You’re probably familiar with the concept of doublespeak made famous by George Orwell’s 1984; “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Well, fiction became reality on Monday as the broadcast networks told viewers not to trust their lying ears when it came to radical leftist calls to “defund the police.” Even though they acknowledged efforts to abolish the police department in Minneapolis, they insisted it meant “reform.”
During ABC’s World News Tonight, correspondent Alex Perez said there were “growing calls to defund or outright abolish police departments” and tried to suggest that “defund” meant “diverting some funds from police, to other social programs.”
Yet he said the “controversial issue” reached a boiling point in Minneapolis where the mayor was shouted down by people who wanted to abolish the police department. “The Minneapolis City Council announcing it intends to dismantle the police department, calling it ‘beyond reform,’” Perez added.
The doublespeak on NBC Nightly News was arguably the most insidious. Early in the show, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez noted that the mayor was “booed” and that the Democratic city council had “a veto-proof majority” that “pledged to disband the department.” But the network ran a segment shortly thereafter trying to apply a new definition to “defund the police.”
“Tonight, across the country, there is a growing movement to defund police departments. But what exactly does that mean? Well, apparently not the same thing to everybody,” announced anchor, Lester Holt.
While Holt’s intro made it seem like they were going to cover different ways the phrase could be interpreted, correspondent Morgan Radford gave it only one definition: “Tonight, a rallying cry to defund police departments across the country. The movement calls for cutting down police budgets and reinvesting that money into services for marginalized communities.”
For the part of CBS Evening News, there was also doublespeak on where “defund the police” came from as well as what it meant. Anti-Trump White House correspondent Weijia Jiang seemed to suggest that it was President Trump who coined the term:
Hosting law enforcement officers at the White House, President Trump continued bashing Democrats for their calls to shrink the scope of police duties in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, what he calls defunding the police.
But earlier in the newscast, Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues reported that “Floyd’s death has now fueling efforts to defund the [Minneapolis] police department.” He said this while showing images of protesters holding signs saying they wanted to “abolish the police” (pictured above).
This brings us to how the networks bashed Trump for opposing the idea while lamenting that former Vice President Joe Biden was also not for it.
NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker said Trump was “aiming to capitalize” on the situation, and Biden was simply “opposed to defunding the police” but was for reform. “President Trump is again calling himself the law and order President and trying to cast Democrats who support the movement to defund the police as anti-law enforcement and radical,” she complained as if it was a reasonable position.
Karl echoed that tone on ABC, suggesting: “Sensing a political opportunity in the growing protests around the country, the President pounced on activist calls to defund the police.” Adding: “Joe Biden has expressed solidarity with the protesters, but today his campaign made it clear he does not support calls for defunding, either.”
So, let’s review. “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength,” and now “defund the police” is reform.
The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:
ABC’s World News Tonight
June 8, 2020
6:35:35 p.m. Eastern
ALEX PEREZ: Now, growing calls to defund or outright abolish police departments. Defunding meaning diverting some funds from police, to other social programs. The controversial issue coming to a boiling point in Minneapolis. The city's mayor confronted by protesters at the site of Floyd's killing.
MAYOR JACOB FREY (Minneapolis): I know there needs to be deep-seated structural reform in terms of how the department operates. The systemic and racist system needs to be revamped.
PEREZ: But the crowd pressing him for more answers.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We don't want no more police. Is that clear? We don't want people with guns toting around in our community, shooting us down. It is a yes or a no. Will you defund the Minneapolis police department?
FREY: I do not support the full abolition of police.
PEREZ: The Minneapolis City Council announcing it intends to dismantle the police department, calling it “beyond reform.”
6:41:37 p.m. Eastern
JON KARL: Sensing a political opportunity in the growing protests around the country, the President pounced on activist calls to defund the police.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There won't be defunding, there won't be dismantling of our police. There's not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace.
KARL: The President also said he's considering ideas for police reform, but he didn't mention specifics.
KARL: Joe Biden has expressed solidarity with the protesters, but today his campaign made it clear he does not support calls for defunding, either.
NBC Nightly News
June 8, 2020
7:02:54 p.m. Eastern
GABE GUTIERREZ: One day after the [Minneapolis] mayor was booed for not committing to abolishing the police, a veto-proof majority of the city council pledged to disband the department and replace it with more community-based policing, though details could take up to a year.
7:08:26 p.m. Eastern
LESTER HOLT: Tonight, across the country, there is a growing movement to defund police departments. But what exactly does that mean? Well, apparently not the same thing to everybody. Morgan Radford explains.
[Cuts to video]
MORGAN RADFORD: Tonight, a rallying cry to defund police departments across the country. The movement calls for cutting down police budgets and reinvesting that money into services for marginalized communities.
If you defund police, what does it actually look like?
PHILLIP GOFF (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): 911 calls will do what they already do, but probably better. What if it could bring social workers, public health workers, substance abuse workers, child protective workers instead of just police, fire, and ambulance.
RADFORD: It's a push several cities across the country are now discussing. Among them, New York City, with a police budget of nearly $6 billion. This weekend, the mayor saying he'd like to move some of that funding to youth and social services. In Los Angeles, the LAPD was expecting its largest-ever annual budget increase. But instead, the mayor says he now wants to slash up to $150 million from police funding.
But many who have answered the call of duty say less money for the departments could also mean less public safety.
Is there a risk?
ROBERT HARRIS (LA Police Protective League director): Absolutely, there's a risk. You are risking officers requesting for help or backup and it not being there. You are risking the delay of investigations of violent crimes like murder, rape, assault.
7:10:41 p.m. Eastern
HOLT: Meantime tonight, President Trump and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden are both weighing in on this defund the police movement. And Kristin Welker tells us about it from Washington now.
[Cuts to video]
KRISTEN WELKER: Aiming to capitalize, President Trump is again calling himself the law and order President and trying to cast Democrats who support the movement to defund the police as anti-law enforcement and radical. The President meeting with law enforcement officials today at the White House.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We won't be defunding our police. We won't be dismantling our police. We won't be disbanding our police.
WELKER: A spokesperson for the President's Democratic rival Joe Biden said Biden is also opposed to defunding the police, but does support significant reforms to police departments nationwide.