National Public Radio lurched into its second week of finding nothing newsworthy in an attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, so what is it covering instead? On their evening newscast All Things Considered on June 13, they devoted five and a half minutes to a story headlined “A New England neo-Nazi group is attracting members using Republican talking points.”
It’s bigger news that there’s a “tiny but growing clique” of Nazis in Massachusetts.
They turned to WGBH “senior investigative reporter” Phillip Martin in Boston, but this really seemed like a commercial for the left-wing Anti-Defamation League, starting with Oren Segal, who runs the ADL Center on Extremism, who warned of a group called the National Socialist Club, or NSC-131. Pay no attention to the mental clash of the “socialists” using Republican talking points. They insisted members of the Socialist Club were at the Capitol on January 6.
Later Martin’s “investigative” press release turned to the local ADL boss:
MARTIN: In January, 30 neo-Nazis rallied near Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, protesting programs to establish racial equity in medicine. The rhetoric of the far-right demonstrators was identical to a patently false assertion made days earlier by former President Donald Trump at a rally in Arizona.
DONALD TRUMP: The left is now rationing lifesaving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating – just denigrating white people to determine who lives and who dies.
MARTIN: Robert Trestan, director of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, fears that Trump’s amplification of white grievances has helped NSC-131 boost its membership.
ROBERT TRESTAN: And we know this because their demonstration in front of Brigham and Women’s Hospital actually drew more people than we’ve seen at previous protests.
So how huge it this neo-Nazi threat? Oh, Martin already reported on this protest for NPR back then: “On Saturday Jan. 22, about two dozen white nationalists dressed in identical beige khaki pants and dark hoodies protested in front of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston holding a bedsheet with black lettering reading ‘B and W Hospital Kills Whites.’”
“About two dozen.” That’s your national threat of “attracting members.” You’re getting a larger crowd outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices. Martin also appeared on MSNBC to promote this micro-story on The Rachel Maddow Show.
The latest story began with the story of white-supremacist student Liam McNeil being allowed to attend the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, but by the story’s end, he was dropping out. Still, you can blame Trump:
MARTIN: But Awa, a member of the Black Student Union who also gave only her first name, said that a white extremist presence on campus was par for the course.
AWA: Once Trump became president, a lot of people got that courage to come out and show their true colors.
MARTIN: The ADL reported that incidents of white supremacist propaganda more than doubled on campuses from 2018 to 2019 to an historic high of more than 600 incidents nationwide that year.
So Nazis setting out a few flyers is national news, even when they’re still turning out a two-dozen army. But why are we talking about 2019 numbers in 2022? Because the numbers went down. “Year over year, the number of propaganda incidents on college campuses dropped 23 percent, from 303 to 232, the lowest since ADL began tracking incidents in 2017.” That’s not “tiny but growing.”
Oh, and NPR Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg? She appeared on the NPR Politics Podcast on Friday to discuss….Ginni Thomas, not Kavanaugh. Clarence Thomas isn’t following an “ethics guide” at the Supreme Court.