Alec Karakatsanis Profile picture
Jan 22, 2022 21 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
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:

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Alec Karakatsanis

Alec Karakatsanis Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @equalityAlec

Sep 4
THREAD. Behind closed doors, a little-known bureaucrat in Los Angeles just signed one of the weirdest--and most dangerous--contracts I've seen in my career: it gives huge control over the “justice” system in Los Angeles to the consulting firm Accenture.
After years of hard work by community members, they won an inspiring political victory: they got the largest county in the U.S.--with the biggest, most profitable jail system--to transition to a safer system that prioritizes evidence and care instead of profit and incarceration.
Part of the background: last year, a court finally declared LA’s cash bail system unconstitutional: although it makes billions for the for-profit bail industry, it is unconstitutional to jail people solely because their families cannot pay a cash premium to a private company.
Read 18 tweets
Jul 13
The evidence shows violence is related to big structural things--inequality, housing, education, healthcare, lack of connection, etc. Increases to prosecution, sentencing, police budgets don't do much about it short term. BUT: those things cause catastrophic lasting harm.
This is one of the most important things you can remember. Whenever you hear politicians droning on about "crime" and making various little tweaks and proposals: they are being ridiculous. It's all a charade designed to distract from their failure to improve material conditions.
A good recent example is @CMZParker5. Almost overnight, he's become a symbol of ineptitude and bad faith. The latter b/c people know he's too smart to believe what he said, and the former b/c his odd behavior reflects bad political instincts.
Read 6 tweets
Jul 5
THREAD. One of the troubling emerging trends in propaganda by politicians and news outlets is labeling repressive, ineffective systems as systems of "care" and "compassion."
The latest example is a recent NYT article. It is a credulous, bewildering article--a long feature about a systemic issue based on anecdotal story of one city contractor helping "nine" people, "most" of whom are doing well after forcible hospitalization.…
The article is misleading and has a troubling thesis: involuntary institutionalization is a solution to homelessness and mental illness. The article is based on interviews with BronxWorks, an agency that has the city contract to do the involuntary institutionalization.
Read 14 tweets
Jul 2
It's remarkable that, for all of the articles written and words spilled in the NYT about defunding the police, the paper has not done a single, serious, comprehensive dive into the actual NYPD or Rikers budgets.
As schools, libraries, and various shelter/health programs are cut, NYPD just got *another* billion-plus raise, and NYT readers have no clue of the sheer scope of bureaucratic waste and fraud. The scope of contract waste, overtime fraud, sick-leave fraud, etc. is mindboggling.
Although extreme waste and fraud pervades nearly every aspect of NYPD and Rikers budgets, just take a look at one example of sick leave fraud that we happen to know about because of some brave investigative work by watchdogs:
Read 8 tweets
Jun 26
THREAD. It has now been several years, and the New York Times is still permitting one of its writers to spew pro-police misinformation. Today's article is a near carbon copy of several other articles he has published in the past. It's amazing this is allowed to continue.
For years, German Lopez has been on a personal quest to convince the public that the George Floyd protests caused murder to rise, and that we need more cops. It's a reprise of James Comey's Trumpian claim about civil rights protests leading to violence. Take a look at today:

I have debunked this on numerous occasions, with a number of NYT writers and editors agreeing with me that Lopez's reporting does not meet basic standards of journalism. 1.5 years ago Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting was compelled to intervene:…
Read 7 tweets
Jun 8
THREAD. The toxic air around us provides an essential opportunity to notice how the news reports about health and safety. Did you know that 10 million people die every year from air pollution alone, and 100,000 in the U.S. That's 5 times the number of homicides in the U.S.
Much of that pollution is actually illegal. Also, did you know there are *at least* 100,000 violations of the Clean Water Act every year that kill children, give people organ failure, and reduce overall life expectancy? These crimes are essentially ignored by "law enforcement."
But think of how local and national news reports every night about "public safety." Almost all of it is about poor people committing isolated crimes. I wrote about this here, and it's an important read for journalists and news consumers. What is news?
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!