President Biden’s First White House Sign Language Interpreter Has Ties to the Far Right – By Abigail Abrams (TIME) / January 27 2021
President Joe Biden’s White House communications staff have emphasized the importance of truth, transparency and trust in the opening days of his presidency as they resume regular press briefings and distance themselves from the combative style of the Trump Administration. So when Press Secretary Jen Psaki began her briefing on Monday by announcing that American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters would now be present at all White House news briefings, many deaf and hard of hearing Americans celebrated this historic first.
But it turns out the first ASL interpreter chosen was not such a change from the previous Administration after all. Heather Mewshaw, who Psaki introduced on Monday as “today’s interpreter, Heather,” also manages a conservative group of ASL interpreters who provide sign language accompaniments to right-wing videos. Some of these videos have featured vaccine misinformation, conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, and false claims about Michelle Obama being transgender, according to a review of social media posts by TIME.
“WHAT REALLY HAPPENED On January 6th?” reads the title of a video featuring Mewshaw interpreting Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani posted by the group on the social platform Rumble, an alternative to YouTube popular among conservatives. A video billed as “DR. EXPLAINS COVID VACCINE” shows Mewshaw interpreting another video by Trump-approved Dr. Stella Immanuel, a controversial physician who has promoted hydroxychloroquine and claims that real medical ailments are caused by demon sperm.
“Joe Biden is literally and legally not the President elect,” read the headline on one Facebook video from December in which another interpreter in Mewshaw’s group interprets comments made by right-wing personality Candace Owens.