Update (7/7/21): The National Desk aired another report on July 7 about Klayman’s event, misleadingly portraying the attendees as mainstream conservative political figures and downplaying the extremism of its agenda. For example, the event’s mission statement included a proposal to “clarify that there is no legal right to an abortion or for ‘gay marriage’ embodied in the Constitution.” This call to strip rights from women and LGBTQ+ Americans went unmentioned during the report.
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s morning news program The National Desk aired an interview with racist conspiracy theorist lawyer Larry Klayman almost a year after the conservative local TV giant had removed an episode of one of its other programs featuring him. Anchor Jan Jeffcoat withheld that information from Sinclair’s audience and also ignored the discredited lawyer’s decades-old history of filing frivolous lawsuits or pushing conspiracy theories -- from ridiculous claims against the Clintons to his embrace of the racist “birther” conspiracy theory against former President Barack Obama.
According to a Sinclair press release, The National Desk is broadcast on 68 Sinclair-owned or -operated local TV stations. This misbegotten interview, aired on June 29, was also posted on dozens of Sinclair station websites and shared on the program’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Klayman has had such a long and disreputable career of failed legal actions, attention-seeking behavior, and promotion of conspiracy theories that it’s difficult to summarize. But this 2015 Media Matters article captured many of the lowlights:
Klayman is the founder and head of Freedom Watch. He also previously led the conservative group Judicial Watch. In his capacity as a “legal crusader,” the Washington Post described his “record in public interest cases” as “incalculably terrible.”
In the 1990s, Klayman reportedly filed at least 18 lawsuits against the Clinton administration, accusing them of various conspiracies, and has filed “hundreds of lawsuits against federal agencies, White House officials, Cabinet secretaries, judges, journalists, former colleagues, foreign governments, dictators, presidents,” his own mother, and The Washington Post.
The Week explained in 2013 that Klayman, “implied the Clintons orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s, a prime reason he has argued Hillary is unfit to be president.”
As reported by The Washington Post, in 2014, Klayman premised a lawsuit on the concept that “The Ebola virus is secretly a biological weapon allowed into the country by the Obama administration to further terrorist interests against Americans of the ‘Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion.'” Klayman described President Obama in a lawsuit as “not even a naturalized U.S. citizen and thus is in the United States illegally,” and described Obama's birth certificate as a “fraud.” In order “to maintain the confidence of the American people and for the benefit of the country's democratic system,” Klayman subsequently petitioned the government to “initiate removal and deportation proceedings” against the president. Klayman has referred to President Obama as “mullah in chief” and accused “Obama and his Muslim friends” of “literally ‘making love' with each other.” He called Obama “our first ‘Muslim' president” who “has joined with Palestinians to now knock off Israel.”
In a 2013 protest at the White House, Klayman told the audience that President Obama should “put the Quran down,” “get up off his knees” and “come out with his hands up.”
A month later, Klayman held the “Second American Revolution” rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House, which sought to force the resignation of President Obama and other top Congressional leaders.
Besides Klayman’s embrace of bigoted conspiracy theories that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and is a Muslim, he’s also demonstrated a pattern of bigotry against judges involved in his cases. He was once sanctioned and barred from practicing law in New York City after he accused a judge of ruling against him because of the judge’s Asian American heritage. He was also sanctioned in California after “he accused a federal judge of being anti-Semitic toward him and anti-Asian toward his a client.” Klayman also accused a Jewish magistrate in Ohio of being bigoted against him. And in just the past year, he was at least temporarily suspended from practicing law before two different courts in Washington, D.C., due to ethical violations.
Last summer, Klayman was interviewed on the twice-weekly Sinclair program America This Week. But after Media Matters and several news organizations reported on the appearance by Klayman and his COVID-19 conspiracy theorist client, both of whom spread lies about the pandemic, Sinclair announced it would remove the entire episode from its local TV stations and scrubbed the interview from all of its stations’ websites.
Jeffcoat, of course, mentioned none of this history during her interview with Klayman. Instead she gave this deranged conspiracy theorist free rein to promote his extremist anti-government views -- which include creating farcical “citizens grand juries” seeking indictments of government officials based on conspiracy theories. And during the interview, Klayman twice portrayed his “Third Continental Congress” -- which, unlike the genuine historical Continental Congresses, is devoid of official state delegates, instead featuring other bigoted conspiracy theorists and worse -- as the only alternative to political violence.
That Sinclair Broadcast Group anchor Jan Jeffcoat would publicize Klayman and his event -- for which he very politely thanked her -- especially while hiding his discredited history represents either an incredible lapse of judgment or a desire by Sinclair to mainstream even the most far-right fringe ideas.