that Defund’s a loser,’ it’s like, well, of course, they’re going to say that. Does someone think an organization funded by Bank of America and Wall Street hedge funds was going to come back and support, I mean, of course they’re not going to support that, and so this is manufacturing, you know, consent machine, it’s just sort of how it happens, right?

Nima: Well, right, because it’s laundering what is this new Third Way report through, again, not an opinion piece, but just straight news, right? He’s just a reporter, just a journalist doing his job here, because there was a Third Way report that came out at the end of March, March 31, 2022 called, “What Communities of Color Want From Police Reform.” So the article, which again, you know, straight news, takes, you know, new polling, and this Third Way piece that is all about being anti-defund, saying all the kind of tried and true things about, ‘communities of color, they want this, they don’t want that,’ that somehow just align with Third Way’s thinking — surprise, surprise — and then we see it in the august pages of The New York Times, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, what a conundrum for Democrats. They really have to figure out their priorities here, because it doesn’t seem like their quote-unquote “base” agrees with what we hear the radical Democratic Party advocating for.’

Adam: Yeah. So the next day, we had a very similar article in The New York Times, of course, which was written from the same kind of squishy, again, it’s just sort of pandering to white liberals who want to be reactionaries. The headline read, “In San Francisco, Democrats Are at War With Themselves Over Crime. Fueled by concerns about burglaries and hate crimes, San Francisco’s liberal district attorney, Chesa Boudin, faces a divisive recall in a famously progressive city.” They’ve written this article 50 fucking times as well. But I want to show you, so this is the same kind of like, ‘Oh, liberals are being forced to be reactionaries by circumstance,’ even though by the way, there’s a qualifier paragraph in this, which is about seven paragraphs down. Quote:

There is no compelling evidence that Mr. Boudin’s policies have made crime significantly worse in San Francisco. Overall crime in San Francisco has changed little since Mr. Boudin took office in early 2020.

But never mind that, we’re going to build a whole article around perceptions. So I’m going to read you these opening three paragraphs, and they’re sort of, again, this is middle school, Schoolhouse Rock understanding of how power works. This is intentionally credulous and intentionally literal minded, and again, the ultimate, the ultimate sin in liberal reportage is to not assume good faith, no one has any ulterior motives unless, of course, it’s China or Russia or Iran or some, you know, enemy country then they’re all, you know, sinister, duplicitous, but for some reason, when it comes to rich real estate interests, they’re all in good faith. So this is from June 4 in The New York Times, “In San Francisco, Democrats Are at War With Themselves Over Crime,” quote:

As the former chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, Mary Jung has a long list of liberal bona fides, including her early days in politics volunteering in Ohio for the presidential campaign of George McGovern and her service on the board of the local Planned Parenthood branch. ‘In Cleveland, I was considered a communist,’ she said in her San Francisco office.

But the squalor and petty crime that she sees as crescendoing on some city streets — her office has been broken into four times during the coronavirus pandemic — has tested her liberal outlook. Last year, on the same day her granddaughter was born, she watched a video of a mentally ill man punching an older Chinese woman in broad daylight on Market Street.

Ms. Jung, director of government affairs for the San Francisco Association of Realtors and head of a Realtors foundation that assists homeless people, wondered what kind of city her granddaughter would grow up in. ‘I thought, Am I going to be able to take her out in the stroller?’

Mary Jung (right) with Dion Lim of ABC7 News at an event hosted by the San Francisco Association of Realtors Foundation. (Horatio Jung)

Now, Nima, what is the director of government affairs for the San Francisco Association of Retailers? That would be a lobbyist for the real estate industry.

Nima: Yes. Not only a lobbyist for the real estate industry, but I love how it’s set up to be, no, this is a liberal voice, this is a radical, liberal voice and even she, even she is worried about crime.

Adam: Even she’s turning on Chesa Boudin. So as local San Francisco reporters noted, this is a woman who’s been posting right-wing memes for the past decade. She apparently volunteered for George McGovern’s 1972 campaign, Planned Parenthood, you know, does good work, but not exactly far left, and even she is now turning on it, and they bury the lead here which is that she’s a lobbyist for the fucking San Francisco real estate industry, and she’s the first person they quote in their the same boring fucking Charles Bronson narrative we’ve gotten right the kind of ‘Upper West Side liberal who’s been mugged and now he’s a vigilante.’ I mean, they run the story. They love this story.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: Because it writes itself, right? Sort of liberal who’s been mugged as a conservative trope, which is true to some extent, I mean, I’ve seen it happen like liberals can be very, you know, fairweather allies, obviously, and if they perceive, they watch a couple of Walgreens viral videos of shoplifting.

Nima: And then have their local Duane Reade close, and then they’re like, ‘This is because of crime.’

Adam: Yeah. But like this is so typical New York Times it’s like, you know, if I’m an editor and I’m reading this and someone says the director of government affairs, which is code for lobbyist, for the San Francisco Association of Retailers, I’d say, whoa, whoa, wait a second, you just quoted a lobbyist without disclosing they’re a lobbyist, a lot of people wouldn’t know necessarily what director of government affairs is — it’s a fucking lobbyist — isn’t the story here about the real estate industry wanting to recall a progressive prosecutor in historically the real estate industries fund is the biggest supporter.

Nima: As well as corporations. It’s real estate and corporations because it’s retailers. She’s a lobbyist for retailers. Stores.

Adam: Yeah. Because Chesa Boudin has gone after corporate crime, he’s prosecuting DoorDash for worker abuse and not paying wages. I mean, his enemies list is quite long for this reason. But real estate industry is the biggest promoter of policing, as we’ve talked about on the show forever, like the story here is that that you’ve talked to a lobbyist for the real estate industry who wants to bring in a tough on crime prosecutor, which is what all real estate lobbies do in every city ever.

Nima: Yeah. But Adam, she was called a communist in Cleveland.

Adam: Oh, it’s just so and I’m just reading this, and I’m like, you must be the dumbest motherfucker, who ever lived or you’re very cynical. I think they’re very cynical. I think they know exactly what they’re doing, which is that this article was fed to them by the real estate lobby and then they went in and kind of reverse engineered and peppered in some Vox pop and a little bit of, you know, New York Times, kind of, you know, having said that, there actually isn’t an increase in crime in San Francisco, but people feel like it is so we’re just going to build 2,000 words around that and play into their paranoia.

Nima: Well, because remember the identical role filled by someone in a city that’s not this stereotypical liberal bastion, if you have, say, Oklahoma City, you’re not going to quote the real estate lobbyist there because chances are the mayor or the district attorney are not going to be liberals, and yet, crime stats are going to be identical to what they are elsewhere, and yet there is this running narrative that like progressive DAs and progressive mayors of liberal cities have allowed crime to run rampant but there is no comparison ever made in these articles to — I don’t know — cities that maybe don’t have those stereotypes along with them that, you know, that aren’t these kind of right-wing bete noir towns.

Adam: Jacksonville has the same population of San Francisco and has a murder rate three times more. We never hear about the prosecutor there because they’re Republican.

Nima: You’re not going to hear about the prosecutor there, you’re not going to hear about the mayor there and you’re not going to quote the local real estate lobbyist or the retail lobbyist being like, ‘You know what we need here? We need more cops.’ Because The New York Times is trying to do this whole counter narrative thing, while only supporting one narrative and pretending that there’s a counter narrative that wields any power when actually there really is not and so they’re just reverse engineering PR from lobbyists into articles that have like, you know, an ‘Oh, my’ gasp headline for fucking liberals to read but actually there’s no there there, like there’s no reveal.

Adam: San Francisco is the third least equal city in the country, California is the seventh least equal state, California has the largest homelessness population in the country other than Hawaii. California, according to the National Homeless Coalition, ranks dead last in supporting homeless people. California is not a socialist utopia, again, you can sort of talk about all these left wingers and radical left, but by all objective metrics, California is a capitalist state with very unequal capitalist structures. Obviously, one of the biggest predictors for crime is that it’s an erosion of social trust. So even if you grant the crime is up, which is brought about by inequality, so I mean, if you grant the crime is up one of the major drivers and one of the major reasons for that is rampant inequality, and radically increasing home prices, you know, as we talked about. Substance abuse is way worse in West Virginia and Kentucky, but they don’t have a homelessness crisis because they don’t have such high housing prices. So you have these large urban areas with very hot sky high housing prices, we know this correlates with an increase in the homeless population. So all these reactionary forces emerge as housing prices increase, as COVID pandemic aid sunseted with zero fanfare, so you see poverty increasing, you see the social disruptions of COVID-19 and everybody just reverts back to the same 1990s playbook, and The New York Times is institutionally and pathologically incurious, I think, by design, I don’t think it’s because they’re just kind of, you know, I don’t think it’s because they’re stupid, I think they do it on purpose, that everything is taken at face value, the needs of Black voters only matters when it aligns with the needs of their rich white readers and the real estate industry, and they hide behind this minority voter washing, the minority voter ventriloquizing to promote an agenda that just aligns with fucking the Third Way Coalition.

Nima: Yeah. Well, because the most exciting New York Times article is always a stereotypically liberal place wants or does a non-liberal thing.

Adam: Because it’s a category error. It’s assumed that because you like Planned Parenthood, and you think Trump, you spell Trump with an “F,” Trumpf for whatever, that this is somehow like the same thing as being an equitable or socialist or progressive place, and it’s true California does spend a lot on social services, but they’re, you know, they’re ranked number six of states, they’re not the biggest, you know, Alaska spends more than California per capita but it’s just assumed that this is this left-wing paradise, and the reason why the right-wing in California is so foaming and so militant, and this is one of the things that The New York Times and other publications play to, is that it’s assumed that it’s an evidence of failed liberal policies or welfare state policies, no matter how much evidence you show people that actually these are failed capitalist policies and a state and these large cities that are extremely, extremely unequal, and it’s not even no true Scotsman, it’s just, it is I mean, it’s California to the United States of America, just because you have maybe slightly higher taxes, which they don’t even really have when you when you incorporate the property taxes, does not, you know, socialist paradise it make, which is fine, but you can’t argue against a fictitious, you know, existing status quo of some far left paradise, and it’s just not true, and so the fundamental premise is clearly sort of smugly and snarkily playing to these assumptions, ‘Oh, even in progressive San Francisco,’ it’s like, ‘even in progressive New York.’

Nima: And also just as kind of one added maddening piece of this, Adam, is the assumption that, ‘Oh, well, if say Black voters are polled saying they want more police, that therefore proves that police are good,’ that the perception or the wants or the need of a kind of monolithized community and people or identity, then kind of undermines the premise of an entire system maybe not being great, then it’s like, ‘No, I guess, I guess it is great. If everyone, since they love cops, then I guess cops are great.’ So let’s stop investigating that. So, it’s possible to poll people, all kinds of people, and have bad poll results — you know what I’m saying? — people like things that aren’t great. Also, as you said earlier Adam, the idea that cops are last resort, sure, they’re also presented as being the only option, right? So it’s last resort plus only option.

Adam: Yes. Because it you’re not going to, you know, it’s worker discipline and austerity time, you’re not going to get, you know, we’re not going to go back to the pandemic unemployment insurance, we’re not going to go back to any kind of social welfare state, we’re not going to go back to other interventions that may reduce crime, we’re not going to do meaningful rent control or build affordable housing or reduce the cost of rent, clearly that’s all off the table. So if you’re worried about the logical byproduct of a failed social state, which is what we have, right, the only solution is going to have to be to call the cops. That’s all you’re going to get. So you can take it or you can fuck off and die. And so this is what the purpose of The New York Times is, it’s to limit the discourse to this narrow question, it’s to ask no systemic questions, it’s to selectively concern troll the needs of minority voters, again, while you ignore 95 percent of their other political preferences that they don’t seem to think are urgent issues for the Democrats, you cite these bullshit left-punching organizations like Third Way and you basically you work backwards from the starting point that we need to make reactionary, ideological argumentation seem good to squishy liberals who read The New York Times, we have to sell them on this as something that is what the minorities want, that the whole spasms, you know, all the George Floyd protests, none of that was real, that was all just sort of spasm, it was brought about by Russian trolls and white supremacists letting off some steam. ‘They actually really want more cops, the summer of 2020 was just a figment of your imagination, don’t worry, the cops who protect you and work overtime to make sure the homeless person outside of your artisanal yoga studio, the Blacks actually want that.’ That’s what The New York Times is there to do. They did this in the ’90s when they did the crack baby panic, when they sold stop-and-frisk, when the editorial board promoted stop-and-frisk and promoted the 1994 crime bill.

Nima: People in the community want this.

Adam: This is The New York Times,’ one of The New York Times’ primary social functions is to make right-wing or reactionary or carceral conventional wisdom seem progressive and liberal and that’s what they are very good at doing.

Nima: And popular among the people that those liberals would want to align themselves with or claim to.

Adam: Right. Claim to.

Nima: Well, that will do it for this Citations Needed News Brief. Thank you everyone for listening. Of course you can follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, and become a supporter of the show through You can also visit our Citations Needed merch store, pick up a t-shirt or tote bag at That will do it for this News Brief. We will be back very soon with more full length episodes of Citations Needed so stay tuned. But until then thanks again for listening. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: Citations Needed is produced by Florence Barrau-Adams. Associate producer is Julianne Tveten. Production assistant is Trendel Lightburn. Newsletter by Marco Cartolano. Transcriptions are by Morgan McAslan. The music is by Grandaddy. Thanks again for listening, everyone. We’ll catch you next time.


This Citations Needed News Brief was released on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Transcription by Morgan McAslan.