Baltimore was back in the cable news spotlight on Tuesday after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby defended herself against federal charges on Joy Reid’s show on MSNBC, and Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson urged people not to visit the city.
On his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson criticized Baltimore City for its high homicide rates; including the deadliest January in about 50 years; and other issues. However, he dismissed the idea that such problems are rooted in structural racism.
“Whatever you do, don’t go to Baltimore,” Carlson said.
“It’s one of the worst places in the western hemisphere,” he added. “It’s a bit of Haiti in the mid-Atlantic.”
Baltimore City Public Schools responded to Carlson’s “distorted claims” about the school system, including his claims about reading levels, student arrests, and graduating seniors.
The Wire creator David Simon quickly slammed Carlson for his comments.
“Here now at a bar on Aliceanna Street with some friendly neighbors where we are presently sticking pins in a Tucker Carlson doll. Doll seems to like it a bit too much in its nether regions,” tweeted Simon.
Here now at a bar on Aliceanna Street with some friendly neighbors where we are presently sticking pins in a Tucker Carlson doll. Doll seems to like it a bit too much in its nether regions. https://t.co/co9U8G5rU1
— David Simon (@AoDespair) February 2, 2022
Other social media users also rejected Carlson’s comments about Baltimore and Haiti.
Baltimore has black people in it so it must be compared to a struggling predominantly Black nation. Fun fact, the causes of trouble in both places are directly tied to racist US policy
— GussTheFullyBoostedLawyer, Esq. ⚖️ (@gussthelawyer) February 2, 2022
— Evan Serpick (@Serps) February 2, 2022
Another expressed that there is no place in Baltimore for those who agree with Carlson.
As a Baltimorean I couldn’t think of a better message to send to @TuckerCarlson‘s audience. Please. Don’t come.
— Just_Zac (@JustZacF) February 2, 2022
Reid herself tweeted about Carlson’s segment, saying the commentator’s statements about both Baltimore and Haiti were racist and anti-Black.
I see Tuckums is chasing his domestic anti-Blackness and racism with international anti-Blackness and racism these days. How quaint… https://t.co/EeZvsgwIMS
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid ???? (@JoyAnnReid) February 2, 2022
On her MSNBC show “The Reid Out,” Reid interviewed Mosby and her attorney A. Scott Bolden about her indictment on federal charges of perjury and false statements.
Mosby was indicted in January on two counts each of perjury and making false statements on mortgage applications.
Funds from a retirement account for state and local government employees normally cannot be withdrawn until the employee leaves their job. But the federal CARES Act in 2020 allowed employees to withdraw money from such accounts if they had faced financial hardship related to the pandemic.
Financial hardships may be the result of an employee being quarantined, furloughed or laid off; having their work hours reduced; being unable to work due to a lack of child care; or the closure or reduction of hours for a business that the employee owns or operates, according to charging documents.
Mosby cited those loosened restrictions in a May 2020 request to withdraw $40,000 from her retirement account. She was able to withdraw $36,000, which she used as part of a down payment for a vacation home in Kissimmee, Fla., WYPR reported.
She requested to withdraw $50,000 from her retirement account in December 2020, and received $45,000 which she used for a second vacation home in Longboat Key, Fla., WYPR reported.
Bolden, Mosby’s attorney, said the charges against his client are unfounded and that the money was legally hers to withdraw under the financial hardship provision of the CARES Act.
“But there’s no objective standard for that,” he said. “This is a subjective standard. Remember, this isn’t PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money. This is her own money in her 457(b). If there’s anyone in America that wasn’t financially impacted one way or the other by COVID, this COVID relief plan allowed her to take this money. That’s the law, if you will.”
Bolden added that Mosby “was not aware of the tax liens at issue” when making the mortgage applications.
Reid played a clip from a speech Mosby made in January, following her indictment, in front of the State’s Attorney Office.
“I offered to prove myself innocent by making myself available to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury, but the U.S. attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case, who has donated to my political opponents and who has personal animus towards me, has refused to allow me to do so,” Mosby said during that speech, standing at a podium decorated with her office’s seal. “Please don’t be fooled. We are now five months from my next election, and this indictment is merely a political ploy by my political adversaries to unseat me.”
Mosby did not take questions from the press at that January speech.
The state’s attorney during Reid’s show Tuesday echoed her previous statements, maintaining her innocence and asserting that the charges against her are politically motivated.
Mosby said U.S. prosecutor Leo Wise pursued the indictment against her as she seeks reelection in four months “to have this cloud of aspersion over my head.”
The Baltimore Sun reported that Wise donated $100 each to the campaigns of Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah in 2018 when they were running for Baltimore State’s Attorney, but did not donate to Mosby’s campaign or any other Maryland political campaigns. Bates is running against Mosby again this year.
Bolden echoed that the charges against Mosby are meant to obstruct her reelection.
“When you bring an indictment four months before an election, when you don’t sit down with the defense and tell them what you’re looking for and what you’re looking at before you bring the indictment, you’re not trying to find justice or truth; you’re trying to affect the outcome of her reelection effort,” Bolden said.
Mosby said she is used to criticism for previously pursuing convictions against the police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray (she later dropped the remaining charges against three of the officers); ceasing prosecution of drug possession and other crimes; and exonerating wrongly convicted individuals.
During his Fox News show on Tuesday, Carlson himself lambasted Mosby for no longer prosecuting low-level drug crimes.
But Mosby said she “never expected the lawsuits.”
She did not mention Keith Davis, whom Mosby is taking to trial for the sixth time in May 2022. It will mark the fifth time Mosby attempts to convict Davis in the murder of a Pimlico security guard. Davis has continuously maintained his innocence.
Mosby’s office also initially denied that the state’s attorney flashed her middle finger at a Davis supporter who had shouted “Free Keith Davis Jr.” in passing, before she later acknowledged that she had in fact done so.
Mosby told Reid she wants the trial against her to come as soon as possible.
“Let me just say one thing: I have fought [former president] Donald Trump, who said I needed to be prosecuted,” she said. “I have fought against [former U.S. Attorney General] WIlliam Barr, who called me a rogue prosecutor. I have fought against my Republican governor [Larry Hogan], who doesn’t agree with my policies. I know I’ve been through it all. I’m built for this. I understand the shoulders I stand on and I’m ready to fight. I know I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’m ready to go to trial tomorrow. Put this on trial right now so I can prove my innocence.”
On social media, some people came to Mosby’s defense.
People have had it out for her since she was elected.
— Little Miss Citizen is All Blue Baby ???????? (@MsCitizen2U) February 2, 2022
She went after police unions. People asks for this but then don’t back people like Mosby up when they face the repercussions for doing the right the thing. Where are all the white progressives on this
— ULTRON WAS RIGHT (@dcjanfan) February 2, 2022
Others sought to highlight a difference of perspectives for Baltimoreans versus national audiences. In addition to the federal charges, they noted other criticisms that some Baltimore residents have raised about Mosby, including issues related to the Davis trials and the fact that Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby is Marilyn Mosby’s husband.
Let one person commenting in this thread explain the trials of Keith Davis, Jr. without looking it up on Wikipedia and then you’ll have ground to opine knowledgeably. Tell us who the City Council President is without looking it up, and then you’ll have ground to talk.
— @teddipasketty (@teddipasketty) February 2, 2022
— mUdd✊???? (@iamclearasmUdd) February 2, 2022