CNN‘s John Avlon did a “Reality Check” segment today which was really just a rehash of that Aaron Rupar tweet I wrote about yesterday. I’m pretty sure we now know where Avlon gets his show material. I’m going to walk through this dumpster fire of dishonesty. It really is spectacularly and intentionally misleading.
“Someone ought to tell Senator Ted Cruz that when you’re defending Nazi salutes at school board meetings you’re already losing,” Avlon says smugly. He then goes to an abbreviated version of the Aaron Rupar clip which completely cuts out what Cruz was talking about. The Rupar clip was 27 seconds and, by my count, Avlon has it cut down to 15 seconds, just to make sure no one watching has any idea of the context.
After showing the clip, Avlon claims, “Of course, the issue here isn’t the First Amendment, the issue is the galloping insanity that is infecting our civic life.” But the First Amendment was the issue Sen. Cruz was talking about in that clip. Cruz was pointing out that the original National School Boards Association (NSBA) letter that prompted a response from AG Garland listed 20 examples of alleged misbehavior at school board meetings, and 15 of those involved constitutionally protected speech. In other words, the NSBA should never have written a letter to the DOJ complaining about protected speech (even offensive speech) and they certainly shouldn’t have suggested the DOJ should investigate the parents involved as possible domestic terrorists, which is what their letter did say.
And John Avlon should know that. Because during his rant he puts up a CNN headline about the original NSBA letter:
Here’s that story with the same headline and here’s a bit of what it said: [emphasis added]
A group representing national school board associations asked President Joe Biden and the federal government on Wednesday to help look into threats against school board members and educators to see if laws were broken regarding bullying, hate crimes, or domestic terror, as anger around masks and critical race theory have boiled over around the country…
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the school boards association stated in its letter to Biden.
So, again, Avlon should know exactly where these claims that parents are akin to domestic terrorists were coming from because he is citing a CNN story containing that information. But Avlon merely skips over all of that and instead says AG Garland’s response to the NSBA letter didn’t contain any such language about domestic terrorism.
Sen. Cruz never claimed that the DOJ letter had compared parents to domestic terrorists when he was grilling AG Garland yesterday. Maybe that’s why John Avlon forgets all about Cruz and focuses the last half of his “Reality Check” on comments by Sen. Marsha Blackburn instead. He concludes, “there is no reference to parents or terrorism in the Garland memo.”
Here again, Avlon is being misleading. The letter refers to rise in “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” directed at school boards and administrators. Where does Avlon think that is coming from if not from angry parents showing up at these meetings, i.e. the same people the NSBA letter suggested should be investigated for possible domestic terrorism.
To simplify this so maybe even John Avlon can understand it, the NSBA sent a letter suggesting parents were acting like terrorists and should be investigated by DOJ. Most of the examples they offered in that letter were protected speech. The letter was so bad that the NSBA later issued an apology saying, “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.” Here’s the apology:
Breaking: In the wake of yesterday's @FreeBeacon report, National School Board Association announces "we regret and apologize for the letter" to Biden admin characterizing concerned parents as potentially domestic terrorists pic.twitter.com/3RBufvWqAN
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) October 23, 2021
But the Attorney General, who responded in just five days of receiving the NSBA letter, didn’t criticize the content of that letter. Instead he issued a memo ordering the FBI to check with every school board in the country to help them get the alleged problem under control. He should never have done that based on a shoddy letter full of examples of protected speech. That really is the point and that’s why Cruz brought it up. AG Garland may not have directly compared parents to terrorists like the NSBA did, but his response legitimized their complaints by initiating nationwide action from the FBI based on them. What the NSBA letter really should have received from the DOJ was complete silence.
Here’s the full segment: