How ICE Became a ‘Propaganda Machine’ for Trump

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In June 2018, Talia became Lavin, then a fact checker for The New Yorkerfound herself in an unusual position for a journalist: she was personally targeted by a government agency. It had come under the control of the ICE Office of Public Affairs, the agency’s public face that played a pivotal role in President Trump’s fight against undocumented migrants. That role increasingly earned the agency the wrath of a growing movement that encompassed a range of resistance from faith groups to members of Congress. A Jewish activist group, Never Again Action, had gone so far as to draw parallels between the disturbingly poor conditions in ICE prisons and the concentration camps of the Holocaust. When Lavin saw a tweet From ICE with one of its officials, Justin Gaertner, with a cross-shaped tattoo, she wondered if it was the Iron Cross that Nazi iconography was familiar with. She posted a tweet comparing them. When people pointed out that it might be some other symbol like a Maltese cross, Lavin immediately removed the tweet. But it was already too late.

The next day, ICE shot back. There was a Press release, posted on a Twitter thread mentioning Lavin’s name. The statement accused Lavin of “baselessly slandering an American hero” whom she described as a battle-wounded Marine Corps veteran with both legs amputated, and asking her and her employer to apologize and withdraw. Lavin realizes she made a mistake, but the question she raised was hardly outrageous. even the FBI warned against it the presence of white supremacists in the ranks of the US law enforcement agencies. But Gaertner quickly became a celebre for many on the right.

Almost immediately, Lavin received a spate of abusive messages, including anti-Semitic and misogynistic slurs. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer released an article titled “Greasy Fat K-e” Fact Checker; Talia Lavin confuses the war hero’s military tattoo with the “neo-Nazi symbol”. Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolous sent Paypal with Paypal $ 14.88 – an old-right abbreviation that combined a white supremacist slogan that “14 words” with the code for “Heil Hitler” – a stunt for Paypal suspended his account. The angry response would only build after Fox News’s Laura Ingraham aired a segment related to the ordeal, calling Lavin and another reporter, Lauren Duca, “petty journo terrorists” and calling for Lavin to be fired. Not just Lavin within a few days he apologizedShe resigned from her position The New Yorker where she had worked for three years. Today Lavin works as a freelance journalist.

“This is my Joker origin story about how I covered it on the far right,” Lavin said. She has now written a book on the subject. Lavin questions ICE’s claim that it “perpetuated” harmful allegations regarding Gaetner’s tattoo, pointing out that she deleted her tweet so quickly that no copy remains publicly. “I was thrown face first into a poison container because of a complete lie,” she says.

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