Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center just can't seem to give up pushing a factually flawed story about Donald Trump and the Central Park Five. Karen Townsend takes a stab at it in a June 3 post, motivated by a scene in the miniseries about the case, "When They See Us":
Shortly after the Central Park attack, private citizen and real estate developer Donald Trump becomes a part of the story when he pays $85,000 for full-page ads in the city’s newspapers advocating for the return of the death penalty. The mother of one of the boys arrested for the rape sees a television interview with Trump as he says, “You better believe I hate the people that took this girl and raped her brutally.”
When another one of the mothers of the Central Park Five boys is asked by a reporter what she thinks of Donald Trump calling for the death penalty for her son, she is shocked and bursts into tears while a spokesman dismisses Trump as "a real estate hustler."
Later, at home, the mother and a friend have a drink together with the television on in the background. The two women hear Donald Trump tell a reporter that he would like the opportunity to be "a well-educated black" because he thinks they "do have an actual advantage today.”
"They need to keep that bigot off tv, is what they need to do," the mother angrily responds. "That devil wants to kill my son," she says later.
A bit of levity is added for the viewer when the friend tells her not to worry about Trump’s remarks because “his 15 minutes [are] almost up.”
It is false to claim that Trump called for the boys to be killed. For one thing, he was calling for bringing back the death penalty in the state of New York in general. He said in an interview with Larry King at the timethat he supported the death penalty only "if the woman died" and if perpetrator was "at a certain age. If they're minors, they should be treated very strongly." All of the boys were minors at the time and would not have been subject to the death penalty if it were reinstated, anyway.
Don't forget, in 1989, New York City was experiencing an extremely high crime rate, and residents were losing patience with city efforts to get it under control. The subject of the death penalty was a popular topic of conversation at the time so it wasn’t particularly unusual that Trump weighed in with his opinion.
As we pointed out the last time the MRC did this, Trump's newspaper ad did 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 didn't explicitly state it. Further, according to a CNN article on Trump's appearance on Larry King, "Trump told King his newspaper ads were not 'pre-judging' the five teens, but rather advocating for their execution if they were to be found guilty."
To repeat: Even though he admitted that the death penalty doesn't apply to minors, Trump appeared to calling for it anyway and only later clarified he didn't want it to apply to minors. It's a muddled message, something Trump is prone to -- muddled enough that the MRC should know better than to continue to make these kneejerk defenses of Trump over this.