Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has slowly turned itself into a public relations arm of the Trump administration. Check out this Sept. 17 post by Brad Wilmouth in total pro-Trump spin mode:
Since Donald Trump began his run for President in June 2015, parts of the dominant liberal media have repeatedly parroted the incorrect claim that, in 1989, Trump ran a newspaper ad in which he urged the execution of a group of young black and Hispanic teens who ended up eventually being proven "innocent" in spite of confessing to the infamous rape and beating of a Central Park jogger that year.
In fact, the ad in question did not specify that the Central Park Five should be executed as it came at a time when the death penalty was illegal in New York. There had been a push for the state legislature to enact a new law to reinstate capital punishment which would require overriding the veto of then-Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo -- who had vetoed a death penalty bill a month before the attack.
The defendants could not have been sentenced to capital punishment since it was not an option at the time of the crime.
Additionally, when Trump was asked about the ad in May 1989 on Larry King Live, CNN claims he stated that he only supported the death penalty for adults -- which would have excluded the Central Park Five because they were all between the ages of 14 and 16.
Note how Wilmouth parses Trump's ad to focus on how it "did not specify that the Central Park Five should be executed." In fact, the ad does reference the Central Park attack, the ran just a few months after it occurred, and the headline on it blared, "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!" It seems pretty clear who Trump was talking about, even if he did not do so to the specificity that Wilmouth demands.
Wilmouth also argued that the Central Park Five deserved prison because, even if they weren't guilty of the attack they were sentenced, they must have been guilty of something:
In the film, The Central Park Five, as far-left film maker Ken Burns pushed a sympathetic view of the five teens, the documentary actually admitted that their defense attorneys had considered arguing that they could not have committed the attack on the jogger because they were busy "beating up other people" at the time. Their defense attorneys presumably had conceded that they were part of a group of dozens of teens who attacked as many as eight different random people in the park on the same night, including one man who received a skull fracture.
Also of note, as some have pushed the angle that, because the Central Park jogger was a white woman while the defendants were minorities, Trump was motivated by racism -- but what has been overlooked is that he also came to the defense of a black woman in Brooklyn who was raped and thrown from a four-story building a couple of weeks after the Central Park attack, and right after the death penalty ads ran in May of that year.
As for the issue of the Central Park Five being "exonerated" or proven "innocent," with some accounts even asserting that they were "acquitted," such claims are an overstatement given that, after another man -- convicted serial rapist Matias Reyes -- in 2002 confessed to attacking the jogger in 1989 and claimed that he did it alone, there was never another trial to determine their guilt. After DNA testing linked Reyes to the crime, the city's prosecution chose to vacate the convictions for all five.
Since there really is a phenomenon that people sometimes confess to offenses they did not commit, it would seem feasible either that the Central Park Five were pressured into confessing to a crime they did not commit, or that Reyes -- who apparently had nothing to lose by confessing -- falsely claimed that he was the only assailant who took part in the attack.
It is possible that a jury would have found them not guilty if they had had the benefit of Reyes's testimony at the time, but, as they had already served their sentences, they were not tried again, and the sentences were simply vacated.
While Wilmouth does acknowledge that New York City paid a "generous settlement" to the Central Park Five -- which non-biased observers would argue is equivalent to the exoneration Wilmouth denies exists -- he complains that it was a "political decision" by Mayour Bill Di Blasio made "against the advice of the city's attorneys." But the newspaper link Wilmouth supplies as evidence of this also points out that the settlement averted a trial over the case by the Central Park Five defendants in which they were seeking $111 million.