Sherry Sylvester


Sarah Palin Didn’t Fire a Shot – and Nobody Died for the Dow

Ever since the Johns Hopkins report came out the other week, I have been waiting for headlines across the country to appear saying “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was Right.”  Lockdowns had virtually no impact on COVID-19 deaths or infection rates.

On March 23, 2020, Lt. Gov. Patrick told Tucker Carlson on Fox News that as a person in the high-risk age group for Covid, he did not believe the country should sacrifice the economy or imperil the future of our grandchildren to protect seniors like himself by locking down. He made it clear he was only speaking for himself, and he repeatedly advocated seniors take every step necessary to protect themselves from exposure. But he said he was more afraid of the collapse of the economy than he was of dying. He told Tucker he’d spoken with other older Americans who agreed with him.

It only took minutes for the media and the left to accuse Lt. Gov. Patrick of telling older Americans that they should sacrifice their health or even die to keep businesses open. Media and the left across Texas and the rest of the country—and even in Europe—lambasted him, insisting that he’d said that old people should be sacrificed for the economy. They shortened the message to “Die for the Dow,” and it trended on Twitter. At the same time, the very same media was effusively praising then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was actually killing old people with his pandemic strategies.   

We are still calculating the costs of shutting down the economy—beyond killing businesses and putting millions out of work. Staggering suicide rates, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, delayed medical tests and treatments and the devastating impact on our schools and children are all part of the fallout from lockdowns that we now know were totally unnecessary.      

The media should have been asking the questions Johns Hopkins asked in its lockdown analysis from the first day the orders were proposed, but they didn’t. Instead, they presented Patrick and other leaders who opposed lockdowns as insensitive and hateful. President Joe Biden even accused lockdown opponents of “Neanderthal thinking.”  

So now the data shows that Lt. Gov. Patrick was right, who holds the media accountable? Judging from what happened at the trial last week, when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sued the New York Times, it looks like nobody. 

Like Lt. Gov. Patrick, the media accused Palin of being responsible for killing people. In 2017, after Congressman Steve Scalise and several other Republicans were shot playing baseball in Washington, D.C., the New York Times wrote an editorial headlined America’s Lethal Politics charging that Palin was at least partially responsible for the shooting:  

In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

The Times deleted the line “the link to political incitement was clear” pretty quickly, and later it was forced to admit that the shooter had never seen the graphic in Palin’s PAC map. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman notes that the paper admits its work was sloppy. It also said it had a policy to never apologize for errors. 

 That’s it. The official response from the national newspaper of record was to shrug it off with a “my bad.”  

Editorial Page Editor James Bennett said he hadn’t meant to imply that Palin had incited violence. 

So, in addition to the “my bad” shrug, the editor told the court that he didn’t really mean what he wrote. But the New York Times didn’t actually back down. Its editorial still suggests Palin, somehow, was responsible for the shooting; it just can’t prove it. Here’s what the “corrected” editorial that is posted online now says about it:

Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established. 

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff called the Times editorial an “honest mistake,” and he says he plans to throw the case out after the jury returns. 

 But, of course, it wasn’t honest and it wasn’t a mistake. The media routinely uses tactics like this to demonize individual conservatives. They use various forms of lying—hyperbole, twisting words, exaggeration, taking statements out of context or simply making things up. If they can concoct a charge that involves people being killed, that’s even better. 

National Public Radio (NPR) icon Nina Tottenberg reported recently that conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to put on a mask when liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayer asked him too. The story noted that since Sotomayer has co-morbidities and is at a high risk for COVID-19, Gorsuch’s actions could kill her. However, both Gorsuch and Sotomayer issued a statement saying it wasn’t true. Obviously, Tottenberg either made it up or she published something she hadn’t confirmed. NPR is standing by the story. Apparently it has a “no apology” policy too.

 Palin is expected to appeal the judge’s decision to dismiss the case, but no one expects the New York Times to admit she was right, just like the media will never report that Lt. Gov. Patrick was right to oppose lockdowns early in the pandemic. It is ironic that the media calls challenges to the 2020 election “the Big Lie” when clearly, those in the media are the big liars, whether it be through their attacks on conservatives or conservative issues.

Here are just a few of the facts they continue to misreport. Photo Voter ID doesn’t suppress the vote. Turnout has increased since it passed.  Banning critical race theory doesn’t prohibit teaching about slavery and racism, it requires it. School choice isn’t for rich kids, it’s for poor kids, a proven way of obtaining better performance outcomes. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to report those facts. And don’t ever expect them to apologize when they lie.       

 TPPF’s Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester, has spent decades working at the nexus of public policy and politics. She began as a left-leaning Democrat on the East Coast but years of working closely with progressives pushed her to the right. After two decades in Texas, she is a committed to Keeping Texas Texan — a beacon of freedom and liberty, a center of innovation, and a major force in the global economy. Coming off a 17-year stint working around the Texas Capitol, including 7 years as Senior Advisor to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 9th & Congress, presents her insights and updates on politics, policy, the news and history.

 In case you missed Sherry’s op-ed on the New York Times’ 1619 Project – America’s History is Not Black and White – you can read it here: 

Sherry’s op-ed on the transgender attack on women’s rights, you can read it here: Women’s Rights & Trans Rights 

Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester Available for Election Night Analysis

Sherry Sylvester, a Texas Public Policy Foundation Distinguished Senior Fellow, will be available on Election Night to analyze the results of the 2022 Texas Primary Elections and their impact on policy and politics in the Lone Star State going forward.

Sylvester has worked at the nexus of politics and public policy for decades.  She has directed multi-million dollar statewide campaigns in New York and New Jersey, as well as Texas, and has been involved in dozens of Texas legislative campaigns. Campaigns and Elections Magazine has called her a “respected veteran” of hard-fought elections and in 2005, her alma mater, the Graduate School of Political Management, now at George Washington University in Washington D.C., named her “Alumni of the Year,” for her accomplishments in the field of professional politics.

Sylvester has has experience on both sides of the aisle. Early in her career Sherry served as Communications Director for U.S. Senate candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman ever nominated for Vice President on a major party ticket. She also worked for David Dinkins, the first African-American to be elected Mayor of New York City. In Texas, she was a member of the original campaign and transition teams of Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and she managed his 2018 re-election campaign. She served for seven years as Senior Advisor to the Lt. Governor.

Sherry is also an award-winning journalist who has appeared on numerous national television and radio shows and has published hundreds of pieces of political commentary. In Texas, she covered politics for the San Antonio Express-News.   


George Wallace, Bull Connor, Jefferson Davis & Me

The outrage over President Joe Biden’s ridiculous comments in Georgia last month lingers. Condemning those who oppose a federal takeover of state elections as racist was not a gaff. He was reading from a speech, which means that both the president and his team believe that the strong majorities of Texans in both parties who oppose federalizing elections are choosing the side of white supremacist segregationists like former Alabama Governor George Wallace, notorious Birmingham Sheriff Bull Connor and even Jefferson Davis, over Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. We rarely get a clearer statement of how little the progressive left knows about the American people.

There’s no shortage of Democrats who go around saying their conservative opponents are racists. We hear it from the media all the time, but somehow, it was more appalling to hear it coming from the White House. For those who remember who Wallace and Connor were, this insult is unforgivable.

The civil rights battles of the 1960s changed America and impacted everyone who lived through them. They didn’t end racism or hate, but Wallace and Connor did not win. Instead, we Americans who lived during those times know that while the country is not perfect, it is profoundly better and more embracing of difference and diversity. Everyone has their own story. Here’s mine.

I attended segregated schools in Oklahoma until my last couple of years in high school. There were only a few black families in the very small town where I grew up and their children were bused to an integrated school in the next town, seven miles away. Ironically, it was a bigger and better school than the one in our town, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a stigma to being bused out. It was always an awkward discussion when my sister and I were playing with the African-American girls who lived near us as to why they didn’t go to our school. I recall them saying little and just looking away.

My parents supported keeping the schools segregated, but they didn’t march or protest. My father was the mayor of the tiny town where I grew up. He was a veteran of the Great Depression and World War II and taking it to the streets on any issue was not in his DNA. He didn’t like marches.

While Bull Connor, the fat, hate-filled Alabama sheriff, became a symbol for violent white supremacy in Birmingham, my school was integrated with little fanfare. The girls we played with had moved away and there was only one mixed race boy in town who attended.
He was several years younger than me and I don’t recall ever talking to him, but I know his time wasn’t easy. He was being raised by a single mother and there was lots of speculation about the identity of his father, who was presumably white.

He played football—though he was not a star—and I recall hearing some kids making jokes about his skin color in yearbook photos. But the jokers were viewed as ignorant by the cool kids. I never saw a teacher tolerate any bullying or mistreatment, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. We still prayed a lot in public schools in those days and although the country and our town was bitterly divided over integration, we were never allowed to forget that meanness and hateful behavior are not Christian. Looking at old yearbooks, it appears he left town before he graduated.

I never heard my father echo George Wallace’s cry for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” but Wallace was a Democrat, like my father, and shared a hatred for the Northeast elites who were running the country. Wallace ran for president a number of times and I recall my Dad supporting him, at least for a while, in one of his bids. During those same years, Biden bragged about his friendship with Wallace and accepted an award from him in 1973. Wallace’s last run for the White House was in 1976, when my Dad was backing Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

A few years later, Dad threw his support behind Jesse Jackson’s presidential effort, both in 1984 and 1988. Dad told me that Jackson was the only candidate who was speaking for working people. The Democrats should have listened to my Dad. Jackson came in second in the 1988 primary that Michael Dukakis won—and it was a disaster for them.

I recall pointing out to my Dad at the time that he’d gone from being a Wallace Democrat to being a Jackson Democrat, but he didn’t think it was particularly notable.

My father detested Reagan and the Bushes. He voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. I had no luck convincing him to vote Republican either time and, had he lived, I am confident there is nothing I could have said that would have kept him from voting for Obama and celebrating the election of the first Black president.

Seeing this change up close in my family—and in the communities where I lived—makes me very skeptical of concepts like “systematic racism” and “structural discrimination” that comprise the phony premise of critical race theory.

My father was not unique. Most Americans—not all—have changed their thinking about race and so many other things, since the 1960s. Do hate and racism still exist? Absolutely. But is half of the country racist as Biden implied? No.

Perhaps the most heinous accusation Biden made in Georgia was suggesting those who disagree with him on a federal election takeover are on the side of Jefferson Davis, the traitorous former president of the rebellious confederate states who led the charge to take up arms in revolt against the union. What a hateful and irresponsible thing to say.

My Dad did not know Jefferson Davis, of course, but like many who fought in World War II, he was the grandson of a Civil War veteran. His grandfather fought on the Union side, coming in with the troops behind Sherman for the occupation of Atlanta. The Civil War was not distant history for him, it was family history.

Biden’s “Wallace, Connor, Davis” statement may be a fatal blow to Democrats because everybody has stories like this. People like me remember what the country was like in the 1960s, compared to what America is like today. We know what “voter suppression” looks like and we know that it is not requiring a photo ID to vote or a signature on your mail-in ballot, actions that have broad support among all Americans, including Latinos and African Americans.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Biden’s federal election takeover bill failed. It is hard to know why Biden pushed so hard for legislation that so many Americans oppose. The President’s sanctimonious preaching about Jim Crow 2.0, suggesting that nothing has changed in America since the civil rights movement or even the Civil War destroyed whatever shred of credibility he had left. Most Americans already know Biden has to go, but whoever wrote that speech for him should be fired now. 

For Texas,