MSNBC Repeats Debunked Claims Trump Urged Execution of Innocent Kids

February 11th, 2018 8:17 PM

On Sunday's MSNBC Live, host Yasmin Vossoughian repeated the discredited claim that President Donald Trump in 1989 used an ad to urge the execution of a group of underage teens who turned out to be innocent, as she even gave a forum to one of the teens, Yusef Salaam, to rail against Trump talking up "due process" for members of his administration accused of domestic violence.

At 4:37 p.m. ET, after recalling the case of White House aide Rob Porter resigning after the airing of spousal abuse charges, the MSNBC host read a tweet from Trump asking for "due process" before she then brought up the Central Park Five case:

But Trump himself has been known for making serious allegations without allowing justice to run its course. In 1989, when five African-American and Latino teenagers were accused of raping a jogger in New York's Central Park. Trump bought a newspaper ad suggesting they should be executed. The so-called Central Park Five were later exonerated.

But, in context, the 1989 "Bring Back the Death Penalty" ad came at a time when capital punishment was not a legal option in New York because the old law had been struck down by a court ruling. At the time, there had also been a movement for the state legislature to pass a new death penalty law which was likely to be vetoed by then-Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo.

Because there was no death penalty option on the books at the time, capital punishment could not have been applied to the Central Park Five even if a new law were passed.

Vossoughian brought aboard Salaam as a guest and began by posing:

You wrote an op-ed back in 2016, and you wrote, "Trump has smeared dozens of people, with no regard for the truth." So I imagine, Yusef, you are not surprised by the President's reactions this last Saturday to Rob Porter.

Salaam invoked the Ku Klux Klan as he responded:

No, not at all. To me, it's all institutional protectionism, you know, and that's the part that's unfortunate because we live in two very different Americas. One America where, you know, rights are protected, we'll help you out, you know, it's the good old boys club, and the other America that people spell with three K's.

The MSNBC host then brought up a tweet by Central Park Five member Raymond Santana as she followed up:

He tweeted this in response to President Trump's "due process" tweet yesterday. He wrote: "You should have spoke like that back in 1989. You called for the death penalty -- we were 14- and 15-year-old kids." Have you heard from the other Central Park Five? Have you talked to them?

In fact, in an interview with CNN's Larry King from May 1989, Trump stated that he believed a new death penalty law should only apply to adults, contradicting the claims by liberals that the point of the ad was to advocate the death penalty specifically for the Central Park Five. Additionally, the ad only called for the death penalty for those who commit murder, and the Central Park attack victim survived.

Returning to Sunday, Salaam further complained: "The audacity of someone who called for our death, who very well, this thing could have turned into a modern day Emmett Till. We became modern-day Scottsboro Boys."