[guest post by Dana]
You know, I’ve avoided posting about this story because it’s so disturbing to me that the President of the United States would promote a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory, and cause undue hurt to an innocent family as a result. But I am publishing a post about it because I am livid that Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a very real family, whose members have already mourned and grieved the loss of their loved one and find themselves grieving all over again because, in an effort to smear MSNBC on-air host Joe Scarbarough, our deranged president has insinuated in a series of indefensible tweets that foul play was involved in the death of Lori Klausutis, and that Joe Scarbarough was at the heart of it.
Klausutis was an employee who was found dead in Joe Scarbarough’s then-congressional office:
A little after 8 a.m. on July 20, 2001, a couple arriving for an appointment opened an unlocked front door at an office in the Florida panhandle town of Fort Walton Beach and discovered a woman lying on the floor, dead. Her name was Lori Kaye Klausutis and she was just 28.
The police said they found no signs of foul play. The medical examiner concluded her lonely death was an accident. She had fainted, the result of a heart condition, and hit her head on a desk, he said.
In an attack on Joe Scarbarough, Trump posted a number of tweets referencing the death of Klausutis, in which he smeared her by implying there might have been an affair, and
asked intentionally suggested that Scarbarough had gotten away with murder. Here are Trump’s tweets from the past weekend and today:
A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story! https://t.co/CjBXBXxoNS
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
….about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
In a moving letter, the surviving husband of Lori Klausutis implored Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, to delete the tweets involving the death of his wife. Via the NYT, I am posting the letter in full because I think it’s important we get a full picture of inordinate cruelty of Trump’s comments:
21 May 2020
Jack Dorsey, CEO
1355 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94103
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly 19 years ago, my wife, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. She was found dead the next morning. Her name is Lori Kaye Klausutis and she was 28 years old when she died. Her passing is the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister.
I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.
The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.
I’m sure you are aware of this situation because media around the world have covered it, but just in case, here it is:
When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
“Concast” should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough. I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is “nuts”. Besides, bad ratings! #OPENJOECOLDCASE
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2020
What show is Joe going to go on to discuss Lori Klausutis? https://t.co/sL4AxAQrlb
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 30, 2020
My request is simple: Please delete these tweets.
I’m a research engineer and nota lawyer, but I’ve reviewed all of Twitter’s rules and terms of service. The President’s tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered — without evidence (and contrary to the official autopsy) — is a violation of Twitter’s community rules and terms of service. An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet but I am only asking that these tweets be removed.
I am now angry as well as frustrated and grieved. I understand that Twitter’s policies about content are designed to maintain the appearance that your hands are clean you provide the platform and the rest is up to users. However, in certain past cases, Twitter has removed content and accounts that are inconsistent with your terms of service.
I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain. I would also ask that you consider Lori’s niece and two nephews who will eventually come across this filth in the future. They have never met their Aunt and it pains me to think they would ever have to “learn” about her this way.
My wife deserves better.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Timothy J. Klausutis, Ph.D.
Scarbarough’s on-air co-host and real life wife Mika Brzezinski has been vigorously attacking Trump for his outlandish tweets, as well as imploring Twitter to delete them. Last week, she said that a phone call between her and Jack Dorsey was being set up:
“Donald, you’re a sick person. You’re a sick person, to put this family through this, to put her husband through this, to do this just because you’re mad at Joe, because Joe got you again today,” she said. “Because he speaks the truth, and he speaks plainly about your lack of interest and empathy in others and your lack of ability to handle this massive human catastrophe, the fact that you have made it worse and you make it worse every day. And that you won’t even wear a mask to protect people from your germs.”
Brzezinski said Twitter should not be allowing the tweets and that they should be taken down. “You will be hearing from me on this, because this is B.S.” she said. She later tweeted at Dorsey, “@jack At what point is @Twitter a part of this? TAKE DOWN TRUMP’s ACCOUNT— the world world be safer. Retweet if you agree.”
Today Twitter responded to requests that President Trump’s tweets be deleted, saying that they did not violate its terms of service:
Twitter spokesperson told Mediaite, “We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family.”
“We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly,” they added.
For your information, Twitter rules on abusive behavior are here:
Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.
In order to facilitate healthy dialogue on the platform, and empower individuals to express diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that harasses or intimidates, or is otherwise intended to shame or degrade others. In addition to posing risks to people’s safety, abusive behavior may also lead to physical and emotional hardship for those affected.
I would like to know the process that Twitter went through to arrive at the conclusion they did. I would also like to see Twitter rules applied equally to all of its users.
Mostly, I am just so sorry for the pain that Mr. Klausutis, a private citizen, is needlessly experiencing because the President of the United States is such an abysmal individual.
Do not attempt to defend Trump’s tweets in the post are indefensible. However, commenter Appalled suggests that it would be instructive to see people attempt to defend all the collateral damage, so comments are open.]