Guest: Catie Edmondson | Reporter | The New York Times
Category: 📰 News | Threats against Lawmakers
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[5:58] CE: "[The attacker on Paul Pelosi] tells police in an interview that he was on a mission, and that he wanted to take Nancy Pelosi hostage, specifically because he saw her as being [...] "the leader of the pack of all the lies told by the Democratic Party". [...] He was going to break her kneecaps [...] to send a message to other members of Congress. He wanted to have her wheeled into the House of Representatives to show other lawmakers, this is what happens if you lie like she does."
[9:57] CE: "I've been looking at the uptick in threats to members of Congress for over a year now [...]. And it just didn't feel surprising that something like this would happen. It felt inevitable. [...] Violence against members of Congress is not a new phenomenon. [...] But [...] I think a way that the landscape has really changed in a major way, is that suddenly lawmakers are now contending with a proliferation of frequent threats. And many of them, in fact, are related to these larger conspiracies [like QAnon]."
[13:22] CE: "We went to the Capitol Police, who track the threats that members of Congress receive. And what they told us was that between 2016 and 2021, threats against members of Congress actually increased tenfold. So in 2021 alone, there were almost 10,000 threats reported to Capitol Police."
[16:11] CE: "A lot of these threats are directed over and over again, at the same lawmakers. And we particularly see that for members of Congress who are Democratic women of color. [...] And on the other side of the coin, we also see certain Republican lawmakers routinely getting threats. Of course, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who serve on the January 6 select committee in Congress have spoken quite openly about just the dilution of threats they've received [...]. But when you look at the overall picture, I have to say Speaker Pelosi is unfortunately really in a league of her own on this front. She gets by a huge magnitude a larger number of threats than anyone else."
[19:06] CE: "For years, Republicans have sought to paint Ms. Pelosi as a symbol of a partisan enemy. Since 2018 Republicans have spent more than $227 million on advertisements featuring her as a villain. [...] And this year alone, they've poured more than $61 million into advertisements featuring Ms. Pelosi."
[20:09] CE: "These types of advertisements are kind of one thread feeding into this larger, dangerous ecosystem. [...] The phrase [domestic extrimism experts] keep using over and over to describe this ecosystem and its outgrowth is called stochastic terrorism. [...] It's this concept where in an ecosystem that constantly demonizes or dehumanizes, either a specific group or an individual, it becomes essentially statistically likely that the outgrowth is going to be violent. And at the same time, you won't necessarily be able to easily predict when that violence will happen, or how it will happen."
[23:23] CE: "The baseline for a member of Congress is that you do not get any type of special security. [...] If you are in a leadership position on Capitol Hill, so if you're the Speaker of the House, if you're the Senate Majority Leader or the Senate Minority Leader, for example, you get a security detail. [...] If you are a member of Congress who has received threats, what you find is that there's actually quite a high bar to clear in order to get Capitol Police to assign you a security detail. [...] So the result is that you have lawmakers really trying to take things into their own hands and try to figure out how to protect themselves. One option that we've seen some lawmakers take is dipping into their campaign funds, which is allowed by the SEC, in order to pay for private security."
[26:32] CE: "Everyone knows what [...] a solution is here and that is for Congress to allocate more money to protect themselves. That's something I don't think is going to happen. I think lawmakers are extremely reluctant to take a vote that makes it seem like they're giving themselves the perk that their constituents don't have. But you have to wonder if this attack on Paul Pelosi wasn't enough to get lawmakers to really seriously think about how to fix this problem."