Ted Cruz Defends Clarence Thomas by Co-Opting Controversial Covers From a Black-Owned 1990s Magazine That Attacked Him
In 1996, the nation’s most respected Black-owned magazine called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “a person who has done so much to turn back the clock on civil rights, all the way back to the pre-Civil War lawn jockey days.”
It published several highly-controversial, racist covers to pound home that point.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) unethically co-opted those images, falsely implied they were recent, and stated that they represent how Democrats and “the left” view Clarence Thomas today.
Given all the facts, the average American listening to Senator Cruz speak (video below) at Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court ethics would be forced to believe that Democrats from today traveled decades back in time to work with Emerge, that highly-respected Black-owned magazine in the 1990’s to create racist covers attacking Justice Thomas so they, along with their “lapdogs in the media,” could conspire to “smear” the far-right jurist today.
It’s a theory akin to the Republicans’ “birther” conspiracy about Barack Obama, whose mother, some conservatives apparently believed, had a birth announcement printed in a Hawaii newspaper in 1961 to allow her son, allegedly born in Kenya, to be deemed eligible to become President of the United States in 2008.
A casual viewer who might see Senator Cruz’s Tuesday attack on Democrats in defense of Justice Thomas would reasonably assume the magazine covers he showed during Tuesday’s hearing on Supreme Court ethics were published this year.
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In fact, they were published three decades ago, from 1993 to 1996.
Senator Cruz conveniently left that fact out of his afternoon diatribe, and he attempted to conceal the magazine’s publication date from the start of his rant, by leading with a magazine article that was published this year.
“Senate Democrats and their lapdogs in the media are engaged in a two-fold political campaign, number one to delegitimize the Supreme Court of the United States because they are angry that there are a majority of constitutionalists on the court,” Cruz said, referring to the 6-3 majority far-right justices hold. (Last year a study found the Supreme Court “is now more conservative than about 75% of Americans.”)
“But number two,” Cruz continued, “very directly this is a political campaign designed to smear Justice Clarence Thomas. And the reason is simple: the left despises Clarence Thomas, and they do not despise him because he’s a conservative. The left despises Clarence Thomas because he is a conservative, African American.”
“Here’s what Clarence Thomas said at [his] confirmation hearing. He said, ‘If you are a free thinking African American, ‘you will be lynched, destroyed and caricature by a committee of the US Senate.'”
“Well, in three decades, that hasn’t changed,” Cruz claimed. “It’s gotten worse. And to be clear, here’s the left’s view. I point to one article just three weeks ago: ‘The Democrats need to destroy Clarence Thomas’s reputation.'”
That article, an opinion piece in The New Republic, by its editor Michael Tomasky, followed one he had written in July of last year: “Sure, Impeach Clarence Thomas—but That’s Just for Starters.”
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“The story is much larger than a potential conflict in one Supreme Court case,” Tomasky wrote, referring to “Thomas’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, his vow in his concurring opinion that other privacy rights are next in his gunsights, and his refusal to recuse himself when he was the lone dissenter in the recent case in which the Supreme Court ordered Donald Trump to turn over certain documents to the National Archives, even as Thomas’s right-wing extremist wife was coordinating with the Trump White House to plot a coup.”
“All six conservative justices lied in their confirmation hearings,” Tomasky wrote. “What will Democrats do about that?”
Unlike on the right, where Fox News, Newsmax, or OAN are the generally accepted thought leaders, The New Republic does not speak for “the left,” nor does any publication or media outlet.
“I will tell you,” Cruz continued, “if you look at the next, that next poster board, the left has repeatedly attacked Clarence Thomas with a racism,” Cruz declared, now pointing to a magazine cover from 1996 – without once stating it was from the mid-1990’s. “This is a magazine cover that showed Justice Scalia every bit as conservative as Clarence Thomas, but he’s portrayed as the master and Clarence Thomas in a bigoted attack is portrayed as shining his shoes.”
“I’ll show you another one. To give you a sense of the racist vitriol from the left,” Cruz declared, implying that magazine cover as well was from 2023, despite also being from 1996. “Here’s a racist caricature of, ‘Clarence Thomas Lawn Jockey for the Far Right.’ This is the bigoted contempt the left has.”
“I’ll show you another, another magazine cover,” Cruz said, this time showing a 1993 cover that depicts Clarence Thomas “with an Aunt Jemima-like handkerchief on his head,” as the magazine’s editor wrote later, in 1996.
“Offensively, this is how the left views Clarence Thomas,” Cruz claimed, which most people on the left would state is false.
“Now it’s important for people at home to understand this is not about judicial ethics,” Cruz insisted, again, falsely. “This is not about judicial ethics. This is not about rules that should apply to judges across the board. We could have a reasonable discussion about that. This is about applying a double standard to Clarence Thomas and only Clarence Thomas.”
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Senator Cruz, to put it generously, is fibbing.
First, as Chairman Durbin noted in his opening remarks and several times throughout the hearing, Senate Democrats, including Durbin, since at least 2011 have been trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to fix its ethics problems.
Second, Justice Thomas is not the only Justice Democrats have been criticizing for what some would say is a lack of transparency and even possible corruption.
Justice Neil Gorsuch‘s sale of property, on the market for two years but sold just nine days after he was confirmed, to the head of a law firm, a law firm that argues before the Supreme Court. That sale is under public scrutiny, especially because the name of the head of the law firm was hidden via an LLC. Also under public scrutiny is Chief Justice John Roberts’ wife’s $10 million income from recruiting and placing lawyers in firms, some of which have business before the Supreme Court.
Now, about those racist magazine covers.
(NCRM takes no position on the covers.)
They were published 27 years ago by Emerge magazine, which ceased publication in 2000. It was considered the nation’s most respected Black-owned magazine.
The New York Times, in its 2016 obituary of Emerge’s editor in chief, George Curry called it, “a provocative, must-read newsmagazine for black readers.”
“The magazine caused an uproar in 1993 when it depicted Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice, on the cover wearing an Aunt Jemima-style kerchief on his head,” The Times wrote. “Unrepentant, Mr. Curry returned to the same subject in 1996, this time showing Justice Thomas on the cover as a lawn jockey and, on an inside page, shining the shoes of Justice Antonin Scalia. In an editor’s note, he accused Justice Thomas of turning back the clock on civil rights.”
To be clear, Sen. Cruz told the American people that Democrats’ racism caused those images to be published.
In fact, it was Justice Thomas’ attacks on Black civil rights that did, according to Curry, who wrote in Emerge in 1996: “I apologize. Exactly three years ago, shortly after I took over as editor of Emerge, we ran a cover illustration of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, resplendent with an Aunt Jemima-like handkerchief on his head. In retrospect we were far too benevolent. Hence, this month’s cover with Clarence appropriately attired as a lawn jockey. Even our last depiction is too compassionate for a person who has done so much to turn back the clock on civil rights, all the way back to the pre-Civil War lawn jockey days.”
Senator Cruz did not share the truth about those images with America, but he did manage to use them for his own purposes.
Watch Senator Cruz below or at this link.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pulls out racist posters depicting Clarence Thomas that he claims are proof of the Democrats’ “political campaign designed to smear” the Supreme Court justice:
“The left despises Clarence Thomas because he is a conservative African American.” pic.twitter.com/NXDHjlKHrY
— The Recount (@therecount) May 2, 2023
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‘Leaning Into Weird’: DeSantis Presidential Launch Panned Before It Starts Because Who Even Knows What Twitter Spaces Is?
Some time this evening Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to finally announce he is running for president, an announcement that has been seen for years as all but inevitable. NBC News broke the story Tuesday afternoon that not only would the far-right authoritarian, anti-LGBTQ, anti-woke, anti-social justice warrior finally throw his hat into the ring, he would do it with Big Tech billionaire Elon Musk in a Twitter Spaces chat.
While some saw it as an interesting move initially, 24 hours later the decision to announce in a Twitter Spaces chat is being widely panned, for many reasons including that even regular, active users of Twitter have little to no idea what Twitter Spaces is, or how to access it.
More importantly, most Americans don’t use Twitter, so they will not bother to tune in. Nor – since Twitter Spaces is audio – is there expected to be video, and certainly not live video.
Former Republican and former U.S. Congressman from DeSantis’ home state of Florida, David Jolly, sums up what many seem to be thinking.
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“The DeSantis decision to announce with Musk is a serious miscalculation. A launch with three missteps,” he tweets. “1. He’s leaning into the ‘weird’. 2. He’s doubling down on being the candidate who needs a safe space. 3. He’s promoting his association with regressive ideology.”
“Dumb move,” he concludes.
Political strategist and Lincoln Project senior advisor Jeff Timmer agrees with Jolly.
“Every single thing about the DeSantis campaign has been a stupid not-ready-for-primetime misstep,” he writes. “Every. Single. Thing. The paper tiger has feet of clay and a glass jaw. The most overrated stock in the history of POTUS campaigns.”
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So why Twitter Spaces?
The Atlantic’s David Frum, the Bush 43 speechwriter who reportedly came up with the 2002 State of the Union phrase “axis of evil,” served up an on-target take not even mentioning the Twitter Spaces event.
Criticizing a DeSantis pre-launch video (below), Frum wrote: “Fascinating how every DeSantis message raises some barrier between the candidate and the target audience. In previous ads, the candidate’s face was mediated through screens; here, somebody else’s voice is substituted for the candidate’s own. He himself is always missing.”
America is worth the fight… Every. Single. Time. pic.twitter.com/lWNQ3DIXgp
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) May 23, 2023
That’s a good description of how it will likely be on Twitter Spaces.
Attorney, former Republican, former DeSantis administration official, former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski mockingly tweeted, “With a couple of dynamic personalities like Musk and Desantis, the audio-only announcement tonight should be real compelling.”
There’s been a lot of criticism, from Democrats, independents, and yes, Republicans.
“This announcement is a symptom of thinking random conservative Twitter personalities are the GOP base,” a Republican strategist who is “working with a rival campaign” told the website Semafor.
Another told them, “I couldn’t think of a more terrible way to spend my time than watching two socially awkward introverts talk about themselves.”
As it turns out, according to this two-year-old Twitter “how to” on Spaces, it is only available on iOS – Apple’s iPhone and iPad platform – so if DeSantis was hoping for a massive draw, he’s unlikely to get that. (Turns out Twitter didn’t update that How To — it’s also available on Android and in a web browser.)
There’s also been remarkably little effort via Twitter or the DeSantis campaign to promote the event. If you are a Twitter user you may not have even seen anything about it.
Even scrolling on my Twitter app, I see absolutely nothing about the event.
Earlier today I tweeted, “I’m not a marketing expert, but I am on Twitter a lot, and I have no idea what time Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis [are] going to be on Twitter ‘Spaces,’ I have no idea how to access it, and I’ve seen nothing telling me about it, other than it’s supposedly happening.”
Two people responded, one of them later pointing me to a USA Today article apparently originally titled, “How to watch: Gov. Ron DeSantis announces presidential bid on Twitter.” The current title, since it’s audio, reads: “Elon Musk will host Ron DeSantis on Twitter Spaces. How to listen on iPhone, tablets or desktop PC.”
Oh, and it is slated to start at 6 PM ET.
After I complained it was “just bad execution from Musk, as usual here,” the other person who responded wrote, “It’s such loser behavior all around.”
Watch the video above or at this link.
Twitter’s New CEO Sure Seems a Bit Like Elon Musk
Back in December, amid tremendous outrage from users over how the social media platform’s new owner was managing Twitter, Elon Musk posted a poll asking if he should step down as CEO and hire a replacement. The results were overwhelming: 57% of the 17.5 million users who responded said “Yes,” with some begging him to go away entirely.
The man who scraped together $44 billion to purchase and take private what is arguably the most impactful and influential place on the internet was not about to quit – as owner or CEO. It took six months, but on Thursday he tweeted an announcement.
“Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
“X” is now Twitter’s parent company, one of several owned by the disruptive 51-year old South Africa native who until recently was the richest person on the planet.
Musk, by his own admission, has crashed Twitter’s value. If it was worth $44 billion when he bought it, it no longer is. Musk recently admitted Twitter – which he gutted, allegedly to cut costs –is now worth less than half of what he paid: a mere $20 billion.
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Experts can argue why the man who is the head of Tesla, the Texas-based electric vehicle and energy storage company, and SpaceX, the spacecraft and satellite company, can’t seem to just keep the social media platform running smoothly. In addition to losing more than half its value, it’s lost users and advertisers.
“Twitter lost more than 1.3 million users in the week after Elon Musk bought it,” a USA Today headline from November read.
Last month The Washington Post reported, “Twitter has been dramatically transformed under Musk and few — even among some in the billionaire’s corner — say the changes have been for the better.”
“Advertisers have fled in droves over Musk’s policy changes and erratic behavior on the site, causing advertising revenue to recently drop by as much as 75 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive internal information,” The Post reports. “Rounds of layoffs have left Twitter operating with a skeleton staff of 1,500 — an 80 percent reduction — and so riddled with bugs and glitches that the site goes down for hours at a time.”
So Musk has finally hired, he says, a new CEO.
Not surprisingly, someone who appears to have similar – right wing – tastes.
“NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, Linda Yaccarino, is in talks to become the new chief executive of Twitter, according to people familiar with the situation. NBCU said Friday morning that Ms. Yaccarino was leaving the company, effective immediately,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Musk (just as this article was being published) confirmed it is Yaccarino.
Journalist Yashar Ali puts it this way: “In Linda Yaccarino, Elon Musk gets a CEO who is a seasoned ad executive who generally shares his political leanings. But she’s also the Chairman of a World Economic Forum task force so she can comfortably liaise with Twitter’s current investors and advertisers around the world.”
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CNBC reported the news on-air.
NBCUniversal global advertising chief Linda Yaccarino resigns as sources say she’s in talks to be the new CEO of Twitter. @JBoorstin reports. https://t.co/6yUqcoe8fW pic.twitter.com/HMF1qUSF12
— CNBC (@CNBC) May 12, 2023
So who is Linda Yaccarino? Twitter users were quick to want to know.
When the Yaccarino rumor started Thursday evening, as usual, Twitter users went to work.
What they found is someone who appears to “like” and “follow” arguably some of the worst yet popular, right-wing elements on Twitter. Some who Musk seems to have embraced.
Max Berger, a liberal activist whose bio says he co-founded two organizations, did some digging.
(A tweet from May of 2022 that Berger pinned to the top of his account reads: “Elon Musk is really doing an incredible job educating the public about how capitalists end up aligning with fascists to maintain their wealth and limit the power of the working classes.”)
“Linda Yaccarino,” Berger wrote Thursday night, “the woman who is reportedly the new CEO of Twitter, follows: – Chaya Raichik – Jesse Watters – Michael Shellenberger – Ron DeSantis – The Babylon Bee – Giorgia Meloni – Maye Musk – Catturd – Vivek Ramaswamy – Tulsi Gabbard – Bari Weiss.”
“New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino seems like a certified MAGA supporter,” he adds. “She also follows: – Sidney Powell – Lin Wood – Jack Posobiec – Libs of TikTok – Ian Miles Cheung – Andrew Sullivan – Richard Grenell – Tim Scott – Mike Pompeo.”
Columnist and former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman writes: “This long list barely scratches the surface. There’s a lot more. She’s ingesting a fire hose of content from the absolute worst people in the world every time she opens the app. And, as Max notes, she’s a former Trump appointee.”
Many of those names are likely familiar, but some are not.
For those who don’t know, Chaya Raichik is the founder of the far-right extremist social media account Libs of TikTok.
“Libs of TikTok reposts a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage,” The Washington Post last year reported “Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.”
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More recently, the suspected Allen, Texas mass shooter who slaughtered eight people, reportedly wrote one of his posts on a Russian social media site was “inspired by Libs of TikTok.”
Jesse Watters is a far-right, incendiary, misogynistic Fox News propagandist deemed a “Racist, Sexist Frat Boy.” He’s also rumored to be in the running to replace the now-fired white nationalist Tucker Carlson.
“Catturd” is the anonymous pro-Trump pro-Musk Twitter account with 1.7 million followers that Rolling Stone calls “the Sh-tposting King of MAGA Twitter” – and who “Elon Musk likes to talk to on Twitter.”
Vivek Ramaswamy? An “anti-woke” GOP presidential candidate whose tweets (or, at least one tweet) Yaccarino has “liked.”
Yaccarino also follows a lot of right-wing media people, including Sean Hannity, Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, Sebastian Gorka, and Michelle Malkin.
And she follows Franklin Graham.
But she also follows Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marc Benioff.
Some may say it’s unfair to judge someone by their Twitter likes and the folks they follow on social media. That depends.
(If you look at mine you’ll probably see a lot of right-wingers who I follow because I often write about the extreme right. And because in the days of early Twitter I used an auto-follow bot that followed anyone who followed me.)
But there are patterns and looking at these landmarks at least offers insight into who and what they are looking at and interacting with.
And what’s clear is Yaccarino certainly seems to be all-in on Musk. She’s retweeted posts about Tesla, and even interviewed the billionaire earlier this year, an interview coincidentally posted to NBC Universal’s website.
So why does all this matter? Because what happens on Twitter directly influences what people who are and are not on Twitter see, read, hear, and ultimately think. It is an influencing platform. And it’s important to know that the person (rumored) to be the incoming head of arguably the greatest influence platform in the world is following the right.
This article has been updated to reflect Musk’s confirmation Yaccarino will be the new Twitter CEO
DeSantis Just Made It Illegal for Doctors to Refuse to Treat Unvaccinated Patients – But Legal to Refuse LGBTQ Ones
In Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘ “Free State of Florida,” as of July 1 it will be illegal for physicians and other medical professionals to refuse to treat unvaccinated patients. It will be illegal to mandate vaccines. It will be illegal to mandate the wearing of masks. It will be illegal to require a “vaccine passport.”
But, also in Ron DeSantis’ “Free State of Florida,” it will be legal for a physician or other medical professional to refuse to treat a patient who is LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” if it violates their “conscience.” And legal for insurance companies to refuse to cover patients who are LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” again, if it violates their “conscience.”
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies will now be enshrined in state law as the Governor signed bills that will make permanent bans on vaccine and mask mandates as well as give a shield to doctors who deviate from other medical professionals,” Florida Politics reports.
“It is the intent of the Legislature to provide the right of medical conscience for health care providers and payors to ensure they can care for patients in a manner consistent with their moral, ethical, and religious convictions,” reads SB 1580, one of several bills DeSantis signed into law Thursday. “Further, it is the intent of the Legislature that licensed health care providers and payors be free from threat of discrimination for providing conscience-based health care.”
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That could mean it will be legal for physicians to refuse to prescribe contraception, or puberty blockers, or HIV medications, and for pharmacists to refuse to fill those prescriptions.
“A doctor could deny care, for instance, if they are ‘morally opposed’ to gender-affirming care, or if they don’t like that a patient is having premarital sex. And it’s not just doctors—under the law, insurance companies, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, ambulances, and more could all also deny care,” The New Republic reports.
The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday said SB 1580 “creates a license to discriminate by allowing healthcare employers to discriminate in hiring, and it bars medical Boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation.”
“This bill is a broad license for health care providers and insurance companies to refuse services to people. No one should be denied access to medical care,” Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida’s press secretary, said as the Pensacola News Journal reports.. “This puts patients in harm’s way, is antithetical to the job of health care providers, and puts the most vulnerable Floridians in danger.”
It’s not just SB 1580.
DeSantis has just signed a large package of laws he calls “Prescribe Freedom,” which, like most of DeSantis’ laws, prescribe “freedom” for some, but not for all.
A poster on the governor’s official website reads: “Prescribe Freedom,” and says, “Protecting Floridians from the ‘biomedical security state.'”
It also says DeSantis’ law “Permanently prohibits employers from hiring or firing based on MRNA jabs,” meaning, COVID vaccines.
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The poster also reads, “Protects medical professionals’ freedom of speech,” “Protects the right to disagree with the preferred narrative of the medical community,” and “Protects The Religious Views Of Medical Professionals.”
Florida Politics reports DeSantis’ new laws “give a shield to doctors who deviate from other medical professionals.”
In other words, more room for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, and other quack “remedies.”
In fact, as Florida Politics reports, “Anders Croy, a spokesperson for the group DeSantis Watch, issued a statement calling SB 1580 ‘The Quack Act.'”
“The Quack Act is classic Ron DeSantis,” Croy’s statement says, “divisive nonsense that targets the rights of Floridians while serving as a shield for his real goal of enriching his billionaire and corporate elite donors. Time and again, Ron DeSantis has proven that he is an insurance industry shill who will do their bidding no matter the real-world cost to Floridians, whether it is allowing them to be price gouged through skyrocketing premiums or denied access to essential health care services.”
“When your insurance company or giant corporate employer refuses to cover the lifesaving care that you need, please be sure to thank Ron DeSantis for putting the needs of the donors who fund his political ambitions ahead of your freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe.”
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