May 27, 2018

Frank Bruni and David Axelrod: Trump’s Jack Johnson Pardon a Cynical Move

As expected during this era of Trump Derangement Syndrome, several media members and outlets have had a tough time maturely handling President Donald Trump’s pardon of early 20th-century boxer Jack Johnson, the sport’s first black heavyweight champion. Likely topping them all were the reactions of Frank Bruni of the New York Times and former Barack Obama adviser and current CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod.

Bruni and Axelrod respectively claimed on Don Lemon’s CNN Tonight program that Trump was engaging in “distraction” and “a political gesture” not borne of “deep compassion.”

Note in the video excerpt which follows how Lemon deliberately would not say former President Obama’s name. Obama had eight years to do what Trump did on Thursday after 16 months in office, yet didn’t:


(Recorded earlier Thursday)

DONALD TRUMP: So I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history.

(back in studio)

DON LEMON: President Trump using the power of his office to grant a posthumous pardon today for boxer Jack Johnson, a victim of racial injustice. And I want to talk about this now with Frank Bruni and David Axelrod.

The President granted a full pardon to legendary boxer Jack Johnson, convicted of the crime of transporting a white woman across the border. This is in 1913.

It’s a positive step. But you have your own take on this, don’t you?

FRANK BRUNI: Oh, I mean it definitely looks like a kind and big-minded thing to do. But I worry that he’s just using this as a distraction.

I mean, if we’re looking at the record in history of Donald Trump, the number of times he has done race-baiting things, outright racist things, they aren’t erased by this one gesture. And I think he sat there thinking, “Hmm, I’m going to show them a different Donald Trump right now,” and I’m not persuaded.

LEMON: Yeah, David, the President also made the point that Congress supported resolutions calling for a pardon in the past, and they thought it was going to be signed in the last administration. That didn’t happen. He just couldn’t resist a swipe at the former president, could he?

DAVID AXELROD: No, I think that’s part of what made this irresistible for him.

And you know, I think he sees everything as it’s going to play in the moment. And he sees no connection. He can say earlier in the day that NFL players who don’t stand for the (national) anthem because they’re protesting the kind of injustices that he was referencing in this pardon, that they should leave the country.

And he sees no connection between that and what he was going to do later in the day. And it gives more credence to Frank’s point a couple of seconds ago, which is that this was, this was a symbolic gesture, a political gesture, not an expression of deep compassion.

Reacting to the two determined leftist guests’ comments:

  • For something to be a “distraction,” there has to be something from which Trump wants to distract. Bruni wouldn’t tell viewers what Trump what that might be. How does pardoning Jack Johnson distract from North Korea, Iran, Spygate, Stormy Daniels, tariffs, or anything else? The answer is that it doesn’t, which is why Bruni would not provide any specifics.
  • Axelrod is the last person who should be complaining about a president looking at how things are “going to play in the moment.” The Democratic Party under Bill Clinton gave us the idea, eagerly adopted by Obama, of the “permanent campaign,” and of the idea of winning each day’s political battle with the American electorate (but especially their Democratic base) and against their political opponents. This predictably led to short-term thinking which, to use a form of Bruni’s word, “distracted” from each administration’s long-term success.
  • Axelrod’s attempt to equate what Jack Johnson endured to millionaire football players who want to “protest” during a song on their employers’ time is so obviously outrageous, disgraceful and unhinged that it doesn’t require further comment.
  • Finally, Axelrod pretends to know what’s in Donald Trump’s heart. It would seem far wiser to rely on Lynne Patton, someone who has worked with Trump and his family for many years, for her take on that:

It’s long past time to fully transcribe Lynne Patton’s 2016 video:

LYNNE PATTON: Today I was compelled to sit down and write this letter, not to anyone in particular, maybe even just for myself. But as a black female executive at the Trump organization I can no longer remain silent about the repeated and reprehensible attempts to align my boss and his family with racist hate-mongering groups, campaigns, and messaging.

As the daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, who rose against all odds to become one of the most established and respected doctors at Yale University, there is no amount of money in the world that could buy my loyalty to a family that subscribed to such intolerant and bigoted ideologies.

The Trump family that I know is, without question, are of the most generous, compassionate, and philanthropic families I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, and the honor to call friends. They have been incredibly loyal to me, and to the countless dedicated people they employ around the world, hiring more minority and female executives than any other company for which I’ve worked.

To equate racism with my boss’s call for a temporary moratorium on a flawed immigration system that radical Islamic terrorists continue to exploit, or the construction of an impassible wall to protect our borders from the influx of illegal drugs, is not only incendiary, it’s wholly irresponsible and only serves to embolden the very hatred these draconian groups espouse.

What common-sense American wants another terrorist attack on our soil, or to perpetuate this country’s rampant drug epidemic? But to compare my boss to Adolf Hitler simply to spin your own political agenda or social-media punchline, is a personal affront to the extermination of over 6 million Jews, and trivializes one of the worst acts of human genocide this world has ever seen.

Rest assured I am a highly intelligent, free-thinking, and independent woman. My opinions and decisions are based solely on facts — not fiction, speculation, assumption, or hearsay. I do not vote based upon the color of my skin, nor the signature on my paycheck. I judge my friends and forge my allegiances from direct personal interactions and moral character. That said, there is no higher barometer by which to measure one’s self than the one continually set by this family and their spouses. And I should know.

Like many Americans I have struggled with substance abuse and addiction. The Trump family has stood by me through immensely difficult times without hesitation or concern for their own reputation by association. They continue to trust me with every aspect of their lives and the lives of their families. They invite me into their homes, and welcome me at their family gatherings.

For the past six years, I have held an executive position as it pertains to the distribution of their charitable funds, and they have charged me to identify worthy and altruistic missions. I could not be more humbled.

This is the Trump family that I know. Only up until now, it’s all just been political campaign rhetoric and paid protesters.

But then, a letter came. And I thought to myself, “Who does this person think he is to threaten to kill somebody else’s family, any family, this family, my family, all because of a political race, a campaign?”

But then I realized that this isn’t just a race to Mr. Trump, this isn’t just a race to his family, nor to our veterans, or the unemployed. And because of that, this family is willing to risk their own lives, each and every day, for the greater good of this country. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t fear for them now.

There is a movement that is sweeping this brave nation, and I am honored to have a front-row seat to it on a daily basis. This country has spoken. My boss has justly earned the Republican nomination and broken voter registration records in countless states across America. This cannot be denied.

He has brought this party together by drawing more Democrats, more independents, and more first-time voters into the GOP fold, and has earned more Republican votes than any other presidential candidate in modern history. That must be respected.

To the skeptics who will undoubtedly claim that I’m doing this at the behest of the Trump family, or with the promise of reward, I deliberately chose not to seek their approval or counsel in advance of this video, for fear that they would be more concerned for me and its potential viral ramifications than they would be for themselves, and the fact the quite simply, this is the right thing to do.

For me, it was an easy decision — just as voting for my boss, Donald J. Trump, should be an easy decision for you.

God bless this family, God bless the voters, and God bless the United States of America.

Trump’s pardon of Jack Johnson is consistent with what Lynne Patton says she experienced for years, and as such directly refutes Bruni’s and Axelrod’s apparently incurable, evidence-free, Trump-deranged cynicism.

Cross-posted, with possible revisions, at



  1. Obama had 8 years to pardon the guy…

    Why didn’t he?

    I submit that Obama’s self serving liberal elite handlers (advisers) were too busy setting up the gravy train of tax payer money for all their buddies. And we did notice that the majority of his handlers were white males…

    Liberalism is not an ideology, it is a PR campaign to distract the public to financially rape the country. Every last Trump detractor has a vested self serving financial interest in blocking him to keep the gravy train going. Whether that be money directly or indirectly exercising power via holding public office. It was not from inconsistency that Nancy Pelosi 3 times got her hand caught in the cookie jar when it came to sponsoring legislation which financially benefited her. The elites are greedy self serving and don’t give a crap about the people they disadvantage in the process. This is why populism exists, the excesses of the elites creates a backlash.

    Comment by dscott — May 28, 2018 @ 7:54 am

  2. I suspect we’ll never know, but here are two potential contributors to Obama’s failure, both of which tie back to Jack Johnson’s marriages and liaisons with white women:

    - The first is Obama’s near or actual disdain for rank-and-file whites, as evidenced by him recklessly calling his grandmother a “typical white person,” the fact that he “Dumped (His) White Girlfriend Because Her Race Was a Political Liability,” and that he immediately claimed that a white cop acted stupidly early in his admin, leading to the “Beer Summit.”

    - Then there’s Eric Holder, whose “reluctance to prosecute criminal behavior on the part of the (New) Black Panthers in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election apparently has its roots in his own affiliation with the (original Black Panther) group as far back as 1970.” Don’t think the original Black Panthers ever officially opposed interracial dating, but many of its members did. New Black Panthers have been known to harass interracial couples. Black Lives Matter had a hissy fit over Malia Obama kissing a white guy and I also believe has harassed interracial couples. Given his background it’s more than a little likely that Eric Holder is also not a Jack Johnson sympathizer on that basis.

    The two points made constitute strong potential evidence that Obama and Holder are dictionary-definition racists.

    Yet Bruni and Axelrod insist that Trump is the racist, even as he pardons Jack Johnson, has Jewish family members, has a business with a diverse workforce, etc., etc.

    Comment by Tom — May 28, 2018 @ 8:30 am

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