Right-wing media are attacking Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), suggesting that Bush’s need for personal security amid right-wing threats and harassment somehow undermines her calls to defund the police.
On July 16, Fox News published an article on Bush's campaign spending “tens of thousands on private security, a luxury most Americans can't afford.” The headline, “‘Squad’ member Cori Bush, a ‘defund the police’ advocate, recently spent $70,000 on private security,” framed her need for private security and her calls to defund the police at odds.
Following the Fox report, a right-leaning think tank called Open the Books detailed the money spent on mayoral security details in Democratic-run cities. Right-wing media then picked up on this report and used it as a cudgel against politicians who have sought to divert parts of police budgets to other public agencies. This wave of critique is just the latest iteration of right-wing media’s attempt to discredit police reform.
But Bush has a valid reason to be concerned for her safety, as white supremacists have threatened to harm her after some in the right-wing media repeatedly attacked her. These attacks range from Breitbart saying the congresswoman sympathizes with murderers to Fox’s Tucker Carlson suggesting Bush is trying to incite racial tensions.
Now, right-wing media’s critique of Bush lacks discussion of why she may have to spend on private security, instead focusing on calling Bush a hypocrite and suggesting the congresswoman doesn't care about the safety of her constituents. (Meanwhile, her district’s police department is more violent and less accountable than most departments in the state -- another aspect of the story that was ignored by right-wing coverage.)
Here are some of the breathless headlines and bad-faith attacks right-wing media have pushed about Bush’s security.
- Gateway Pundit: “Marxist-Democrat Cori Bush Wants to “Defund Police” But Spent Nearly $70,000 on Her Own Personal Security Last Year.”
- Townhall: “Detroit Police Chief Blasts Cori Bush For Having Private Security While Supporting Defunding the Police.”
- The Daily Wire: “‘Defund The Police’ Advocate Rep. Cori Bush Spent $70K On Private Security: Report.”
- The Daily Caller: “Rep. Cori Bush Wants To ‘Defund The Police’ But Spent Taxpayer Money On Private Security For Herself.”
- Anti-Muslim extremist Brigitte Gabriel tweeted: “Police for me, not for thee.”
- Fox’s Sunday Night in America host Trey Gowdy said, “Cori Bush tells us she is progressive; the better word might be hypocritical. She wants to defund your police while she has a robust personal security detail in Washington and St. Louis, and that sends a clear message that her safety is more important than yours.”
- On Fox’s prime-time show Hannity, guest host Jason Chaffetz said, “She is out there yelling, screaming, advocating for defund the police, open borders, all kinds of things. But of course, when it comes to her own situation, you know, she just shells out the tens of thousands of dollars to have the private armed security.”
- Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen accused Bush of being elitist, saying, “People who were so excited by her calls to defund the police that they contributed to her campaign are now funding for the police to protect Cori Bush. … The problem is her constituents in the city of St. Louis don't have rich people willing to pay $70,000 to protect them. They’ve got the police.”
- Outnumbered co-host Harris Faulkner falsely claimed that Bush was using taxpayer dollars to fund her security: “It seems so obvious with some of these lawmakers like Cori Bush. If you are taking money away from defending police, yet you’re spending a huge chunk of taxpayer money to keep you safe, personally, what does that tell voters?”
- Conservative talk radio host Jason Rantz attacked Bush’s security, saying, “This isn't about, necessarily, Cori Bush and her hypocrisy. It's about … the hundreds of people in her district that have been murdered, shot, assaulted. Cori Bush doesn't think you are worth protection, and that's the problem.”