On Tuesday, liberals who pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative for three years demanded Twitter remove President Donald Trump from the platform for leveling what appears to be a false accusation. Trump has repeatedly questioned whether or not MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough may have murdered Lori Klausutis, a former staffer in Scarborough’s congressional office. There appears to be little evidence to support the idea, and The New York Times published a letter from Klausutis’ bereaved widower pleading with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove the tweets in question.
According to Timothy Klausutis, his wife died of an undiagnosed heart condition after she fell and hit her head on a desk at work. “As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died,” he wrote. “These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage.”
Klausutis argued that Trump’s tweets violated Twitter’s rules and therefore the platform should delete them.
Many journalists joined in this claim, with some saying Twitter should boot the president from the platform entirely.
“trump’s maliciously false attacks on joe of [Morning Joe] beyond outrageous and it is time for [Jack Dorsey] and twitter to step up,” NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw tweeted.
trump’s maliciously false attacks on joe of mornjng joe are beyond outrageous and it is time for jack dorsey and twitter to step up.
where are the republicans who are so quick to condemn scabrous attacks on one of their own.
— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) May 26, 2020
“Trump is (again) underscoring how broken social platforms’ rules are. What good are policies against harassment if one can use the platform to smear someone with the allegation of actual murder and, by doing so, put the family of the dead in a state of immense emotional pain?” CNN Senior Reporter Oliver Darcy tweeted.
Trump is (again) underscoring how broken social platforms' rules are. What good are policies against harassment if one can use the platform to smear someone with the allegation of actual murder and, by doing so, put the family of the dead in a state of immense emotional pain?
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 26, 2020
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe urged Dorsey to remove the tweets, if not the president himself, from the platform.
“Dear Jack Dorsey: Delete these ugly tweets. They’re vicious lies. You must cleanse Twitter of this Trump stain — if not of Trump himself. Sincerely, [Laurence Tribe], a Twitter user who couldn’t get away even once with what Trump gets away with daily.”
Dear Jack Dorsey:
Delete these ugly tweets. They’re vicious lies. You must cleanse Twitter of this Trump stain — if not of Trump himself.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) May 26, 2020
NBC News analyst and former senator Claire McCaskill complained that “the President is allowed to make baseless and cruel murder accusations against a media critic of his and nada.”
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) May 26, 2020
Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, pushed the hashtag “#TakeTrumpOffTwitter.”
“Trump should be taken off twitter. Raise your hand if you agree. [Take Trump Off Twitter],” he tweeted.
Trump should be taken off twitter. Raise your hand if you agree. #TakeTrumpOffTwitter
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) May 26, 2020
Scarborough’s co-host and wife, Mika Brzezinski, urged Dorsey to “read the letter and please do the right thing. If you agree, please retweet. [Please delete those tweets.]”
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) May 26, 2020
To be fair, however, Trump did not exactly accuse Scarborough of murder. He merely raised leading questions about the possibility. These insinuations may be disgusting, but they they are also not unique to the president. “The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought,” the president argued.
The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany raised this point in her press conference Tuesday.
“In fact, 2003 on Don Imus’ show, it was Don Imus and Joe Scarborough that joked about killing an intern — joked and laughed about it,” McEnany said. “If we want to start talking about false accusations … Mika accused the president of being responsible for 100,000 deaths in this country. That’s incredibly irresponsible. They’ve dragged his family through the mud, they’ve made false accusations that I won’t go through, that I would not say from this podium.”
“Joe Scarborough should be held to account for saying people will die from hydroxychloroquine,” she added.
.@PressSec is asked about President Trump's tweets accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering his intern.
"I would point you back to Joe Scarborough who laughed and joked about this item on Don Imus' show. It's Joe Scarborough that has to answer these questions." pic.twitter.com/fExrM7OJdt
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 26, 2020
Trump War Room found the clip of Scarborough joking with Don Imus on MSNBC in 2003.
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 26, 2020
Others noted the hypocrisy of legacy media reporters who crow about freedom of the press every time Trump attacks left-leaning outlets as “the enemy of the people” demanding that Twitter censor the president of the United States.
“My feed is inundated with legacy media reporters demanding Twitter, and Jack Dorsey himself, censors the president of the United States by forcibly deleting his communications to the public. If that’s not an indictment of the press, I don’t know what is,” investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel tweeted.
My feed is inundated with legacy media reporters demanding Twitter, and Jack Dorsey himself, censors the president of the United States by forcibly deleting his communications to the public.
If that's not an indictment of the press, I don't know what is.
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) May 26, 2020
Jenna Ellis, a senior legal advisor to the Trump campaign, argued, “It’s the height of elitist arrogance and idiocy for the same people who outright lied and pushed the Russia Hoax for 3 years to now call for [Trump] to be Twitter censored because they don’t like his opinions. He’s only showing clearly their double standards.”
It’s the height of elitist arrogance and idiocy for the same people who outright lied and pushed the Russia Hoax for 3 years to now call for @realDonaldTrump to be Twitter censored because they don’t like his opinions.
He’s only showing clearly their double standards.
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) May 26, 2020
I personally find Trump’s insinuations against Scarborough to be disgusting and an utterly unnecessary distraction from more serious issues. I think the president does himself and the Republican Party a disservice by engaging in such speculation.
But that doesn’t mean the president should be censored for asking questions, and it does seem utterly hypocritical for journalists who pushed the Trump-Russia narrative to suddenly demand Twitter censor false accusations. Should the platform delete their messages insinuating that Trump is a Russian agent?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.