WORK­ING UN­DER THREAT

Jour­nal­ists join law­mak­ers as mob tar­gets of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

When a mob of left-wing antifa ac­tivists de­scended Wed­nes­day night on Fox News per­son­al­ity Tucker Carl­son’s D.C. home, it sig­naled a new phase in the po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and an­gry con­fronta­tions that are tar­get­ing the news me­dia.

Po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence has been ris­ing in the U.S. since 2012, ac­cord­ing to the Global Ter­ror­ism Database. In­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive ac­tivists have pushed po­lit­i­cal con­fronta­tion to the limit since 2016, ac­cost­ing Repub­li­can law­mak­ers and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials in restau­rants and in the halls of Congress. And now they are go­ing af­ter con­ser­va­tive jour­nal­ists at their homes.

“Tucker Carl­son, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night!” the ac­tivists al­lied with antifa chanted out­side Mr. Carl­son’s home.

Antifa is short for anti-fas­cist, though the group has an­ar­chist lean­ings and tar­gets any­one per­ceived as not in step with a far-left agenda.

Mr. Carl­son said Antifa mem­bers were not pro­tes­tors but “to­tal­i­tar­ian” thugs.

“They’re not try­ing to change

my mind. They’re try­ing to threaten my fam­ily to get me to stop talk­ing,” he said in a phone call Thurs­day to his show’s sub­sti­tute host Brian Kilmeade. “They want to scare you into shut­ting up.”

On Capi­tol Hill, the over­heated po­lit­i­cal de­bate has law­mak­ers in­creas­ingly work­ing un­der a threat of vi­o­lence.

Capi­tol Po­lice say they saw a surge in pro­tec­tive de­tails as­signed to law­mak­ers ear­lier in the fall, when se­na­tors were fac­ing hall­way protests dur­ing the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings of Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh.

Se­cu­rity de­tails were as­signed to at least two Repub­li­can se­na­tors on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee: Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa and Jeff Flake of Ari­zona.

Se­cu­rity de­tails typ­i­cally are as­signed only to mem­bers of lead­er­ship.

Se­na­tors have mostly been away from Wash­ing­ton since the Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion, and it’s not clear whether en­hanced se­cu­rity will be the norm.

About 2,000 threat­en­ing in­ci­dents and com­mu­ni­ca­tions were made against mem­bers of Congress last year, ac­cord­ing to the House sergeant at arms of­fice. That is nearly dou­ble the 902 threat­en­ing in­ci­dents and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in 2016.

Capi­tol Po­lice spokes­woman Eva Maleki re­fused to di­vulge the num­bers so far for this year.

“Our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude con­sult­ing with mem­ber of­fices on se­cu­ri­tyre­lated mat­ters. How­ever, we do not com­ment on these con­sul­ta­tions, pro­vide data on the num­ber of threat in­ves­ti­ga­tions, or dis­cuss how we carry out our pro­tec­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for Congress,” she said in a state­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

The threats have ex­tended to any­one en­ter­ing the po­lit­i­cal arena.

Cal­i­for­nia psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Chris­tine Blasey Ford is still re­ceiv­ing death threats and has been un­able to re­turn to work more than a month af­ter she tes­ti­fied to Congress against Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to her le­gal team.

The threats started when she ac­cused Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her more than 30 years ago when the two were at a high school party. The al­le­ga­tions were never cor­rob­o­rated, but her tes­ti­mony nearly de­railed his con­fir­ma­tion.

For­mer IRS of­fi­cial Lois G. Lerner told a fed­eral judge this month that she is still get­ting threats stem­ming from her role in the tea party tar­get­ing scan­dal of five years ago.

She has been locked in a long le­gal bat­tle try­ing to per­ma­nently seal her old tes­ti­mony about the tar­get­ing, say­ing she ex­pects a new surge of threats if her ac­tions be­come pub­licly known.

“We are see­ing more vi­o­lent events re­cently as there seems to be a re­treat from ba­sic demo­cratic norms,” said Amer­i­can Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Joseph Young, a scholar of ter­ror­ism and po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

He said Pres­i­dent Trump’s at­tacks on the press and re­luc­tance to de­nounce vi­o­lence on the right doesn’t help but isn’t the main cause.

“Some ex­trem­ists do not see the value of di­a­logue or com­pro­mise and are con­cerned with the speed of change. Most im­por­tantly, when core val­ues seem un­der threat, these in­di­vid­u­als are us­ing vi­o­lence in what they per­ceive as a de­fen­sive ac­tion,” he said. “ISIS-in­spired ac­tors al­ways cite their ac­tions as de­fen­sive. The Pitts­burgh sy­n­a­gogue shooter felt that his race and peo­ple were un­der threat. Whether this is true or not, I think these be­liefs are mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple to vi­o­lent ac­tion.”

The threats, con­fronta­tion and vi­o­lence come from ex­trem­ists on the left and the right.

Ce­sar Sayoc, a crazed sup­porter of Mr. Trump, is charged with send­ing at least 16 pipe bomb pack­ages to peo­ple viewed as en­e­mies of the pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing high-pro­file Democrats Hil­lary Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and com­men­ta­tors at CNN.

Left-wing ac­tivist James Hodgkins opened fire on a con­gres­sional Repub­li­can soft­ball prac­tice in June 2017, al­most killing House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Also shot were House aide Zack Barth, lob­by­ist Matt Mika and U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice Of­fi­cer Crys­tal Griner, who was as­signed to pro­tect Mr. Scalise.

D.C.’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent at Mr. Carl­son’s home, dur­ing which the de­mon­stra­tors al­legedly dam­aged the front door.

It wasn’t the first time the group went af­ter a jour­nal­ist, but they usu­ally at­tack re­porters cov­er­ing demon­stra­tions. They hurled eggs and wa­ter bot­tles at D.C. po­lice and jour­nal­ists dur­ing a coun­ter­protest against the “Unite the Right 2” rally in Au­gust.

A year ear­lier, the first “Unite the Right” rally in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, sparked clashes be­tween white su­prem­a­cists and coun­ter­protesters. A man in­volved with white supremacy was charged with driv­ing his car into the coun­ter­protesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

HEAVY DUTY: Capi­tol Po­lice re­moved pro­test­ers from a sit-in at the of­fice of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, last year. Se­cu­rity de­tails also have been as­signed to law­mak­ers out­side of lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

IN DAN­GER: House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Repub­li­can, was one of the vic­tims of a dis­turb­ing trend of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence when he was crit­i­cally wounded in a shoot­ing at a con­gres­sional base­ball prac­tice last year.

Carl­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.