An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 70: Denial of Reality Attack, Trump Propaganda Division
The Media Research Center's Brad Wilmouth doggedly defends President Trump over a muddled message regarding whether he supported the death penalty for the later-exonerated Central Park Five.
By Terry Krepel
The last time we checked in on former Media Research Center "news analyst" and current NewsBusters blogger Brad Wilmouth, he was aggressively denying that that Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise spoke to a white supremacist group in Louisiana in 2002 -- despite the fact that Scalise apologized for doing exactly that.
Now Wilmouth has latched onto a new lost cause. He wrote in a Sept. 17 post:
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.
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.
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 Mayor Bill Di Blasio made "against the advice of the city's attorneys." But the newspaper link Wilmouth supplied as evidence of this also pointed out that the settlement averted a trial over the case by the Central Park Five defendants in which they were seeking $111 million.
Wilmouth engaged in a spate of Trump defending in February, in the wake of Trump calling for "due process" for aide Rob Porter, who had been accused of spousal abuse. In a Feb. 10 post, he complained that "had to inject suggestions of racism into the discussion by bringing up debunked claims that Trump used an ad to demand the death penalty for black teens who were actually innocent."
Wilmouth rehashed some of this in a the next day:
On Sunday's MSNBC Live, host Yasmin Vossoughian repeated the discredited claim that President Donald Trump in 1989 used an ad to urge the execution of a group of underage teens who turned out to be innocent, as she even gave a forum to one of the teens, Yusef Salaam, to rail against Trump talking up "due process" for members of his administration accused of domestic violence.
Wilmouth dug in further in a Feb. 15 post, claiming that "a transcript recently posted in Nexis" of the Larry King interview showed that "Trump argued against executing juveniles and pushed instead for longer prison sentences ... and responded to questions about his ad calling for New York to pass a new death penalty law for murder cases." But even if Trump served up an after-the-fact explanation of the ad on TV, the fact remains that his ad did, in fact, suggest the death penalty for minors.
Wilmouth again insisted that the Central Park Five weren't "completely innocent" because they may have been involved in other attacks in the park that night.
To sum up: 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 Wilmouth should know better than to try and defend Trump over it.
But then, defending Trump no matter what is what the MRC does these days.