Newly-minted heroes of the conservative commentator set Diamond and Silk acted as human shields for Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Wednesday.
As reporters asked the disgraced congressman how he plans to move legislation when he’s been stripped of his committee posts over his promotion of white supremacist views, Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson physically closed ranks in front of King. The Iowa representative spent a significant portion of the press conference ducked behind the social media stars.
While the women walled him off from the microphones and reporters’ inquiries, King appeared to listen intently behind them, alternately frowning and grinning as his new black allies tried to give the public official sanctuary.
“It shouldn’t be about Congressman Steve King,” Hardaway said when one reporter asked the congressman to answer a question at a press conference to which that congressman had specifically invited the media.
“Then why is he here?” one reporter replied. Richardson said King was “the one that opened the doors to Diamond and Silk” and said he “should be reinstated in his committees.”
King didn’t remain turtled behind his new pals for the entirety of the Q&A. He poked his head between them when a reporter asked why the congressman’s legislative website still lists committee assignments which he does not, in fact, hold.
“Well I never heard that question before and I wasn’t aware of that,” King said.
Mere moments later, one of King’s staff aides walked around to the congressman and whispered something to him. King then sprung in between the women again, to insistently claim that that his website contained no false claims about his ability to shape legislation, hearings, and the other actual public policy work elected officials do.
“I do want to tell you that no, my website doesn’t have those committee assignments on it, it was taken off, and so that was misrepresented,” King said. “I just got that from my communications director, he’s the one that manages that.”
The reporter – Playboy’s Alex Thomas – wasn’t misrepresenting anything. King’s staff apparently updated his site on-the-fly during Wednesday’s presser. Screenshots of cached versions of the page circulated on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, which showed that it still listed the committee assignments King has not possessed in Congress for five months.
Viewed after the aide’s quiet chat with King, the “committee assignments” page now simply says “TBD.”
King had called the press conference to introduce a bill purporting to aid homeless veterans of American wars by redirecting all federal funding from sanctuary cities to unspecified homelessness programming. At other points the trio tried to steer questions away from King’s tawdry past and present, and back toward the foolish and obvious stunt legislation they hope to disseminate out to likeminded people. But the bill is a sham, and save for White House boosters One America News, no reporter fell for the gambit.
The congressman did not consult any homeless people, advocates for the homeless, or homelessness amelioration groups or charities in crafting his legislative stunt.
“This has been led by Diamond and Silk on that component,” King told ThinkProgress.
When asked if they, then, had informed their views on how to ameliorate the homelessness crisis by consulting social workers, policy experts, or charitable organizations, Hardaway said such organizations are predatory, thieving scams that cannot be trusted.
“Organizations don’t do nothing but skim from the top and give everybody everything that’s left at the bottom,” Hardaway said. “I’m tired of you all with your groups, your organizations, and all this here, because all y’all try to do with these organizations is get some funding so you all can skim and get your kickbacks and your paddywhacks.”
All three walked away from the microphones before clarifying if this anti-charity stance means that they would personally distribute the funding King’s bill would theoretically appropriate from the federal treasury, rather than disburse it through the complex and long-running “continuums of care” system by which federal homelessness funding is routed.
King has titled the bill the “Diamond and Silk Act” (DSA), apparently proud of having let people who think homelessness advocacy groups and church charities are self-dealing grifters write a bill on homelessness for him. This forever entry in the Congressional Record is just the latest coup for the Diamond and Silk #brand, as these new celebrities rocket upward through the fast-money world of reassuring Trump voters that they are right about everything.
Diamond and Silk’s national breakout moment came when they claimed in 2018 – falsely – that Facebook was suppressing access to their page. White supremacists, neo-fascists, and other resurgent retrograde political forces sometimes naively dubbed the “alt-right” had complained that efforts to combat hate speech online were infringing on conservatives’ First Amendment rights.
Diamond and Silk’s hoax censorship claims gave that constellation of unsavory far-right figures an opportunity to push tech companies on their own speech-suppression claims when King’s party was still in the majority in the House last year.
King was stripped of his committee posts on January 14. Three weeks later, he invited Richardson and Hardaway to address a thing he does hold a chair on – the hard-right Conservative Opportunity Society’s breakfast meeting – and to join him as guests to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
The Trump moment has been kind to the two women, who reportedly charged between $225 and $500 a head to screen their low-fi documentary “Dummycrats” at Trump’s controversial Washington, D.C., hotel in 2018. They raised $45,000 from fans to shoot the flick, which RightWingWatch’s Jared Holt reported is primarily a stumbling attempt at landing an ambush interview with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
The pair reiterated their attacks on Waters at Wednesday’s press event, after which a reporter from Trump-boosting One America News snagged a close-up side interview with King, Diamond, and Silk. Moments later the trio hopped into a small black SUV driven by another aide.
Their chief complaint is that Waters won’t take a meeting with them. Waters, however, is a foolish target for ire about homelessness. She is lead author of the detailed Ending Homelessness Act, a $13.27 billion five-year investment in a suite of battle-tested housing, rehabilitation, case management, and workforce training programs that people who work on the front lines on this issue have recommended to her over her near two decades-long legislative career.
“If Representative King is serious about ending homelessness then there’s any number of other bills he should endorse, and encourage his colleagues to endorse. Rep. Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act would be a good place to start,” Eric Tars of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty told ThinkProgress.
“But putting immigration and homelessness at odds with each other doesn’t make sense,” Tars said. “Even his own conservative colleagues are calling him out for this kind of scapegoating and political game-playing with clearly vulnerable populations.”