Kudos to NYU's Brennan Center for Justice and the New York Times' Michael Powell for catching NYPD spokesman Paul Browne in massive, galling, and bald-faced lie. The man should be fired.
When the Village Voice reported last year that the NYPD had been training its officers with The Third Jihad, a vicious Islamophobic movie claiming that "much of the Muslim leadership in America" are part of a "strategy to infiltrate and dominate" the country, Browne brushed it off: It's a "wacky movie," he told the Voice's Tom Robbins, that was mistakenly shown "a couple of times." What about the fact that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly actually appeared in the film as an interviewee? "[Browne said] the footage was scraped from another source," Robbins wrote. Yesterday, Browne told the New York Times the same thing: "Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that filmmakers had lifted the clip from an old interview. "
We now know that's a lie. The Brennan Center, through a Freedom of Information Law request, found that The Third Jihad was screened to nearly 1,500 officers on a "continuous loop" for up to a year. Even more egregious: The Times' Michael Powell tells us today that not only did Ray Kelly actually submit to an interview for the film, but Paul Browne actually recommended that he do so:
On Tuesday, the film's producer, Raphael Shore, e-mailed the Times and provided a date and time for their 90-minute interview with the commissioner at Police Headquarters on March 19, 2007. Told of this e-mail, Mr. Browne revised his account.
"He's right," Mr. Browne said Tuesday of the producer. "In fact, I recommended in February 2007 that Commissioner Kelly be interviewed."
In an e-mail, Mr. Browne said that when he first saw the film in 2011, he assumed the commissioner's interview was taken from old clips, even though the film referred to Mr. Kelly as an "interviewee."
All public relations professionals lie. That's what they're paid to do. (Outraged flacks: Don't email me saying you always tell the truth. I know you're lying!) And Browne's claim about The Third Jihad being screened only a few times is, in context, a minor offense: Maybe he was misinformed, or didn't have all the facts when he spoke. But to tell two different reporters, a year apart, that Kelly was never interviewed for a film he appeared in, and that Browne himself recommended Kelly be interviewed for, is almost pathological. He is paid by New York's taxpayers, and should be fired.
[Image via Getty]