The source behind the damning audio clip of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defending his stop-and-frisk policy called out CNN for "dismissing" the story because of his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
On Monday night, podcaster Benjamin Dixon resurfaced the clip from 2015 of Bloomberg offering remarks to the Aspen Institute, where he acknowledged that "stop and frisk" targeted minority "kids" who cops must throw "up against the wall" to disarm. The Aspen Times reported at the time that Bloomberg representatives asked the Institute not to distribute footage of his appearance.
"Ninety-five percent of murders -- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops," he said. "They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city. [inaudible] And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed."
Bloomberg also said urban crime-fighting required cities to "spend the money" and "put a lot of cops in the streets," particularly in "minority neighborhoods," where he said the crime is. He also acknowledged the "unintended consequences" of the policy.
"So one of the unintended consequences is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods," Bloomberg is heard saying on the recording. "Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them. ... And then they start... 'Oh I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home."
However, during a segment on CNN late Tuesday morning, CNN politics and business correspondent Cristina Alesci appeared to downplay the significance of Bloomberg's remarks because of the source.
"Here's the thing ... important context here: We don't have the full tape," Alesci began. "So this is obviously snippets that have been released. The podcaster and the writer that released this sound is clearly a Bernie supporter. If you look at his Twitter feed, he's very anti-Bloomberg. He's been promoting the hashtag '#BloombergIsARacist.' We don't know how he got the sound to begin with. So lots of questions are being asked, especially on the timing of this. ... A poll yesterday shows Bloomberg rising in the polls, in particular strong support in the African American community. He polled at 22 percent, just behind Joe Biden at 27 percent. So the timing here and the mission here are all calling into question-"
"But we also know that Bloomberg is going to be faced with continued questions about the stop and frisk policy," CNN anchor Kate Bolduan said.
"That is correct," Alesci responded.
CNN failed to disclose that Alesci previously worked at Bloomberg Television before joining the liberal network in 2014, according to her CNN profile.
The segment was slammed on social media as a "vile" attempt to defend Bloomberg.
"In a VILE display of defending @MikeBloomberg's racism, @CNN responds to audio unearthed by @BenjaminPDixon that shows Bloomberg saying you stop crime by frisking minorities by... Attacking Dixon as a Bernie supporter, questioning how he got the audio — and what his motives are," Status Coup reporter Jordan Chariton reacted.
I'm sorry... what bulls--- is this? What does @BenjaminPDixon's candidate preference have to do with what @MikeBloomberg said or his obvious racism? (We don't need that tape to prove his racism.) @CNN is a dumpster fire," former Rewire News editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson tweeted.
"CNN says that we don't know how Dixon got this audio or the context for Bloomberg's snippet... audio from the entire one hour Bloomberg interview has been sitting on YouTube practically unnoticed for *five* years!" Mashable reporter Matt Binder pointed out.
"Few things are more embittered, envious or contemptuous than the way corporate media stars speak of independent journalists who get a huge scoop that their big media corporations failed to get. Revel in their envy, @BenjaminPDixon - it's an expression of their insecurity," The Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald wrote.
Dixon also offered a poignant response to CNN.
"Hey @CNN if you want to dismiss this because I support senator sanders, you could always pick up the phone and hear from the [horse's] mouth," Dixon told the network.
Bloomberg Tuesday afternoon re-upped his apology and went after President Trump for his own racist appeals.
“President Trump’s deleted tweet is the latest example of his endless efforts to divide Americans,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95 percent, but I should've done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities.”
Bloomberg affirmed his commitments to criminal justice reform and racial equity. He said he reduced incarceration by 40 percent and juvenile confinement by more than 60 percent, improved education for black and Latino communities and created an initiative to help young men of color stay on track for success, "which President Obama built on to create My Brother's Keeper."
“In contrast, President Trump inherited a country marching towards greater equality and divided us with racist appeals and hateful rhetoric," Bloomberg said. "The challenge of the moment is clear: we must confront this President and do everything we can to defeat him. The president’s attack on me clearly reflects his fear over the growing strength of my campaign. Make no mistake Mr. President: I am not afraid of you and I will not let you bully me or anyone else in America. Between now and November, I will do everything I can to defeat you whether I am on the ballot or not.”
Fox News' Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.