News Brief: It’s Not a “Fall From Grace,” This Has Always Been Who Giuliani Was

Citations Needed | November 20, 2020 | Transcript


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

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: We do these News Briefs from time to time between our regularly scheduled episodes when — I don’t know — Rudy Guiliani holds a special press conference and the media is freaking out about it. So of course you can follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, become a supporter of our work through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. But Adam, you really wanted to talk about Guliani and I am all too happy to oblige.

Adam: Well, yeah. So for awhile I think we talked about it offline a bit, the worst thing in the world is a white guy who says it’s like a white guy thing to say, but to me, all the sort of, ‘Oh gosh, what happened to Rudy Guliani?’ takes are the whitest thing you can say, because it’s sort of, it’s like, ‘It didn’t bother me’ —

Nima: It means you really haven’t been paying attention.

Adam: Yeah, it’s one of those like, ‘Oh he’s a racist demagogue, but he didn’t bother me before because it wasn’t really partisan and he mostly took care of black people in Brooklyn that bothered me on the way to Starbucks but now he’s sort of turning his sights on Joe Biden and the Democrats and now its’ —

Nima: Yeah, how dare you?

Adam: Yeah. Consummate Guliani critic, well, both you are, frankly, because both you are native New Yorkers, I am not. I lived there for ten years but I am not, so I thought what better thing to do than to have us talk about that and talk about the Guliani amnesia and the fall and why the kind of fall from grace narrative with respect to Rudy Guliani is the recipe for more Trumpism and recipe for more Trumpism moving forward because all the elements were there, all the policy was there, but it was done in a way that was palatable to The New York Times set and The New York Daily News and Saturday Night Live and Time Magazine. The reason why it’s important to establish stakes is not just to dunk on Giuliani, which is now becoming I suppose a national pastime, but because I think it can show us why concrete policy and disposition matter more than how things are framed and Trump has, I think, shown that very much.

Nima: Yeah, so who better to join us than fellow native New Yorker Asjoka Jegroo, journalist, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, you can, of course, follow him on Twitter @AshAgony. Ashoka, great to have you on the show again, thanks for joining Citations Needed.

Ashoka Jegroo: Thanks for having me back on. Great to be back.

Nima: So one of the main reasons why this is coming up today is obviously this unhinged press conference. We’re recording this on Thursday, November 19 and all the news is about the press conference, but kind of accompanying that was an article written by the head of The New York Daily News opinion page, Josh Greenman, and an article entitled, “What Rudy Giuliani has become: A lament.” This is just the latest in these kinds of Rudy laments, the Giuliani’s fall for media grace and we’ve seen this now for quite some time, but it really does beg the question of Rudy being assumed to have been the national hero that our American kind of mythology built up after 9/11 and we have some examples to read from but just to kind of start Ash, what is your main reaction to seeing, it’s like this weird, Rudy revisionism in order to then dunk on him.

Ashoka Jegroo: I mean, for me personally, I grew up in New York City, like you guys said before, and I grew up with Giuliani and Bloomberg as the mayors who I came of age under, and just seeing all these people lamenting, ‘Oh my god Giuliani, he was once respectable, honorable politician and now look what he’s become because he’s associated with Trump’ is just so frustrating to me, because my memory of him was Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo. Those were the two big events from my childhood growing up of what I remember of Giuliani and I remember growing up hearing people all the time on the street saying, ‘Well, you know, Giuliani, he cleaned up New York City, he really got rid of crime or whatever,’ and even before I knew, you know, the the crime stats, even before I even did research when I was growing up, even as a teenager, I thought, well, I guess lower crime is good if you don’t mind, you know, plungers getting stuck up your ass or getting shot 41 times by the cops or whatever. So yeah, it’s just frustrating to me just to see this and it angers me to no end to see people like Josh Greenman trying to act like ‘Oh, what a fall from grace Rudy has taken.’ Give me a break. Give me a break.

Adam: Yeah, I was worried about you. Your anger was visceral and real. Which is what inspired this conversation because I want to talk a bit about Josh Greenman’s revisionist editorial. So Josh Greenman sort of casually discloses in this editorial that he was in fact a speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani, although he quietly says it was about education — whatever that means — and then he worked on policy work. He sort of tries to, because the whole point of the article as is the point with many of these laments is not about Giuliani, it’s about Greenman’s white, liberal, racism being protected and being justified and you see this a lot with people who who join Team Trump, where people sort of distance themselves because they say, you know, ‘I used to work for that man,’ and now it’s sort of politically incorrect to be associated with that. So now they have to write an article that basically helps preserve their brand, and preserves, frankly, the brand of The New York Daily News who very aggressively, as we all know, was a big defender of stop-and-frisk for years and then eventually, after the New York State courts ruled that it was unconstitutional, a few years later, once crime continued to go down, they later went back and said, ‘Oh, actually, we were wrong, turns out all that racist incitement we published over the years was wrong. We’re not going to do any reparations. We’re not going to pay anyone any money. We’re not going to sacrifice anything that we have as restoration for the victims but we’re just going to sort of vaguely apologize and move on once it’s no longer the law of the land.’ And Greenman, of course, was a member of the Daily News editorial board during that time period, some of that time period, and I think that that’s what the sort of what’s frustrating about this op-ed, or the editorial, I guess, technically since he’s on the editorial team it’s an editorial, not an op-ed. Let’s sort of break down some of the more egregious revisionism because this is very much The New York Daily News’ M.O. It’s extensively a Democratic paper, used to be owned by Mort Zuckerman for years, and he sold it, but very much always been very tough on crime, which is, you know, you have two tabloids in New York.

Nima: The New York Post and The New York Daily News for those who don’t live or know about New York media.

Adam: Yeah, had the same bipartisan, pro-carceral, and in many ways, you know, we talked to Josmar Trujilo about this when he was on, the Daily News is worse, because it sort of gives it a bipartisan stamp of approval. It’s not Rupert Murdoch, it’s supposedly the liberal tabloid. So I want to talk about your response to Greenman’s editorial specifically, and what it says about the quote-unquote “bipartisan” consensus and the white liberal protection and cover for these far-right racist policies during the Giuliani and Bloomberg years.

Ashoka Jegroo: Well, I mean, Giuliani, when he was mayor, he hired of course, William Bratton, Bill Bratton, and they pushed for, in addition to stop-and-frisk, they pushed for a Broken Windows policy basically and to this day, The New York Daily News still supports very vocally Broken Windows policing, quality of life policing, and they haven’t gone back on that.

Adam: Yeah, just to clarify, they had a technical problem with stop-and-frisk, but still support Broken Windows, which is the spiritual mother or the sort of grandfather of stop-and-frisk. Just to clarify. Thank you for clarifying that.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yeah. Josh Greenman and the Daily News in general, are very pro-police, are very pro-NYPD, and basically, every Democratic politician in New York City follows suit behind that. The New York City Council, for example, for years and years and years, routinely increased the budget for the NYPD or increased their headcount, gave them whatever they want and anytime the NYPD or even that unions got mad at the politicians, they would quickly cower in the face of the NYPD. The New York Daily News for years has pretty much held back the New York Police Department when it comes to Broken Windows policing, when it comes to smearing protesters, pretty much when it comes to cracking down on black and brown people, making life miserable for poor working class black and brown people, the Democratic Party in New York City, who runs the New York City Council and who has held the mayorship since de Blasio has been in office, they all pretty much bow to the NYPD, as I repeat very often on my Twitter account, the NYPD runs NYC. When the NYPD says they want something, they want toys, they want new guns, rollbacks of bail reform, they want rollbacks of any kind of reforms, they’re likely going to get it and the New York Post and the Daily News and a whole bunch of bootlicking Democratic politicians are going to rhetorically support them and legislatively support them too.

Nima: Well, yeah and you know, I’m not going to subject anyone else to reading parts of this editorial except myself — so you’re welcome — but I’m going to read to this point of really doing pro-police propaganda, even at the top of this Josh Greenman editorial is this when he’s talking about that out of college, he got this job as a speechwriter and sort of policy person for then Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the late 1990s and he wrote this that when his friends gave him shit for it, it’s this, quote:

“I typically responded that I agreed with about half of what the mayor was up to, and it tended to be the more important half: He was professionalizing policing in a city that still wrestled with major crime problems, weaning people off chronic welfare dependency, trying to replace an unresponsive public school bureaucracy with accountable leadership and more.

“I had plenty of misgivings. There was his handling of race relations, especially the excruciating police killing of Patrick Dorismond; his withering attacks on his “jerky” enemies… his strange obsessions like trying to force heroin addicts to quit cold turkey rather than relying on methadone; and his crazy crusade against the Brooklyn Museum for supposedly smearing Catholics.”

So —

Adam: So the primary difference here is one of tone. All those policies he talks about, you know, “weaning” people off welfare dependency — by the way, after he got a job speechwriting right out of Yale, so I’m sure he comes from the hardknocks — and then he says oh “weaning” off welfare dependency, he knows what is best for them, “those” people. Well that’s very racist.

Nima: The entire “important half,” quote-unquote, that he talks about, is just dog whistle racism.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes, exactly.

Nima: Like every single one, every single one.

Adam: Oh, and by the way, busting teachers unions in New York, which of course, is also a form of racist policy initiative. Yeah and the divorce there between what he thinks is good and bad is not even ‘Is this a racist policy?’ It’s just the read is overtly racist.

Ashoka Jegroo: Even that painting in the Brooklyn Museum of the Virgin Mary painted with elephant dung was by an African artist, like, he always finds a way, Rudy Giuliani always found a way to make life miserable for black people, basically.

Adam: Yeah. I think that’s kind of because you see this a lot with Bloomberg too where when he ran for the Democratic nomination, obviously, Bloomberg was himself just like Giuliani Republican. He was kind of his handpicked successor, if you will, because he could fund his own campaign and many of the same stuff went into a memory hole when he ran for president and all these people like Jonathan Capehart, who worked for Bloomberg, you know, he was a speechwriter as well, and did comms for him, that all sort of got ‘Oh, well, you know, he’s a mega maniacal, racist billionaire who did aggressive policing but because in 2018, he switched to the Democratic Party and gave some money to EMILY’s List and Sierra Club, well, I guess all’s forgiven. It just seems like that whole era of aggressive policing that ruined thousands and thousands, countless thousands of black and brown lives, it’s just memory holed. It’s a lament and then we all kind of move on now that it’s not woke to have those policies.

Nima: Well, because also Greenman kind of gives up the reason why he feels sad about what Giuliani has become, he gives it up in this piece, because he says this later on, quote:

“He was personally decent to those who worked for him; you can’t say that about some politicians. In the daily course of business, I made plenty of mistakes, as I still do, and can’t recall being berated. I remember him treating me with respect, and I saw him do the same to others in his orbit, no matter what job they did.”

So you know, again, it’s like, ‘Oh, I knew this guy and he treated me well and now he’s some foaming lunatic.’

Adam: He was nice to white Yale graduates. What a shocker.

Nima: (Laughs.) Right.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yeah exactly. Right before that he says, let me quote from the piece. He says:

“All along, he believed, with some justification, that the press and establishment pols of this city were ideologically lazy and almost hard-wired to go against him, while the people were often with him. Culturally, that made him a mini-Trump, gleefully shredding the dominant dogma to the thrall of his supporters.”

So he’s celebrating the fact that he was a mini-Trump, you know, yelling out ‘fake news’ and ‘the liberals are trying to get me.’

Nima: And this faux populism.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yeah.

Adam: Well, then he says it was justified.

Ashoka Jegroo: But yeah, exactly. So where was the fall exactly? If you agree that he was a mini-Trump, and that now he’s associating with actual Trump, I’m not sure where the fall from grace is exactly.

Adam: Yeah and there’s no humility here. He says, quote:

“I wrote speeches and did a little policy work, mostly on education, for then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 1997 to 2001. In those years, it was a fact I shared with some hesitation at parties. My friends, overwhelmingly liberal recent college grads, seemed to think I’d lost my bearings.”

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: And the next sentence should be ‘because they were right and I was wrong.’

Nima: And it’s not, it’s not. It’s that basically ‘I agreed with him,’ except now, in fancy company it’s a little gauche to talk about that because of what he’s become. So this editorial is in line with many we’ve seen recently. So just to name a few from PBS NewsHour, November 11 of last year, 2019, this quote, “How Rudy Giuliani went from ‘America’s mayor’ to Ukraine business broker.” Then a couple weeks later in CNN November 28, 2019, quote, “The precipitous fall of America’s mayor.” Then earlier this year in Rolling Stone, May 17, 2020 there was this article headlined, “What Happened to America’s Mayor?” With the subhead, “Rudy Giuliani was once a national hero who refused to let Donald Trump buy him breakfast. How did he become who he is today?” And then also ABC News in September of this year, September 12, 2020, with this article, “Rudy Giuliani, once ‘America’s mayor’ now mired in controversy, facing legal scrutiny.” So you know, the whole America’s mayor thing, obviously a post-9/11 moniker, for obvious reasons actually bestowed upon him I believe by Oprah Winfrey when introducing him at a 9/11 prayer service at Yankee Stadium no less, but the praise for Giuliani post-9/11 was actually something to behold and I think for those of us who grew up in New York during those years, it was quite unsettling. Obviously, we had seen something horrific and tragic happen to our city and then the hero was this racist piece of shit who happened to be there that day and if you read Wayne Barrett’s work, you know that he basically did everything wrong that day and yet was still praised for it.

Ashoka Jegroo: Nowadays, it’s associated with Bloomberg, the surveillance, NYPD surveillance of mosques and Muslim communities but Giuliani has really admitted on Fox News before that he did that, he was surveilling mosques and he said any Muslim has a problem with cops in their mosque must be up to something wrong, because why wouldn’t you want cops in your mosque or whatever?

Nima: America’s Mayor folks. Makes sense.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yeah. Then also, I mean, more recently, Rudy tried to take credit for helping Trump come up with the Muslim ban, basically, and how to get it past the Supreme Court. All this stuff is, you know, as a result of Rudy Giuliani post-9/11 trying to wage the war on terror, basically.

Adam: Yeah, because I think the thing that annoys a lot of people because I mean, a lot of people have said this is journalists of color, etcetera, to generalize, have said, ‘Well, this has always been Giuliani,’ and this is the thing I saw with, you know, you see, with Bloomberg, who’s worth $50, $60 billion, you see this with the Daily News that it became faux paus to be this overt, carceral, as long as you sort of check the box, now rhetorically, you can still do that, but that kind of tough on crime mentality is now considered faux paus but none of these people who now want to go back to being in good standing with liberal consensus, like Josh Greenman or Michael Bloomberg or Jonathan Capehart, who worked for Bloomberg, these people, there’s never any sense that there’s any restitution. There’s never a sense of like, I was on the editorial board, I was an opinion editor writer for 2006 to 2013, when stop-and-frisk was the law of the land, sent thousands of people to jail, caused untold suffering, left countless black and brown women without fathers, countless people in Rikers Island, ‘Here’s my strategy. Here’s the thing I’m going to do to make it right. I’m Bloomberg, I’m worth $60 billion, I’m going to set aside $10 billion and still be worth $50 billion to give as a form of restitution.’ There’s never and especially with the Daily News editorial board, I mean, when they wrote that it was owned by someone, Mort Zuckerman, who is a multi-billionaire, with several billion dollars. It’s just like, ‘Oh, oops, sorry.’ You know? You see this with the war in Yemen. It’s like ‘We were wrong. Time to move on.’ It’s like, what are you going to do other than just sort of have a throwaway apology to make it right? People make mistakes, I get it, you’re a careerist, you’re out of Yale, you were high on working for the mayor, what are you going to do to make amends for that, and maybe I am being moralistic here, but it seems like everyone just wants to move on while there’s still people in prison in jail today. What does it mean to sort of apologize or to feel bad that you worked for a right-wing demagogue?

Ashoka Jegroo: Beats me. Shit, this is what I complain about on Twitter every freaking day.

Adam: Yeah.

Ashoka Jegroo: Just to bring back up on The New York Daily News apologizing for stop-and-frisk when to this day, they still support Broken Windows policing and trash Black Lives Matter protesters all the damn time and lie about them all the damn time, I mean, it really means like nothing to me. It’s just like PR basically for these newspapers, from these politicians who do it too and pundits to do it too. Like Errol Lewis on NY1, for example, like used to cape really hard for Michael Bloomberg still does to this day, and won’t apologize for it at all or anything and he’s considered, you know, a respectable journalist in New York City nowadays.

Nima: Yeah, there really does seem to be this thing where it’s either who Giuliani always was is just memory holed, or there’s this thing that’s, obviously, kind of establishment corporate media following 9/11 is gonna lionize him, right? I mean, you saw CNN, Nancy Gibbs writing on Christmas Eve, 2001, so, you know, still just a couple months after 9/11 but hailing Rudy quote, “For having more faith in us than we had in ourselves, for being brave when required and rude where appropriate and tender without being trite, for not sleeping and not quitting and not shrinking from the pain all around him, Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of the world is TIME’s 2001 Person of the Year.” That’s a real quote. I did not make that up. That’s legit and yes Time called him, you know, mayor of the world, had a big Person of the Year feature with quotes like this. From the article, quote, “When the day of infamy came, Giuliani seized it as if he had been waiting for it all his life, taking on half a dozen critical roles and performing each masterfully.” They called him a “gutsy decision maker” and a “crisis manager,” “a consoler in chief,” and said this quote, “Giuliani’s performance ensures that he will be remembered as the greatest mayor in the city’s history, eclipsing even his hero, Fiorello LaGuardia, who guided Gotham through the Great Depression.” They talk about his eloquence under fire, and how then French President Jacques Chiroc dubbed him Rudy the rock. So you know, in a way, CNN, Time, okay, sure. It’s gross, but sure, what I feel like we’re seeing now maybe, are people that only remember the national news broadcast version of Giuliani post-9/11 and so it’s someone writing in Rolling Stone being like, ‘What happened? I remember growing up then, he was America’s mayor,’ because if you didn’t grow up in New York, would you have known otherwise? Do you know what I mean? So it seems like there’s this change, but if you had been paying attention the whole time, you’d know that nope, that’s that same guy.

Ashoka Jegroo: And also, we have to give Rudy some credit himself, because he’s really good at self promotion, always has been really good at self promotion. When he was a prosecutor, he always made sure to get in the newspaper, and make sure to send out press releases all the time. I think if you watch the documentary, Giuliani Time, they talk about how good he was at self promotion and then of course, after 9/11, he promoted himself as, you know, America’s mayor, and invoked 9/11 when he was running for president.

Nima: He was a front runner for a very long time.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes, I thought it was gonna be him versus Hillary Clinton back in 2008 and then luckily that didn’t happen but he was really considered a respectable guy, considered like a great, honorable politician for a long time after 9/11.

Adam: Yeah, I want to focus on one line you note, in your thread, you say, quote, “Right after stating that he agreed with Rudy Giuliani on the issues where Rudy was his most racist, screaming claims he had ‘misgivings’ about ‘handling of race relations.’” I love this phrase “handling of race relations,” it is such a great marketing phrase, because he’s not saying —

Nima: So is “misgivings.” All of it is amazing.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yeah.

Adam: ‘I wasn’t mad that he was racist, or that he said racist things or that he stoked racism or even that he pandered to racism, which would have been a more aggressive sentiment, but his handling of race relations.’ Let’s unpack that, if you will. Can you translate that statement into English for our listeners?

Ashoka Jegroo: ‘I’m sorry that Rudy was very racist, but I don’t want to be associated with his racism basically,’ that’s all he’s saying.

Adam: Okay. All right. All right.

Ashoka Jegroo: ‘I apologize for associating with a racist but please don’t make me out to be a racist as well because I had misgivings about him being racist.’

Adam: Misgivings. Oh, okay.

Ashoka Jegroo: And remember Rudy Giuliani under David Dinkins mayorship, Rudy Giuliani infamously riled up a police riot essentially all because David Dinkins wanted to create the CCRB, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which is now a joke. Yeah. Which is a joke now, which is a pro-cop, useless, toothless — I always say those those adjectives about it — useless, toothless, pro-cop joke now but Rudy Giuliani back in the day, helped rile up thousands of policemen into rioting over the creation of the CCRB and then that helped them pretty much race bait his way into becoming mayor, essentially.

Nima: Why would people who didn’t grow up in New York know this? It’s totally understandable. But you know, Rudy ran for mayor in 1989 and he lost to David Dinkins, the first black mayor of New York, but you know, whined and moaned that the election had been stolen from him and then four years later pumped millions of dollars in basically dispatching mercenary, off duty, white cops, and also firefighters, into primarily black and brown neighborhoods to suppress the vote. This was part of the tactic of his mayoral campaign in ’93 and he won. It’s also telling, in this Greenman article, that the misgivings that he has over the quote-unquote “handling of race relations,” he says, you know, especially the excruciating — so it’s excruciating to him, right? — police killing of Patrick Dorismond, who was a security guard who was killed by undercover cops, shot to death by undercover cops in 2000, but to your earlier comments, Ash, he doesn’t mention Diallo or Louima, they’re not mentioned in here, and I think that that’s extremely telling.

Ashoka Jegroo: And then also there were other incidents to back in like 1994 for example, there was an incident where a white off duty cop named Peter Del-Debbio, who shot a black undercover cop, Desmond Robinson, on the subway because he assumed that Desmond Robinson was a gunman or something like that, shot him four times in the back, and at that time Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Bill Bratton defended the white off duty cop who shot the black cop and then later that black cop sued and got a big settlement or whatever. And actually that black cop died maybe in October, I think, died very recently but yeah, even within the police, intra police violence —

Nima: He still managed to be super racist.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes, he still managed to be racist. Yes, exactly. There’s no end to Guliani’s racism. It’s a really amazing sight to behold when you go back and just look at all the shit he did.

Adam: Yeah, and as long as he quote-unquote “lowers crime,” which of course is largely predicated on displacing people than was consistent with lowered crime patterns throughout the country, right? They were going down anyway for a variety of reasons.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes, exactly.

Adam: It seemed like a lot of good white liberal media just either looked the other way or in fact, in the Daily News’ case, did a lot of, and Bloomberg, his successor, who had basically many of the same policies, as long as the sort of, again their walk to Starbucks and the office was nice and neat and clean they didn’t give a shit what the fuck he did or we putting breakers.

Nima: Well, right, because Time Square started to look like Disneyland and so therefore, it was a success.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes, he gave big tax cuts to corporations, obviously, too. He encouraged the Disneyfication of Time Square essentially and also, going back to Adam’s point about the lowering crime stats, like you said, crime was going down under David Dinkins for maybe a few years but when Rudy was running against him, he called David Dinkins soft on crime and one of the reasons he said Dinkins was soft on crime was because he was against the death penalty. This is the man who supposedly had a fall from grace? This is ridiculous, oh my god. I have to bring up the fact that also Giuliani was very, very close, and always has been close with the Manhattan Institute, which is basically a thinly veiled white supremacist think tank —

Adam: With Heather Mac Donald, who we need to do an episode on.

Ashoka Jegroo: Yes. And he pretty much got all his policies from this white supremacist think tank. So I just want to put that out there as well.

Nima: Yeah, he also, you know, got paid by the Iranian exiled terrorists called the MEK to speak at their conventions. He, you know, routinely went to Israel and occupied Palestine to talk about how fantastic Israeli security was and stuff like that. He had done this for years. I mean, that’s also kind of a New York mayor thing to do. I think Mike Bloomberg did that shit. But yeah, I think that really this idea that ‘What has he become? Remember when he was a hero to all and a great unifier?’ And now he’s, you know, sweating hair dye down his face, and seeming unhinged is like, oh, he just got old and now he’s saying stuff that you think is a bit uncouth and he’s tethered to this lame duck, fascist president and so now you’re like, ‘Oh, what a bummer, why can’t we have the old Giuliani back?’ The old Giuliani was horrible, absolutely horrible. But I think it really just speaks to how the media and media writ large — I know it’s like “what is the media?” quote-unquote — but, you know, largely New York tabloid media and these national media platforms, they have this memory, this created mythology of who Giuliani was so that they can lament who he has become without actually reckoning with his real record.

Adam: There’s a parallel with Trump. I mean, Trump was an employee of NBC Universal, Jeff Zucker created Trump, they gave him, even after he started doing the birther stuff, accused Obama of forging his college transcripts, said he was born in Kenya, they still renewed his contract for The Apprentice because it was a show that made the money. I mean, both Rudy and Trump are creations of, in many ways, liberal corporate media, so-called liberal media, sort of center left, you know, Saturday Night Live sort of PR, going on shows without really being challenged on their racism. So it’s interesting, they’ve kind of come home to roost and now it’s pearl clutching o’clock. Before you go Ash, I want to ask you, what are you working on? What can you promote? Where can people check out your work? Let’s do a little shameless, speaking of self promotion, let’s do a shameless self promotion here.

Ashoka Jegroo: Well, I finally got a Patreon. So go to my Patreon. Me and some other friends and fellow journalists are trying to work on our own outlet trying to make our own outlet called the Copwatch Report, and hopefully we get some funding and get some money, hopefully some rich liberal sprinkles money on us to do this.

Adam: Good.

Ashoka Jegroo: So if you’re a rich liberal out there, sprinkle some money on us.

Adam: What’s the Patreon link people can go and sprinkle money on to?

Ashoka Jegroo: Oh, you can just go to my Twitter account. You’ll see it on the pin tweet, my Patreon account, all the links to where you can donate money to me basically, so I can keep talking my shit.

Adam: All right. Great.

Ashoka Jegroo: Go there, give me my money so I can keep talking my shit.

Nima: Yes, indorsed. Do that. Well, perfect. It’s a great place to leave it. Ashoka Jegroo, journalist born and raised in the great borough of Brooklyn, New York. You can, of course, follow him on Twitter @AshAgony and Patreon, I believe at the same AshAgony link. So yeah, please do follow him, do all those things that he said. Ash, it’s been awesome to have you back on the show. Thanks so much for joining Citations Needed.

Ashoka Jegroo: Been a pleasure, been a pleasure.


Adam: Yeah, so definitely check out his Patreon. He is an independent journalist who does his own thing. Again, that’s AshAgony Patreon. He’s done a lot of independent reporting within New York, that’s been very valuable. I’ve been following his work now for six years.

Nima: He does really, really great reporting on protests around the city, which he’s also done internationally but, you know, whenever there’s shit going down in the city, and I say shit going down, meaning mostly cops harassing people, be sure to check out Ashoka’s Twitter account because it’s really important and it always has very, not only astute stuff, but really timely stuff that’s absolutely on the ground, very present, very approximate to what’s actually happening.

Adam: And the theme here, of course, just to reiterate, I guess I want to be clear, is not to just dunk on people who made a miscalculation so we can feel good about ourselves in retrospect, I think the point is, is that the major difference between the sort of center, carceral, and I think fair to say borderline fascist threads within our politic is often about tone, and about language, and about how well they are playing liberal media, how well they are at sort of presenting themselves in a certain way and so much of how we got our carceral state, the largest jail and prison population in the world by a factor of four times, five times, relative to the mean, the way we got that was through this idea that if you frame things a certain way, or if you launder them through the Manhattan Institute, or The New York Times or the Atlantic magazine, which we’ve talked about, or The New Republic, then therefore that was okay and that to prevent us from doing that again, which invariably, I think we will, with a lot of this backlash against the modest, very modest reform we’ve had, we need to be able to not let the Giulianis of the world manage that process because they avoid certain specific words. The problem with Trump cannot just be that he says things out loud, it has to be the policies themselves.

Nima: Right. It has to be the things that he says, even if he were to say them quietly.

Adam: Because rhetoric matters, but it doesn’t matter that much. I mean, it matters, but it’s like —

Nima: But what you do actually does matter and there are people with power that make policies that affect people’s lives.

Adam: Yeah.

Nima: So, you know, when it comes down to former staffers being like, ‘I agreed with what he did, but now he just sounds like kind of a kook.’ It’s like, well, that’s not a —

Adam: Yeah, but there’s no —

Nima: That’s not the biggest deal there. The biggest deal are the lives he ruined when he was mayor, and what he’s done since. That’s the big deal.

Adam: There’s no introspection in an op-ed written on November 19, 2020, that uses the phrase “chronic welfare dependency.”

Nima: Right.

Adam: Buddy, I don’t know how to tell you this but your politics haven’t changed at all, neither have Rudy’s, you’re still racist, you just don’t like the way he frames things.

Nima: Yeah. So you know, I think this kind of media myopia almost about who these people are because they’re the people that they used to eat hors d’oeuvres with at Manhattan parties and now they’re kind of persona non grata and so how do you square that with the person who wants knew, the person who used to work for, the person you used to smoke cigars with or get a slap on the back from so I think that the kind of reflection that we’re getting from a lot of these media outlets about Giuliani just reflects, you know, either not paying attention or actually agreeing with him when he was doing these things in the first place and not having a problem with it then and just, yeah, it’s a problem in tone. It’s a problem in tone and attitude. So that’s what we’re seeing but that will do it for this Citations Needed News Brief. Thank you all for listening, for your ongoing support of the show. Of course, you can follow us on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, and become a supporter of our work through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated, we are 100 percent listener funded. We will be back soon with another full length episode so look out for that. That will do it for this News Brief. 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 everyone. Catch you next time.


This Citations Needed News Brief was released on Friday, November 20, 2020.

Transcription by Morgan McAslan.