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David Clarke

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  • David Clarke on Parkland shooting survivor: “My dad would have backhanded me” for “popping off to an authority figure”

    Will CPAC still host Clarke?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    David Clarke attacked a survivor of the Parkland, FL, school shooting for speaking out about gun violence, saying “my dad would have backhanded me” for “popping off” against an authority figure like President Donald Trump. Clarke is scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which has claimed it finds attacks on Parkland students “indefensible.”

    Clarke is the former sheriff of Milwaukee County who is now a right-wing pundit and spokesperson for the pro-Donald Trump super PAC America First Action. He is a frequent speaker at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual meeting and is regularly featured and promoted by the NRA's media operations. He has a history of toxic rhetoric about people ranging from former President Barack Obama to artist Beyoncé.

    Since the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, student survivors have been speaking out against gun violence, calling for new gun laws, and organizing rallies. Right-wing media personalities, however, have been mocking and attacking the students and engaging in conspiracy theories about their efforts.

    Clarke smeared the students’ efforts during a February 19 appearance on Compass Media Networks’ The Joe Pags Show, stating that his dad would have “backhanded” him for similar remarks about the president and claiming that the left is using the students as pawns.

    Host Joe Pagliarulo began the segment by attacking Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzalez, who he said “is a far-lefty propagandist -- well I don’t know that she’s a propagandist. She’s just 17 years old [editor's note: Gonzalez is 18]. Maybe her parents are, maybe the community is. But her attacks are on the president, they’re on the NRA.”

    Later in the segment, after criticizing school districts for supposedly having “no will” to “protect these kids,” Clarke returned to the topic of students speaking out, though he appears to have misheard Pagliarulo as he referred to an unnamed male instead of female.

    “Then, of course, the left, the anti-gun movement, moves in, they exploit the issue, they’re exploiting these kids. As a 17-year-old kid that you were talking about the other day. First of all, he shouldn’t be popping off against the president of the United States,” Clarke said.

    “My dad would have backhanded me at 17 years old if he would have heard me popping off to an authority figure.”

    Pagliarulo then interjected that Emma Gonzalez’s “parents were standing next to her like patting her on the back and people were cheering and it was nothing but misinformation” and she’s being used “as a pawn.”

    Clarke responded by attacking Gonzalez’s parents for purportedly allowing their daughter to be exploited, claiming: “They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree -- so her parents -- I don’t know her parents and I’m not going to disparage them, but they’re probably anti-gun ninnies too.”

    From the segment:

    JOE PAGLIARULO (HOST): I want to start with the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. That’s not far from where I grew up. I had a survivor on last Thursday that the media has widely ignored who says that she and her parents still want there to be armed teachers and armed guards at schools to protect the kids. But the loudest voices that are getting the attention are voices like this Emma Gonzalez, who is a far-lefty propagandist -- well I don’t know that she’s a propagandist. She’s just 17 years old. Maybe her parents are, maybe the community is. But her attacks are on the president, they’re on the NRA.

    [...]

    DAVID CLARKE [6:08 minutes into the audio clip]: There’s some things we can do, but like I said, we can do these things right away but there’s no will on the part of these school districts and these other soft targets to protect these kids. And then, of course, the left, the anti-gun movement, moves in, they exploit the issue, they’re exploiting these kids. As a 17-year-old kid that you were talking about the other day. First of all, he shouldn’t be popping off against the president of the United States.

    PAGLIARULO: Right.

    CLARKE: My dad would have backhanded me at 17 years old if he would have heard me popping off to an authority figure.

    JOE PAGLIARULO: Well, well her parents were standing next to her like patting her on the back and people were cheering and it was nothing but misinformation, sheriff. I mean, she wasn’t saying things that will solve the problem. She was screaming about President Trump. I’m not sure I understand. She was screaming about the NRA. And, of course, if you counter it with, “Yeah but Planned Parenthood spent 38 million dollars trying to get Hilary Clinton elected. I’m not sure I understand why you support the killing of 300,000 unborn children every year.” To make it political is stupid. And to use a 17 year old as a pawn is stupid. But our media and our social media -- and you’ve seen this. They’ve used this poor young lady who is indoctrinated with these thoughts as some sort of hero. Nothing she said will solve the problem, will it?

    CLARKE: Nothing. And that’s the shame. Her parents there should provide a little more parental guidance than they did. But that’s not what we get in this situation. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree --

    PAGLIARULO: Yeah. 

    CLARKE: -- so her parents -- I don’t know her parents and I’m not going to disparage them, but they’re probably anti-gun ninnies too. And you get that situation, they sit there -- I wouldn’t allow my kid to be exploited like this, especially after a tragedy like this.

    PAGLIARULO: Right.

    CLARKE: I’d be more interested in having my child be able to recover, watch for signs of PTSD, that sort of thing, instead of putting them in front of a TV camera before God and country to be exploited by the anti-gun left.

    On February 20, Clarke also pushed the right-wing conspiracy theory that liberal philanthropist (and prior Media Matters donor) George Soros has his “FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER” the students’ efforts.  

    Clarke is an upcoming speaker at CPAC. The conference recently denounced the “indefensible” rhetoric of prior speaker Dinesh D’Souza, who has mocked and attacked the school survivors (D’Souza later claimed he was sorry). Conspiracy theorist and serial misinformer Jim Hoft was also removed from a scheduled CPAC panel because of his attacks on the student survivors (note: this sentence has been updated with additional information).

    CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski tweeted in response to Clarke’s tweet about Soros: “Hey @CPAC, here's a speaker for your conference promoting a conspiracy Florida students are George Soros pawns. … Very interested in how @mschlapp and @CPAC respond to this. Easy to condemn D'Souza when he's not speaking/affiliated. This is a prominent speaker.”

    In 2017, Clarke withdrew from joining the Department of Homeland Security after, as CNN reported, his “potential appointment faced numerous problems.”

  • Fox Favorite And "Trump Loyalist" Sheriff David Clarke Appointed To DHS Role

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump's administration has chosen former right-wing talk radio host and Fox News favorite Sheriff David Clarke to serve as the acting assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for partnership and engagement. Not only is Clarke’s record as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin questionable, he has repeatedly appeared on Fox News to spout racially-charged rhetoric, including comparing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance to the Ku Klux Klan and calling Black Lives Matter a “subversive movement.”

  • These Are The Candidates Right-Wing Media Are Floating To Head The FBI

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, conservative media floated extreme right-wing personalities to lead the FBI. These possible FBI director replacements have a history of racist and anti-Muslim comments often made on Fox News, and their records demonstrate they can’t be trusted to lead the bureau impartially through the ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in 2016.

  • Milwaukee Journalists: Sheriff David Clarke Is “Missing In Action”

    “It’s Horrible. He’s Got People Dying In His Own Jails And He Is Nowhere To Be Found”

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin has become a fixture on Fox News and at conservative political events, regularly serving as a shameless advocate for President Donald Trump.

    But local journalists who report on the 15-year sheriff of Wisconsin’s most populous county say his newfound national spotlight sharply detracts from his law enforcement duties. They note that he spends much of his time away from home, either promoting Trump or pushing his new book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America

    Wisconsin reporters also point out that his local approval ratings continue to fall as he ignores his responsibilities, as well as a string of troubling incidents that have occurred in the past few years. Chief among the concerns are four inmate deaths that occurred in his jails in 2016, which Clarke has failed to adequately explain, they say.

    “It gives the impression that he is missing in action and that he is an advocate for the Trump administration,” Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who has reported extensively on Clarke, said about his recent actions. “The perception is that he has gone from being the sheriff to being an advocate for Trump -- that is his primary role right now.”

    Clarke, a Democrat and African-American, is among Fox News' favorite guests. A search of Fox News transcripts on Nexis since 2015 finds he has made prime time appearances more than 100 times, in most cases to discuss national issues, not his home county. (Nexis does not capture Fox News appearances on morning and daytime programming.)

    In addition, a recent Journal Sentinel review of Clarke’s outside income disclosure statements found he had earned more than $220,000 in 2016 from speaking fees and related expenses, along with other gifts, during speeches to 34 different groups in 20 states outside of Wisconsin. These earnings outpace his sheriff salary which is $132,290.

    “He’s not around and he’s not doing his job and not providing any leadership,” said Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative Wisconsin talk show host now appearing on MSNBC and WNYC Radio in New York. “His approach has been to refuse to comment, refuse to be transparent in any way, and attack anyone who raises questions about it.”

    And then there are the questionable incidents involving Clarke, ranging from his tweet calling CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill a “jigaboo” to his alleged harassment of a fellow airplane passenger.

    Clarke also called for a boycott of a local Fox affiliate, claiming it presented “fake news” and “racist” coverage.

    “He doesn’t talk to the local press except through the county sheriff’s Facebook page, but he does talk to Fox News, which is a contrast,” Bice said. “The assumption nationally among the conservatives is that he is beloved here, but even conservatives are frustrated with how long he is gone and not doing his job.”

    Clarke was first appointed sheriff in 2002, winning re-election later that year and again in 2006, 2010 and 2014. He is up for re-election again in 2018.

    But he didn't gain national prominence until his last election, when groups of gun-safety advocates helped support an effort to have him voted out.

    When he won that election, local reporters say, he started getting national attention as a gun-rights advocate and law enforcement voice. He drew further attention last year when he spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a hate group. He was also an early Trump supporter.

    One of the misconceptions about Clarke, however, is his image as a crime-fighter, local journalists say. His office does very little in the way of policing, with most of its work focused on the county's jails, highways, and parks.

    “The county sheriff has almost nothing to do with crime. The police handle the crime,” said Bruce Murphy, editor of UrbanMilwaukee.com, former editor of Milwaukee Magazine and onetime Journal Sentinel reporter. “He’s the classic example of all hat and no cattle. He talks tough and he has the impression of being this guy who is taking care of crime, and he has very little to do with it.”

    A January 31 report from Public Policy Polling found that Clarke had a 31 percent approval rating among local voters, and it noted that “voters consider him to be somewhat of a national embarrassment.” It also revealed that 65 percent believed Clarke has had a negative impact on Milwaukee County’s image.

    PolitiFact, meanwhile, has deemed 75 percent of his statements that it reviewed false or mostly false.

    “He’s very thin-skinned. He enjoys the limelight, likes the big checks and flying first class,” said Mike Crute, a talk show host on WRRD News Talk 1510 in Milwaukee. “It’s horrible. He’s got people dying in his own jails and he is nowhere to be found.”

    Crute added: “He is a guy who undermines the office and the public service office. It’s all narcissism, building himself as a TV brand, following Trump’s example. The sheriff’s office and its duties are just tedious to him. He doesn’t do anything.”

    James Wigderson, assistant editor of the conservative website RightWisconsin.com, called the outside appearances “a distraction.”

    “The fact that he probably earns more from speaking fees than he does at his day job leads you to believe that his day job has to be suffering at some point in this process,” Wigderson said. “It’s a mixed bag in Milwaukee County when you are more frequently appearing on Fox News nationally than you are on the local news discussing what is going on in Milwaukee County.”

    Journalists also say that he has not properly addressed the jail deaths or his constant trips out of town. When Media Matters approached him at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in February outside Washington, D.C., Clarke declined to comment on either.

    Most reporters who cover Clarke believe he will not run for re-election in 2018, due in part to his diminishing local image and popularity, but also because of his continued support for Trump, as many believe he still hopes to serve the president in some capacity.

    “He’s become a Fox News commentator/Trump surrogate and at that point has become almost completely disconnected with the community,” said Sykes.

    In response to a request for comment, Fran McLaughlin at Clarke's office sent the following:

    I spoke with the sheriff :

    The left (Progressives, Democrats) doesn't think a black guy is capable of handling many things at one time. Let me introduce them to Sheriff David Clarke. He's added Tammy Baldwin to the list. He's EVERYWHERE! He's too busy to talk to you right now though. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

  • CPAC Got Rid Of Milo, But Not The Rest Of Their Bigoted Lineup

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has rescinded the speaking offer its leadership made to former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has a history of bigotry, following the circulation of a video in which Yiannopoulos appeared to endorse pedophilia. Yet Yiannopoulos isn’t the only person scheduled to speak at the 2017 CPAC who has a history of making offensive remarks; the conference’s roster is full of speakers who push xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory agendas and action and buy into conspiracy theories.

  • Here Are The Most Racially Bigoted Right-Wing Media Segments Of 2016

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In 2016, right-wing media’s use of racially charged and bigoted statements hit new lows, featuring widely condemned segments reliant on racial caricatures, bigoted attempts to blame progressives for the actions of white nationalists, and slurs directed against other media figures. Here are the most bigoted stories and statements from right-wing media figures over the last year:

  • The Right-Wing Media’s Government Takeover, Via Donald Trump

    Trump Has Picked -- Or Considered -- Over A Dozen Right-Wing Media Veterans For His Administration

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump has picked -- or considered -- nearly a dozen people who have worked in right-wing media, including talk radio, right-wing news sites, Fox News, and conservative newspapers, to fill his administration. And Trump himself made weekly guest appearances on Fox for a number of years while his vice president used to host a conservative talk radio show.

  • Why Won’t Fox News Ask Potential Trump DHS Head David Clarke Why Inmates Are Dying In His Jail?

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke -- a frequent Fox News guest -- to head the Department of Homeland Security. In April, an inmate in Sheriff Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail was found dead of “profound dehydration.” Since that incident, three other individuals, including a newborn infant, have died in Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail, but in more than 40 prime-time appearances on Fox News since the first reported death, Clarke has not once been asked about the disturbing trend of people dying in his jail. Clarke’s tenure as Milwaukee County Sheriff has been filled with controversy and legal action, and on Fox News and Twitter, Clarke has a history of using incendiary rhetoric directed at government officials and protesters.

  • Fox News Media Critic Has The Worst Take On Trump Being Normalized

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz lambasted the media for failing to “normalize” President-elect Donald Trump, but nothing about Trump’s campaign or his transition is normal -- nor should the media consider it as such. 

    Kurtz’s November 20 column on FoxNews.com criticized “many in the media, mostly on the liberal side,” who say Trump “should not be normalized,” which Kurtz incorrectly interpreted as a denial of the validity of the presidential election results. To back up this assertion, Kurtz wildly claimed that the media's valid questions about many of Trump’s actions are akin to the racist attacks that began about President Obama's faith and birthplace after he was elected, many on Kurtz’s own network. Kurtz’s strawman argument ignores the conduct that demands Trump not be normalized: his campaign of bigotry and division and his cabinet appointees rumored and actual who despise the press, have long histories of hatred, and, in one case, support white nationalist ideology.

    Trump’s policies and behavior are not normal and should not be treated as such, and it is media’s role to hold elected officials accountable. Trump’s team has already soft-pitched internment camps as “precedent” for a Muslim registry, and Kurtz’s Fox News colleagues are already defending the fundamentally anti-American idea. Not only that, but Trump’s transition has raised eyebrows about “mind-boggling” conflicts of interest with the Trump Organization, potential self-enrichment by Trump’s children, and Trump’s extremely disturbing habit of ditching the press as president-elect to maneuver in secrecy, which Kurtz already said is not a problem. This is not normal.

    Trump’s cabinet is similarly filling up with people who espouse horrific beliefs. His appointees so far includes a national security adviser who shares fake news and tells people “fear of Muslims is rational,” a chief strategist who is described as a “white nationalist” by opponents and supporters alike, and an attorney general who was once denied a federal judgeship for being too racist, a fact that Kurtz’s Fox colleagues repeatedly dismissed. Other potential appointees include a bigoted press secretary who hates the press, a commerce secretary who wants to know “what’s with all the hoods in the hizzy,” and a homeland security secretary who calls civil rights activists “primitive,” “unmanageable misfits.” This is not normal.

    When media outlets resist “normalizing” Trump, they are resisting the normalization of racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other types of division and discrimination present in his growing administration. Many outlets, however, are already failing this test. When Trump’s hostilities toward women and minorities are paired with his regular threats against the free press, the media’s role in naming bigotry wherever it is found -- even in the White House -- is more important than ever.

  • David Clarke, Sheriff Who Appears On Fox News To Attack Minorities, Under Consideration By Trump For DHS Head

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering right-wing talk radio host and Fox News favorite Sheriff David Clarke for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Not only is Clarke’s record as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin questionable, he has repeatedly appeared on Fox News to spout racially-charged rhetoric, including comparing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance to the Ku Klux Klan and calling Black Lives Matter a “subversive movement.”