America’s largest police union has decided critical media coverage is “fake news”
The nation’s largest police union says it’s been the victim of “fake news” stories this week — one of them from VICE News.
The Fraternal Order of Police released a document on its website and on social media this week entitled “The Trump Administration: The First 100 Days,” a bullet-point list of policies that could be achieved under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, such as rescinding President Obama’s executive order curtailing the transfer of surplus military equipment to state and and local law enforcement and requiring Cuba extradite accused cop killers.
News outlets including VICE News, Mother Jones, and Complex interpreted the document as a “wish list” for the president-elect, who was the first presidential candidate to earn the Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement since Bill Clinton in 1996. VICE News reached out to CEO Jim Pasco to get any additional comment on the document, and after getting no response, published a story with the headline, “What America’s Largest Police Union Wants.”
Sometime between late Monday and early Tuesday, the Fraternal Order of Police added a disclaimer to the document saying rather than an “advocacy document” for the incoming Trump Administration, it was instead intended as a “predictive summary of potential actions that the Trump Administration may take in its first 100 days.” (The original version of the document, without the disclaimer, can be seen at the internet archive site waybackmachine.org.)
Then, the Fraternal Order of Police distributed a press release declaring, “Fake News Strikes FOP: False Stories About The FOP’s Agenda Pop Up in ‘News’ Stories.” “Several news entities saw our predictive document, the ‘First 100 Days’ and reported it as being an advocacy document — a list of things we wanted to achieve,” FOP president Chuck Canterbury said in the statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“These irresponsible media sites, the primary goal of which seems to be stoking outrage, are becoming a real national problem,” he added.
VICE News again reached out to CEO Pasco, who told us even though the document was distributed through social media, it was “not meant to be released to the public.” “It was never meant to be informational,” he said. “If we put something on social media, it doesn’t make it our position.”
“That list is being put out as a list of things we support. It’s a clear misrepresentation. It’s a list of things we saw possibly being initiatives of the new administration. It was speculative,” he said.
Except most of the positions in the document are positions the Fraternal Order of Police has advocated for in the past in the past. For example: The organization wrote letters to the White House in 2009 and again in 2014 imploring the president to reconsider the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations until they give up “copkillers.”
Earlier this year, after a sniper opened fire on Dallas police and a gunman massacred clubgoers in Orlando, the Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter to the United States Senate expressing its opposition to the restrictions on surplus military hardware being made available to state and local law enforcement.
Last year, the Order wrote a letter to Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) expressing their support for repealing the “cadillac tax” provision of the Affordable Care Act,” citing that the nature of officers’ jobs entitles them to more expensive health care plans.
The police union has also expressed “strong support” for the Back the Blue Act of 2016, which would make killing a police officer a capital offense. The “100 Days” document refers to “Expansion of the 287(g) program,” which allows the Department of Homeland Security to deputize local and state law enforcement to perform functions of federal agents. This is a program that the Order has previously described as a “powerful example of a successful cooperative effort” between federal and local authorities.
The union has also opposed legislation banning racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement. In the “100 days” document, the group anticipates that the president-elect would “reverse or amend the broad, Bush-era ban on racial profiling by all or some federal agencies.” That ban was put into place by George W. Bush in 2003.
Asked if there are any policies on the document that the Fraternal Order of Police does not agree with, Pasco said, “we don’t support and support a number of positions. I’m not going to get into it with you.”