Welcome back to “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a weekly column produced by National Review’s News Desk. This week, we cover the Washington Post’s bizarre race-explainer video, confusion over conservatives’ reaction to the Obamacare case at the Supreme Court, and more media misses.
The Washington Post Dabbles in Some Light Racial Essentialism
The Washington Post has a bad case of Tobias Fünke Syndrome, proving unable to keep its foot out of its mouth.
In a video promoting critical race theory entitled “What is White racial identity and why is it important?”, Resmaa Menakem, one of the “experts” assembled by the Post, asserts that “white people got to start getting together, specifically around race.” Obviously, Menakem wasn’t calling for white solidarity, but he may have inadvertently identified one of the unintended consequences of promoting divisive concepts like the one he champions.
When he’s not making videos encouraging the Washington Post’ well-heeled readers to embrace racial essentialism, Menakem offers courses through his personal website.
For the low price of $117.00, you too can learned about “somatic abolitionism” through a five-day online workshop.
What is somatic abolitionism?
Glad you asked.
According to Menakem’s website, “Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied Anti-Racism practice and culture building that requires endurance, agility, resource cultivation, stamina, and discernment.”
After taking the course, you can peruse Menakem’s gift shop and maybe even treat yourself to a $50.00 “Black People You Are Not Defective” sweatshirt.
The video is an instant classic of a Post genre that includes such titles as “Why non-Black people of color can face racism and be racist at the same time,” and “Anti-racism: You may be doing it wrong. Here’s why.”
Is Ron the New Don?
Over the last 18 months or so, Florida governor Ron DeSantis has emerged as the frontrunner to become the GOP’s 2024 nominee for president. Benefitting from high approval ratings across the board pre-pandemic, as well as from his state’s economic performance and health outcomes during it, DeSantis has the ability to unite a fractured Republican Party.
With Donald Trump slowly but surely becoming less relevant — DeSantis topped Trump in a straw poll conducted at the Western Conservative Summit last week — the new guy is increasingly the focus of the media’s attention and vitriol. Moreover, while DeSantis is imperfect like any other politician and can be prickly with the press (no doubt part of his appeal with the GOP base), he provides nowhere near the basis for that vitriol that Trump did, lending him even more credibility with Republicans and media-skeptical independents.
In a year full of examples of this phenomenon, this weekend provided the best — and one of the most deplorable — yet.
On Saturday, a pickup truck rammed into a group marching in an LGBT+ Pride parade outside of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. One person was killed and several more were injured. The truck also narrowly missed a vehicle carrying Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Instead of recognizing it as a tragedy and waiting for the facts to emerge, many in the press jumped at the opportunity to tie it to DeSantis.
Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis announced in the immediate aftermath that “this is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community. This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate. it was premeditated.” Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that it indeed was not “hardly” an accident, it was an accident. The driver who lost control of the vehicle not only had no anti-LGBT agenda, but was a member of the local Gay Men’s Chorus chapter planning on participating in the event.
Reporters took Trantalis’s speculation and turned it into an indictment of DeSantis. The publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, Peter Schorsch, tweeted that “Maybe, just f****** maybe, we should not have a government that sanctions laws driving into crowds and discrimination against LGBTQ community.” He later deleted it . . . before doubling down.
I do apologize … for being so weak-kneed in the first place and deleting the tweet.
It's sad that a law was passed that inspires the kind of fear it does – that Floridians do jump to the conclusions they did on Saturday, even if it turns out they were wrong. https://t.co/MiLP7maER3
— Peter Schorsch (@PeterSchorschFL) June 21, 2021
It’s unclear what Sunshine State laws allow for barreling into lawfully assembled crowds with murderous intent or would encourage a hypothetical attack like the one many imagined, but DeSantis has signed legislation meant to ensure that only biological women participate in women’s sports and providing civil immunity for people who drive through riots — not a peaceful gathering like the one on Saturday.
Schorsch’s view nevertheless became the dominant one online, where the hashtag “DeathSantis” trended.
2 hit by truck, 1 killed at #Pride parade in Wilton Manors narrowly missing @DWStweets. Domestic terrorism made legal by bigot #KimJongRon #DeathSantis. Charlottesville part 2. #RemoveRon #Florida #Floriduh https://t.co/xBlqxp1o54
— Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) June 20, 2021
Rather than apologizing for inspiring an online frenzy based on false information, Trantalis issued a statement Sunday excusing his smear based on the terror he felt after witnessing the accident.
My statement following yesterday's events in Wilton Manors is below.
I want to thank our first responders for their efforts as police and medical personnel immediately attended to the scene. pic.twitter.com/lahwAQPO3C
— Mayor Dean J. Trantalis (@DeanTrantalis) June 20, 2021
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, meanwhile, took issue not with the misleading coverage — she herself retweeted those declaring the accident a terrorist attack — but with a Fox News article about the coverage, blasting them for “publishing such garbage esp[ecially] when it comes to the media.”
DeSantis, it seems, has the same ability Trump was blessed with to bring out the worst in the Fourth Estate.
In a 7–2 decision reached last Thursday, the Supreme Court once again declined to strike down the Affordable Care Act. The majority opinion in California v. Texas, written by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Roberts hinged on standing — Texas’s lack of it. That is to say, it could not demonstrate that it had suffered sufficient damages as a result of the law.
That four conservative justices, including the newly christened Justice Barrett, joined with the liberal bloc surprised some observers, but not those with any understanding of the case itself or of the broader conservative legal movement.
During Barrett’s confirmation hearing, the Democrats sounded a singular note: Barrett was being elevated because she would, as a matter of course, rule with the other conservatives to rule the ACA unconstitutional in California v. Texas. National Review’s Dan McLaughlin has the receipts.
This was always a lie told for political reasons, and not the result of an honest appraisal of the case itself and Barrett’s record. Even if the Court believed Texas had standing to bring the suit, it almost certainly would have refrained from gutting the ACA on severability grounds.
The reaction to the ruling in the media was not one of self-reflection, though. Instead, they marveled at observations like McLaughlin’s, declaring that conservatives were more eager to “own the libs” than they were to achieve their policy goals. Take the amateurish analysis of Politico’s Sam Stein and NBC’s Benjy Sarlin.
Are any Republicans expressing dissapointment that the Obamacare suit that many of their party’s own AGs brought, failed?
Or is the prevailing reaction that Democrats were wrong about Amy Coney Barrett?
— Sam Stein (@samstein) June 17, 2021
To a particular group within the right, the Supreme Court upholding the ACA is the real owning the libs result. It's not after the fact spin, they really wanted this result for this reason. That's all you need to know about where things stand versus 2012, 2015, etc. https://t.co/NsDvhFdciL
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) June 17, 2021
We’ll explain it in simple terms. It is possible to oppose the ACA on policy grounds, and even to believe parts of it to be unconstitutional, without wanting to be rid of it on faulty legal grounds that set bad precedents and are an affront to the rule of law. Process still matters to conservatives, and that they are pointing out that Democrats were lying through their teeth on the dais during Barrett’s hearing doesn’t mean they value lib-ownership over proper governance.
Headline Fail of the Week
This week’s honor goes to HuffPost for its article, “Texas Governor Signs Law To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism.” Despite the headline, the article even concedes “The Texas law doesn’t explicitly use the word ‘ban’ for conversations about racism.”
As we wrote last month, the bill in question aims to keep schools from weaponizing children with political agendas and teaching kids that they bear responsibility for the misdeeds of others throughout history based on their sex or skin color.
Texas state representative Steve Toth told National Review that mainstream media outlets are lying about the bill, which he introduced: “The facts are very clear, very explicit, we don’t ban, we don’t discourage the discussion of anything.”
HuffPost previously reported that the bill “effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events.” But it is not the only offender: A report by the New York Times claimed that Texas is pushing to “obscure the state’s history of slavery and racism.” And an MSNBC headline read, “GOP pushing bill to ban teaching history of slavery.”
Headline Fail of the Week: Honorable Mention
We would be remiss if we did not give the New York Times a “Headline Fail of the Week” special notation for its article, “In Rift With Biden, a Dramatic Show of Force by a Conservative Catholic Movement.” The piece came after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Friday to create draft guidelines on the meaning of Communion that could eventually bar people who express support for abortion from receiving the Eucharist.
Apparently, the paper thinks the bishops’ decision to craft guidelines in line with the teachings of the church is a “dramatic show of force” by a “a conservative movement that decides how the Catholic Church asserts its power in America.”
-Astead Herndon, national political reporter for the New York Times, responded to the enshrinement of Juneteenth as a federal holiday by remarking that “its kinda amazing: juneteenth is gonna be a federal holiday for reasons teachers won’t be allowed to explain to their students out of fear critical race theory backlash.” Herndon did not provide an example of a critical race theory bill that would prevent educators from speaking about the meaning and importance of the new holiday. Indeed, many of the bills mandate the inclusion of slavery and other examples of injustice in American history in public school curricula.
-The aforementioned Haberman also seemed confused on this front. Noting that Donald Trump announced that he favored making Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, she commented that “it almost feels like the freak out about it this week isn’t on the level.” 195 Republican congressmen voted for the bill in question, while only 14 voted against it. Not a single GOP senator objected to it. Far from a “freak out.”
-CNN sounds like a proud parent in reporting on China’s national vaccination effort. The only problem is that they forgot to mention that all over the world, the Chinese vaccines are proving to be little better than placebos.