Diamond and Silk

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Diamond and Silk
The Social Media Summit (48267965547) (cropped).jpg
Diamond and Silk in 2019
Born
Lynnette Hardaway ("Diamond")
Rochelle Richardson ("Silk")
NationalityAmerican
OccupationSocial media personalities, political activists
Notable work
The Viewers View
Political partyRepublican (2015–present)
Democratic (until 2015)

Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Hardaway Richardson, known as Diamond and Silk, are American live-stream video bloggers, political activists, celebrities, and Newsmax hosts, whose commentary typically supports former United States President Donald Trump.

The two women received media attention during the 2016 campaign and again in April 2018 when Facebook notified them they were "unsafe to the community."[1] In response, they publicly complained that Facebook blocked and censored their Facebook page.[2][3][4] On April 26, 2018, at Rep. Steve King's invitation they testified in front of Congress about their censorship.[5][6] Subsequently, Republican members of Congress brought up the two women's censorship claims at Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before U.S. Congress.[7] In April 2020, the two were terminated from Fox News for questioning the legitimacy of COVID-19 data.[8]

History[edit]

Diamond and Silk with Louie Gohmert

Early life[edit]

Hardaway and Richardson are sisters. They were born as Ineithia Lynette Hardaway and Herneitha Rochelle Hardaway; they go by their middle names. They have three other siblings.[9]

Their parents are Freeman Hardaway and Betty Willis Hardaway, televangelical pastors based in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Freeman and Betty Hardaway sold purported weight loss cures, and wreaths that ward off witchcraft. For a fee of $50, Betty wrote the name of payers in a Bible, telling payers that this would make God answer their prayers.[9]

Politics[edit]

Hardaway and Richardson were registered as Democrats in 2012.[9] Their first YouTube videos were a montage about police brutality, titled "Black Lives Matter" (it received 17,000 views), and a video about Sandra Bland, a black woman who died in a Texas jail (it received 32,000 views).[9] After the pair began to make pro-Trump videos, their YouTube channel started to grow considerably.[9]

Although officially unaffiliated with the Trump campaign, they urged support for Trump via social media efforts and rallies and traveled to three states for the campaign.[10][11] The two women first joined Donald Trump as the "Stump for Trump Girls" on stage at his Raleigh, North Carolina, rally on December 4, 2015.[12] They later warmed up the crowd at the Trump rally on January 2, 2016, in Biloxi, Mississippi.[13] They initiated a "Ditch and Switch" campaign to encourage Democrats to register as Republicans[14] and created a website explaining to voters which states had closed primaries and when the deadlines were for changing party affiliations.[11]

On November 2, 2016, Diamond and Silk appeared with Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on behalf of the Trump campaign.[15] They were paid $1,274.94 for field consulting work by the Trump campaign.[16]

They regularly appeared on Fox News shows including Hannity, Fox News Sunday, Watters' World, and The Ingraham Angle, and Fox & Friends.[17] In November 2018, Diamond and Silk were given a show on Fox Nation, the online Fox News streaming service.[18][19] They were covered on ABC's Nightline.[20] Hardaway is notably more talkative, while Richardson often just expresses agreement.[21]

A documentary film by Hardaway and Richardson titled Dummycrats premiered in October 2018 at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.[22]

In May 2019, during a Fox & Friends appearance, Diamond and Silk claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a "non-functioning alcoholic" who "slurs her words." This was in reference to a doctored and slowed down video that appeared to show her slurring her words. Shortly thereafter, Fox & Friends had to clarify for its viewers that the video was manipulated.[23]

In 2019, Diamond and Silk appeared in a Trump 2020 re-election advertisement where they gave a pitch for his re-election. At the same time, Diamond and Silk had a weekly show on Fox News' streaming service.[24]

Beginning in March 2020, Hardaway and Richardson questioned various information about COVID-19 including whether or not the number of deaths from the pandemic was being inflated in order to make Donald Trump look incompetent. These questions led to the termination of their work with FOX in April.[8][25]

Politics[edit]

Racial views[edit]

Following the controversial Unite the Right rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11 and 12, 2017, Hardaway and Richardson, appearing on Fox & Friends, were critical of protesters on both sides in the event. Hardaway criticized Neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan for "spewing hate and ... creating violence" declaring "all of them should be condemned and denounced. Period". In the same interview, she also said she does not "like Black Lives Matter and Antifa." They further noted that they feel statues of Civil War Confederate soldiers should be kept in museums.[26]

Hardaway and Richardson, in December 2017, expressed support for Omarosa Manigault Newman following her controversial firing as White House liaison and assistant, faulting the treatment of her by African Americans and the media generally: "What I find appalling, to my brothers and sisters [is] how you ... can laugh at, pick at, gloat at somebody because they either left the White House or you listened to a salacious story that Miss Piggy went around, running around telling everybody." In the same live-stream, they criticized Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts for saying, "Bye, Felicia" to Newman during a segment on the ABC show which aired on December 14, 2017.[27][28] Addressing Roberts's remarks, Hardaway said, "How is it that you want the community to come up and then when a sister is sitting at the table, 'Well, she didn’t represent us'? Are you crazy?"[27]

2018 Congressional testimony[edit]

On April 26, 2018, they appeared at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on alleged filtering practices of social media platforms. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee asked the two women if they had ever received money from the Trump campaign, to which Hardaway responded, "We have never been paid by the Trump campaign." Representative Hakeem Jeffries suggested that they could be committing perjury and showed them a Federal Election Commission filing which reported that the Trump campaign paid them $1,275 on November 22, 2016 for "field consulting".[29][30][6]

Diamond and Silk then stated that the payment was reimbursement for the cost of airplane tickets. Following their testimony, The Huffington Post reported that, according to Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate, the payment had been categorized incorrectly. Crate stated, "The Campaign’s payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a Campaign event. The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs." In the same Huffington Post article, it was reported that following a $7,025 payment from the campaign of Paul Ryan primary election challenger Paul Nehlen, Hardaway and Richardson made a campaign video and endorsed Nehlen.[31]

Diamond and Silk Act of 2019[edit]

In June 2019, House Representative Steve King joined with Diamond and Silk to introduce the Diamond and Silk Act, an anti–sanctuary city bill.[32][33][34] When Diamond and Silk were asked what they thought of King retweeting white supremacists, Hardaway responded, "I’m tired of you all playing the race card."[34] The bill failed to pass the House vote and garnered backlash from both left and right-wing media.

The conservative news magazine Washington Examiner criticized King for mocking homelessness and veteran's issues with the bill,[35] and described the Diamond and Silk Act of 2019 as being "named for a clownish YouTube duo who have leveraged their online popularity into regular appearances on Fox News".[36]

Platforms[edit]

Facebook[edit]

In an April 2018, tweet and Facebook post, Hardaway and Richardson reproduced a message from Facebook stating that the Diamond and Silk Facebook page's content and brand were deemed to be "unsafe to the community." According to Hardaway and Richardson, the message sent from the Facebook policy team concluded with: "This decision is final and it is not appeal-able in any way." The pair stated that they believed that they had been victims of censorship by Facebook after receiving a communication from the social media website's policy team.

Both women stated they had started questioning Facebook via phone calls, emails, and chat sessions as to their alleged "bias censorship and discrimination against D&S brand page" in September 2017. Both women have stated a reduction in reactions to their posts and videos since that time period, and that followers no longer receive notifications about posts and videos. As of April 2018, their Facebook page states they have nearly 1.3 million followers.[37]

Diamond and Silk's censorship claims were uncritically repeated in right-wing media.[38] According to CNN, their claims likely influenced an April 2018 congressional hearing which involved Mark Zuckerberg after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.[38] Business Insider noted that Diamond and Silk were a "frequent topic" during that hearing.[39] Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn finished her questioning of Zuckerberg by stating, "Let me tell you something right now, Diamond and Silk is not terrorism". Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton asked Zuckerberg, "Why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk?" Zuckerberg responded that Facebook employees had made an error and they had contacted Hardaway and Richardson.[40][41]

While there is no evidence that Diamond and Silk were censored or that their page was blocked by Facebook, the pair continues to contend it was.[38][4][3][2] Facebook's own analytics firm showed that the Diamond and Silk page had not lost a significant amount of influence on the social network.[38] By the time that Diamond and Silk spoke at a congressional hearing about their censorship claims, news outlets such as CNN and Business Insider described their censorship claims as debunked.[4][39] At the hearing, experts testified that there was no evidence that Diamond and Silk had been targeted.[2] According to The Washington Post, "the numbers do not bear out the argument that the sisters have been repressed."[2]

Diamond and Silk stated that Facebook had not contacted them. Facebook said they attempted contact via email, Twitter, phone, and Facebook Messenger.[38][39][3] The pair later said that messages sent to them through email should not be expected to be read, because they receive many emails.[39]

Fox News[edit]

Beginning in 2018, the pair produced original content for Fox News and Fox Nation.[42] The pair's content ceased in April 2020; they had last appeared on Fox News and Fox Business in early March. On April 27, The Daily Beast reported that Fox had severed ties with the pair. According to sources at Fox News, the network cut ties with the sisters due to their propagation of misinformation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.[43][42]

Newsmax TV[edit]

Since leaving the Fox News platform, the duo has a Saturday afternoon show on Newsmax TV titled Diamond and Silk Crystal Clear.[44]

Response[edit]

Artist and activist Bree Newsome has described Hardaway and Richardson as "a modern-day minstrel show" and stated in an interview that the pair's presentation relies on "stereotypical images of black women".[45] Keith Boykin argued that, "the way they speak, the way they talk and act and behave [... if they] were saying anything that was contradictory to Trump, the Trump supporters who defend them would be the first to attack them." Boykin argued that conservatives give attention to Hardaway and Richardson because they "only want to listen to the people who reaffirm their narrow, limited vision of what blackness is all about and how black people should perceive white people and specifically how they should perceive Donald Trump."[45]

Books[edit]

Diamond and Silk wrote Uprising: Who the Hell Said You Can't Ditch and Switch? — The Awakening of Diamond and Silk, published in 2020 by Regnery. The book was on Publishers Weekly Hardcover Frontlist Non-Fiction Bestsellers ranked at #17 as of August 28, 2020.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Diamond and Silk Testimony to House Judiciary Committee" (PDF). Judiciary Committee, US House of Representatives. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Hesse, Monica; Zak, Dan (April 26, 2018). "Who are Diamond and Silk? How two small-town ex-Democrats found fame as 'warriors' for Trump". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 28, 2018. Experts testified in Congress that there’s no evidence of targeting... The numbers do not bear out the argument that the sisters have been repressed.
  3. ^ a b c Bowden, John (April 27, 2018). "Chris Cuomo confronts GOP lawmaker over Diamond and Silk's claims of censorship". TheHill. Retrieved April 28, 2018. The two pro-Trump personalities allege that a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, censored their content using algorithms to prevent it from showing up on users' feeds. They have provided no evidence for they claim, which Facebook and other companies deny. In addition, the two were found to have erroneously claimed that Facebook did not contact them over their concerns, despite an investigation showing that Facebook reps attempted to reach out to the two over email.
  4. ^ a b c Darcy, Oliver. "The Diamond and Silk show goes to Washington". CNNMoney. Retrieved April 28, 2018. They had not been censored. Hardaway and Richardson's claims had been thoroughly debunked.
  5. ^ "Diamond and Silk UNCENSORED: Duo Accepts Steve King's Invitation to Testify". April 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Pro-Trump social media stars Diamond and Silk testify under oath". Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Romm, Tony (July 17, 2018). "Republicans accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of bias. Democrats called the hearing 'dumb.'". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ a b Cartwright, Laura; Baragona, Justin (April 27, 2020). "Fox News Cuts Ties with Diamond & Silk, Unofficial Trump 'Advisers' Who Spread Bonkers Coronavirus Claims". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e Monica Hesse and Dan Zak (April 26, 2018). "Who are Diamond and Silk? How two small-town ex-Democrats found fame as 'warriors' for Trump". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ Lanktree, Graham (August 10, 2017). "Pro-Trump Youtubers Diamond and Silk 'Build Their Brand' with a hand from the Trump Administration". Newsweek. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Supporters Seek to Persuade Democrats to ‘Ditch and Switch’ for Donald Trump, New York Times, January 7, 2016.
  12. ^ Donald Trump Supporters Diamond and Silk a Comedy Act?, Liberty Voice, December 9, 2015.
  13. ^ ‘Stump for Trump’ duo rock capacity crowd at MS rally, The American Mirror, January 3, 2016.
  14. ^ Stuart, Tessa (September 28, 2016). "Meet the Black Women Defending Trump's Record on Race". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 28, 2018. Like Trump himself, Diamond and Silk are new to the Republican party. Lifelong Democrats, they switched parties so they could cast their votes for him in the North Carolina primary.
  15. ^ "Diamond and Silk, Lara Trump bring Women for Trump tour to Winston-Salem". Winston-Salem Journal. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  16. ^ "FEC Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. Itemized Disbursements". Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Morris, Melinda (March 20, 2018). "Fox News darlings Diamond and Silk bringing 'Chit Chat Tour' to New Orleans". NOLA.com The Times Picayune. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  18. ^ Swanson, Ian (November 26, 2018). "Trump supporters Diamond & Silk awarded program on new Fox News streaming service". TheHill. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  19. ^ "Diamond & Silk Get Their Own Weekly Fox Nation Series". TheWrap. November 26, 2018. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  20. ^ Marjorie McAfee, Ashley Louszko, Byron Pitts (April 5, 2016). "A Look at Proud Donald Trump-Supporting Sister Act 'Diamond and Silk'". Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  21. ^ Gutierrez, Lisa (April 10, 2018). "Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook made 'enforcement error' with Trump fans Diamond and Silk". The Kansas City Star.
  22. ^ Holt, Jared (October 16, 2018). "'Diamond and Silk' Premiere a Feature Flop". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Messer, Olivia (May 24, 2019). "'Fox & Friends' Admit Diamond & Silk Mocked Doctored Video of 'Crazy Nancy'". Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "Diamond and Silk Host Fox News Streaming Show While Being "Volunteers" for Trump 2020 Campaign". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  25. ^ Ellefson, Lindsey (March 31, 2020). "Diamond and Silk Attribute Rise in Coronavirus Deaths to Media Wanting to Make Trump Look Bad (Video)". TheWrap. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  26. ^ "Diamond and Silk: We Don't Like White Nationalists or Antifa". Fox News Insider. August 13, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  27. ^ a b Willis, Kiersten (December 29, 2017). "Omarosa Gets Defended by Diamond and Silk … and the Trump Supporters Get Dragged - You may not like Omarosa, but you don't have a right to laugh at her". Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  28. ^ Deerwester, Jayme (December 14, 2017). "'GMA' host Robin Roberts on Omarosa's White House exit: 'Bye, Felicia'". USA Today. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  29. ^ Did Diamond and Silk Actually Lie Under Oath?. Slate, April 26, 2018
  30. ^ Swanson, Ian (April 26, 2018). "Diamond and Silk say under oath they weren't paid by Trump campaign; FEC filings say otherwise". TheHill. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  31. ^ Nelson, Eliot (April 26, 2018). "Diamond And Silk Appear To Lie Under Oath About Trump Payments". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  32. ^ Frazin, Rachel (June 13, 2019). "Steve King unveils 'Diamond and Silk Act' named for conservative YouTubers". TheHill. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Perticone, Joe (June 12, 2019). "Disgraced Rep. Steve King introduces the 'Diamond and Silk Act' in a bizarre press conference that turned into a shouting match". Business Insider. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  34. ^ a b Cheney-Rice, Zak (June 13, 2019). "Steve King, Diamond, and Silk Deflect Racism Charges by Unveiling Racist Bill". Intelligencer. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  35. ^ Connolly, Griffin (June 11, 2019). "Rep. King's 'Diamond and Silk Act' gets ripped by conservative pundits". Roll Call. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  36. ^ Adams, Becket (June 10, 2019). "Rep. Steve King makes a mockery of homelessness, veterans issues". Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  37. ^ Silk, Diamond and (April 8, 2018). Diamond and Silk@DiamondandSilk (Social media).
  38. ^ a b c d e Darcy, Oliver. "Led by Fox News, pro-Trump media fuels false narrative to accuse Facebook of censorship". CNNMoney. Retrieved April 26, 2018. the Diamond & Silk page was never banned. It was never taken down. It was never censored... The tidal wave of media coverage didn't just mislead viewers; it likely influenced the Mark Zuckerberg hearings on Capitol Hill. Several lawmakers chose to use at least a portion of their time questioning the Facebook chief to ask him about the supposed censorship of Hardaway and Richardson. The hearings were scheduled to address Facebook's use and protection of user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
  39. ^ a b c d "Trump vloggers Diamond & Silk are sticking to their debunked claim about Facebook censorship". Business Insider. Retrieved April 28, 2018. Hardaway and Richardson said, as they have many times in appearances on Fox News, that they were not contacted by Facebook in any official capacity... But messages obtained by conservative commentator Erick Erickson show that Facebook reached out to Hardaway and Richardson several times through phone, Facebook Messenger, and multiple email addresses.
  40. ^ Ng, Alfred (April 11, 2018). "Who are Diamond and Silk, and what do they have to do with Facebook?". CNET.com. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  41. ^ Kutner, Max (April 11, 2018). "Diamond and Silk hit back at Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook 'censorship': 'We are not terrorists'". Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  42. ^ a b Patten, Ted Johnson,Dominic; Johnson, Ted; Patten, Dominic (April 28, 2020). "Fox News Severs Ties With Diamond And Silk, Trump Campaign Surrogates Who Pushed Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories". Deadline. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  43. ^ Baragona, Lachlan Cartwright|Justin (April 27, 2020). "Fox News Cuts Ties With Diamond & Silk". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  44. ^ "Diamond and Silk Crystal Clear on Newsmax TV".
  45. ^ a b Stack, Liam (April 14, 2018). "Who Are Diamond and Silk? A Look at 2 Pro-Trump Social Media Stars". The New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  46. ^ "HARDCOVER FRONTLIST NONFICTION". PublishersWeekly.com. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 28, 2020.

External links[edit]