Politico raised eyebrows Thursday night with its description of Alice Marie Johnson, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of President Trump after being granted clemency while serving a life sentence.
Johnson, 63, was convicted of drug conspiracy and money laundering in 1996, but her story caught the attention of Kim Kardashian, who met the president at the White House to advocate for Johnson’s clemency. Johnson has since become a criminal justice reform activist.
On Thursday evening, Politico tweeted about her RNC speech, but one phrase stood out from the rest of the post.
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“Alice Johnson, a key player in Trump’s criminal justice reform push, delivered her RNC address tonight,” the tweet began. “She’s been propped up as one of the most prominent beneficiaries of the terms of the First Step Act. Kim Kardashian played a role in her prison release.”
Critics blasted the news outlet for suggesting Johnson was being “propped up.”
“This is a disgusting racist headline,” Reagan Battalion reacted.
“This headline removes agency from Alice in a way that is extremely uncomfortable and bizarre.” tweeted Erielle Davidson, a senior policy analyst at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.
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“@Politico’s bitter and desperate partisanship on full display today,” tweeted Trump 2020 Advisory Board member Nan Hayworth. “Alice Johnson is no one’s prop. How dare you disrespect this amazing and powerful woman. You reveal yourselves in your derision. How petty, small, and pathetic you are.”
“Tell us how you really feel about Black women, why don’t ya!” GOP political analyst Melik Abdul exclaimed.
Other media outlets have demeaned the presence of Black RNC speakers. An op-ed published in The Daily Beast Wednesday referred to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron among others as “token minorities.”
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A piece in The Nation similarly accused “Black tokens” of being used by the RNC to say “it’s OK” to accept President Trump’s racism.
MSNBC host Joy Reid endorsed that article, saying Black people were “trotted out to make white [sic] Americans feel good about white [sic] nationalism.”