Trump, Jr and Other Republicans are Already Blaming Democrats for Scalise Shooting

Wednesday morning a deranged man opened fire on a group of Republicans practicing for a charity baseball event. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but several people were wounded including the GOP House Whip, Steve Scalise. Capital Police returned fire and killed the gunman. This is a horrific act of violence for which there is no excuse, and members of both parties have come together to condemn it. For the most part.

Donald Trump, Jr

Sadly, there are some on the right who leaped to the opportunity to take political advantage of this tragedy. And at the top of the list is the eldest son of Donald Trump, Don, Jr. The Trump scion retweeted conservative pundit Harlan Hill who posted this offensive and false sentiment: “Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.”

Trump and Hill are referencing a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where the title character was made up to resemble Trump. But they are woefully ignorant of the content of the play which concludes that political violence is abhorrent and counterproductive. What’s more, they never had any complaints when the same play was staged with President Obama in the role of Caesar.

More to the point, Trump, Jr. is demonstrating a callous disrespect for the victims and their families by rushing to politicize this shooting. It exposes his obsession with partisan antics aimed at disparaging Democrats. And he isn’t alone. Other Republicans have also dived into the scummy end of the pool. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) called it a “political rhetorical terrorist attack.” Fringe wingnut radio talker Michael Savage tweeted “I warned America the Dems constant drumbeat of hatred would lead to violence!” Alex Jones’ InfoWars deemed it “media-inspired terror attacks.” That’s notably different than his take on the Sandy Hook murder of twenty children as a hoax staged with actors.

Conservative websites like the Drudge Report and Breitbart News joined in the pile on against Democrats and liberals. Never mind that every Democrat who has spoken out about this has unconditionally condemned it. And then there’s GOP congressman Chris Collins (R-NY), who assigned the blame solely to Democrats for rhetoric that he said “fuels the fires.” He continued:

“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. The rhetoric has been outrageous. The finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. […] Maybe this is a wake-up call. I’m not saying it will be. But let’s hope we could disagree on a more polite, conversational basis.”

So Collins’ idea of being more polite is to accuse Democrats – and only Democrats – of inciting violence. And his solution to finger-pointing is finger-pointing. Just for the record, Republicans have been notoriously hostile toward Democrats for decades. And that has only worsened during the Era of Trump, who famously suggested “2nd Amendment solutions” to handle Hillary Clinton. And who can forget the images of Obama being lynched that were circulated endlessly by right-wing trolls. In many cases they were further disseminated by GOP officials.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Republicans are right to admonish anyone who glorifies violence against political adversaries. They’re right to condemn such violence when it occurs. But they are just bending the arc of hypocrisy to the breaking point when they assert that they are not at least as guilty of hostile partisan rhetoric. And they need to extend their outrage to abortion clinic bombings, assaults on Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, African Americans, Latinos, etc. Then they can start to consider lecturing Democrats on civility.

Conservative Media Hype Old Obama Video: When All Else Fails, Resort To Racism

With Mitt Romney’s campaign flailing desperately to avoid a massive blowout next month, the conservative media that is frantically trying to prop him up are running out options. They’ve tried to turn the unrest in Libya into Obama’s Watergate. They’ve tried to transform out-of-context snippets of Obama’s speeches into scandalous gaffes. They’ve tried to dismiss all of the polls showing Obama ahead as products of a liberally biased media. None of that has worked to reverse the decline of Romney’s electoral prospects.

So what is a determined right-wing press to do when all of their best efforts to torpedo President Obama have crashed in flames?

Fox News

Resort to racism, of course. Led by the Daily Caller and the Drudge Report, and buttressed by Fox News, the right is now hyperventilating over a five year old video of Obama talking about the well-documented failure to adequately respond to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. They think that people have forgotten about George Bush’s deadly neglect and his praise for FEMA crony Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown.

Contrary to claims that this is a shocking new video, Obama’s speech was covered at the time by most of the press, including Fox News. Even the Daily Caller’s publisher, Tucker Carlson, reported on this video when he anchored a program on MSNBC. The feverish presentation of this video is nothing more than a transparent attempt to manufacture controversy where none exists.

However, there is another objective here on the part of these video-hypers. Since the content of the video contains references to race, they see this as an opportunity to portray the President as obsessed with the issue. Much of the discussion in the rightist media is about whether Obama was blaming racism for the poor response to Katrina (as if that would be shocking). They are also focusing on a portion of the tape where Obama acknowledges his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was in the audience. Glomming on to Wright is not an accidental brush with the past. Conservatives have been prodding Romney to adopt that as an issue since at least last May when I compiled these quotes:

Fox Anchor Chris Wallace: As far as Rev. Wright is concerned, I think it had a lot of relevance, and I think McCain was crazy not to bring it up.

Radio Talker Mark Levin: Why would you take any issue off the table, particularly issues that give us a look into this man’s character?

Fox Anchor Sean Hannity: I believe that the president’s relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man that influenced him for over 20 years, inspired him, is a very important campaign issue.

Fox Host Kimberly Guilfoyle: I don’t think [rejecting the Wright issue] is the right thing to do. I think he should try to get after it.

Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft: [Rejecting the Wright issue] is certainly disappointing.

Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff: I think there may be value in talking about the Obama-Wright connection.

National Review’s Michael Walsh: Even by Stupid Party standards, [tabling Wright] was an impressive display of preemptive surrender.

Fox Contributor Charles Krauthammer: [I]n principle, if you want to [bring up Wright], it would be completely legitimate.

Herman Cain: I think it is fair if someone wants to highlight the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his relationship with Barack Obama because, quite frankly, it wasn’t highlighted enough in 2008 when he was running for president the first time.

So now, via a coordinated effort between Romney’s camp, Drudge, and Fox, this issue is being revived. Is it because the public has been clamoring for more information about it? Unlikely. Is it because it worked so well the first time? McCain lost. Or is it because it injects the theme of race into the campaign and riles up the GOP base and spurs prejudiced wingnuts to show up at the polls? Let’s just say “Fox News Reports, You Decide.”

Do the Wright Thing

[Late Breaking] Fox Nation is piling on with yet another “Unearthed Video” that charges Obama with “Slam[ing] ‘Violent’ Rich People.” In fact, in this 10 year old clip Obama was talking about the figurative violence of neglecting the needs of America’s less fortunate citizens. Fox is portraying these comments as literal and implying an escalation of the class war. On that subject, remember the words of Warren Buffet: There is a class war, and we are winning. Here is what Obama actually said:

Fox Nation Violent Rich

“The philosophy of nonviolence only makes sense if the powerful can be made to recognize themselves in the powerless. It only makes sense if the powerless can be made to recognize themselves in the powerful. You know, the principle of empathy gives broader meaning, by the way, to Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure people don’t take their stuff. But the principle of empathy recognizes that there are more subtle forms of violence to which we are answerable. The spirit of empathy condemns not only the use of firehoses and attack dogs to keep people down but also accountants and tax loopholes to keep people down. I’m not saying that what Enron executives did to their employees is the moral equivalent of what Bull Connor did to black folks, but I’ll tell you what, the employees at Enron feel violated. When a company town sees its plant closing because some distant executives made some decision despite the wage concessions, despite the tax breaks, and they see their entire economy collapsing, they feel violence.

Once again, there is nothing objectionable in those remarks. But Fox finds a way to mischaracterize them in order to stir racial animus. It’s all they have left.

Fox Nation Forgets To Never Forget

As a remembrance on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Fox Nation posted the following graphic and headline:

In their rush to “Never Forget” the Fox Nationalists forgot to insert an image. It may be for the best because in the past they have managed to be thoroughly repulsive by posting images that exploit the tragedy and associate it inappropriately with unrelated people or events (as Drudge did today).

Update: The Fox Nationalists must all be at the Tea Bagger rally in DC because, 24 hours later, the website still hasn’t been corrected.

Huffington Post: A Tool For The GOP?

Michael Calderone has a column at Politico that suggests a new tactical approach by Republicans to get their message out. He asserts, that the GOP is exploiting the broad reach of the Huffington Post to expand their media presence. It’s not a particularly bad idea as HuffPo is cracking 8.8 million unique visitors a month. But it is a cynical effort to advance propaganda and, to the extent that HuffPo is an accessory to it, it is shameful and counterproductive.

The insidious element to this plot is that the GOP isn’t trying to reach out to new voters or gain access to people that might not otherwise be exposed to their views. They are taking advantage of the popular web site to use as a platform from which to launch their viewpoints into more mainstream media in much the same way that conservatives have used the Drudge Report. In his column, Calderone interviewed a collection of Republican press reps who confess to this strategy.

John Hart, press secretary to Sen. Tom Coburn: [I]t’s one of a handful of sites that can have an instant impact on the national debate.

Brian Rogers, spokesman for Sen. John McCain: HuffPo and [Talking Points Memo] really are the assignment editors for many in the Washington press corps – particularly the cables.

Brad Dayspring, press secretary for Rep. Eric Cantor: The reality is that at the end of the day, like them or dislike them, sites like The Huffington Post, Plum Line, Salon, and others can drive news.

Michael Steel, press secretary for House Republican leader John Boehner: Republican aides [are] being sure to engage with liberal websites like Huffington Post – just because for no other reason than they drive a lot of cable coverage.

Alex Conant, former RNC national press secretary: When I was at the RNC, it wasn’t something that could be ignored. To the contrary, I thought the more we could work with them – recognizing they had a bias – the better off we were.

Republicans are well aware that much of the audience at HuffPo is not sympathetic to their cause. But that’s irrelevant. Part of the strategy is to drive a wedge between the Democratic establishment and its activist base. Another part is just to garner more publicity:

“Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, a former POLITICO staffer, said that after the House leadership released a video earlier this month questioning the White House on national security, a senior House Republican aide reached out to make sure he’d received it – that’s despite knowing how the site would probably play the story (and how commenters would react).

The piece that resulted – “House GOP Obama Ad Aims to Terrify” – likely appealed to liberal Huffington Post readers, while also drawing attention to the Republican clip, which is what the party wanted all along.


Liz Mair, former RNC online communications director: While I certainly never expected left-of-center sites to echo our message, giving them access to information or background they needed to report accurately (if not favorably) was certainly something I thought of (and think of) as useful, given that their audience is not solely comprised of Democratic activists, and given that storylines that begin on left-of-center blogs frequently find their way onto the nightly news and into other outlets where a lot of swing voters get their information.

HuffPo, for it’s part is not the least bit concerned about how they are being used. Arianna Huffington told Politico that the attention the site gets from Republicans…

“…is a reflection of our traffic, our brand, and the fact that we are increasingly seen … as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”

HuffPo is, of course, a business, and it has every right to pursue a mission that furthers it’s financial interests. However, if their stock in trade is their audience, then there is something untoward about exploiting them to benefit an ideological opponent. In other words, HuffPo should not be permitted to sell us out to right-wing flacks who just want to do us harm. If it is our patronage that makes HuffPo such a valuable asset, perhaps we ought not to be so patronizing.

There is nothing wrong with providing a forum that presents diverse opinions and perspectives. But there is a limit reached when you are seen by one side as simply an avenue to advance their public profile, further their media strategy, and beat you, and your audience, over the head with your own bat. You know you’ve reached that limit when Grover Norquist says of you…

“There are fewer better places to refute the opening bid by the [Democrats] than to plant your flag in the middle of The Huffington Post.”

HuffPo would be wise to consider that, if it is their readers that make them an appealing political community, they may want to avoid alienating those readers by serving the interests of their opponents. How many HuffPo readers would continue to visit the site were it to turn into a fancier version of the Drudge Report? And once readership scales back, how many Republicans would still view it as a useful platform?

Continuing down this path would be a downward spiral for HuffPo. They should take note of this and correct course as soon as possible. The market has no need for an Internet news/community that caters to the far right. They already have Fox Nation.

Ann Coulter Found Guilty Of Serial Lying

The arch-right-wing provocateur, Ann Coulter, has another book of disinformation and smears coming out tomorrow. This one is called “Guilty,” continuing her custom of disparaging one-word titles (i.e. Slander, Treason, Godless). And in another custom in which she engages, the book release has become embroiled in controversy. Sure, it’s a made-up controversy, but they all are with her.

In this case, Coulter was scheduled to appear tomorrow on NBC’s Today Show to pitch the book. That appearance was canceled this morning. Shortly after that news, Coulter placed a notice of the cancellation on her website with the commentary:

“I guess this ends the ‘they just want to get ratings’ argument about liberal media bias.”

She didn’t bother to give any reason for the cancellation, just that snarky remark alleging bias on the part of NBC.

But that’s not all. The cancellation was also reported on the Drudge Report, but Drudge went further to allege that Coulter had been “banned for life” from the peacock network. Drudge cited the usual anonymous top network insiders who said:

“We are just not going to have her on any more, it’s over.” [and] “We are just not interested in anyone so highly critical of President-elect Obama, right now. It’s such a downer. It’s just not the time, and it’s not what our audience wants, either.”

This is such a phony quote it barely deserves mention. No “top network source” would ever make that sort of comment to a legitimate reporter, much less to a hack like Drudge. What’s more, it flies in the face of NBC’s relationship with Coulter, which has always been welcoming. Whenever she desired a platform for her views or to sell something, NBC was cooperative. They have always been aware of her opinions and her scorched earth attitude, and they still provided air time for her. Nothing has changed in that regard. Clearly this is another of her attempts to manufacture controversy in order to boost her exposure and book sales.

For the record, NBC released a statement saying that:

“We’ve had Ann Coulter on ‘Today’ many times, but because of the news in Washington and the Middle East, we decided to cancel her appearance tomorrow. Understanding the media as well as she does, we are sure she knows this happens from time to time. We look forward to welcoming her back in the future.”

So much for having been banned for life. However, the fact that it did not happen has not prevented the rightist media machine from disseminating this fiction, which is presently spreading across the web. Not that she wouldn’t deserve it. One look at the analysis by MediaMatters demonstrates that her writing is intentionally inflammatory and filled with errors/lies. Nonetheless, in an article on her web site this morning Coulter hilariously asserts that she is “usually stunningly error-free,” then proceeds to describe what she calls an editing mistake:

“On Page 89 of my new book, Frank Rich is quoted as referring to a ‘barrage of McCarthyesque guilt-by-association charges against [the media’s] candidate, portraying him as a fellow traveler of bomb-throwing, America-hating, flag-denigrating terrorists.'”

Coulter says that the brackets around the words [the media’s] were inadvertently left off. Unfortunately, even with the brackets on Coulter has mischaracterized Rich, who actually said this:

“Obama fans were angry because of the barrage of McCarthyesque guilt-by-association charges against their candidate…”

It is the word “their” that Coulter replaced with her brackets and the words “the media’s.” Obviously Rich was referring to Obama supporters and not to the media. That has quite a different meaning. Coulter just wanted to take a gratuitous slap at the media without regard for accuracy.

This is Coulter’s idea of a correction. But it is everyone else’s idea of lying.

Update: After having been “banned for life” from NBC, Ann Coulter has now announced that she will appear on NBC tomorrow. That was a short life. She gives the credit to her accomplice in publicity whoring, Matt Drudge, saying that “DRUDGE GETS RESULTS.” Of course since they made up the whole banning business, it’s easy to claim victory when the imaginary ban is lifted.

Update: In her appearance on NBC, Coulter was her usual bombastic, dishonest and delusional self. But the funniest moment was when she said that “The Drudge Report has never had to retract a report.” Is she on drugs? Because, if not, perhaps she should be.