Last week, Law Enforcement today published an article that highlighted an article by Propublica, a self-proclaimed “nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuse of power.” (Read: This is what happens when you struggle to get readers and advertisers.)
In other words, they see it as their job to call people out and hold them accountable. So, hopefully you will understand why I find it ironic that they are so upset that someone has called them out to hold them accountable for anti-police rhetoric.
For full disclosure, a quick view of their website and their articles reveal quite a bit of their agenda.
At the top of the page, under topics, they have items such as criminal justice, civil rights, immigration, educations and several others.
At the top of the list: The Trump Administration.
Ironically, a search for articles on the Obama Administration reveals that they hadn’t written more than a handful of articles about that topic since September 17, 2013. They had nothing to very little to say about the subject for the final 3 years and 4 months.
The Propublica search shows that in 8 years under Obama, only 2,780 articles returned. In comparison, in the 2 years and 6 months since Trump took office, Propublica has 9,500 responses to the search.
Here is some of what Propublica had to say about our piece.
A senior Border Patrol official, who directs a key intelligence-gathering center, on Thursday circulated an inflammatory opinion article that blasted ProPublica’s reporting on a secret Facebook group for current and former agents and described the news organization as a threat to the agency and its members.
A link to the article, which specifically castigates ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson for his articles about the degrading posts in the group, was sent in an email to top intelligence officials at the agency’s headquarters in Washington and to field offices across the country. Sources said other supervisors then shared it widely with agents under their command.
The article was published on a website called Law Enforcement Today, and was written by a woman named Dawn Perlmutter, who describes herself as an expert on “symbols, symbolic methodologies, atypical homicide and ritualistic crimes.”
It alleges that ProPublica’s reporting about the secret Facebook group, which was known as “I’m 10-15,” was part of an “anti-police information operation” that was “calculated to incite hatred against CBP, ICE and DHS officers, provide party-line propaganda for the media and ignite protests to further political agendas.” And it claimed that Thompson, who broke the story about the Facebook group, “essentially doxed CBP officers,” when he published the posts.
“Thompson’s byline says he covers hate crimes and racial extremism, when in fact, he perpetuates it,” the piece reads. “His irresponsible reporting incites police hatred and endangers officers’ lives under the guise of social justice.”
It seems that the castigation of Mr. Thompson was warranted. Whether he was writing about CBP, city police departments or other agencies, his proclivity for identifying “hate crimes and racial extremism” only extends to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, not one article attacking the hate crimes carried out by groups like Antifa. In order to be fair, not all his articles are about white supremacists. He has also written about anti-Semitism and a few other issues.
Of course, Propublica conveniently omitted the reasons for Perlmutter’s claim. Here is the full statement, which provides context to her claim.
“Tensions are even higher this summer and are exacerbated by the calculated release of officers Facebook posts on June 1st and July 1st. The Border Patrol Facebook group is deliberately being characterized as a ‘secret’ group to erroneously imply that it is some kind of clandestine society with covert intentions.
Secret is a specific Facebook designation.
There are three types of groups on Facebook: public, closed, and secret. No one can search for secret groups or request to join them. The only way to get in is to know someone who can invite you. Everything shared in a secret group is visible only to its members.
By posting secret group emails without consent the author of the report A.C. Thompson essentially doxed CBP officers, confirming that there is no expectation of privacy on Facebook, at least for certain groups.
Of course, Thompson is being hailed as a heroic investigative journalist when he is actually just as sleazy as any angry socialist Antifa pajama boy tweeting from his parents’ basement. Thompson’s byline says he covers hate crimes and racial extremism when in fact he perpetuates it. His irresponsible reporting incites anti-police hatred and endangers officers’ lives under the guise of social justice.”
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Regarding the inter-agency email, Propublica went on to ask a CBP spokesman about the significance of sharing such an article. They claim that the spokesman responded angrily. His response?
“I’m not going to comment on a third-party opinion piece simply because you disagree with it,” said Matthew Leas, a Border Patrol spokesman. “The author isn’t even a CBP employee. Last time I checked; agency responses typically come from the agency…”
According to the Propublica response, one agent who received the piece was troubled that an official in charge of an intelligence unit would send it out under his Border Patrol email, and worried that it could undermine trust in the unit’s work.
“We need effective intel units that have garnered the trust of agents, the community, and elected officials,” said the agent, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “Distributing partisan opinion pieces under the guise of intelligence, undermines the credibility of our intelligence department and raises doubt about the intelligence we distribute.”
Is it troubling to anyone else that they have an anonymous source, who leaked an internal email, who is concerned with a pro-police/LEO article being sent out amongst a group of officers/agents in the law enforcement community?
It is also interesting that the agent has such an issue with “partisan opinion pieces” that they must leak it to a group that has written its fair share of partisan opinion pieces.
“Revealing hateful posts circulated to 9,500 people on Facebook hardly constitutes doxing,” said Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica. “ProPublica seeks to hold public officials to account, including making sure the Border Patrol lives up to the standards of decency that every American law enforcement agency pledges to live by.”
So, holding public officials accountable is acceptable, but holding the journalists accountable for their reporting is not?
We are seeing an increase level of protest, to include acts of violenceaimed at CBP facilities and personnel. While I will not go so far as to say that Thompson’s article was a contributing factor, it isn’t hard to understand that it is articles like his that lead to calls to action by groups like Antifa.
At what point do journalist stand accountable? Where do we draw the line? We discussed this very topic here at LET. The Sacramento Bee ran an article calling for accountability in our sheriff’s offices. The Sacramento Bee also happens to be working in conjunction with Propublica on a report about in-prison homicide.
One thing is for certain, if you work for a publication that prides itself on calling people out and “holding people accountable,” you have to be willing to take what you dish out. Otherwise, you are, as a British friend of mine used to say, winge-ing and moaning.