Over the past few weeks, right-wing media have baselessly claimed that North Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Cheri Beasley is soft on crime because of her voting history as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, as well as her supposed allegiance to President Joe Biden and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).
As the race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat heats up, Republican nominee Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) has claimed Beasley will “rubber stamp” Biden’s policies, falsely painting her as a radical leftist who is soft on crime and a supporter of defunding the police because she publicly supported the racial justice protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
Some right-wing media outlets have amplified this “soft on crime” narrative, misleadingly reporting on Beasley’s history as a judge and the cases she presided over. They have attacked Beasley for her support of Biden and Bush, claiming that she would unequivocally support their supposed policies on crime and attempts to defund the police. These accusations stem from a Federal Election Commission filing by Bush’s campaign committee “Lead the Way” showing the Beasley campaign’s participation in a joint fundraiser with Bush’s campaign.
Beasley has clearly demonstrated support for racial justice over the past few years, which is not the same as support for calls to “defund the police.” When she was chief justice, “Beasley was among the first state Supreme Court chief justices to speak out about racial injustices perpetuated by the judicial system” in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, according to WRAL News.
In fact, Beasley has persuasively defended herself against association with the “defunding the police” narrative. She has claimed that police need “more funding ... for recruitment, retention, training, mental health and addressing the opioid crisis,” and she’s also called for investment in “community-based violence intervention programs to stop the cycle of violence.” According to her, her priority is to invest funds into the police, mental health programs, and community-based violence intervention programs.
And Beasley’s history as a judge does not seem to support a “soft on crime” position. According to The News & Observer, “During Beasley’s tenure she’s heard thousands of cases and authored more than 400 opinions, not including those she dissented on.” The paper noted that some attack ads cherry-picking her decisions on key cases “though accurate, did not give viewers the entire story behind her decisions.” In at least three instances, for example, Beasley and the rest of the court sent the cases back to lower courts due to technicalities. Similarly, INDY Week has also asserted that “one of the frequent Republican attacks against Beasley ... is that her record is 'soft on crime'” and that in launching such ads, the GOP has “lumbered past that often faint line that separates politics from disinformation.” In June, multiple TV stations took down an anti-Beasley ad regarding one of those cases for inaccuracies.
Right-wing media have also echoed these GOP talking points and distorted Beasley’s stances on crime as well as defunding the police and racial justice through two main narratives: her voting history as chief justice of North Carolina and her supposed allegiance to Biden and Bush.
Right-wing media: Beasley’s voting history as a judge demonstrates that she is “soft on crime”
- Host Stuart Varney suggested Beasley may be “a soft-on-crime liberal” on his Fox Business show Varney & Co on October 12.
- Fox News’ website ran a pro-Budd piece on August 22 uncritically quoting the Republican nominee who alleged that during her time as judge, Beasley had “defended cop killers" and “thrown out indictments for sex offenders.” The piece warned that “people need to … make sure that they select the right person that makes sure that they have a safe neighborhood to go home to.”
- On May 13, Breitbart uncritically reported on a National Republican Senatorial Committee attack ad against Beasley accusing her of “letting violent criminals off the hook” during her time as judge.
- On September 13, The Washington Free Beacon posted a piece trying to show that Beasley is soft on crime by cherry-picking two of her cases without providing the necessary context.
- The Federalist blamed Beasley on September 14 for ruling “against the American people by letting child predators off the hook and murderers scheduled for the death penalty with lesser punishment.”
- On the September 9 edition of his show, Fox News host Mark Levin claimed Beasley doesn't support any “agenda items that would secure the country, that would fight crime. … She doesn't support any of that.”
Right-wing media: Beasley is an “woke anti-police extremist" and has allegiances to Biden and Rep. Cori Bush and their policies
- Fox host Sean Hannity claimed on October 6 that Beasley has “a pro-criminal history on the bench. She also amplified the violent rioting in the summer of 2020. She has made it clear she is a sure vote for the Democrats’ anti-police, defund, dismantle, no-bail, pro-crime agenda.”
- On the September 23 edition of America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Bill Hemmer asked Budd about a fundraising event Beasley did with Bush, suggesting that this appearance demonstrates Beasley’s support for defunding the police. Hemmer mentioned Beasley’s statement that she doesn’t support defunding the police, implying that she was contradicting herself or lying.
- On October 19, The Washington Times escalated the soft-on-crime narrative against Beasley, calling her a “woke anti-police extremist” for sympathizing with “rioters when discussing destroyed businesses and towns.” The article also called her statements calling for police funding a “disingenuous dodge” just because she has previously fundraised with Bush. The article also warned North Carolinians against electing Beasley, picking up Budd’s framing in claiming that “she’d only be a rubber stamp for Mr. Biden and Democrats’ disastrous soft-on-crime policies.”
- An October 7 article on Townhall titled “'Detraction': NC Senate Dem Candidate Dismissed Violent BLM Riots” attacked Beasley for saying that the 2020 protests in the aftermath of Floyd’s death “offered an opportunity to allow people to really think differently. It's not supposed to be easy. … I understand that folks are concerned about violence and all of that, but that’s a dis-detraction in my mind around what the real issues are."
- On the topic of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association supporting Budd after previously supporting Beasley, OAN anchor Stella Escobedo said that this endorsement was over “her support of the defund the police movement” on the September 23 edition of One America News.
- When discussing Beasley’s position on criminal justice reforms on the October 12 edition of his radio show, Levin called her a “radical left-wing kook” whose decision would “[compromise] everybody’s safety.”
- In an interview with Budd on the October 6 episode of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity accused Beasley of acting “like most Democrats now” because “she’s coddling criminals.”