THREAD. I noticed something fascinating: around the same time in recent days, each major corporate news source began talking about a new crime hysteria: a supposed crisis of theft from the railroad industry. But if you look deeper, something very scary is happening.
For context, recall I outlined an incredible coordination between corporate/police PR departments and corporate media reporters around retail theft. Here's a thread I wrote about how the same words, sources, and phrases began appearing everywhere at once:
For the railroad story, I'll start with the New York Times story because it is in arguably the most reputable news source and because it is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible articles. Here's the story:…
As I’ve shown time and again with the New York Times, if you just go through their stories and list the sources relied on, it becomes obvious who is influencing the news and how it is framed. This is a list of the stories’ sources in chronological order, and it’s astonishing:
-LAPD Captain
-“The police”
-LAPD Captain (twice more)
-Railroad corporation (twice)
-Railroad corp. spokesperson
-Association of American Railroads
-LAPD Captain
-Asst. prof. of "marketing"
-Railroad corp.
-Railroad spokesperson
-LAPD Captain (5 more times)
Imagine being a reporter at the most influential, prestigious news org in the U.S. and writing a major story at a time of rising fascism and just repeating police and corporate talking points about needing more punishment without seeking a single other perspective. Incredible.
In typical NYT fashion, cops make wild claims with no evidence or scrutiny. It all leads up to big moment: the last 5 paragraphs of the piece, all given to LAPD, give away the game: this is about more $$$ for cops: “They are really trying, but we are all understaffed,” he said.
What does New York Times omit? That LAPD already has an astonishing $3 billion budget, most of it spent on low-level traffic, drugs, homelessness, mental illness related stuff AND that LAPD is in midst of big budget fight trying to get a 12% increase.
The NYT also omits one of the most crucial facts you need to know. The LAPD and LA Sheriff together have 67 full-time employees working on PR and propaganda. People don't realize that they spend a lot of money and time to plant these stories:
But I digress. This story began with letter from railroad monopoly lobbyist complaining about not enough human caging by "progressive" LA prosecutor. Almost immediately, and we don't yet know how, a pro-cop CBS reporter took a viral video of tracks that corporate/police boosted.
A lot of actually thinking people like @dennisjromero @JessPish @RottenInDenmark immediately noticed some suspicious things about the "organized train robbery" story, including some potential vendettas and corporate insurance games.
The vague, dubious story was quickly picked up by CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC, and many more, through a vast web of police/corporate PR efforts.………
If you look at all these stories, you'll see a lot of the same turns of phrase, sources, and claims. As always, it’s quickly seized on by pro-fascist groups and corporate democrats to argue for more money for police, more profitable surveillance, prosecution, and human caging.
The corporate media portray the railroad monopoly Union Pacific as some kind of hapless victim overrun by "organized" groups of "homeless" thieves. Union Pacific has more revenue ($19.5 billion) than the entire City of Los Angeles.
The corporate/police PR campaign worked almost immediately though. The Governor of California was soon seen literally picking up trash by the railroad tracks and announcing more investment in a “statewide coordination as law enforcement and prosecutors.”…
Alarmingly, with no evidence, Newsom compared the train thefts to the retail thefts and said “the train thieves are equally organized and need to be prosecuted as such.” Then, a “group of Republican Senators” sent a letter urging massive national federal crackdown on train theft.
And so we saw, in a few days and in real time, how cops, corporations, and media combine to concoct a narrative of *panic* around a truly minor problem compared to ecological collapse, rising fascism, lack of healthcare/housing, etc. which leads to repressive policy.
Finally, this brings me to one of the most important threads I’ve ever written. It’s about how corporate media, police, and wealthy elites work hard to shape what problems we think are urgent and what aren’t. Read it and think about it:
And see also this great reporting on profits and layoffs. Among the many huge questions NYT and other corporate media weren't asking about whether any of this is real and about what easy solutions there might be that aren't "more money for cops and cages."
Update: And here is the CBS journalist who started it all with a viral video boosting cops and a railroad monopoly. As predicted, the story is really different after a little more reporting and evidence! But cops/railroad already got what they wanted.
UPDATE: Response from New York Times:

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More from @equalityAlec

May 18
THREAD. I'm having a hard time getting over a *news article* in SF Standard yesterday. It's written like a commercial paid for by the Reagan White House in the 1980s or one of the secretive DEA planted articles from 1990s. It's chilling. A few thoughts:
First, the theme of article is that reporters can't believe DA isn't convicting more people of selling drugs! It opens by saying "despite" rising Fentanyl addiction, DA isn't convicting people! This framing, and choice of "despite," suggests link btw prosecution and drug use.
This supposed link, on which ENTIRE article relies, is a fabrication. It's like printing PR from Exxon saying that burning oil has no effect on climate change. It would be interesting to know which pro-police sources placed and framed this article to hapless reporters. Copaganda.
Read 15 tweets
May 14
THREAD. A survey just released about what people in the U.S. are most worried about should send chills down our spines. And this survey is Exhibit A in the profound failure of U.S. journalism to provide accurate information about the actual state of the world.
In this survey, more U.S. people view both "violent crime" and "gun violence" as "very big" or "moderately big" problems than virtually any other issue in our world, including climate change.
Creating fear and urgency re: "violent crime" reported by cops (i.e. violent crimes crimes committed by the poor) and ignoring existential threats by larger problems (air/water pollution, inequality, poverty, climate change, etc) is a central function of modern daily U.S. news.
Read 9 tweets
May 12
THREAD. A few months ago, we filed a landmark First Amendment lawsuit to protect people from retaliation when they seek to expose misconduct by prosecutors. We also wanted to open up the secretive world of how the state investigates and regulates prosecutor ethics.
For more background on the fascinating case and the attempts by various New York officials to intimidate a courageous group of leading law professors, read this thread:
Now, more than 80 law professors from across the United States have signed an open letter of support. Please spread the word:…
Read 4 tweets
May 11
This is a good detailed article in the New York Times about the fentanyl overdose epidemic that does not mention police, prosecutors, or prisons a single time.…
Good, science-based public health reporting like this helps reveal the sheer scope of copaganda for decades as Drug Warriors, police union profiteers, and cartoonish prosecutors used a willing news media to make people falsely see human caging as a rational response to drug use.
What's incredible is that the obsession with human caging as a response to drugs has not discredited the entire "law enforcement" bureaucracy, which STILL relies on arresting, prosecuting, and caging people for drugs for a plurality of its budgets:
Read 5 tweets
May 11
THREAD. Today in the U.S., corporations will steal $137 million in wages, the rich will steal $2.75 billion in taxes, and 1,300 humans will die from poverty, air pollution, and medical error. Who benefits from the news focusing on low-level crime instead?
I write a lot about sources cited in news articles and how news stories are framed to support police. But the single biggest issue is this: what issues are deemed newsworthy at all? What media decides to cover and what it ignores shapes public perceptions of what is urgent.
So, pay attention to the sheer volume of stories on various issues. What media treats as urgent has more to do with power and profit than with objective assessments of overall well-being. Many of the great problems of our world persist b/c of flaws in what news treats as urgent.
Read 6 tweets
May 10
THREAD. A pervasive tactic among right-wing, wealthy interests is posing as "progressive" in order to normalize what would otherwise be seen as ludicrous arguments.
For example, a few billionaires and lots of cop union operatives have portrayed a right-wing recall of the SF DA as "progressive" even though what they are advocating is barbaric, science-denying human caging as a supposed solution to drug use, mental illness, and homelessness.
Local Democratic machine organizations are even referring to **high-ranking police officials** responsible for police department "strategic communications" as "progressive activists! Up is down, down is up.
Read 6 tweets

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