Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #998 “In Politics, Nothing Happens by Accident”: Weaponized Feminism and the #MeToo Movement

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained HERE. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by the fall of 2017. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more.)

WFMU-FM is pod­cast­ing For The Record–You can sub­scribe to the pod­cast HERE.

You can sub­scribe to e‑mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can sub­scribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can sub­scribe to the com­ments made on pro­grams and posts–an excel­lent source of infor­ma­tion in, and of, itself HERE.

This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

The flak jack­et that launched a thou­sand ships.

“A lib­er­al’s idea of courage is eat­ing at a restau­rant that has­n’t been reviewed yet.”–Mort Sahl.

Mort Sahl, arguably the great­est stand-up come­di­an of all time.

Intro­duc­tion: NOTE: The pro­gram will have far more mean­ing for lis­ten­ers IF they use this descrip­tion and the attached pho­tos of Leann Twee­den and Al Franken on the fate­ful USO tour. They are sig­nif­i­cant, in that they con­vey the gen­er­al­ly (ligh­heart­ed­ly) bawdy aes­thet­ic and tone of the event in ques­tion.

We begin our dis­cus­sion of weaponized fem­i­nism with its ulti­mate man­i­fes­ta­tion–a joint call by NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg and Har­vey Wein­stein accuser Angeli­na Jolie for NATO to com­mit its resources to defend­ing wom­en’s rights.

Note that they cite Koso­vo as a salient exam­ple of their fem­i­nist “call to arms.” As dis­cussed in FTR #161 , among oth­er pro­grams, fight­ers in the Koso­vo Lib­er­a­tion Army were large­ly descen­dants of World War II fas­cist fight­ing for­ma­tions, includ­ing the 21st Waf­fen SS Division–the Skan­der­beg Divi­sion.

The irony in Stoltenberg and Jolie’s call for NATO to enforce wom­en’s rights in Koso­vo, among oth­er places, could not be more pro­found: ” . . . . Kosovo’s Prime Min­is­ter Hashim Thaci is fac­ing a wide range of crim­i­nal alle­ga­tions, includ­ing own­ing a harem with 52 female sex slaves . . . . Accord­ing to the news agency, a Ukrain­ian woman escaped from Thaci’s harem and revealed damn­ing infor­ma­tion about sex slav­ery in Koso­vo. The woman claims 52 female sex slaves are forced to work night and day to ser­vice the Prime Min­is­ter and his rich friends in busi­ness and gov­ern­ment. . . .”

Com­bat hel­mets of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, whom John Cony­ers opposed.

Next, we turn to what may well be anoth­er exam­ple of NATO weaponized fem­i­nism. Among the vic­tims of the #MeToo move­ment was Rep. John Cony­ers (D‑MI), a promi­nent con­gres­sion­al crit­ic of the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion, receiv­ing arms and train­ing from the U.S.

In 2018, NATO forces are sched­uled to engage in maneu­vers in Ukraine.

It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush (and from the same polit­i­cal milieu of Kurt Volk­er, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s CIA-trained rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Ukraine.) Note­wor­thy in his pro­pa­gan­da piece dis­miss­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers (D‑MI) as “the Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress” and dis­count­ing any­one else dis­cussing the ascen­sion of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine in a sim­i­lar vein, is the iden­ti­ty of his source for assur­ances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.

Emblem of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion

The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­sko in the 1980’s. Stet­sko was the head of the World War II OUN/B gov­ern­ment that col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis!

After emi­grat­ing to Ukraine in the ear­ly ’90’s Zvarych and form­ing the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists with Sla­va Stet­sko (Jaroslav’s wid­ow) Zvarych became: Jus­tice Min­is­ter (the equiv­a­lent of Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States) under the gov­ern­ments of Vik­tor Yuschenko and both Yulia Tim­o­shenko gov­ern­ments. He has been serv­ing as an advis­er to pres­i­dent Poroshenko.

We then take stock of how Cony­ers, “The Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress,” was removed fol­low­ing a gam­bit by “Alt-Right” blog­ger, Trump ally and misog­y­nist Mike Cer­novich to finance the solic­i­ta­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ly dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about polit­i­cal oppo­nents. “. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of ‘any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.’ Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .”

With Al Franken’s depar­ture from the Senate–an event that fig­ures to make the Democ­rats’ chances of regain­ing con­trol of the cham­ber more precarious–we reflect on aspects of Franken’s depar­ture:

  1. Franken’s trou­bles were fore­shad­owed by long-time GOP (and Trump) dirty tricks oper­a­tive Roger Stone. Might Stone, as is his wont, have played a role in arrang­ing this gam­bit?
  2. Leeann Twee­den worked for Fox News for years.
  3. Twee­den’s CV also includes mod­el­ing stints for Play­boy, among oth­er out­lets.
  4. We do not pass judge­ment on Twee­den’s work for out­fits like Play­boy and Hoot­ers. In a soci­ety that is sex­ist and hier­ar­chi­cal, “strut­ting one’s stuff” is a com­mon tac­tic on a career path­way for women for­tu­nate enough to be suf­fi­cient­ly endowed to effect such a move. Nonethe­less, for her to emerge as an icon for sex­u­al harass­ment is “dif­fer­ent.” It is impor­tant to note that Twee­den is obvi­ous­ly will­ing to lever­age her con­sid­er­able charms for pro­fes­sion­al gain. Did she do that in her attack on Franken, almost ten years after the fate­ful USO tour?
  5. Twee­den’s accu­sa­tions have been echoed by oth­er accusers, sev­er­al of whom have cho­sen to remain anony­mous.
  6. Even before enter­ing the Sen­ate, Franken would have been in the GOP’s crosshairs. We note that he relat­ed stri­dent­ly misog­y­nist behav­ior by GOP finan­cial bene­fac­tor Richard Mel­lon Scaife–a main fun­der of the far right and a mem­ber of the sto­ried, extreme­ly wealthy Mel­lon fam­i­ly. Scaife’s remark–to a reporter from the Colum­bia Jour­nal­ism Review no less–has not gar­nered much atten­tion. Scaife was using the kind of lan­guage we might expect from–Edward Snow­den!
  7. All of this is not to say that many–perhaps most–of the sex­u­al harass­ment charges sur­fac­ing in recent weeks against var­i­ous fig­ures may not be true. One pays a price for doing work of this kind. After close to forty years on the air, part of the price I have paid is mis­an­thropy. Echo­ing Ham­let “I care not for man.” I have a VERY low opin­ion of human nature. It is not unusu­al for peo­ple com­mand­ing pow­er and influ­ence to rou­tine­ly lever­age such grav­i­tas for finan­cial and/or sex­u­al gain. Nonethe­less, in the con­text of the Four B’s of Amer­i­can politics–Bullets, Bribes, Beds and Black­mail, the Cony­ers and Franken sit­u­a­tions bear more scruti­ny than they have received.
  8. From the stand­point of counter-intel­li­gence analy­sis, the #MeToo phe­nom­e­non sig­nals a superb tac­tic for polit­i­cal destruc­tion: a) infil­trate a woman into the entourage or pro­fes­sion­al envi­ron­ment of a male politi­cian, media or busi­ness fig­ure tar­get­ed for destruc­tion; b) have her gain the trust of her polit­i­cal tar­get and his asso­ciates (the car­di­nal rule for a good dou­ble agent is “make your­self indis­pens­able to the effort”); c) after suf­fi­cient pas­sage of time, sur­face the alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment; d) IF the oppor­tu­ni­ty for actu­al sex play and/or flir­ta­tion presents itself, take advan­tage of it for lat­er use as political/rhetorical ammu­ni­tion; e) with accusers hav­ing the tac­ti­cal lux­u­ry of remain­ing anony­mous, the oper­a­tional tem­plate for a form of sex­u­al McCarthy­ism and the prece­dent-set­ting con­tem­po­rary man­i­fes­ta­tion of a sex­u­al Star Cham­ber is very real–the oper­a­tional sim­i­lar­i­ties between much of the #metoo move­ment and the Salem Witch Tri­als should not be lost on the per­se­ver­ing observ­er; f) prop­er vet­ting of the accu­sa­tions is absent in such a process; g) for a pub­lic fig­ure in the U.S., prov­ing delib­er­ate defama­tion (libel/slander) is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult and lit­i­ga­tion is very expensive–the mere sur­fac­ing of charges is enough to taint some­one for life and the exor­bi­tant expense of lit­i­ga­tion is pro­hib­i­tive for all but the wealth­i­est among us.
  9. The CIA has long been involved with the wom­en’s move­ment. (Check out Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M4: Glo­ria in Excel­sis: The CIA, the Wom­en’s Move­ment and the News Media.)
  10. We can’t help but feel a bru­tal­ly iron­ic degree of schaden­freude, with the so-called “pro­gres­sive sec­tor” now being impaled on the very one-dimen­sion­al iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics they have cham­pi­oned for so long. If Adolf Hitler had been a Pales­tin­ian les­bian, folks in Berke­ley would be walk­ing around in brown­shirt uni­forms, Sam Brown belts, jack­boots and swasti­ka arm­bands.
  11. The so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor has had lit­tle to say about the rape charges against Julian Assange.
  12. We don’t expect so-called pro­gres­sives to take a crit­i­cal look at the issues we have raised here. Polit­i­cal come­di­an Mort Sahl hit the nail on the head decades ago, when he observed: “A lib­er­al’s idea of courage is eat­ing at a restau­rant that has­n’t been reviewed yet.”
  13. Past a point, we find it impos­si­ble to stom­ach what is going on. In the last elec­tion, with the first female major par­ty can­di­date in this coun­try’s his­to­ry (Hillary Clin­ton) and an open­ly avowed sex­u­al preda­tor (Don­ald Trump) run­ning against each oth­er, 52% of white Amer­i­can women vot­ed for Trump–#PhysiciansHealThyselves!

We note that the now-famous pho­to­graph of Franken “grop­ing” Leann Twee­den’s breasts was obvi­ous­ly a staged event, not to be tak­en seri­ous­ly. (The taste here is ques­tion­able, although as can be seen from two oth­er pho­tos of the same USO tour, the dom­i­nant aes­thet­ic of this tour was bawdy, tongue-in-cheek. Note the pho­tos of Twee­den goos­ing a male C &W per­former and Franken and Twee­den mug­ging over a skimpy under­gar­ment. It is clear that nei­ther is to be tak­en seri­ous­ly.)

We con­clude the pro­gram with exam­i­na­tion of tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism in action–the Twit­ter bot role in the take­down of Franken.

On Novem­ber 15th, a Japan­ese devel­op­er named Atsu­fu­mi Otsu­ka reg­is­ter­ing a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, on the same day Roger Stone announced over Twit­ter that it’s Franken’s “time in the barrel”–one day before the sto­ry broke.

Then, on Novem­ber 20th, Alt-Right provo­ca­teur Charles John­son tweet­ed, “Think­ing of offer­ing mon­ey to peo­ple who go on tv and say Al Frank is a preda­tor.” That same day, Otsu­ka reg­is­tered a sec­ond domain in Japan for anoth­er fake-news site, VotyUS.me.

The two fake news sites were final­ly put to use on Decem­ber 7, short­ly before Democ­rats start­ed call­ing for Franken to step down. The sites re-pub­lished an arti­cle by Ijeo­ma Oluo, a lib­er­al writer, urg­ing women and activists to stop sup­port­ing Franken. Oluo’s piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Mat­ter Any­more,” was post­ed on rel­a­tive­ly obscure web­site that only had a reach of of 10,000 fol­low­ers. But once the arti­cle got repost­ed to those two fake news sites the twit­ter bot net­work­ing sud­den­ly sprang into action, with thou­sands of fake Twit­ter accounts tweet­ing the title of the article—but link­ing back to repost of the arti­cle on the fake news sites, RealUSA.site or VotyUS.me.

Although it’s not clear who paid for the Twit­ter-bot activ­i­ty, it’s hard to ignore the coin­ci­den­tal tim­ing. Researchers have con­clud­ed that it wasn’t cheap. They esti­mate that it required dozens of hours of ini­tial devel­op­ment time and at least one per­son work­ing full time to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent. The whole task of set­ting up this Japan­ese Twit­ter bot army to ampli­fy the calls for Sen­a­tor Franken to step down was deemed by who­ev­er paid for it to be worth the time and mon­ey.

“ . . . . A pair of Japan-based web­sites, cre­at­ed the day before Twee­den came for­ward, and a swarm of relat­ed Twit­ter bots made the Twee­den sto­ry go viral and then weaponized a lib­er­al writer’s crit­i­cism of Franken. The bot army—in tan­dem with promi­nent real, live mem­bers of the far right who have Twit­ter fol­low­ers in the mil­lions, such as Mike Cernovich—spewed thou­sands of posts, help­ing the #Franken­Fon­dles hash­tag and the “Franken is a grop­er” meme effec­tive­ly silence the tes­ti­monies of eight for­mer female staffers who defend­ed the Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat before he resigned last year. . . . ”

” . . . . One ques­tion remains: Who is pay­ing for this oper­a­tion? The researchers believe that the oper­a­tion was expen­sive. ‘We esti­mate dozens of hours of ini­tial devel­op­ment time and at least one per­son work­ing full time to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent,’ one of the researchers told Newsweek. ‘Addi­tion­al­ly, it’s like­ly that an exist­ing bot farm of com­pro­mised com­put­ers is basi­cal­ly being rent­ed as a dis­trib­uted host for these accounts.’ . . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. Dis­cus­sion of Gand­hi’s belief that one should not mix sex and pol­i­tics.
  2. Dis­cus­sion of the amoral aspect of gen­der or sex­u­al pref­er­ence typ­ing of indi­vid­u­als.
  3. Franken’s sec­ond accuser, Lind­say Menz, is a Trump backer who sup­pos­ed­ly was groped by Franken sev­en years before, in the pres­ence of her father and fel­low Trump backer/husband Jere­my Menz. ” . . . . the inci­dent took place at the 2010 Min­neso­ta State Fair. . . . Menz said she was at the fair with her father . . . . As they pre­pared for the pho­tos, Franken ‘pulled (her) in real­ly close, like awk­ward close’ as her hus­band was tak­ing the pic­ture. . . . Menz said that her and [hus­band] Jere­my vot­ed for Don­ald Trump dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion . . . .”

1a. We begin our dis­cus­sion of weaponized fem­i­nism with its ulti­mate manifestation–a joint call by  NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg and Har­vey Wein­stein accuser Angeli­na Jolie for NATO to com­mit its resources to defend­ing wom­en’s rights.

Note that they cite Koso­vo as a salient exam­ple of their fem­i­nist “call to arms.” As dis­cussed in FTR #161,  among oth­er pro­grams, fight­ers in the Koso­vo Lib­er­a­tion Army were large­ly descen­dants of World War II fas­cist fight­ing for­ma­tions, includ­ing the 21st Waf­fen SS Division–the Skan­der­beg Divi­sion.

“Why NATO Must Defend Wom­en’s Rights” by Jens Stoltenberg and Angeli­na Jolie; The Guardian; 12/10/2017.

. . . . Despite being pro­hib­it­ed by inter­na­tion­al law, sex­u­al vio­lence con­tin­ues to be employed as a tac­tic of war in numer­ous con­flicts from Myan­mar to Ukraine and Syr­ia to Soma­lia. It includes mass rape, gang rape, sex­u­al slav­ery, and rape as a form of tor­ture, eth­nic cleans­ing and ter­ror­ism. It accounts in large part for why it is often more dan­ger­ous to be a woman in a war­zone today than it is to be a sol­dier. . . .

. . . . We believe that NATO has the respon­si­bil­i­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a lead­ing pro­tec­tor of women’s rights.

In par­tic­u­lar, we believe NATO can become the glob­al mil­i­tary leader in how to pre­vent and respond to sex­u­al vio­lence in con­flict, draw­ing on the strengths and capa­bil­i­ties of its mem­ber states and work­ing with its many part­ner coun­tries. . . . .

. . . . Nato already deploys gen­der advis­ers to local com­mu­ni­ties in Koso­vo and Afghanistan, while NATO’s female sol­diers are able to reach and engage with local com­mu­ni­ties. . . .

1b. The irony in Stoltenberg and Jolie’s call for NATO to enforce wom­en’s rights in Koso­vo, among oth­er places could not be more pro­found: ” . . . . Kosovo’s Prime Min­is­ter Hashim Thaci is fac­ing a wide range of crim­i­nal alle­ga­tions, includ­ing own­ing a harem with 52 female sex slaves . . . . Accord­ing to the news agency, a Ukrain­ian woman escaped from Thaci’s harem and revealed damn­ing infor­ma­tion about sex slav­ery in Koso­vo. The woman claims 52 female sex slaves are forced to work night and day to ser­vice the Prime Min­is­ter and his rich friends in busi­ness and gov­ern­ment. . . .”

“Koso­vo PM Thaci Owns a Harem with Female Slaves, Traf­fics Drugs and Organs, Accord­ing to Reports” by Wolff Bach­n­er; The Inquisitr; 11/20/2012.

Kosovo’s Prime Min­is­ter Hashim Thaci is fac­ing a wide range of crim­i­nal alle­ga­tions, includ­ing own­ing a harem with 52 female sex slaves, drug traf­fick­ing and the sale of human organs. The Prime Min­is­ter has been accused of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty in sev­er­al major Euro­pean news sources; among them are Berlin-based dai­ly Der TagesspiegelThe Guardian, and MINA.

MINA (Mace­don­ian Inter­na­tion­al News Agency) is the source of today’s arti­cle about the sus­pect­ed crimes of the con­tro­ver­sial leader of Koso­vo. Accord­ing to the news agency, a Ukrain­ian woman escaped from Thaci’s harem and revealed damn­ing infor­ma­tion about sex slav­ery in Koso­vo. The woman claims 52 female sex slaves are forced to work night and day to ser­vice the Prime Min­is­ter and his rich friends in busi­ness and gov­ern­ment. . . .

1c. It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush (and from the same polit­i­cal milieu of Kurt Volk­er, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s CIA-trained rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Ukraine.) Note­wor­thy in his pro­pa­gan­da piece dis­miss­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers (D‑MI) as “the Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress” and dis­count­ing any­one else dis­cussing the ascen­sion of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine in a sim­i­lar vein, is the iden­ti­ty of his source for assur­ances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.

The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­sko in the 1980’s. Stet­sko was the head of the World War II OUN/B gov­ern­ment that col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis!

After emi­grat­ing to Ukraine in the ear­ly ’90’s Zvarych and form­ing the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists with Sla­va Stet­sko (Jaroslav’s wid­ow) Zvarych became: Jus­tice Min­is­ter (the equiv­a­lent of Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States) under the gov­ern­ments of Vik­tor Yuschenko and both Yulia Tim­o­shenko gov­ern­ments. He has been serv­ing as an advis­er to pres­i­dent Poroshenko.

“Putin’s Man in Con­gress” by Kristofer Har­ri­son; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 8/7/2015.

. . . .The Azov’s spokesman, Roman Zvarych, told me that the bat­tal­ion has a selec­tive screen­ing pro­gram that accepts only 50 out of almost 300 recruits each month. He says they have a thor­ough back­ground check and reject mem­bers for var­i­ous rea­sons, includ­ing hav­ing fas­cist lean­ings. . . .

. . . . Rep. Cony­ers played an impor­tant role in help­ing the Russ­ian Nazi meme evolve from the stuff of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, kooks and fel­low-trav­el­ers into some­thing the main­stream press hap­pi­ly prints. Rep. Cony­ers took to the floor of the House to sub­mit his amend­ment and label the unit, “The repul­sive Neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion.” From there, the Dai­ly Beast ran a sto­ry titled “Is Amer­i­ca Train­ing Neon­azis in Ukraine?” using Cony­ers’ bill as fac­tu­al sup­port. The day after the amendment’s pas­sage, Leonoid Bershid­sky ran a Bloomberg View arti­cle titled “Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Mon­ey.” Even the Cana­di­ans have been affect­ed. On June 16th, the Nation­al Post ran a sto­ry titled “Fears that Cana­di­an Mis­sion in Ukraine May Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Help Neon­azi Groups.”. . . .

1d. Next, we take stock of how Cony­ers, “The Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress,” was removed fol­low­ing a gam­bit by “Alt-Right” blog­ger, Trump ally and misog­y­nist Mike Cer­novich to finance the solic­i­ta­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ly dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about polit­i­cal oppo­nents. “. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of ‘any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.’ Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .”

” . . . . Mr. Cer­novich is an unlike­ly cham­pi­on for sex­u­al harass­ment vic­tims, giv­en his pre­vi­ous career as an anti-fem­i­nist blog­ger who cast doubt on date-rape alle­ga­tions and wrote posts with head­lines like ‘Misog­y­ny Gets You Laid.’ . . . .

“Par­ti­sans, Wield­ing Mon­ey, Begin Seek­ing to Exploit Harass­ment Claims” by Ken­neth P. Vogel; The New York Times; 12/31/2017.

. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of “any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.” Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .

. . . . “You got to sweet­en the pot a lit­tle bit,” Mr. Cer­novich said. A lawyer by train­ing, he said he was shocked that the per­son who gave him the Cony­ers doc­u­ments declined his offer to pay for them.

But, he said, “if some­body had a set­tle­ment like Cony­ers, I would glad­ly, glad­ly pay for that.” . . . .

. . . . Mr. Cer­novich and the far-right activist Charles C. John­son, had to back away from claims that they pos­sessed a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that would bring down a lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor when it became appar­ent that the document–which tar­get­ed the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York–was a forgery, lift­ing pas­sages ver­ba­tim from the Cony­ers com­plaint unearthed by Mr. Cer­novich. Mr. Schumer referred the mat­ter to the Capi­tol Hill police for a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.

. . . . “I like to hype things in advance, and this looked pret­ty good,” Mr. Cer­novich said. “I def­i­nite­ly learned my les­son there.”

Mr. Cer­novich is an unlike­ly cham­pi­on for sex­u­al harass­ment vic­tims, giv­en his pre­vi­ous career as an anti-fem­i­nist blog­ger who cast doubt on date-rape alle­ga­tions and wrote posts with head­lines like “Misog­y­ny Gets You Laid.” . . . .

San­ta’s Lit­tle Helper: Leeann Twee­den’s Play­boy Cov­er “Tie a yel­low ribbon–er, red rib­bon ’round the ole–oh for­get it!

2a. With Al Franken’s depar­ture from the Senate–an event that fig­ures to make the Democ­rats’ chances of regain­ing con­trol of the cham­ber more precarious–we reflect on aspects of Franken’s depar­ture:

  1. Franken’s trou­bles were fore­shad­owed by long-time GOP (and Trump) dirty tricks oper­a­tive Roger Stone. Might Stone, as is his wont, have played a role in arrang­ing this gam­bit?
  2. Leeann Twee­den worked for Fox News for years.
  3. Twee­den’s CV also includes mod­el­ing stints for Play­boy, among oth­er out­lets.
  4. We do not pass judge­ment on Twee­den’s work for out­fits like Play­boy and Hoot­ers. In a soci­ety that is sex­ist and hier­ar­chi­cal, “strut­ting one’s stuff” is a com­mon tac­tic on a career path­way for women for­tu­nate enough to be suf­fi­cient­ly endowed to effect such a move. Nonethe­less, for her to emerge as an icon for sex­u­al harass­ment is “dif­fer­ent.” It is impor­tant to note that Twee­den is obvi­ous­ly will­ing to lever­age her con­sid­er­able charms for pro­fes­sion­al gain. Did she do that in her attack on Franken, almost ten years after the fate­ful USO tour?
  5. Twee­den’s accu­sa­tions have been echoed by oth­er accusers, sev­er­al of whom have cho­sen to remain anony­mous.
  6. Even before enter­ing the Sen­ate, Franken would have been in the GOP’s crosshairs. We note that he relat­ed stri­dent­ly misog­y­nist behav­ior by GOP finan­cial bene­fac­tor Richard Mel­lon Scaife–a main fun­der of the far right and a mem­ber of the sto­ried, extreme­ly wealthy Mel­lon fam­i­ly. Scaife’s remark–to a reporter from the Colum­bia Jour­nal­ism Review no less–has not gar­nered much atten­tion. Scaife was using the kind of lan­guage we might expect from–Edward Snow­den!
  7. All of this is not to say that many–perhaps most–of the sex­u­al harass­ment charges sur­fac­ing in recent weeks against var­i­ous fig­ures may not be true. One pays a price for doing work of this kind. After close to forty years on the air, part of the price I have paid is mis­an­thropy. Echo­ing Ham­let “I care not for man.” I have a VERY low opin­ion of human nature. It is not unusu­al for peo­ple com­mand­ing pow­er and influ­ence to rou­tine­ly lever­age such grav­i­tas for finan­cial and/or sex­u­al gain. Nonethe­less, in the con­text of the Four B’s of Amer­i­can politics–Bullets, Bribes, Beds and Black­mail, I think the Cony­ers and Franken sit­u­a­tions bear more scruti­ny than they have received.
  8. From the stand­point of counter-intel­li­gence analy­sis, the #MeToo phe­nom­e­non sig­nals a superb tac­tic for polit­i­cal destruc­tion: a) infil­trate a woman into the entourage or pro­fes­sion­al envi­ron­ment of a male politi­cian, media or busi­ness fig­ure tar­get­ed for destruc­tion; b) have her gain the trust of her polit­i­cal tar­get and his asso­ciates (the car­di­nal rule for a good dou­ble agent is “make your­self indis­pens­able to the effort”); c) after suf­fi­cient pas­sage of time, sur­face the alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al harass­ment; d) IF the oppor­tu­ni­ty for actu­al sex play and/or flir­ta­tion presents itself, take advan­tage of it for lat­er use as political/rhetorical ammu­ni­tion; e) with accusers hav­ing the tac­ti­cal lux­u­ry of remain­ing anony­mous, the oper­a­tional tem­plate for a form of sex­u­al McCarthy­ism and the prece­dent-set­ting con­tem­po­rary man­i­fes­ta­tion of a sex­u­al Star Cham­ber is very real–the oper­a­tional sim­i­lar­i­ties between much of the #metoo move­ment and the Salem Witch Tri­als should not be lost on the per­se­ver­ing observ­er; f) prop­er vet­ting of the accu­sa­tions is absent in such a process; g) for a pub­lic fig­ure in the U.S., prov­ing delib­er­ate defama­tion (libel/slander) is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult and lit­i­ga­tion is very expensive–the mere sur­fac­ing of charges is enough to taint some­one for life and the exor­bi­tant expense of lit­i­ga­tion is pro­hib­i­tive for all but the wealth­i­est among us.
  9. The CIA has long been involved with the wom­en’s move­ment. (Check out Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M4: Glo­ria in Excel­sis: The CIA, the Wom­en’s Move­ment and the News Media.)
  10. We can’t help but feel a bru­tal­ly iron­ic degree of schaden­freude, with the so-called “pro­gres­sive sec­tor” now being impaled on the very one-dimen­sion­al iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics they have cham­pi­oned for so long. If Adolf Hitler had been a Pales­tin­ian les­bian, folks in Berke­ley would be walk­ing around in brown­shirt uni­forms, Sam Brown belts, jack­boots and swasti­ka arm­bands.
  11. The so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor has had lit­tle to say about the rape charges against Julian Assange.
  12. We don’t expect so-called pro­gres­sives to take a crit­i­cal look at the issues we have raised here. Polit­i­cal come­di­an Mort Sahl hit the nail on the head decades ago, when he observed: “A lib­er­al’s idea of courage is eat­ing at a restau­rant that has­n’t been reviewed yet.”
  13. Past a point, we find it impos­si­ble to stom­ach what is going on. In the last elec­tion, with the first female major par­ty can­di­date in this coun­try’s his­to­ry (Hillary Clin­ton) and an open­ly avowed sex­u­al preda­tor (Don­ald Trump) run­ning against each oth­er, 52% of white Amer­i­can women vot­ed for Trump–#PhysiciansHealThyselves!

Leann Twee­den cop­ping an obvi­ous­ly joc­u­lar feel on a male per­former on the same USO tour.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken; Dut­ton [HC]; Copy­right 2003 by Al Franken; ISBN 0–525-94764–7; p. 132.

. . . . Where did this mali­cious tone come from in the first place? I sub­mit that it can be traced to a day in 1981, when bil­lion­aire Richard Mel­lon Scaife field­ed a reporter’s ques­tion about his finan­cial back­ing of con­ser­v­a­tive groups.

“You fuck­ing Com­mu­nist cunt, get out of here,” he said to Karen Roth­my­er of the Colum­bia Jour­nal­ism Review. He went on to tell her that she was ugly and that her teeth were “ter­ri­ble.” Of Ms. Roth­my­er’s moth­er, who was not present, he said, “She’s ugly, too.” Sens­ing that it was time to wrap up the inter­view, ms. Roth­my­er thanked Scaife for his time. He bade her farewell with a cheery “Don’t look behind you.” . . . .

2b. Franken’s next accuser, Lind­say Menz, is a Trump backer who sup­pos­ed­ly was groped by Franken sev­en years before, in the pres­ence of her father and fel­low Trump backer/husband Jere­my Menz.

” . . . . the inci­dent took place at the 2010 Min­neso­ta State Fair. . . . Menz said she was at the fair with her father . . . . As they pre­pared for the pho­tos, Franken ‘pulled (her) in real­ly close, like awk­ward close’ as her hus­band was tak­ing the pic­ture. . . . Menz said that her and [hus­band] Jere­my vot­ed for Don­ald Trump dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion . . . .”

We are more than a lit­tle skep­ti­cal.

“Lind­say Menz, Sen. Al Franken Accuser: 5 Facts You Need to Know” by Chris Buch­er; Heavy.com; 11/20/2017.

. . . . Menz’s accu­sa­tions against Franken are the first to sur­face from while he was in office. Menz told CNN that the inci­dent took place at the 2010 Min­neso­ta State Fair. She reached out to CNN after the first accu­sa­tions were made against Franken, call­ing his con­duct “uncom­fort­able,” adding that it left her feel­ing “gross.”

Menz said she was at the fair with her father, whose small com­pa­ny was spon­sor­ing a radio booth. She was there meet­ing elect­ed offi­cials and var­i­ous can­di­dates for office, she said, tak­ing pic­tures with them as they came to the booth. Franken was one of the politi­cians to walk into the radio booth, and Menz said she and her hus­band rec­og­nized the for­mer Sat­ur­day Night Live! cast mem­ber imme­di­ate­ly. They had a brief con­ver­sa­tion before pos­ing togeth­er for a pho­to.

As they pre­pared for the pho­tos, Franken “pulled (her) in real­ly close, like awk­ward close” as her hus­band was tak­ing the pic­ture. She accus­es Franken of putting “his hand full-fledge” on her butt, she told CNN. . . .

. . . . Menz said that her and [hus­band] Jere­my vot­ed for Don­ald Trump dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion . . . .

3.  It looks like the ‘Alt-Right’ cam­paign to push for­mer Sen­a­tor Al Franken to resign had help from an unex­pect­ed source: Japan­ese twit­ter bots.

Accord­ing to research by ana­lysts at Unhack the Vote, a vot­ing rights out­fit, Roger Stone isn’t the only indi­vid­ual who demon­strat­ed fore­knowl­edge of the sto­ry of Leann Tweeden’s accu­sa­tions. It turns out there was a Japan­ese twit­ter bot net­work which con­trols a large pool of dum­my Twit­ter accounts (the “bots”) that also demon­strat­ed such fore­knowl­edge.

On Novem­ber 15th, a Japan­ese devel­op­er named Atsu­fu­mi Otsu­ka reg­is­ter­ing a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, on the same day Roger Stone announced over Twit­ter that it’s Franken’s “time in the barrel”–one day before the sto­ry broke.

Then, on Novem­ber 20th, Alt-Right provo­ca­teur Charles John­son tweet­ed, “Think­ing of offer­ing mon­ey to peo­ple who go on tv and say Al Frank is a preda­tor.” That same day, Otsu­ka reg­is­tered a sec­ond domain in Japan for anoth­er fake-news site, VotyUS.me.

The two fake news sites were final­ly put to use on Decem­ber 7, short­ly before Democ­rats start­ed call­ing for Franken to step down. The sites re-pub­lished an arti­cle by Ijeo­ma Oluo, a lib­er­al writer, urg­ing women and activists to stop sup­port­ing Franken. Oluo’s piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Mat­ter Any­more,” was post­ed on rel­a­tive­ly obscure web­site that only had a reach of of 10,000 fol­low­ers. But once the arti­cle got repost­ed to those two fake news sites the twit­ter bot net­work­ing sud­den­ly sprang into action, with thou­sands of fake Twit­ter accounts tweet­ing the title of the article—but link­ing back to repost of the arti­cle on the fake news sites, RealUSA.site or VotyUS.me.

Although it’s not clear who paid for the Twit­ter-bot activ­i­ty, it’s hard to ignore the coin­ci­den­tal tim­ing. Researchers have con­clud­ed that it wasn’t cheap. They esti­mate that it required dozens of hours of ini­tial devel­op­ment time and at least one per­son work­ing full time to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent. The whole task of set­ting up this Japan­ese Twit­ter bot army to ampli­fy the calls for Sen­a­tor Franken to step down was deemed by who­ev­er paid for it to be worth the time and mon­ey.

“ . . . . A pair of Japan-based web­sites, cre­at­ed the day before Twee­den came for­ward, and a swarm of relat­ed Twit­ter bots made the Twee­den sto­ry go viral and then weaponized a lib­er­al writer’s crit­i­cism of Franken. The bot army—in tan­dem with promi­nent real, live mem­bers of the far right who have Twit­ter fol­low­ers in the mil­lions, such as Mike Cernovich—spewed thou­sands of posts, help­ing the #Franken­Fon­dles hash­tag and the “Franken is a grop­er” meme effec­tive­ly silence the tes­ti­monies of eight for­mer female staffers who defend­ed the Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat before he resigned last year. . . . ”

” . . . . One ques­tion remains: Who is pay­ing for this oper­a­tion? The researchers believe that the oper­a­tion was expen­sive. ‘We esti­mate dozens of hours of ini­tial devel­op­ment time and at least one per­son work­ing full time to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent,’ one of the researchers told Newsweek. ‘Addi­tion­al­ly, it’s like­ly that an exist­ing bot farm of com­pro­mised com­put­ers is basi­cal­ly being rent­ed as a dis­trib­uted host for these accounts.’ . . . .”

 

Twee­den and Franken in a skit on the fate­ful USO tour.

“How an Alt-Right Bot Net­work Took Down Al Franken” by Nina Burleigh; Newsweek;
2/19/2018

White nation­al­ist provo­ca­teurs, a pair of fake news sites, an army of Twit­ter bots and oth­er cyber tricks helped derail Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Al Franken last year, new research shows.

While every­one has been focused on Russ­ian med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to sup­port Don­ald Trump, the Franken take­down orig­i­nat­ed in—and was pro­pelled by—a strate­gic online cam­paign with dig­i­tal ten­ta­cles reach­ing to, of all places, Japan. Ana­lysts have now mapped out how Hoot­ers pin­up girl and lad-mag mod­el Leeann Tweeden’s ini­tial accu­sa­tion against Franken became effec­tive pro­pa­gan­da after right-wing black ops mas­ter Roger Stone first hint­ed at the alle­ga­tion.

A pair of Japan-based web­sites, cre­at­ed the day before Twee­den came for­ward, and a swarm of relat­ed Twit­ter bots made the Twee­den sto­ry go viral and then weaponized a lib­er­al writer’s crit­i­cism of Franken. The bot army—in tan­dem with promi­nent real, live mem­bers of the far right who have Twit­ter fol­low­ers in the mil­lions, such as Mike Cernovich—spewed thou­sands of posts, help­ing the #Franken­Fon­dles hash­tag and the “Franken is a grop­er” meme effec­tive­ly silence the tes­ti­monies of eight for­mer female staffers who defend­ed the Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat before he resigned last year.

The oper­a­tion com­menced on Novem­ber 15, when Stone—who is now banned from Twit­ter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the bar­rel.’ Franken next in long list of Democ­rats accused of ‘grab­by’ behav­ior.”

On the same day, a devel­op­er named Atsu­fu­mi Otsu­ka reg­is­tered a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, and a fake-news web­site soon emerged at that web address, accord­ing to research shared with the vot­ing rights out­fit Unhack the Vote.

Tweeden’s account of Franken grop­ing her was first ampli­fied by a net­work of right-wing media, includ­ing KABC in Los Ange­les, where Twee­den has a radio show, The Hill, Infowars and Bre­it­bart, which mobi­lized with­in hours of Stone’s tweet and the release of a pic­ture of a Twee­den and Franken at a USO per­for­mance before he was a sen­a­tor. . . .

. . . . Five days lat­er, on Novem­ber 20, right-wing provo­ca­teur Charles John­son tweet­ed, “Think­ing of offer­ing mon­ey to peo­ple who go on tv and say Al Frank is a preda­tor.”

That same day, Otsu­ka reg­is­tered a sec­ond domain in Japan for anoth­er fake-news site, VotyUS.me. Both accounts used the same Google ana­lyt­ics account ID and Apple app ID, and the name of the servers and reg­is­tra­tion for both sites were vir­tu­al­ly iden­ti­cal, researchers found.

On Decem­ber 7, just before Democ­rats start­ed call­ing for Franken to step down, the fresh­ly mint­ed Japan-based fake sites went to work and re-pub­lished an arti­cle by Ijeo­ma Oluo, a lib­er­al writer, urg­ing women and activists to stop sup­port­ing Franken. Oluo had post­ed the opin­ion piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Mat­ter Any­more,” on a much small­er web­site, with a reach of 10,000 fol­low­ers.

Sud­den­ly, thou­sands of appar­ent­ly fake Twit­ter accounts were tweet­ing the title of the article—but link­ing back to one of the two Japan­ese-reg­is­tered fake-news sites cre­at­ed in con­junc­tion with the right-wing anti-Franken cam­paign. The bot accounts nor­mal­ly tweet­ed about celebri­ties, bit­coin and sports, but on that day, they were mobi­lized against Franken. Researchers have found that each bot account had 30 to 60 fol­low­ers, all Japan­ese. . . . 

‘We began to sus­pect that this legit­i­mate opin­ion piece [by Oluo] had been weaponized for polit­i­cal gain by dozens of twit­ter accounts, all of them repeat­ed­ly tweet­ing links to the two domains reg­is­tered in Japan in late Novem­ber,’ Unhack the Vote’s Mike Farb wrote in Medi­um. “Strong sim­i­lar­i­ties between the accounts com­bined with clear con­nec­tion to the two recent­ly-estab­lished Japan­ese web­sites ver­i­fied our sus­pi­cions.”

Soon, Farb and com­pa­ny real­ized they had “stum­bled upon a sophis­ti­cat­ed bot­net being used to spread alt-right pro­pa­gan­da.”

The researcher who dis­cov­ered the bot­net has nick­named it “the Voty bot­net,” and it is still alive today, although cur­rent­ly not oper­at­ing in ser­vice of any polit­i­cal pro­pa­gan­da. The researchers esti­mate that more than 400 accounts are in the bot­net, although at any giv­en time, only a sub­set are being deployed in the online Amer­i­can polit­i­cal wars.

I will ful­ly cov­er the legal expens­es of any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry. Break the secre­cy. #UnsealTheDeals— Mike Cer­novich ???? (@Cernovich) Novem­ber 21, 2017

The bot­net has been spread­ing pro­pa­gan­da ‘for over two months now,’ accord­ing to the researchers, and Twit­ter is aware of it, and has not stopped it. “We know this because Twit­ter has sus­pend­ed some spam accounts that fol­low our Voty bots,” the researcher told Newsweek. “This shows that Twit­ter is aware that these ‘fol­low­er’ accounts are not legit­i­mate. But if you look at the ‘who to fol­low’ sug­ges­tion win­dow when you are on a Voty bot­net account, the sug­ges­tions are almost always oth­er Voty Twit­ter bot accounts. This shows that Twit­ter is aware that these accounts are inter­re­lat­ed.”

One ques­tion remains: Who is pay­ing for this oper­a­tion? The researchers believe that the oper­a­tion was expen­sive. “We esti­mate dozens of hours of ini­tial devel­op­ment time and at least one per­son work­ing full time to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute con­tent,” one of the researchers told Newsweek. “Addi­tion­al­ly, it’s like­ly that an exist­ing bot farm of com­pro­mised com­put­ers is basi­cal­ly being rent­ed as a dis­trib­uted host for these accounts.”

. . . .  since the 2016 elec­tion, arguably lost due to the right’s supe­ri­or uti­liza­tion of dark­er online strate­gies, the left is not known to have cre­at­ed or mobi­lized its own fake cyber army to ampli­fy its view­point.

“Agreed we need one,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic dig­i­tal media strate­gist Jess McIn­tosh, who worked on Franken’s cam­paign and for Hillary Clinton’s bid for pres­i­dent, said in an email to Newsweek. “But it’s hard­er to use these tac­tics when you can’t rely on either lies OR hate to do it.”

 

Discussion

6 comments for “FTR #998 “In Politics, Nothing Happens by Accident”: Weaponized Feminism and the #MeToo Movement”

  1. Mort Sahl is still the best ever, and he’s on Periscope tonight.

    Posted by Matt S | February 28, 2018, 6:42 pm
  2. It turns out that Newsweek end­ed up retract­ing their sto­ry about a Twit­ter bot net­work osten­si­bly run out of Japan being used to ampli­fy­ing the calls for Al Franken’s res­ig­na­tion.

    The basis for the retrac­tion appears to be cen­tered around two key things. First, the arti­cle the bot net­work was pro­mot­ing, “Dear Al Franken: I’ll Miss You, But You Can’t Mat­ter Any­more” by Ijeo­ma Oluo, was pub­lished after Franken announced his res­ig­na­tion. So the sud­den pro­mo­tion of that arti­cle clear­ly could­n’t have played a role in ampli­fy­ing the pres­sure on Franken to resign before he actu­al­ly announced his res­ig­na­tion. Although it’s worth not­ing that the arti­cle about Franken’s res­ig­na­tion and the sud­den tweet­ing of this arti­cle on the bot net­work did occur on the same day Franken resigned. Accord­ing the now-retract­ed Newsweek arti­cle, the thou­sands of tweets pro­mot­ing that arti­cle first start­ed on Decem­ber 7th, 2017. That was the same day Franken announced his res­ig­na­tion. The Newsweek arti­cle described this sud­den tweet­ing as hap­pen­ing right before Democ­rats start­ed call­ing for Franken to step down when it looks like it hap­pened right after he resigned.

    Sec­ond­ly, Newsweek could­n’t inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy that this bot net­work was indeed work­ing on behalf of the Alt Right agen­da.

    It’s also worth not­ing what was­n’t retract­ed:

    1. There’s no retrac­tion of the fact the this Japan­ese Twit­ter bot net­work set up the RealUSA.site on the same day Roger Stone made his infa­mous tweet about how “it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the bar­rel‘.”

    2. And no retrac­tion that the sec­ond fake site, VotyUS.me, was set up on the same day that Charles John­son tweet­ed “Think­ing of offer­ing mon­ey to peo­ple who go on tv and say Al Frank is a preda­tor.”

    It’s also worth not­ing that the author of the piece, Nina Burleigh, was inter­viewed about this retrac­tion on the Mike McIn­tee show on Feb­ru­ary 27th, 2018 (the seg­ment starts at ~33 min­utes into the show). And as Burleigh points out in the inter­view, it was­n’t as if there was no cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence sug­gest­ing that the bot net­work was inten­tion­al­ly pro­mot­ing Alt Right memes. It just was­n’t con­clu­sive.

    And this retrac­tion is being treat­ed as if there was noth­ing to the sto­ry. And in the case of this par­tic­u­lar Japan-based bot net­work it very well could be the case that it was just com­plete­ly coin­ci­den­tal tim­ing. Burleigh also says they’re going to con­tin­ue inves­ti­gat­ing this sto­ry, so we’ll see what they turn up. But it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that if these troll cam­paigns are exe­cut­ed well you won’t be able to eas­i­ly dif­fer­en­ti­ate them for spam bots just look­ing to make mon­ey by get­ting traf­fic.

    So with that in mind, here’s a sto­ry about a recent­ly leaked Alt Right ‘play­book’, where far-right trolls in Ger­many dis­cuss with each oth­er how to use Youtube to set up dozens of accounts and use them to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly game the Youtube algo­rithms:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Leaked: The Alt-Right Play­book for Tak­ing Over YouTube
    Inside a secret forum, users share tips on how to game the video site to boost hate videos and bury infor­ma­tion they don’t like—some of the same tac­tics used by Rus­sia.

    Kel­ly Weill
    03.01.18 5:04 AM ET

    Far-right trolls are using a net­work of fake accounts to rig YouTube’s algo­rithm in their favor, accord­ing to chats leaked by an anti-alt-right group.

    Con­ver­sa­tions uploaded by the Twit­ter account Alt Right Leaks appear to show mem­bers of Euro­pean alt-right group Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca dis­cussing ways to manip­u­late YouTube with fake accounts in order to boost vis­i­bil­i­ty of their pre­ferred videos and bury videos they don’t like.

    Unlike Twit­ter and Face­book where posts appear chrono­log­i­cal­ly and can’t be down­vot­ed, YouTube videos are at the mer­cy of the site’s “dis­like” but­ton. Although YouTube has not dis­closed the exact algo­rithm by which videos appear in its search­es and “up next” lists, social media experts have long sug­gest­ed that a video’s like-to-dis­like ratio fac­tors into its vis­i­bil­i­ty on the site.

    That makes the dis­like but­ton a weapon for peo­ple oper­at­ing fake YouTube accounts who want to push a video from sight.

    “Can you tell me how many sock [pup­pet] accounts one can have?” a per­son asks in Ger­man in the leaked chat, using a term for a fake account that pos­es as a per­son. “I already have 12.”

    Recon­quista Germanica’s lead­ers then advised him to make more in advance of a “raid,” when the group’s mem­bers planned to use dozens of accounts each to down­vote an opponent’s video into obscu­ri­ty.

    The chats took place on Dis­cord, a voice and mes­sag­ing plat­form orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed for gamers, which has seen a sharp uptick in pop­u­lar­i­ty among the alt-right. The con­ver­sa­tions were spear­head­ed by Ger­man alt-right fig­ures on a Dis­cord serv­er that made head­lines in Sep­tem­ber for its leader’s efforts to upend Germany’s elec­tions by spam­ming Twit­ter with far-right hash­tags. The Twit­ter cam­paign bombed, Buz­zFeed report­ed at the time.

    “We had sev­er­al peo­ple in the serv­er,” Alt Right Leaks told The Dai­ly Beast, adding that they want­ed to raise aware­ness of far-right intim­i­da­tion tac­tics on YouTube. “I see many peo­ple on social media who are afraid to speak out against hate­ful ide­olo­gies, because they fear the shit­storm that would fol­low. Some Youtu­bers depend on the income from their chan­nels, so they can­not afford to become unpop­u­lar due to trolls and hate com­ments.”

    The far-right has found a home on YouTube, which has come under recent scruti­ny for host­ing con­spir­a­cy videos, includ­ing those accus­ing sur­vivors of the Park­land shoot­ing of being cri­sis actors. Some of YouTube’s biggest stars have faced back­lash for racial insen­si­tiv­i­ty or out­right racism, from star vlog­ger Logan Paul’s recent con­tro­ver­sy over film­ing a dead man in Japan, to YouTu­ber PewDiePie’s use of Nazi and anti-semit­ic jokes in his videos. YouTube did not return The Dai­ly Beast’s request for com­ment.

    The Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca Dis­cord group had hun­dreds of mem­bers, accord­ing to screen­shots shared by Alt Right Leaks. Screen­shots of the group’s text logs and ripped footage of their audio con­ver­sa­tions is con­sis­tent with images and video pre­vi­ous­ly obtained from the serv­er and pub­lished by Buz­zFeed. A doc­u­ment on Twit­ter trolling that was cir­cu­lat­ed in the serv­er was also on the web­site of an alleged Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca mem­ber.

    Short­ly after its failed Twit­ter cam­paign to troll Germany’s elec­tions, the Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca chat start­ed dis­cussing ways to rig YouTube instead.

    In a chat around Sept. 1, Recon­quista Germanica’s lead­ers host­ed a YouTube trolling tuto­r­i­al, aimed at bury­ing polit­i­cal oppo­nents’ videos in advance of the Ger­man elec­tions.

    The serv­er appeared to include mem­bers from out­side the coun­try, includ­ing a well-known Scot­tish white nation­al­ist and Mar­tin Sell­ner, an Aus­tri­an far-right fig­ure known for his involve­ment in a cam­paign to rent a boat and harass human­i­tar­i­an ships that res­cue migrants at sea. (Sell­ner did not respond to a request for com­ment.) Sellner’s anti-migrant cam­paign got a boost from the Amer­i­can right when con­ser­v­a­tive troll Charles John­son used his fundrais­ing web­site to help raise hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars for anti-migrant boats.

    Tar­get­ed down­vot­ing “can be an extreme­ly pow­er­ful tool,” one mem­ber said in the chat in Ger­man. He sug­gest­ed the reverse could also be true. “We can push our own videos through likes and com­ments through the orga­ni­za­tion we’ve cre­at­ed, so that they are rat­ed more rel­e­vant by YouTube’s search algo­rithm.”

    ...

    “What we’ve seen is the alt-right is incred­i­bly adept at nav­i­gat­ing and oth­er­wise exploit­ing loop­holes in social media plat­forms to cre­ate these sock pup­pets and using them to ampli­fy their col­leagues,” Ryan Lenz, a senior inves­tiga­tive reporter with the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter told The Dai­ly Beast.

    YouTube recent­ly imple­ment­ed a “three strikes” pol­i­cy for ban­ning abu­sive accounts, but it’s not always enforced con­sis­tent­ly.

    “It all depends on the dis­cre­tionary real­i­ty of some­one look­ing at that con­tent and mak­ing a dis­cre­tionary deci­sion about whether it vio­lates Terms of Ser­vice,” Lenz said. “Across the board, there’s been an incon­sis­tent appli­ca­tion of that.”

    Through a cam­paign of down­votes and neg­a­tive com­ments, the far-right Dis­cord group hoped to encour­age a larg­er pile-on against videos it tar­get­ed, poten­tial­ly bump­ing them from search­es.

    “We will observe the like/dislike ratio, and after an hour check how much it changed,” a leader said.

    “When you go to a YouTube video and see it has 50 per­cent or more dis­likes and a lot of crit­i­cal com­ments, then peo­ple won’t even watch the video.”

    Despite its mem­bers’ anti-immi­grant views, the Dis­cord group coached par­tic­i­pants to pose as for­eign­ers on the Ger­man videos.

    “I’ll imper­son­ate some Alba­ni­ans in there,” one mem­ber says in advance of a com­ment “raid” on a video. “Because they fear noth­ing more than being cri­tiqued by for­eign­ers.”

    “Get your­self accounts with Turk­ish names,” a mem­ber advised, “so that they think the Ger­man ‘patri­ots’ have for­eign sup­port. That is hor­ri­ble for them.”

    The per­son also rec­om­mend­ed using a Syr­i­an name and com­ment­ing that they were a Syr­i­an migrant who thought Ger­many had too many migrants.

    The trick to bury­ing a YouTube video they didn’t like would be to swarm its com­ments with sock­pup­pet accounts simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, as if they were in con­ver­sa­tion with each oth­er. The tac­tic is sim­i­lar to the one employed at the Inter­net Research Agency, the Russ­ian troll farm accused of inter­fer­ing in U.S. elec­tions; for­mer IRA employ­ees told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that employ­ees would fake nar­ra­tives by stag­ing argu­ments in com­ments sec­tions.

    And YouTube made it easy for a sin­gle troll to pose as an army. When one chat mem­ber said he only had 12 sock pup­pet accounts, anoth­er per­son rec­om­mend­ed he ver­i­fy his account. Unlike social media plat­forms like Face­book and Twit­ter, which some­times require a per­son to reveal iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion to ver­i­fy their accounts, a ver­i­fied YouTube account only requires a phone num­ber. Once ver­i­fied, that per­son can make mul­ti­ple user­names.

    With ver­i­fied accounts, trolls can switch eas­i­ly between 99 sock pup­pet accounts, the chat’s lead­ers advised.

    “Holy shit,” anoth­er mem­ber respond­ed. “Does the orig­i­nal account get banned even­tu­al­ly?”

    “No.”

    “Even when I abuse it?”

    “Well… just don’t let them con­nect the dots.”

    YouTube doesn’t always con­nect those dots. The web­site has pre­vi­ous­ly come under fire for allow­ing the far-right to dodge anti-hate speech and anti-harass­ment rules. On Mon­day, The Dai­ly Beast report­ed that open­ly neo-Nazi groups like the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty and the Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion are still using the site for recruit­ment videos. Despite both par­ties engag­ing in harass­ment against minori­ties and Atom­waf­fen call­ing for mass-mur­der of Jews, YouTube defend­ed keep­ing the accounts live under the man­tle of “free expres­sion.”

    After two days of back­lash and a take­down request from the Anti-Defama­tion League, YouTube banned Atom­waf­fen on Wednes­day.

    ———-

    “Leaked: The Alt-Right Play­book for Tak­ing Over YouTube” by Kel­ly Weill; The Dai­ly Beast; 03/01/2018

    “The chats took place on Dis­cord, a voice and mes­sag­ing plat­form orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed for gamers, which has seen a sharp uptick in pop­u­lar­i­ty among the alt-right. The con­ver­sa­tions were spear­head­ed by Ger­man alt-right fig­ures on a Dis­cord serv­er that made head­lines in Sep­tem­ber for its leader’s efforts to upend Germany’s elec­tions by spam­ming Twit­ter with far-right hash­tags. The Twit­ter cam­paign bombed, Buz­zFeed report­ed at the time.

    So on the same Dis­cord serv­er — a mes­sag­ing plat­form that’s becom­ing pop­u­lar with the Alt-Right — where Ger­man far-right fig­ures had pre­vi­ous­ly planned a Twit­ter spam­ming cam­paign for the Ger­man elec­tions back in Sep­tem­ber, researchers now find lessons on how to game Youtube. And as they lead­ers of Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca point­ed out, that process of gam­ing Youtube starts with cre­at­ing lots and lots of sock­pup­pet accounts. Which is some­thing Youtube made very easy to do, with one ‘ver­i­fied’ account being able to cre­ate up to 99 oth­er accounts:

    ...
    “Can you tell me how many sock [pup­pet] accounts one can have?” a per­son asks in Ger­man in the leaked chat, using a term for a fake account that pos­es as a per­son. “I already have 12.”

    Recon­quista Germanica’s lead­ers then advised him to make more in advance of a “raid,” when the group’s mem­bers planned to use dozens of accounts each to down­vote an opponent’s video into obscu­ri­ty.

    ...

    The Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca Dis­cord group had hun­dreds of mem­bers, accord­ing to screen­shots shared by Alt Right Leaks. Screen­shots of the group’s text logs and ripped footage of their audio con­ver­sa­tions is con­sis­tent with images and video pre­vi­ous­ly obtained from the serv­er and pub­lished by Buz­zFeed. A doc­u­ment on Twit­ter trolling that was cir­cu­lat­ed in the serv­er was also on the web­site of an alleged Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca mem­ber.

    ...

    And YouTube made it easy for a sin­gle troll to pose as an army. When one chat mem­ber said he only had 12 sock pup­pet accounts, anoth­er per­son rec­om­mend­ed he ver­i­fy his account. Unlike social media plat­forms like Face­book and Twit­ter, which some­times require a per­son to reveal iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion to ver­i­fy their accounts, a ver­i­fied YouTube account only requires a phone num­ber. Once ver­i­fied, that per­son can make mul­ti­ple user­names.

    With ver­i­fied accounts, trolls can switch eas­i­ly between 99 sock pup­pet accounts, the chat’s lead­ers advised.

    “Holy shit,” anoth­er mem­ber respond­ed. “Does the orig­i­nal account get banned even­tu­al­ly?”

    “No.”

    “Even when I abuse it?”

    “Well… just don’t let them con­nect the dots.”
    ...

    “With ver­i­fied accounts, trolls can switch eas­i­ly between 99 sock pup­pet accounts, the chat’s lead­ers advised.”

    And Youtube does­n’t just make it easy to cre­ate large num­bers of sock­pup­pets. They also have an algo­rithm that allows these armies of sock­pup­pets to ‘down­vote’ a video into obscu­ri­ty:

    ...
    Unlike Twit­ter and Face­book where posts appear chrono­log­i­cal­ly and can’t be down­vot­ed, YouTube videos are at the mer­cy of the site’s “dis­like” but­ton. Although YouTube has not dis­closed the exact algo­rithm by which videos appear in its search­es and “up next” lists, social media experts have long sug­gest­ed that a video’s like-to-dis­like ratio fac­tors into its vis­i­bil­i­ty on the site.

    That makes the dis­like but­ton a weapon for peo­ple oper­at­ing fake YouTube accounts who want to push a video from sight.

    ...

    The trick to bury­ing a YouTube video they didn’t like would be to swarm its com­ments with sock­pup­pet accounts simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, as if they were in con­ver­sa­tion with each oth­er. The tac­tic is sim­i­lar to the one employed at the Inter­net Research Agency, the Russ­ian troll farm accused of inter­fer­ing in U.S. elec­tions; for­mer IRA employ­ees told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that employ­ees would fake nar­ra­tives by stag­ing argu­ments in com­ments sec­tions....

    Or per­haps pro­mote their own videos:

    ...
    Tar­get­ed down­vot­ing “can be an extreme­ly pow­er­ful tool,” one mem­ber said in the chat in Ger­man. He sug­gest­ed the reverse could also be true. “We can push our own videos through likes and com­ments through the orga­ni­za­tion we’ve cre­at­ed, so that they are rat­ed more rel­e­vant by YouTube’s search algo­rithm.”
    ...

    And the peo­ple learn­ing these les­son on this Dis­cord chat group were just Ger­many mem­bers of Recon­quista Ger­man­i­ca. Peo­ple from out­side Ger­many were on the serv­er too, includ­ing Mar­tin Sell­ner, an Aus­tri­an fig­ure behind the far-right cam­paign in Europe to send boats out to harass human­i­tar­i­an mis­sions to res­cue refugees at sea try­ing to reach Europe. And as the arti­cle notes, Sell­ner’s fund-rais­ing efforts for this project got a boost from none oth­er than Charles C. John­son:

    ...
    In a chat around Sept. 1, Recon­quista Germanica’s lead­ers host­ed a YouTube trolling tuto­r­i­al, aimed at bury­ing polit­i­cal oppo­nents’ videos in advance of the Ger­man elec­tions.

    The serv­er appeared to include mem­bers from out­side the coun­try, includ­ing a well-known Scot­tish white nation­al­ist and Mar­tin Sell­ner, an Aus­tri­an far-right fig­ure known for his involve­ment in a cam­paign to rent a boat and harass human­i­tar­i­an ships that res­cue migrants at sea. (Sell­ner did not respond to a request for com­ment.) Sellner’s anti-migrant cam­paign got a boost from the Amer­i­can right when con­ser­v­a­tive troll Charles John­son used his fundrais­ing web­site to help raise hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars for anti-migrant boats.
    ...

    And these lessons also includ­ed instruct­ing these sock­pup­pets to pose as for­eign­ers:

    ...
    Despite its mem­bers’ anti-immi­grant views, the Dis­cord group coached par­tic­i­pants to pose as for­eign­ers on the Ger­man videos.

    “I’ll imper­son­ate some Alba­ni­ans in there,” one mem­ber says in advance of a com­ment “raid” on a video. “Because they fear noth­ing more than being cri­tiqued by for­eign­ers.”

    “Get your­self accounts with Turk­ish names,” a mem­ber advised, “so that they think the Ger­man ‘patri­ots’ have for­eign sup­port. That is hor­ri­ble for them.”

    The per­son also rec­om­mend­ed using a Syr­i­an name and com­ment­ing that they were a Syr­i­an migrant who thought Ger­many had too many migrants.
    ...

    So is Youtube going do any­thing about Alt-Right cam­paigns designed to manip­u­late its algo­rithms? Well, con­sid­er­ing that it took a pub­lic out­cry to get them to take to Atom­waf­fen’s recruit­ment videos, no, Youtube prob­a­bly isn’t going to do much to address this:

    ...
    YouTube doesn’t always con­nect those dots. The web­site has pre­vi­ous­ly come under fire for allow­ing the far-right to dodge anti-hate speech and anti-harass­ment rules. On Mon­day, The Dai­ly Beast report­ed that open­ly neo-Nazi groups like the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty and the Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion are still using the site for recruit­ment videos. Despite both par­ties engag­ing in harass­ment against minori­ties and Atom­waf­fen call­ing for mass-mur­der of Jews, YouTube defend­ed keep­ing the accounts live under the man­tle of “free expres­sion.”

    After two days of back­lash and a take­down request from the Anti-Defama­tion League, YouTube banned Atom­waf­fen on Wednes­day.

    And that whole night­mare sto­ry is just one exam­ple of how social media is being used to ampli­fy extrem­ists voic­es. So whether or not the sto­ry about the Alt-Right Twit­ter bot net­work and Al Franken pans out, it’s pret­ty clear that the under­ly­ing sto­ry of extrem­ists turn­ing social media into a giant mega­phone is very real. Espe­cial­ly on Youtube.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2018, 5:08 pm
  3. A val­ued col­league e‑mailed me some of his obser­va­tions on a racist and anti-Semit­ic man­i­fes­ta­tion of weaponized fem­i­nism. I share it with the audi­ence here:

    ““Jews were respon­si­ble for all of this filth and degen­er­ate behav­ior that Hol­ly­wood is putting out turn­ing men into women and women into men. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Far­rakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cov­er off of that Satan­ic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,”
    ‑Louis Far­rakhan, 3/18

    NOTE: Is the media final­ly dis­cov­er­ing that the Women’s March is not what it appears? Shock­ing! Dave, look­ing for­ward to lis­ten­ing to 998, par­tic­u­lar­ly like this line from the notes: “Past a point, we find it impos­si­ble to stom­ach what is going on.” Yeah, that has summed up my mood for months, par­tic­u­lar­ly in regard to “The Resis­tance” to Trump. Trump is bad enough… does the Resis­tance real­ly need to suck this much as well?

    It’s been obvi­ous from the start that the Women’s March is con­trolled by CIA/Muslim Broth­er ele­ments, so this cur­rent flir­ta­tion with NOI should be no sur­prise at all. FYI: for the most part, I will not be dis­cussing Glo­ria Steinem in this piece as she does not appear to be attach­ing her name to the Women’s March group as she had ear­ly in the Trump Admin. I think she may have made a strate­gic retreat this year in PR terms, just in case some­body noticed her ties to Wein­stein? Just a the­o­ry… Either way, her ear­ly involve­ment in the March group is cer­tain­ly indica­tive of Agency inter­est in the mat­ter. Can’t find sto­ries on why she is no longer loud about it any­more.

    But there is enough shadi­ness in the remain­ing core of the March group (anoth­er Twit­ter “rev­o­lu­tion” at heart) to keep us busy. Three of the four (Car­men Perez, Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry, and Lin­da “Cock­roach” Sar­sour) are easy to doc­u­ment as there has been a bit of an out­cry over Mallory’s atten­dance at a Far­rakhan ral­ly last week, cou­pled with Sar­sour and Perez’s pre­vi­ous engage­ments with Dear Leader. I say a “bit” as Amer­i­can media cov­er­age has been lim­it­ed, though it is quite the hot top­ic on social media, with even some of the worst “social jus­tice war­riors” real­iz­ing that hook­ing up with Far­rakhan is a bridge too far. The fourth mem­ber of the core is stand­ing strong­ly behind the Far­rakhan Three, and has some very inter­est­ing ties of her own…

    http://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Womens-March-leaders-refuse-to-condemn-Farrakhan-after-antisemitic-speech-544074

    High-pro­file lead­ers of the pop­u­lar Women’s March move­ment are refus­ing to con­demn an anti­se­mit­ic speech Louis Far­rakhan deliv­ered last week.

    Accord­ing to the Anti-Defama­tion League, promi­nent Women’s March fig­ures Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry, Car­men Perez and Lin­da Sar­sour have failed to speak out against the Nation of Islam leader after he described the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty as his “ene­my” dur­ing a speech at the 2018 Saviour’s Day event in Chica­go

    “In the audi­ence at last weekend’s con­fer­ence was Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry, one of the lead­ers of the Women’s March, who got a spe­cial shout-out from Far­rakhan and who reg­u­lar­ly posts lauda­to­ry pic­tures of him on her Insta­gram account as does Car­men Perez, anoth­er leader of the March,” the ADL said.

    “Lin­da Sar­sour, anoth­er March orga­niz­er, spoke and par­tic­i­pat­ed at a Nation of Islam event in 2015. Her most notable response to his incen­di­ary remarks this year was a glow­ing post on Perez’s Face­book page to praise Farrakhan’s youth­ful demeanor.”

    Perez refused to denounce the 84-year-old’s anti­semitism and instead retort­ed: “There are no per­fect lead­ers.” Mal­lo­ry and Sar­sour failed to respond to a request for com­ment by The Jerusalem Post.

    …Aman­da Berman, head of the New York City branch of the pro­gres­sive Zioness Move­ment, said she was dis­mayed that an orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to social jus­tice and tol­er­ance had failed to speak out against such bla­tant big­otry.

    “No one expects pro­gres­sive lead­ers – who are humans – to be per­fect. We expect them to be inher­ent­ly good, as opposed to pro­found­ly racist. It would be absolute­ly unac­cept­able to Mal­lo­ry, Perez and Sar­sour if any oth­er leader made heinous, big­ot­ed com­ments like this about their respec­tive com­mu­ni­ties, and there­fore iron­ic and hyp­o­crit­i­cal beyond words that they con­tin­ue to align them­selves with some­one with such deeply held, hate­ful world­views,” Berman said.

    “Either the Women’s March lead­ers endorse the vil­i­fi­ca­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple or they don’t – and if they don’t, why do they so vehe­ment­ly refuse to unequiv­o­cal­ly con­demn it? This episode only reaf­firms the Zioness Movement’s com­mit­ment to acti­vat­ing and empow­er­ing new lead­ers in the fem­i­nist move­ment who show up to fight for the civ­il and human rights of all peo­ple, not just some peo­ple,” she added.

    SPEAKING TO thou­sands of fol­low­ers, Far­rakhan railed against the US Jew­ish community’s sup­posed influ­ence over the media, an anti­se­mit­ic trope that has long been a pop­u­lar talk­ing point for the black nation­al­ist leader.

    In one part of the address, Far­rakhan said that the “Jews were respon­si­ble for all of this filth and degen­er­ate behav­ior that Hol­ly­wood is putting out turn­ing men into women and women into men.”

    “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Far­rakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cov­er off of that Satan­ic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” Far­rakhan added.

    Sav­iours’ Day is a hol­i­day of the Nation of Islam com­mem­o­rat­ing the birth of its founder, Wal­lace Fard Muham­mad.

    Oth­er notable remarks made by Far­rakhan dur­ing the his speech in Chica­go includ­ed the notion that Jews are part of “the Syn­a­gogue of Satan”; that the “white peo­ple run­ning Mex­i­co” are Mex­i­can-Jews; that Jews con­trol var­i­ous coun­tries includ­ing Ukraine, France, Poland and Ger­many where they take advan­tage of the mon­ey, the cul­ture and the busi­ness; that Jesus called Jews “the chil­dren of the dev­il”; and “when you want some­thing in this world, the Jew holds the door.”

    NOTE: Oh, Louie, always bring­ing the laughs and non-facts… no, the white peo­ple run­ning Mex­i­co are most­ly Catholic Lebanese! And of course the Jews run Ukraine, France, Poland, and Ger­many… Next he works in a Hit­ler­ian ver­sion of “Reefer Mad­ness”.

    (con­tin­u­ing)

    He also claimed that Jews con­trol the US gov­ern­ment and the FBI and use mar­i­jua­na to fem­i­nize black men.

    In an appar­ent response to the con­tro­ver­sy, Mal­lo­ry post­ed to Twit­ter on Fri­day evening: “Fam­i­ly... thank you for lov­ing me and for know­ing the truth about who I am. My work speaks for itself... my words have been clear... my love for peo­ple is deep. What­ev­er else they say about me is a LIE. Thank you for con­tin­u­ing to hold me up. I stand on my rep­u­ta­tion!”

    NOTE: Nice rebut­tal, Tami­ka! So it’s a lie that you attend­ed a Far­rakhan march?

    (con­tin­u­ing)

    …The ADL not­ed that in recent years, Far­rakhan has embarked on a wide-rang­ing anti-Jew­ish cam­paign, which has fea­tured some of the most hate­ful speech­es of his career.

    “He has repeat­ed­ly alleged that the Jew­ish peo­ple were respon­si­ble for the slave trade as well as the 9/11 attacks, and that they con­tin­ue con­spire to con­trol the gov­ern­ment, the media, Hol­ly­wood, and var­i­ous black indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions,” the orga­ni­za­tion said.

    Despite Farrakhan’s dis­po­si­tion toward the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, the New York native has been able to gar­ner sup­port from well-known politi­cians and pub­lic offi­cials over the years.

    US Rep. Dan­ny Davis (D‑Illinois) recent­ly praised Far­rakhan as “an out­stand­ing human being.” He lat­er told the ADL that he was mis­quot­ed and insist­ed he rejects anti­semitism in all forms.

    US Reps. Max­ine Waters and Bar­bara Lee of Cal­i­for­nia, Al Green of Texas and William Jef­fer­son of Louisiana have also been cap­tured embrac­ing Far­rakhan, with a video post­ed to YouTube in 2009 show­ing them coor­di­nat­ing a response to Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na.

    NOTE: Next up, a good arti­cle from the For­ward.

    https://forward.com/opinion/395675/memo-to-the-left-denounce-anti-semite-louis-farrakhan/

    …So it was dis­may­ing that a leader of the left would coun­te­nance his words, show up at his speech and take a pho­to with him. And yet this is what leader and co-chair of the Women’s March, Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry, did this week.
    It would be one thing if Mal­lo­ry lat­er denounced Farrakhan’s hate­ful words, if only because anti-Semi­tism is so taboo that even clos­et anti-Semi­tes under­stand they must hide it.
    But she did not. Rather, she proud­ly shared a video and pho­to of her atten­dance on Insta­gram. Not only that, in an appar­ent response to the (very lim­it­ed) out­rage about her atten­dance, she tweet­ed an anti-Semit­ic dog whis­tle:
    This is the kind of dog whis­tle that even humans can hear. Mallory’s claim that she has the same ene­mies as Jesus only days after being crit­i­cized for her atten­dance at an anti-Semit­ic speech is a clear ref­er­ence to one of the old­est anti-Semit­ic tropes of all time, used to jus­ti­fy unimag­in­able mas­sacres through­out the ages: that Jews are the ene­mies of Chris­tian­i­ty.
    Let’s be clear: These are the words of an anti-Semi­te. The only oth­er pub­lic state­ment she’s made about the event was in response to a tweet by Tal­ib Kweli where he also proud­ly claimed his sup­port for Far­rakhan. Mallory’s response? “My broth­er! Love you, Tal­ib!”
    Mal­lo­ry had the chance to clar­i­fy her atten­dance, to claim that per­haps there was some expla­na­tion besides hatred that would moti­vate her atten­dance at this speech, and her proud shar­ing of images from it.
    Instead, she has dou­bled down, and proud­ly.
    Oth­ers who are part of the Women’s March lead­er­ship have not said a word. Lin­da Sar­sour has been notably silent, as has Car­men Perez, both co-chairs of the move­ment.
    Worse, instead of an out­cry from the left of the sort Steve Ban­non has got­ten, there has been a bizarre silence from lead­ers of oth­er social jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Jew­ish ones.
    Now is not a time to mince words: The left’s silence in this instance sig­nals their com­plic­i­ty in anti-Semi­tism. They are allow­ing naked, open big­otry to grow in front of them with­out a word of protest.
    In fact, when CNN’s Jake Tap­per tweet­ed crit­i­cism of Mallory’s atten­dance, he was him­self crit­i­cized on the grounds that Mal­lo­ry is not impor­tant enough to cas­ti­gate.

    This is both false and insid­i­ous. It’s false because Mal­lo­ry is the head of one of the most main­stream activist orga­ni­za­tions in Amer­i­ca. The orig­i­nal Women’s March broke records for atten­dance for sin­gle-day demon­stra­tion in the US. It has tak­en on an even big­ger role thanks to the #MeToo move­ment. It is one of the strongest, most impor­tant voic­es in left wing activism (as it should be).
    Mallory’s role, then, is not a fringe leader of some small move­ment but the leader of a cul­tur­al pow­er­house. And it is trib­al­ism that has silenced the left on her behalf. Moral­i­ty should be guid­ing our posi­tions, not the rel­a­tive pow­er of oth­ers or what “side” they are on. To accept hatred among our own because it is con­ve­nient or because it is less dan­ger­ous in our minds than the oth­er side’s hatred is an amoral, trib­al, strate­gic deci­sion rather than a moral one.
    Ulti­mate­ly, anti-Semi­tism is evil, as is racism, xeno­pho­bia, homo­pho­bia, Islam­o­pho­bia, and every oth­er hate that takes groups of peo­ple and turns them from indi­vid­u­als into mas­sive globs of ene­mies to be destroyed. It is infu­ri­at­ing that anti-Semi­tism is not tak­en as seri­ous­ly as these oth­er forms of big­otry. But it also expos­es a seri­ous moral fail­ing on the left that threat­ens the very integri­ty of its col­lec­tive soul.
    Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry has not just gone to see a man ooz­ing of such hatred speak. She has pub­licly endorsed him. She has refused to back down for her atten­dance. She has refused to denounce his words. She has com­posed her own anti-Semit­ic dog-whistling com­ment. And she has thanked oth­ers for sup­port­ing her atten­dance.
    It is our job to speak up, not because she is pow­er­ful (which she is), and not because she is influ­en­tial (which she is) and not because if we don’t speak up, the hatred will spread (which it will). We – and every­one else on the left — must speak up because it is the right thing to do.

    NOTE: CNN has actu­al­ly done good work on this, which is rather shock­ing. Most of the US media is being very qui­et as they LOVE #metoo and Wom­ens March and are prob­a­bly too afraid to stick their head out. CNN also dis­cuss­es how the ADL shield­ed Kei­th Elli­son from crit­i­cism over his bla­tant NOI ties. That coverup is still in effect, appar­ent­ly. My only sad­ness in this cur­rent scan­dal (I’m glad to see light shed… noth­ing sad about it!) is that the media is not men­tion­ing how Louis has incor­po­rat­ed Sci­en­tol­ogy into NOI prac­tice. So not only do you get to trans­form into a homo­pho­bic, anti-semit­ic, anti-white, sex­ist big­ot… you get to lose all your mon­ey, too! What’s not to like about that deal?

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/28/politics/louis-farrakhan-speech/index.html

    …Wom­en’s March co-chair Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry was in atten­dance, CNN’s Jake Tap­per point­ed out on Twit­ter after she shared an image from the event on Insta­gram.
    Mal­lo­ry has post­ed on social media about Far­rakhan in the past — on Feb­ru­ary 21, 2016, she post­ed an image of him from a stage at the Joe Louis Are­na with the cap­tion: “The Hon­or­able Min­is­ter Louis Far­rakhan just stepped to the mic for #SD16DET... I’m super ready for this mes­sage! #JUSTICEORELSE #ForTh­eLove­Of­Flint.”
    Mal­lo­ry did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to CNN’s request for com­ment on Sun­day’s speech.
    The Nation of Islam is a des­ig­nat­ed hate group by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter for its “deeply racist, anti­se­mit­ic and anti-LGBT rhetoric,” and its pri­ma­ry teach­ing pro­motes black racial supe­ri­or­i­ty.
    Rep. Kei­th Elli­son faced scruti­ny dur­ing his bid for Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee chair over his past ties with the group, and a pre­vi­ous CNN review revealed the Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat had a decade-long involve­ment with NOI.
    In Decem­ber 2016, a spokesper­son for Elli­son told CNN that Elli­son “rejects all forms of anti-Semi­tism” and said “the right wing has been push­ing these sto­ries for years to dri­ve a wedge between Con­gress­man Elli­son and the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty.”
    After he announced his run for DNC chair, Jew­ish groups like the Anti-Defama­tion League (ADL) and J‑Street came to Ellison’s defense on his past asso­ci­a­tions and writ­ings.
    Last week on CNN’s The Sit­u­a­tion Room, Elli­son said he had “no rela­tion­ship” with Far­rakhan.
    “My polit­i­cal oppo­nents keep push­ing this out there in order to try and smear and dis­tract from the key issues, but there’s no rela­tion­ship, Wolf,” Elli­son told Wolf Blitzer.
    Also recent­ly, a pho­to from 2005 sur­faced of then-Sen. Barack Oba­ma with Far­rakhan dur­ing a Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus meet­ing that was alleged­ly kept under wraps over fear it would neg­a­tive­ly impact Oba­ma’s polit­i­cal future, accord­ing to the Trice Edney News Wire.

    NOTE: While it’s obvi­ous that Sar­sour, Perez, and Mal­lo­ry have a thing for Far­rakhan (Perez and Mal­lo­ry also come from Al “FBI” Sharp­ton cir­cles as well!), less atten­tion has been focused on the WHITE mem­ber of this infer­nal crew, Bob Bland. Bob? Why would a man be involved in the lead­er­ship of a Women’s March? No, Bob is a woman…. Can’t find an arti­cle with her real name (which she ditched long ago appar­ent­ly). Here is her Wikipedia (like­ly writ­ten by her) with a non-expla­na­tion of her name

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Bland

    Bob Bland was born in 1982 in North­ern Vir­ginia near Wash­ing­ton, D.C. As a child, she was not yet known as Bob Bland. She took that name as she began to grow into her­self, and has kept her giv­en name qui­et to the press.

    NOTE: I guess she grew into her­self, real­ized she was real­ly bor­ing and fig­ured Bob Bland was bet­ter than say, John Emp­ty, or Dave Som­no­lent? Or maybe it is just a shout out to blues leg­end Bob­by “Blue” Bland? I would respect that at least…

    Sor­ry for that detour, I just find the whole thing amus­ing… also, pret­ty hard for some­one to keep their real name secret on the Inter­net these days, so… well done, Bob!

    Here is what I ACTUALLY find inter­est­ing about Bob… and it is not bland at all… she is cash­ing in on DoD’s inter­est in wear­able tech.

    http://wwd.com/business-news/government-trade/manufacture-new-york-blossoms-brooklyn-10426994/

    …Last month, MNY became part of the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense and Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute for Technology’s sweep­ing $315 mil­lion pub­lic-pri­vate project called the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Fibers and Tex­tiles Man­u­fac­tur­ing Inno­va­tion Insti­tute aimed at keep­ing the coun­try at the fore­front of fiber and tex­tiles inno­va­tion. It will be locat­ed at MIT’s Sloan School of Man­age­ment in Cam­bridge.
    Under the ban­ner Advanced Func­tion­al Fab­rics of Amer­i­ca, the con­sor­tium com­pris­es firms from sev­er­al indus­tries and fields, includ­ing fash­ion groups VF Corp., New Bal­ance and Nike and tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers Mil­liken & Co., Buh­ler Qual­i­ty Yarns and Inman Mills. The project also encom­pass­es 52 com­pa­nies and 32 uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges and oth­er schools, includ­ing the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy.
    In the New York region, FIT is part­ner­ing with MNY to launch and host skills-based train­ing and reg­is­tered appren­tice­ship pro­grams across the fash­ion tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing sup­ply chain, includ­ing Advanced Func­tion­al Fab­rics of Amer­i­ca tech­ni­cal project par­tic­i­pants.
    MNY’s Bland will serve as the deputy direc­tor of appren­tice­ships and intern­ships and will estab­lish a region­al train­ing hub for New York.
    … Bland not­ed that MNY start­ed with women’s wear and now has a wide range of prod­ucts, from yarn pro­duc­tion to bridal design and man­u­fac­tur­ing.
    “Now that we’re part of the con­sor­tium that just won the $75 mil­lion grant from the [Depart­ment of Defense] that’s result­ing in a for­mal part­ner­ship between us and the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, where over the next five years we’re going to be build­ing a com­plete­ly unprece­dent­ed work­force train­ing pro­gram for local Sun­set Park res­i­dents that’s at the con­ver­gence of tra­di­tion­al fash­ion man­u­fac­tur­ing and wear­able tech­nol­o­gy,” Bland said. “So this is going to cre­ate a whole new class of jobs that nev­er exist­ed before — areas like pro­gram­ming, machine tech, user expe­ri­ence in mak­ing a gar­ment or pro­duc­ing fab­rics.”

    NOTE: Since the recent out­rage over Women’s March/Farrakhan, Bland has hard­ly called out her col­leagues. No, she is back­ing them full tilt.

    Bob Bland‏Verified account @bobblanddesign 19h19 hours ago
    It is our duty to work with­in our com­mu­ni­ties to trans­form people’s hearts and minds, like @TamikaDMallory does. Out­siders can­not inspire the same dia­logue to end prej­u­dice as those who have spent their lives build­ing authen­tic rela­tion­ships.
    .@TamikaDMallory being held direct­ly account­able for the words of any man is misog­y­nis­tic and doesn’t take into account her tire­less work over the last 20 years, or her own words in sup­port of Jew­ish and LGBTIAQ+ com­mu­ni­ties.
    For the last year, I have spent time deeply lis­ten­ing to Black women and com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly those suf­fer­ing from pover­ty, addic­tion or incar­cer­a­tion. I con­sis­tent­ly hear sto­ries of the Nation of Islam being there when was no else cared.

    NOTE: That takes some fuck­ing nerve… claim­ing it is misog­y­nis­tic for Mal­lo­ry to be called to account for the words of a man. Then dou­bling down with a straight up defense of NOI.

    (more bull­shit)

    …I stand with @TamikaDMallory , this day and every day, because I have wit­nessed her tire­less work to uplift the most mar­gin­al­ized, not just in the Black com­mu­ni­ty, but in every com­mu­ni­ty we have com­mit­ted to serve.”

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 5, 2018, 9:48 pm
  4. Regard­ing the role Roger Stone played in the release of the Leeann Twee­den alle­ga­tions against Al Franken, it’s worth not­ing that Tom Arnold, who appears to be long-time friends with Twee­den, issues a string of tweets back on Decem­ber 7, the day Franken resigned, where he assert­ed that Roger Stone and John Phillips (Twee­den’s part­ner at KABC) are long-time friends and were def­i­nite­ly manip­u­lat­ing Twee­den.

    Specif­i­cal­ly, he asserts in the tweets that:

    1. John Phillips and Roger Stone are pals and they coached her for weeks.

    2. The only truth behind the alle­ga­tions is the infa­mous pho­to. The rest was cre­at­ed by Stone and Phillips.

    3. Arnold has proof of this. He appar­ent­ly got a bunch of “Take down Al” cor­re­spon­dences of Roget Stone & Co sent to him by some­one.

    4. Arnold then tweets that he got off the phone with Twee­den, and that Twee­den claims she did­n’t know Stone was involved until after he tweet­ed about Franken’s “time in the Bar­rel”.

    5. Twee­den also told Arnold that Sean Han­ni­ty saw the pho­to in 2007 and begged her to go on his show but she was­n’t com­fort­able with that. Twee­den has been show­ing to peo­ple for years.

    6. Twee­den told Arnold she was sur­prised that the peo­ple at KABC shared her sto­ry about Franken before she did. And that she is very dis­tressed by the whole sit­u­a­tion and nev­er want­ed Franken fired. Arnold accepts this.

    Assum­ing these asser­tions by Arnold haven’t been debunked, that all points towards two gen­er­al take­aways: the pho­to of Franken and Twee­den was known to exist by peo­ple like Sean Han­ni­ty for at least the last decade. And Twee­den clear­ly had peo­ple (like Han­ni­ty) who want­ed her to release it for at least the last decade. So while it’s unclear how much Twee­den was active­ly work­ing with Stone before the release of this sto­ry, it’s prob­a­bly the case that she was­n’t inclined on releas­ing that pho­to (since she had many years to do it while Franken is a Sen­a­tor) which sug­gests that this Stone net­work of peo­ple who final­ly got her to do it prob­a­bly made one hel­lu­va offer:

    Dead­line Hol­ly­wood

    Al Franken: Hol­ly­wood Weighs In On Res­ig­na­tion; Tom Arnold Says Franken Accuser Was “Manip­u­lat­ed”

    by Greg Evans
    Decem­ber 7, 2017 7:41am

    With belea­guered Sen. Al Franken answer­ing the will-he-won’t‑he ques­tion — he did — today at 11:45 am ET, Hol­ly­wood seems more divid­ed over the issue than even Franken’s Sen­ate com­padres. While a crit­i­cal mass of fel­low Democ­rats demand­ed Franken’s res­ig­na­tion, some celebri­ties and TV pun­dits aren’t so sure.

    “Franken bul­lied out of office,” tweet­ed play­wright Eric Bogosian, adding, “Democ­rats eat their young.” Bil­ly Bald­win, mean­while, tweet­ed a list of harassers from Hol­ly­wood, the media and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty who’ve lost their jobs, while Trump and Moore remain stand­ing. “The GOP is a dis­grace,” he wrote.

    “I hope this is fake news,” tweet­ed Rosie O’Donnell, in all caps, about Franken’s expect­ed res­ig­na­tion ear­li­er. Said singer-turned-activist Clay Aiken, “Democ­rats are sit­ting there in the Sen­ate think­ing that by forc­ing Franken to resign, they are tak­ing a stand and show­ing Democ­rats have a zero tol­er­ance for sex­u­al harass­ment. That will NOT be the les­son learned here.”

    See all tweets below.

    “The Dems are always ready to dump one of their own,” tweet­ed Bette Midler. “The GOP stand behind every child moles­ter and every harass­er, includ­ing POTUS. As unpleas­ant as it is to face, that’s polit­i­cal sui­cide.”

    But none of the com­ments are as point­ed (or lengthy) as a string of tweets by actor Tom Arnold, who says that his friend Leeann Twee­den – the first of Franken’s accusers, whose pho­to of Franken smirk­ing­ly mim­ing a breast grope – has been “manip­u­lat­ed” by Roger Stone, among oth­ers, for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es, and that he has proof that Tweeden’s sto­ry was used as “part of a larg­er smear cam­paign against Franken. “It’s a dis­ser­vice to vic­tims,” Arnold tweet­ed, using the #MeToo hash­tag (Arnold has said he was molest­ed as a child).

    After first Arnold sug­gest­ed that Twee­den was some­how in on the Stone plan, but then tweet­ed that he had spo­ken to Twee­den and that she did not know the “peo­ple with bad inten­tions” who got involved in the reveal of her claims. (See Arnold’s tweets at bot­tom of this post).

    Here’s a sam­pling of Hol­ly­wood & Belt­way opin­ions on Franken’s res­ig­na­tion.

    ...

    I’m dis­ap­point­ed with my friend Leeann Twee­don. Her part­ner at KABC John Phillips is a Roger Stone pal & they coached her for weeks to bring Al Franken down. I’d hoped she’d use her voice to speak out for all women again preda­tors like Roy Moore & Don­ald Trump but she’s a birther— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    I’ve gone to bat for Leeann 100 times this last month hop­ing she’d at least reveal her whole truth too but she ghost­ed me. I know every sin­gle detail of this polit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion. KABC should lose their license. Pro­mot­ing a fraud is a fed­er­al offense & FCC vio­la­tion. https://t.co/QY1Cxne5tw— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    To put a but­ton on this the only truth about my old pal Leeann Tweeden’s Al Franken sto­ry was the pic­ture. The rest was cre­at­ed by KABC col­league & fel­low Trump sup­port­er John Phillips & his bud Roger Stone who coached Leeann for weeks to take Al down. Mis­sion accom­plished.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    I’m #MeToo & don’t doubt any oth­er woman but the Leeann Twee­den-John Phillips-Roger Stone lies & set up of Al Franken were part of a larg­er smear cam­paign against Al ini­ti­at­ed at the same time Leeann came out at KABC. I have proof. Leeann knows it. It’s a dis­ser­vice to vic­tims.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Just got off the phone with my old friend @LeeannTweeden & here’s what i now know. She didn’t know Roger Stone was involved until after he tweet­ed about Franken’s “time in the Barrel”Hannity saw the pic in 2007 & begged her to show it but she wasn’t com­fort­able. Leeann’s not— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    (2) with pal Hannity’s sup­port of Roy Moore which is why she hasn’t done show.She was shocked when i read Roger Stone dirty tricks Franken smear emails.Surprised that folks at KABC shared her Franken sto­ry before she did.Never want­ed Al fired.Relieved oth­ers came for­ward.????— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    (3) @LeeannTweeden had no idea KABC John Phillips & Roger Stone were hard right swingin bud­dies. Is it pos­si­ble to be polit­i­cal­ly manip­u­lat­ed with­out knowin it? Yes. Is it pos­si­ble 2 peo­ple could expe­ri­ence the same pic­ture & stage kiss with oppo­site feel­ings? 100% I believe her.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    She was def­i­nite­ly dis­tressed tonight https://t.co/Dte4BKFDkp— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Since I didn’t get all of Roger Stone & Co “Take down Al” cor­re­spon­dences until late last night I thought it was very nice & brave of Leeann to respond to my tweets by call­ing me & shar­ing her beat by beat expe­ri­ence hon­est­ly & open­ly for the first time so I could share them too. https://t.co/cD71cGIrU2— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Pic­ture isn’t fake. It’s bad. Leeann’s shown it to peo­ple for yrs. Han­ni­ty want­ed her to share it 2007. She wasn’t com­fort­able. In 2017 peo­ple with bad inten­tions got involved. Says she didn’t real­ize they were who they were. Leeann was grate­ful to tell sto­ry & move on. The End? https://t.co/jEYfNluLz7— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    I’m not defend­ing him. I just want­ed full dis­clo­sure. I always believe the women. There are some bad men try­ing to take advan­tage of both Leeann & Al on this one. https://t.co/vP83VxTpxs— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    ———-

    “Al Franken: Hol­ly­wood Weighs In On Res­ig­na­tion; Tom Arnold Says Franken Accuser Was “Manip­u­lat­ed”” by Greg Evans; Dead­line Hol­ly­wood; 12/07/2017

    “But none of the com­ments are as point­ed (or lengthy) as a string of tweets by actor Tom Arnold, who says that his friend Leeann Twee­den – the first of Franken’s accusers, whose pho­to of Franken smirk­ing­ly mim­ing a breast grope – has been “manip­u­lat­ed” by Roger Stone, among oth­ers, for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es, and that he has proof that Tweeden’s sto­ry was used as “part of a larg­er smear cam­paign against Franken. “It’s a dis­ser­vice to vic­tims,” Arnold tweet­ed, using the #MeToo hash­tag (Arnold has said he was molest­ed as a child).”

    Yep, it was quite a tweet-spree by Tom Arnold.

    First he asserts that Twee­dens part­ner at KABC, John Phillips, is a Roger Stone pal and they coached Twee­den for weeks:

    I’m dis­ap­point­ed with my friend Leeann Twee­don. Her part­ner at KABC John Phillips is a Roger Stone pal & they coached her for weeks to bring Al Franken down. I’d hoped she’d use her voice to speak out for all women again preda­tors like Roy Moore & Don­ald Trump but she’s a birther— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets that he knows the details of this polit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion:

    I’ve gone to bat for Leeann 100 times this last month hop­ing she’d at least reveal her whole truth too but she ghost­ed me. I know every sin­gle detail of this polit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion. KABC should lose their license. Pro­mot­ing a fraud is a fed­er­al offense & FCC vio­la­tion. https://t.co/QY1Cxne5tw— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets that the only truth in this sto­ry is the pho­to. The rest is the work of Stone and Phillips:

    To put a but­ton on this the only truth about my old pal Leeann Tweeden’s Al Franken sto­ry was the pic­ture. The rest was cre­at­ed by KABC col­league & fel­low Trump sup­port­er John Phillips & his bud Roger Stone who coached Leeann for weeks to take Al down. Mis­sion accom­plished.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then Arnold tweets he has proof of all this:

    I’m #MeToo & don’t doubt any oth­er woman but the Leeann Twee­den-John Phillips-Roger Stone lies & set up of Al Franken were part of a larg­er smear cam­paign against Al ini­ti­at­ed at the same time Leeann came out at KABC. I have proof. Leeann knows it. It’s a dis­ser­vice to vic­tims.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then, a few hours after that ini­tial burst of tweets, Arnold tweets out that he just got off the phone with Twee­den. And that Twee­den assured him she did­n’t know about Stone’s involve­ment. And also that Sean Han­ni­ty saw the pho­to in 2007 and begged her to release it:

    Just got off the phone with my old friend @LeeannTweeden & here’s what i now know. She didn’t know Roger Stone was involved until after he tweet­ed about Franken’s “time in the Barrel”Hannity saw the pic in 2007 & begged her to show it but she wasn’t com­fort­able. Leeann’s not— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets about how Twee­den did­n’t real­ly like Han­ni­ty. But shocked to read “Roger Stone dirty tricks Franken smear emails”. And she was sur­prised that her col­leagues at KABC shared her Franken sto­ry before she did. And she nev­er want­ed Franken to get fired:

    (2) with pal Hannity’s sup­port of Roy Moore which is why she hasn’t done show.She was shocked when i read Roger Stone dirty tricks Franken smear emails.Surprised that folks at KABC shared her Franken sto­ry before she did.Never want­ed Al fired.Relieved oth­ers came for­ward.????— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets that Twee­den had no idea her KABC part­ner John Phillips

    (3) @LeeannTweeden had no idea KABC John Phillips & Roger Stone were hard right swingin bud­dies. Is it pos­si­ble to be polit­i­cal­ly manip­u­lat­ed with­out knowin it? Yes. Is it pos­si­ble 2 peo­ple could expe­ri­ence the same pic­ture & stage kiss with oppo­site feel­ings? 100% I believe her.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets about how dis­tressed she was over this:

    She was def­i­nite­ly dis­tressed tonight https://t.co/Dte4BKFDkp— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then Arnold tweets about how “I didn’t get all of Roger Stone & Co “Take down Al” cor­re­spon­dences until late last night,” which is pre­sum­ably the proof he was ref­er­enc­ing before:

    Since I didn’t get all of Roger Stone & Co “Take down Al” cor­re­spon­dences until late last night I thought it was very nice & brave of Leeann to respond to my tweets by call­ing me & shar­ing her beat by beat expe­ri­ence hon­est­ly & open­ly for the first time so I could share them too. https://t.co/cD71cGIrU2— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    Then he tweets about how Twee­den has shown peo­ple that pho­to for years, and it was only now that she was con­vinced to release it and she did­n’t real­ize the peo­ple involved:

    Pic­ture isn’t fake. It’s bad. Leeann’s shown it to peo­ple for yrs. Han­ni­ty want­ed her to share it 2007. She wasn’t com­fort­able. In 2017 peo­ple with bad inten­tions got involved. Says she didn’t real­ize they were who they were. Leeann was grate­ful to tell sto­ry & move on. The End? https://t.co/jEYfNluLz7— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    And, final­ly, Arnold ends his tweet­storm with a reasser­tion that “some bad men” took advan­tage of her:

    I’m not defend­ing him. I just want­ed full dis­clo­sure. I always believe the women. There are some bad men try­ing to take advan­tage of both Leeann & Al on this one. https://t.co/vP83VxTpxs— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 7, 2017

    It’s a reminder that vir­tu­al­ly any political/social move­ment, includ­ing the #MeToo move­ment, will ben­e­fit from the expo­sure of polit­i­cal dirty trick­sters like Roger Stone. Political/social move­ments are basi­cal­ly his play­ground, and an under­stand­ing of how fig­ures like Stone oper­ate is a key part of the immune sys­tem of a healthy democ­ra­cy.

    To add some addi­tion­al con­text to Arnold’s tweets, it’s worth not­ing that he also made some remark­able claims back in Decem­ber of 2016 regard­ing tapes float­ing around of Don­ald Trump say­ing hor­ri­bly racist things dur­ing the film­ing of The Appren­tice. Appar­ent­ly, a con­tact of his from the show passed him a tape of out­takes where Trump was say­ing all sorts of hor­ri­ble things. This was before the Novem­ber elec­tion. The tape was seen as a joke because no one thought Trump would win.

    And there’s anoth­er ‘Arnold’ tied into this: Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger’s Hol­ly­wood agent appar­ent­ly asked Tom Arnold to release the tape. And this agent was sit­ting next to Hillary Clin­ton at the time he made this call the way Arnold tells it. But Arnold says the two peo­ple from the show who gave him the tapes were ter­ri­fied of it being released because that would break a $5 mil­lion con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment.

    While there’s was no way to ver­i­fy Arnold’s claims, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, Arnold is far from the only per­son asso­ci­at­ed with The Appren­tice to claim that Trump said hor­ri­ble things while tap­ing the show. Bill Pruitt, a pro­duc­er on the first two sea­sons of The Appren­tice, tweet­ed that there were “far worse” behind-the-scenes tapes of Trump after the release of the Hol­ly­wood Access tape and the pro­duc­er Chris Nee alleged that Trump used the N‑word in the record­ings:

    The Guardian

    Don­ald Trump on tape say­ing ‘every racist thing ever’, claims actor Tom Arnold

    The actor claims con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause pre­vent­ed release of Appren­tice out­takes that report­ed­ly show pres­i­dent-elect using ‘offen­sive’ slurs and insult­ing his son

    Rory Car­roll in Los Ange­les

    Wed 21 Dec 2016 02.23 EST

    The actor Tom Arnold has claimed to have video of Don­ald Trump using racist lan­guage, obscen­i­ties and den­i­grat­ing his own son in out­takes of The Appren­tice.

    I have the out­takes to The Appren­tice where he says every bad thing ever, every offen­sive, racist thing ever. It was him sit­ting in that chair say­ing the N‑word, say­ing the C‑word, call­ing his son a retard, just being so mean to his own chil­dren,” Arnold told the Seat­tle-based radio sta­tion KIRO.

    The actor and come­di­an said a con­tact from the real­i­ty TV show passed him the mate­r­i­al before last month’s elec­tion, but he did not release it because of a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause and the expec­ta­tion that Trump would lose.

    “[When] the peo­ple sent it to me, it was fun­ny. Hun­dreds of peo­ple have seen these. It was sort of a Christ­mas video they put togeth­er. He wasn’t going to be pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.”

    Arnold said that the Sun­day before the elec­tion Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hol­ly­wood agent asked him to release the mate­r­i­al on behalf of Hillary Clin­ton.

    “I get a call from Arnold’s CAA agent, sit­ting next to Hillary Clin­ton. They said, ‘I need you to release him say­ing the N‑word.’ I said, ‘Well, now these peo­ple – two edi­tors and an asso­ciate pro­duc­er – are scared to death. They’re scared of his peo­ple, they’re scared of they’ll nev­er work again, there’s a $5m con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment.”

    There was no imme­di­ate way to ver­i­fy the claims. Arnold’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not respond to an inter­view request to elab­o­rate on the alle­ga­tions. Nor did Trump or his rep­re­sen­ta­tives imme­di­ate­ly respond.

    The pres­i­dent-elect pre­sent­ed NBC’s The Appren­tice from 2004–2015 before run­ning for the White House. Rumours of dam­ag­ing out­takes sur­faced after out­takes from anoth­er show, Access Hol­ly­wood, leaked in Octo­ber. They revealed Trump brag­ging about sex­u­al­ly assault­ing women.

    Bill Pruitt, a pro­duc­er on the first two sea­sons of The Appren­tice, tweet­ed that there were “far worse” behind-the-scenes tapes of Trump on the pro­gramme.

    As a pro­duc­er on sea­sons 1 & 2 of #theap­pren­tice I assure you: when it comes to the #trump­tapes there are far worse. #just­the­be­ginin­ng— Bill Pruitt (@billpruitt) Octo­ber 8, 2016

    The Emmy award-win­ning pro­duc­er Chris Nee alleged that Trump used the N‑word in the record­ings.

    Metro-Gold­wyn-May­er stu­dios, which owns the rights to the show, and its cre­ator, Mark Bur­nett, resist­ed pres­sure to make pub­lic the footage, cit­ing “var­i­ous con­trac­tu­al and legal require­ments”.

    ...

    The actor said he believes the mate­r­i­al will emerge pub­licly in part because Mark Cuban, a tycoon who has clashed with Trump, has offered to employ any­one who releas­es the tapes.

    The actor said he doubt­ed the mate­r­i­al would have altered the elec­tion out­come. “I think if the peo­ple that like him saw him say­ing the N‑word, he’s sit­ting mat­ter-of-fact­ly in front of, there has to be 30 peo­ple there, and he’s mat­ter-of-fact­ly say­ing all of this stuff. So I think they would have liked him more, the peo­ple. For being polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect,” he said.

    Chal­lenged on Twit­ter for not releas­ing the mate­r­i­al him­self, Arnold replied: “Com­pli­cat­ed. Just been my career or death threats.”

    Agre F‑ME. Com­pli­cat­ed. just been my career or death threats FO would’ve in Oct. I’ve Heard $ ruin death threats 4, 30 yr. Norm folks scared https://t.co/Kgi9TWTrFz— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) Decem­ber 20, 2016

    ———-

    “Don­ald Trump on tape say­ing ‘every racist thing ever’, claims actor Tom Arnold” by Rory Car­roll; The Guardian; 12/21/2016

    ““I have the out­takes to The Appren­tice where he says every bad thing ever, every offen­sive, racist thing ever. It was him sit­ting in that chair say­ing the N‑word, say­ing the C‑word, call­ing his son a retard, just being so mean to his own chil­dren,” Arnold told the Seat­tle-based radio sta­tion KIRO.”

    The N‑word, the C‑word, call­ing his son a retard, and being mean to his own chil­dren. Does such a tape exist? Well, look at it this way: Trump was host­ing The Appen­tice from 2004–2015. So, based on every­thing we know about that guy at this point, what are the odds he has­n’t said all of those things at some point over that 11 year peri­od. It does­n’t seem very con­ceiv­able that there would­n’t be all sorts of hor­ri­ble things on tape. 11 years of Trump behind the scene. Just try to imag­ine that. And if you can’t imag­ine it, watch the Hol­ly­wood Access tape again.

    The Appren­tice tape appar­ent­ly came from a con­tact on the show who passed it to him am onth before the elec­tion. But it was­n’t ever released because of a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause along with the expec­ta­tion Trump would lose:

    ...
    The actor and come­di­an said a con­tact from the real­i­ty TV show passed him the mate­r­i­al before last month’s elec­tion, but he did not release it because of a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause and the expec­ta­tion that Trump would lose.

    “[When] the peo­ple sent it to me, it was fun­ny. Hun­dreds of peo­ple have seen these. It was sort of a Christ­mas video they put togeth­er. He wasn’t going to be pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.”
    ...

    And that con­fi­den­tial­i­ty clause was appar­ent­ly enough to pre­vent the tapes released even after Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger’s agent asked Arnold to release it on Hillary Clin­ton’s behalf:

    ...
    Arnold said that the Sun­day before the elec­tion Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hol­ly­wood agent asked him to release the mate­r­i­al on behalf of Hillary Clin­ton.

    “I get a call from Arnold’s CAA agent, sit­ting next to Hillary Clin­ton. They said, ‘I need you to release him say­ing the N‑word.’ I said, ‘Well, now these peo­ple – two edi­tors and an asso­ciate pro­duc­er – are scared to death. They’re scared of his peo­ple, they’re scared of they’ll nev­er work again, there’s a $5m con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment.”
    ...

    But despite this con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment, there have been rumors about such tapes from a vari­ety of peo­ple on the show. Includ­ing two for­mer pro­duc­ers:

    ...
    The pres­i­dent-elect pre­sent­ed NBC’s The Appren­tice from 2004–2015 before run­ning for the White House. Rumours of dam­ag­ing out­takes sur­faced after out­takes from anoth­er show, Access Hol­ly­wood, leaked in Octo­ber. They revealed Trump brag­ging about sex­u­al­ly assault­ing women.

    Bill Pruitt, a pro­duc­er on the first two sea­sons of The Appren­tice, tweet­ed that there were “far worse” behind-the-scenes tapes of Trump on the pro­gramme.

    As a pro­duc­er on sea­sons 1 & 2 of #theap­pren­tice I assure you: when it comes to the #trump­tapes there are far worse. #just­the­be­ginin­ng— Bill Pruitt (@billpruitt) Octo­ber 8, 2016

    The Emmy award-win­ning pro­duc­er Chris Nee alleged that Trump used the N‑word in the record­ings.

    Metro-Gold­wyn-May­er stu­dios, which owns the rights to the show, and its cre­ator, Mark Bur­nett, resist­ed pres­sure to make pub­lic the footage, cit­ing “var­i­ous con­trac­tu­al and legal require­ments”.
    ...

    And Arnold doubt­ed it would have even mat­tered if the tape gets released, but a lot of peo­ple would prob­a­bly like Trump even more if they saw it:

    ...
    The actor said he doubt­ed the mate­r­i­al would have altered the elec­tion out­come. “I think if the peo­ple that like him saw him say­ing the N‑word, he’s sit­ting mat­ter-of-fact­ly in front of, there has to be 30 peo­ple there, and he’s mat­ter-of-fact­ly say­ing all of this stuff. So I think they would have liked him more, the peo­ple. For being polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect,” he said.
    ...

    Is Arnold right? Might Trump end up being even more pop­u­lar if tapes of him say­ing hor­ri­ble things and ver­balling abus­ing his kids was released? It’s a depress­ing­ly plau­si­ble thought.

    And that brings us to one of the most amaz­ing sto­ries of the Trump pres­i­den­cy that’s unfold­ing right now that sort of ties into the #MeToo move­ment in a bizarro kind of way: Stephanie Clif­ford, a.k.a Stormy Daniels — the porn star Trump alleged­ly had an affair with in 2006 and paid $130,000 in a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment — is suing Trump over that agree­ment and assert­ing that she’s free to talk about their affair. Why? Because Trump appar­ent­ly neglect­ed to actu­al­ly sign the non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

    So that’s some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the release of that Appren­tice out­takes tapes: it’s pos­si­ble Trump nev­er actu­al­ly sign that non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment too. Hope­ful­ly some­one is look­ing into that.

    Of course, as with the Appren­tice tape, it’s pos­si­ble that even if ‘Stormy’ man­ages to tell her entire sto­ry and prove that it’s true that will just endear Trump to his base even more. Although if that proof of the affairs comes in the form of pho­tos the pub­lic’s response would be much hard­er to pre­dict. It would prob­a­bly depend on the, umm, ‘strength’ of the visu­al evi­dence.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 7, 2018, 4:37 pm
  5. Behold, out 2018 mid-terms Octo­ber Sur­prise! No, it’s not a big ‘gotcha’ scan­dal that was sud­den­ly sprung by one par­ty against the oth­er. Instead, it’s an attempt­ed ‘gotcha’ hoax scan­dal that was so exe­cut­ed with a sur­pris­ing­ly lev­el of inept­ness:

    Over the past few days, jour­nal­ists start­ed get­ting emails from an unnamed woman claim­ing that peo­ple were con­tact­ing her ask­ing her about pre­vi­ous con­tacts she had with Robert Mueller. Impor­tant­ly, these peo­ple offered this woman thou­sands of dol­lars if she was will­ing to shared alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al mis­con­duct by Mueller.

    Recall how we already saw the ‘Alt Right’ hyper-misog­y­nist Mike Cer­novich offer­ing to pay $10,000 for infor­ma­tion about sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions against John Cony­ers and he appeared to be suc­cess­ful in that pur­suit. It was Cer­novich who pro­vid­ed the doc­u­ments to Buz­zFeed, which pub­lished them and led to Cony­er­s’s res­ig­na­tion.

    Also recall how, back in Decem­ber, Cer­novich was also involved in the ped­dling of a fake doc­u­ment alleg­ing a sex­u­al harass­ment com­plaint against Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer. Those are just some of the exam­ples of the right-wing in the last year to either offer to pay for doc­u­ments involv­ing sex­u­al harass­ment or just mak­ing them up entire­ly.

    This new sto­ry is sort of a com­bi­na­tion of those two themes. In the case of the woman who con­tact­ed jour­nal­ists about the solic­i­ta­tion she got, she said the per­son who reached out to her claimed to be work­ing for Jack Burk­man, a GOP lob­by­ist who has shown up in a num­ber of oth­er shady GOP-con­nect­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tions, includ­ing offer­ing a $105,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the killer of Seth Rich. Burk­man lat­er claimed that a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor he hired to inves­ti­gate the mur­der of Seth Rich tried to mur­der him. He’s one of those char­ac­ters where weird­ness fol­lows.

    Burk­man has been telling peo­ple he’s going to unveil a vic­tim on Thurs­day dur­ing a press con­fer­ence. But he has­n’t been the only per­son push­ing this sto­ry. Jacob Wohl, a far right pro-Trump twit­ter troll, has also been hyp­ing some sort of big scan­dal about Mueller in recent days. Wohl also claims that Burk­man told him that he hired a man named “Matthew Cohen” to help Burk­man work on this sto­ry. Accord­ing to Cohen’s LinkedIn page, he’s as man­ag­ing part­ner at a pri­vate intel­li­gence firm called Sure­fire Intel­li­gence. Sure­fire Intel­li­gence, how­ev­er, does­n’t appear to actu­al­ly exist and the employ­ees on its web­site all appear to be stock pho­tos of mod­els. The phone num­ber of Sure­fire Intel­li­gence also hap­pens to be the num­ber for the moth­er of a young right-wing troll/activist named Jacob Wohl. So it appears that Math­ew Cohen is Jacob Wohl.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, the Gate­way Pun­dit site, a far right known for ped­dling rumors and innu­en­do, start­ing hyp­ing the sto­ry too, with the head­line “BREAKING REPORT — **EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Spe­cial Coun­sel and For­mer FBI Direc­tor Robert Mueller Accused of Rape By ‘Very Cred­i­ble Wit­ness ‘.” Yep, they were alleg­ing Mueller was involved in rape.

    The woman who ini­tial­ly reached out to jour­nal­ists let­ting them know about this solic­i­ta­tion remains anony­mous. But anoth­er woman, Pro­fes­sor Jen­nifer Taub, has also come for­ward to also received a creepy email with the same solic­i­ta­tion.

    So we appear to have a sit­u­a­tion where a crew of right-right­ing smear artists were try­ing to find some­one they could pay to make a rape alle­ga­tion against Mueller less than a week before the mid-terms:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Muck­rak­er

    Deci­pher­ing The Weird­est Episode Yet From The Mueller Rus­sia Probe Saga

    By Tier­ney Sneed
    Octo­ber 30, 2018 3:36 pm

    An email sent to sev­er­al reporters claim­ing that there was a pay­off scheme to encour­age false alle­ga­tions against spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller has earned a refer­ral to the FBI.

    The episode — among the odd­est in a sprawl­ing fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion that has includ­ed a $15,000 ostrich jack­et, a bizarre cable TV news blitz by a for­mer Trump advi­sor promis­ing to fight a Mueller sub­poe­na, and a cameo appear­ance by a dog at grand jury tes­ti­mo­ny — is tough to unpack and not yet ful­ly under­stood.

    As mur­murs about the claims of the sup­posed pay­off scheme start­ed to appear on Twit­ter Tues­day, Mueller’s spokesper­son acknowl­edged the alle­ga­tions in a state­ment to TPM and oth­er out­lets.

    “When we learned last week of alle­ga­tions that women were offered mon­ey to make false claims about the Spe­cial Coun­sel, we imme­di­ate­ly referred the mat­ter to the FBI for inves­ti­ga­tion,” Peter Carr, spokesman for the spe­cial coun­sel, said in a state­ment to TPM.

    In recent days, a num­ber of news out­lets, includ­ing TPM, were the recip­i­ent of an email from some­one who claimed to have worked with Mueller while she was a para­le­gal a law firm in the 1970s. The email, some­what dra­mat­i­cal­ly, recount­ed an offer by a mys­te­ri­ous man, who alleged­ly claimed to be work­ing for GOP lob­by­ist Jack Burk­man (pic­tured), to pay off the sender’s cred­it card debt and cut a check worth thou­sands of more dol­lars if she signed doc­u­ments mak­ing sex­u­al mis­con­duct and work­place harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Mueller.

    “I don’t know what these peo­ple are look­ing for, but I’m not going to be part of some kind of Wash­ing­ton DC dra­ma for any price,” the sender said in the email.

    So far, no jour­nal­ist has been able to pub­licly cor­rob­o­rate with inde­pen­dent report­ing the sender’s account. It’s not even clear whether the woman exists.

    How­ev­er, reporters start­ed hint­ing at the exis­tence of the pay­off claims after the pro-Trump Twit­ter per­son­al­i­ty Jacob Wohl hyped a com­ing “scan­dalous sto­ry” about Mueller. Burk­man him­self then began pre­view­ing the assault alle­ga­tions he was going to reveal against Mueller.

    This is not Burkman’s first entan­gle­ment with the Mueller’s probe. Last year, while for­mer Trump cam­paign aide Rick Gates was under house arrest, Burk­man host­ed a sparse­ly attend­ed fundrais­er to raise mon­ey for Gates’ legal defense. A video Gates filmed for the event earned him a tongue-lash­ing by a fed­er­al judge, who had imposed a gag order on Gates’ case. Burk­man called the judge “Stal­in-esque.”

    Now Burk­man is promis­ing to “unveil” a “vic­tim” of Mueller’s at a press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day at a Hol­i­day Inn just out­side of DC — the same hotel that was the site of his ill-advised Gates fundrais­er.

    Burk­man has a habit of insert­ing him­self into what­ev­er the con­ser­v­a­tive cause célèbre is at any giv­en moment. He pro­mot­ed unfound­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the late DNC staffer Seth Rich. He also advo­cat­ed for demon­stra­tions protest­ing the Dal­las Cow­boys’ deci­sion to hire an open­ly gay foot­ball play­er to its prac­tice squad.

    ...

    As if things weren’t already tak­ing a turn towards the deeply strange, lat­er in the day Tues­day, after Carr issued his state­ment, Jim Hoft — the far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist also known as Gate­way Pun­dit — post­ed alle­ga­tions against Mueller with the sub­dued head­line:

    BREAKING REPORT — **EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Spe­cial Coun­sel and For­mer FBI Direc­tor Robert Mueller Accused of Rape By ‘Very Cred­i­ble Wit­ness ‘

    The heav­i­ly-redact­ed “doc­u­ments” describe an alleged rape at a New York City hotel in 2010. Styled as a dossier of sorts, the doc­u­ments bear a head­er “Inter­na­tion­al Pri­vate Intel­li­gence.”

    Wohl’s role in the whole episode has also become a sub­ject of scruti­ny. Accord­ing to Dai­ly Beast, Wohl said that Burk­man had hired to assist with his Mueller inves­ti­ga­tions some­one named “Matthew Cohen,” whose LinkedIn describes him as man­ag­ing part­ner at a pri­vate intel firm called Sure­fire Intel­li­gence.

    Sure­fire Intel­li­gence, which has a rel­a­tive­ly lim­it­ed web pres­ence, mean­while, appears to have some con­nec­tions to Wohl, though Wohl told NBC News he had not involved “in any inves­ti­ga­tions of any kind,” while deny­ing any involve­ment with Sure­fire. The Sure­fire website’s domain records, how­ev­er, list Wohl’s email, accord­ing to NBC News, and the phone num­ber on its web­site led callers to voice­mail mes­sage pro­vid­ing anoth­er phone num­ber. Pub­lic records list­ed that num­ber as belong­ing to Wohl’s moth­er, accord­ing to NBC News.

    ———-

    “Deci­pher­ing The Weird­est Episode Yet From The Mueller Rus­sia Probe Saga” by Tier­ney Sneed; Talk­ing Points Memo; 10/30/2018

    “In recent days, a num­ber of news out­lets, includ­ing TPM, were the recip­i­ent of an email from some­one who claimed to have worked with Mueller while she was a para­le­gal a law firm in the 1970s. The email, some­what dra­mat­i­cal­ly, recount­ed an offer by a mys­te­ri­ous man, who alleged­ly claimed to be work­ing for GOP lob­by­ist Jack Burk­man (pic­tured), to pay off the sender’s cred­it card debt and cut a check worth thou­sands of more dol­lars if she signed doc­u­ments mak­ing sex­u­al mis­con­duct and work­place harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Mueller.

    An email that offers to pay off the sender­s’s cred­it card debt and cut a check for thou­sands of more dol­lars if she signed doc­u­ments mak­ing sex­u­al mis­con­duct and work­place harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Mueller. That was all in the open­ing email, which is obvi­ous­ly a means of fish­ing for peo­ple who will be will­ing to say any­thing to get the mon­ey. For­tu­nate­ly, this indi­vid­ual did­n’t just refuse the offer but also sent it to reporters:

    ...
    “I don’t know what these peo­ple are look­ing for, but I’m not going to be part of some kind of Wash­ing­ton DC dra­ma for any price,” the sender said in the email.

    So far, no jour­nal­ist has been able to pub­licly cor­rob­o­rate with inde­pen­dent report­ing the sender’s account. It’s not even clear whether the woman exists.
    ...

    Again, note that while the iden­ti­ty or exis­tence of the woman mak­ing these claims remains unknown, Pro­fes­sor Taub’s account does cor­rob­o­rate it.

    But the oth­er major cor­rob­o­rat­ing source was Jacob Wohl’s twit­ter account, which had already start­ing hyp­ing a “scan­dalous sto­ry” about Mueller. The Jack Burk­man start­ed hint­ing at the alle­ga­tions. Burk­man was even promis­ing to unveil an alleged vic­tim at a press con­fer­ence tomor­row:

    ...
    How­ev­er, reporters start­ed hint­ing at the exis­tence of the pay­off claims after the pro-Trump Twit­ter per­son­al­i­ty Jacob Wohl hyped a com­ing “scan­dalous sto­ry” about Mueller. Burk­man him­self then began pre­view­ing the assault alle­ga­tions he was going to reveal against Mueller.

    This is not Burkman’s first entan­gle­ment with the Mueller’s probe. Last year, while for­mer Trump cam­paign aide Rick Gates was under house arrest, Burk­man host­ed a sparse­ly attend­ed fundrais­er to raise mon­ey for Gates’ legal defense. A video Gates filmed for the event earned him a tongue-lash­ing by a fed­er­al judge, who had imposed a gag order on Gates’ case. Burk­man called the judge “Stal­in-esque.”

    Now Burk­man is promis­ing to “unveil” a “vic­tim” of Mueller’s at a press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day at a Hol­i­day Inn just out­side of DC — the same hotel that was the site of his ill-advised Gates fundrais­er.

    Burk­man has a habit of insert­ing him­self into what­ev­er the con­ser­v­a­tive cause célèbre is at any giv­en moment. He pro­mot­ed unfound­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the late DNC staffer Seth Rich. He also advo­cat­ed for demon­stra­tions protest­ing the Dal­las Cow­boys’ deci­sion to hire an open­ly gay foot­ball play­er to its prac­tice squad.
    ...

    Then the far right Gate­way Pun­dit site jumped on board the hype train and claimed to pos­sess exclu­sive doc­u­ments detail­ing rape alle­ga­tions against Mueller. The doc­u­ments were alleged­ly some enti­ty called “Inter­na­tion­al Pri­vate Intel­li­gence”:

    ...
    As if things weren’t already tak­ing a turn towards the deeply strange, lat­er in the day Tues­day, after Carr issued his state­ment, Jim Hoft — the far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist also known as Gate­way Pun­dit — post­ed alle­ga­tions against Mueller with the sub­dued head­line:

    BREAKING REPORT — **EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Spe­cial Coun­sel and For­mer FBI Direc­tor Robert Mueller Accused of Rape By ‘Very Cred­i­ble Wit­ness ‘

    The heav­i­ly-redact­ed “doc­u­ments” describe an alleged rape at a New York City hotel in 2010. Styled as a dossier of sorts, the doc­u­ments bear a head­er “Inter­na­tion­al Pri­vate Intel­li­gence.”
    ...

    And as this whole thing start­ed to unrav­el it became clear that Wohl was more deeply involved than he ini­tial­ly let on. Sure­fire Intel­li­gence, the firm where “Math­ew Cohen” alleged­ly works. It turns out the domain name of sure­fire’s web­site is owned by Wohl and its phone num­ber is Wohl’s mom’s num­ber:

    ...
    Wohl’s role in the whole episode has also become a sub­ject of scruti­ny. Accord­ing to Dai­ly Beast, Wohl said that Burk­man had hired to assist with his Mueller inves­ti­ga­tions some­one named “Matthew Cohen,” whose LinkedIn describes him as man­ag­ing part­ner at a pri­vate intel firm called Sure­fire Intel­li­gence.

    Sure­fire Intel­li­gence, which has a rel­a­tive­ly lim­it­ed web pres­ence, mean­while, appears to have some con­nec­tions to Wohl, though Wohl told NBC News he had not involved “in any inves­ti­ga­tions of any kind,” while deny­ing any involve­ment with Sure­fire. The Sure­fire website’s domain records, how­ev­er, list Wohl’s email, accord­ing to NBC News, and the phone num­ber on its web­site led callers to voice­mail mes­sage pro­vid­ing anoth­er phone num­ber. Pub­lic records list­ed that num­ber as belong­ing to Wohl’s moth­er, accord­ing to NBC News.
    ...

    So Sure­fire Intel­li­gence is just one of the bla­tant hoax­es in a much large bla­tant hoax that appears to have already unrav­eled. Sur­prise!

    Light of this remark­ably ama­teur­ish right-wing dirty trick involv­ing sex, it’s worth tak­ing a look a sto­ry that was recent­ly pub­lished that revealed a far more suc­cess­ful GOP dirty trick involv­ing sex. It was so suc­cess­ful, in fact, that pret­ty much the entire world did­n’t real­ize it was a trick until the fol­low­ing arti­cle revealed it. And that would be the scan­dal that took down Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians Gary Hart in 1988. Yep, it turns out Hart’s alleged affair with Don­na Rice was all a set up by Lee Atwa­ter, as Atwa­ter admit­ted on his deathbed:

    The Atlantic

    Was Gary Hart Set Up?
    What are we to make of the deathbed con­fes­sion of the polit­i­cal oper­a­tive Lee Atwa­ter, new­ly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in 1987?

    JAMES FALLOWS
    NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE

    In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the pres­i­den­cy, the polit­i­cal con­sul­tant Lee Atwa­ter learned that he was dying. Atwa­ter, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, had suf­fered a seizure while at a polit­i­cal fund-rais­ing break­fast and had been diag­nosed with an inop­er­a­ble brain tumor. In a year he was dead.

    Atwa­ter put some of that year to use mak­ing amends. Through­out his mete­oric polit­i­cal rise he had been known for both his effec­tive­ness and his bru­tal­i­ty. In South Car­oli­na, where he grew up, he helped defeat a con­gres­sion­al can­di­date who had open­ly dis­cussed his teenage strug­gles with depres­sion by telling reporters that the man had once been “hooked up to jumper cables.” As the cam­paign man­ag­er for then–Vice Pres­i­dent George H. W. Bush in 1988, when he defeat­ed Michael Dukakis in the gen­er­al elec­tion, Atwa­ter lever­aged the issue of race—a spe­cial­ty for him—by means of the infa­mous “Willie Hor­ton” TV ad. The explic­it mes­sage of the com­mer­cial was that, as gov­er­nor of Mass­a­chu­setts, Dukakis had been soft on crime by offer­ing fur­loughs to con­vict­ed mur­der­ers; Hor­ton ran away while on fur­lough and then com­mit­ted new felonies, includ­ing rape. The implic­it mes­sage was the men­ace posed by hulk­ing, scowl­ing black men—like the Willie Hor­ton who was shown in the com­mer­cial.

    In the last year of his life, Atwa­ter pub­licly apol­o­gized for tac­tics like these. He told Tom Turnipseed, the object of his “jumper cables” attack, that he viewed the episode as “one of the low points” of his career. He apol­o­gized to Dukakis for the “naked cru­el­ty” of the Willie Hor­ton ad.

    And in a pri­vate act of repen­tance that has remained pri­vate for near­ly three decades, he told Ray­mond Strother that he was sor­ry for how he had tor­pe­doed Gary Hart’s chances of becom­ing pres­i­dent.

    Strother, 10 years old­er than Atwa­ter, had been his Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­peti­tor and coun­ter­part, minus the gut­ter-fight­ing. Dur­ing the ear­ly Rea­gan years, when Atwa­ter worked in the White House, Strother joined the staff of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s most promis­ing and glam­orous young fig­ure, Sen­a­tor Gary Hart of Col­orado. Strother was Hart’s media con­sul­tant and fre­quent trav­el­ing com­pan­ion dur­ing his run for the nom­i­na­tion in 1984, when he gave for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Wal­ter Mon­dale a scare. As the cam­paign for the 1988 nom­i­na­tion geared up, Strother planned to play a sim­i­lar role.

    In ear­ly 1987, the Hart cam­paign had an air of like­li­hood if not inevitabil­i­ty that is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine in ret­ro­spect. After Mondale’s land­slide defeat by Ronald Rea­gan in 1984, Hart had become the heir appar­ent and best hope to lead the par­ty back to the White House. The pre­sumed Repub­li­can nom­i­nee was Bush, Reagan’s vice pres­i­dent, who was seen at the time, like many vice pres­i­dents before him, as a lack­lus­ter under­study. Since the FDR–Truman era, no par­ty had won three straight pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, which the Repub­li­cans would obvi­ous­ly have to do if Bush were to suc­ceed Rea­gan.

    Gary Hart had a nation­wide orga­ni­za­tion and had made him­self a rec­og­nized expert on mil­i­tary and defense pol­i­cy. I first met him in those days, and wrote about him in Atlantic arti­cles that led to my 1981 book, Nation­al Defense. (I’ve stayed in touch with him since then and have respect­ed his work and his views.) Ear­ly polls are noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able, but after the 1986 midterms, and then–New York Gov­er­nor Mario Cuomo’s announce­ment that he would not run, many nation­al sur­veys showed Hart with a lead in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic field and also over Bush. Hart’s prin­ci­pal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty was the press’s sug­ges­tion that some­thing about him was hid­den, exces­sive­ly pri­vate, or “unknow­able.” Among oth­er things, this was a way of allud­ing to sus­pi­cions of extra­mar­i­tal affairs—a theme in most accounts of that cam­paign, includ­ing Matt Bai’s 2014 All the Truth Is Out. Still, as Bai wrote in his book, “Every­one agreed: it was Hart’s race to lose.”

    Strother and Atwa­ter had the mutu­al­ly respect­ful cama­raderie of high­ly skilled rivals. “Lee and I were friends,” Strother told me when I spoke with him by phone recent­ly. “We’d meet after cam­paigns and have cof­fee, talk about why I did what I did and why he did what he did.” One of the cam­paigns they met to dis­cuss after­ward was that 1988 pres­i­den­tial race, which Atwa­ter (with Bush) had of course end­ed up win­ning, and from which Hart had dropped out. But lat­er, dur­ing what Atwa­ter real­ized would be the final weeks of his life, Atwa­ter phoned Strother to dis­cuss one more detail of that cam­paign.

    Atwa­ter had the strength to talk for only five min­utes. “It wasn’t a ‘con­ver­sa­tion,’?” Strother said when I spoke with him recent­ly. “There weren’t any pleas­antries. It was like he was work­ing down a check­list, and he had some­thing he had to tell me before he died.”

    What he want­ed to say, accord­ing to Strother, was that the episode that had trig­gered Hart’s with­draw­al from the race, which became known as the Mon­key Busi­ness affair, had been not bad luck but a trap. The sequence of events was con­fus­ing at the time and is wide­ly mis­re­mem­bered now. But in brief:

    In late March 1987, Hart spent a week­end on a Mia­mi-based yacht called Mon­key Busi­ness. Two young women joined the boat when it sailed to Bimi­ni. While the boat was docked there, one of the women took a pic­ture of Hart sit­ting on the pier, with the oth­er, Don­na Rice, in his lap. A month after this trip, in ear­ly May, the man who had orig­i­nal­ly invit­ed Hart onto the boat brought the same two women to Wash­ing­ton. The Mia­mi Her­ald. had received a tip about the upcom­ing vis­it and was stak­ing out the front of Hart’s house. (A famous pro­file of Hart by E. J. Dionne in The New York Times Mag­a­zine, in which Hart invit­ed the press to “fol­low me around,” came out after this stakeout—not before, con­trary to com­mon belief.) A Her­ald reporter saw Rice and Hart going into the house through the front door and, not real­iz­ing that there was a back door, assumed—when he didn’t see her again—that she had spent the night.

    Amid the result­ing flap about Hart’s “char­ac­ter” and hon­esty, he quick­ly sus­pend­ed his cam­paign (with­in a week), which effec­tive­ly end­ed it. Sev­er­al weeks lat­er came the part of the episode now best remem­bered: the pho­to of Hart and Rice togeth­er in Bimi­ni, on the cov­er of the Nation­al Enquir­er.

    Con­sid­er­ing what Amer­i­can cul­ture has swal­lowed as irrel­e­vant or for­giv­able since then, it may be dif­fi­cult to imag­ine that alle­ga­tions of a con­sen­su­al extra­mar­i­tal affair might real­ly have caused an oth­er­wise-favored pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to leave the race. Yet any­one who was fol­low­ing Amer­i­can pol­i­tics at the time can tell you that this occurred. For any­one who wasn’t around, there is Bai’s book and an an upcom­ing film based on it: The Front Run­ner, star­ring Hugh Jack­man as Hart.

    But was the plot­line of Hart’s self-destruc­tion too per­fect? Too con­ve­nient? Might the nascent Bush cam­paign, with Atwa­ter as its man­ag­er, have been look­ing for a way to help a poten­tial­ly strong oppo­nent leave the field?

    “I thought there was some­thing fishy about the whole thing from the very begin­ning,” Strother recalled. “Lee told me that he had set up the whole Mon­key Busi­ness deal. ‘I did it!’ he told me. ‘I fixed Hart.’ After he called me that time, I thought, My God! It’s true!

    Strother’s con­ver­sa­tion with Atwa­ter hap­pened in 1991. He main­ly kept the news to him­self. As the years went by, he dis­creet­ly men­tioned the con­ver­sa­tion to some jour­nal­ists and oth­er col­leagues, but not to Gary Hart. “I prob­a­bly should have told him at the time,” he said recent­ly. “It was a judg­ment call, and I didn’t see the point in involv­ing him in anoth­er con­tro­ver­sy.”

    Cru­cial­ly, Strother real­ized, he had no proof, and prob­a­bly nev­er would. Atwa­ter was dead. Although Hart did not run in lat­er elec­tions, he was busy and pro­duc­tive: He had earned a doc­tor­ate in pol­i­tics at Oxford, had pub­lished many books, and had co-chaired the Hart-Rud­man Com­mis­sion, which mem­o­rably warned the incom­ing pres­i­dent in 2001, George W. Bush, to pre­pare for a ter­ror­ist attack on Amer­i­can soil. Why, Strother asked him­self, should he rake up an issue that could nev­er be resolved and might cause Hart more stress than surcease?

    But late last year, Strother learned that the prostate can­cer he had been treat­ed for a dozen years ago had returned and spread, and that he might not have long to live. The can­cer is now in remis­sion, but after the diag­no­sis Strother began trav­el­ing to see peo­ple he had known and worked with, to say good­bye. One of his stops was Col­orado, where he had a meal with Gary Hart.

    Aware that this might be one of their final con­ver­sa­tions, Hart asked Strother to think about the high points of the cam­paign, and its lows. Hart knew that Strother had been friends with Bil­ly Broad­hurst, the man who had tak­en Hart on the fate­ful Mon­key Busi­ness cruise. Accord­ing to Strother and oth­ers involved with the Hart cam­paign, Broad­hurst was from that famil­iar polit­i­cal cat­e­go­ry, the cam­paign groupie and aspir­ing insid­er. Broad­hurst kept try­ing to ingra­ti­ate him­self with Hart, and kept being rebuffed. He was also a high-liv­ing, high-spend­ing fix­er and lob­by­ist with fre­quent mon­ey prob­lems.

    Strother talked with Hart this spring; Broad­hurst had died about a year ear­li­er. In ret­ro­spect, Hart asked, what did Strother make of the whole imbroglio?

    “Ray said, ‘Why do you ask?’?” Hart told me, when I called to talk with him about the episode. “And I said there are a whole list of ‘coin­ci­dences’ that had been on my mind for 30 years, and that could lead a rea­son­able per­son to think none of it hap­pened by acci­dent.

    “Ray replied, ‘It’s because you were set up. I know you were set up.’

    “I asked him how he could be so cer­tain,” Hart told me. Strother then recount­ed his long-ago talk with Atwa­ter, and Atwater’s claim that the whole Mon­key Busi­ness week­end had occurred at his direc­tion. Accord­ing to Hart, that plan would have involved: con­triv­ing an invi­ta­tion from Broad­hurst for Hart to come on a boat ride, when Hart intend­ed to be work­ing on a speech. Ensur­ing that young women would be invit­ed aboard. Arrang­ing for the Broad­hurst boat Hart thought he would be board­ing, with some unmem­o­rable name, to be unavailable—so that the group would have to switch to anoth­er boat, Mon­key Busi­ness. Per­suad­ing Broad­hurst to “for­get” to check in with cus­toms clear­ance at Bimi­ni before clos­ing time, so that the boat “unex­pect­ed­ly” had to stay overnight there. And, accord­ing to Hart, orga­niz­ing an oppor­tunis­tic pho­to-grab.

    “There were a lot of peo­ple on the dock, peo­ple get­ting off their boats and wan­der­ing up and down on the wharf,” Hart told me. “While I was wait­ing for Broad­hurst and what­ev­er he was work­ing out with the cus­toms peo­ple, I sat on this lit­tle pil­ing on the pier.” Hart said that Don­na Rice’s friend and com­pan­ion on the boat, Lynn Armandt, was stand­ing a short dis­tance away. “Miss Armandt made a ges­ture to Miss Rice, and she imme­di­ate­ly came over and sat on my lap. Miss Armandt took the pic­ture. The whole thing took less than five sec­onds, with lots of oth­er peo­ple around. It was clear­ly staged, but it was used after the fact to prove that some inti­ma­cy exist­ed.

    What are we to make of Strother’s late-in-life rev­e­la­tion of Atwater’s deathbed con­fes­sion? Hart’s rep­u­ta­tion, deserved or not, cer­tain­ly gave Atwa­ter some­thing to work with, if that’s what he did. (“It would be just like the per­ver­si­ty of his­to­ry for some­one to under­take an effort that might well have hap­pened by itself,” Matt Bai told me when I spoke with him recent­ly.) What would have induced Broad­hurst to par­tic­i­pate in an entrap­ment scheme? (When I asked Strother this ques­tion, he said, “Mon­ey.”) How exact­ly was the scheme sup­posed to work? Hart had been intro­duced to Don­na Rice at least once before (briefly, at an event at the musi­cian Don Henley’s house, in Col­orado, that Hart attend­ed with his wife), and he phoned her after the Mon­key Busi­ness week­end. Both Rice and Hart denied any affair. A few peo­ple still liv­ing may know what hap­pened that week­end, and why. (Rice, who now leads an inter­net-safe­ty group called Enough Is Enough and goes by her mar­ried name, Don­na Rice Hugh­es, did not respond to repeat­ed requests for com­ment.) Most like­ly the rest of us nev­er will.

    Like oth­er polit­i­cal calami­ties, the Hart down­fall had con­se­quences that will be debat­ed for as long as the man’s name is remem­bered. His­to­ry is full of unknow­able “What if?” ques­tions. What if what­ev­er hap­pened that week­end in Bimi­ni had not hap­pened? “I was going to be the next pres­i­dent,” Hart told me, clin­i­cal­ly. He was, or might have been—and then he wasn’t.

    If his­to­ry had gone in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion in 1987, and Hart had become the 41st pres­i­dent rather than Bush, then Bill Clin­ton would not have had his chance in 1992, or per­haps ever. George W. Bush, who found his foot­ing with a place on his father’s win­ning cam­paign, would prob­a­bly nev­er have emerged as a con­tender. When and whether Barack Oba­ma and Don­ald Trump might ever have come onto the stage no one can say. “No first Bush if things had turned out dif­fer­ent­ly,” Gary Hart told me. “Which means no sec­ond Bush—at least not when he arrived. Then no Iraq War. No Cheney. Who knows what else?”

    ...

    ———-

    “Was Gary Hart Set Up?” by JAMES FALLOWS; The Atlantic; 11/2018 Issue

    In the last year of his life, Atwa­ter pub­licly apol­o­gized for tac­tics like these. He told Tom Turnipseed, the object of his “jumper cables” attack, that he viewed the episode as “one of the low points” of his career. He apol­o­gized to Dukakis for the “naked cru­el­ty” of the Willie Hor­ton ad.”

    Deathbed con­fes­sions from Lee Atwa­ter. That must have been tak­en a while for him to con­fess. You have to won­der how many things he nev­er got a chance to con­fess sim­ply because he ran out of time. For­tu­nate­ly, he man­aged to make this explo­sive con­fes­sion to Ray­mand Strother, Gary Hart’s media con­sul­tant, before he died. But Strother nev­er went pub­lic with Atwa­ter’s con­fes­sion until he him­self was dying and decid­ed to share it with Hart. And now we all know.

    So what did Atwa­ter reveal to Strother? Well, we know that Hart was caught in a pho­to with a female acquain­tance, Don­na Rice, sit­ting on his lap while they were trav­el­ing on a boat, the Mon­key Busi­ness. It turns out that pho­to was a set up by Atwa­ter:

    ...
    In late March 1987, Hart spent a week­end on a Mia­mi-based yacht called Mon­key Busi­ness. Two young women joined the boat when it sailed to Bimi­ni. While the boat was docked there, one of the women took a pic­ture of Hart sit­ting on the pier, with the oth­er, Don­na Rice, in his lap. A month after this trip, in ear­ly May, the man who had orig­i­nal­ly invit­ed Hart onto the boat brought the same two women to Wash­ing­ton. The Mia­mi Her­ald. had received a tip about the upcom­ing vis­it and was stak­ing out the front of Hart’s house. (A famous pro­file of Hart by E. J. Dionne in The New York Times Mag­a­zine, in which Hart invit­ed the press to “fol­low me around,” came out after this stakeout—not before, con­trary to com­mon belief.) A Her­ald reporter saw Rice and Hart going into the house through the front door and, not real­iz­ing that there was a back door, assumed—when he didn’t see her again—that she had spent the night.

    Amid the result­ing flap about Hart’s “char­ac­ter” and hon­esty, he quick­ly sus­pend­ed his cam­paign (with­in a week), which effec­tive­ly end­ed it. Sev­er­al weeks lat­er came the part of the episode now best remem­bered: the pho­to of Hart and Rice togeth­er in Bimi­ni, on the cov­er of the Nation­al Enquir­er.

    ...

    But was the plot­line of Hart’s self-destruc­tion too per­fect? Too con­ve­nient? Might the nascent Bush cam­paign, with Atwa­ter as its man­ag­er, have been look­ing for a way to help a poten­tial­ly strong oppo­nent leave the field?

    “I thought there was some­thing fishy about the whole thing from the very begin­ning,” Strother recalled. “Lee told me that he had set up the whole Mon­key Busi­ness deal. ‘I did it!’ he told me. ‘I fixed Hart.’ After he called me that time, I thought, My God! It’s true!
    ...

    So what exact­ly was set up? Well, it appears that the Don­na Rice and the woman who snap the pho­to, Lynn Armandt, were both invit­ed on the boat trip by the own­er of the, Bil­ly Broad­hurst. Broad­hurst is described as an ‘aspir­ing insid­er’ who had been try­ing to ingra­ti­ate him­self with Hart. So Broad­hurst invit­ed Hart and these two women on boat trip. Then, at one moment dur­ing the trip, Armandt gives a sig­nal to Rice who walks over to Hart and sits on his lap. Armandt takes the pho­to, the pho­to goes pub­lic, and Hart’s polit­i­cal career and sta­tus as the lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tender for the White House is over:

    ...
    Aware that this might be one of their final con­ver­sa­tions, Hart asked Strother to think about the high points of the cam­paign, and its lows. Hart knew that Strother had been friends with Bil­ly Broad­hurst, the man who had tak­en Hart on the fate­ful Mon­key Busi­ness cruise. Accord­ing to Strother and oth­ers involved with the Hart cam­paign, Broad­hurst was from that famil­iar polit­i­cal cat­e­go­ry, the cam­paign groupie and aspir­ing insid­er. Broad­hurst kept try­ing to ingra­ti­ate him­self with Hart, and kept being rebuffed. He was also a high-liv­ing, high-spend­ing fix­er and lob­by­ist with fre­quent mon­ey prob­lems.

    Strother talked with Hart this spring; Broad­hurst had died about a year ear­li­er. In ret­ro­spect, Hart asked, what did Strother make of the whole imbroglio?

    “Ray said, ‘Why do you ask?’?” Hart told me, when I called to talk with him about the episode. “And I said there are a whole list of ‘coin­ci­dences’ that had been on my mind for 30 years, and that could lead a rea­son­able per­son to think none of it hap­pened by acci­dent.

    “Ray replied, ‘It’s because you were set up. I know you were set up.’

    “I asked him how he could be so cer­tain,” Hart told me. Strother then recount­ed his long-ago talk with Atwa­ter, and Atwater’s claim that the whole Mon­key Busi­ness week­end had occurred at his direc­tion. Accord­ing to Hart, that plan would have involved: con­triv­ing an invi­ta­tion from Broad­hurst for Hart to come on a boat ride, when Hart intend­ed to be work­ing on a speech. Ensur­ing that young women would be invit­ed aboard. Arrang­ing for the Broad­hurst boat Hart thought he would be board­ing, with some unmem­o­rable name, to be unavailable—so that the group would have to switch to anoth­er boat, Mon­key Busi­ness. Per­suad­ing Broad­hurst to “for­get” to check in with cus­toms clear­ance at Bimi­ni before clos­ing time, so that the boat “unex­pect­ed­ly” had to stay overnight there. And, accord­ing to Hart, orga­niz­ing an oppor­tunis­tic pho­to-grab.

    “There were a lot of peo­ple on the dock, peo­ple get­ting off their boats and wan­der­ing up and down on the wharf,” Hart told me. “While I was wait­ing for Broad­hurst and what­ev­er he was work­ing out with the cus­toms peo­ple, I sat on this lit­tle pil­ing on the pier.” Hart said that Don­na Rice’s friend and com­pan­ion on the boat, Lynn Armandt, was stand­ing a short dis­tance away. “Miss Armandt made a ges­ture to Miss Rice, and she imme­di­ate­ly came over and sat on my lap. Miss Armandt took the pic­ture. The whole thing took less than five sec­onds, with lots of oth­er peo­ple around. It was clear­ly staged, but it was used after the fact to prove that some inti­ma­cy exist­ed.
    ...

    And what was it that made Broad­hurst arrange such a scheme? That’s unclear, but Strother felt the like­ly answer was sim­ply “mon­ey”:

    ...
    What are we to make of Strother’s late-in-life rev­e­la­tion of Atwater’s deathbed con­fes­sion? Hart’s rep­u­ta­tion, deserved or not, cer­tain­ly gave Atwa­ter some­thing to work with, if that’s what he did. (“It would be just like the per­ver­si­ty of his­to­ry for some­one to under­take an effort that might well have hap­pened by itself,” Matt Bai told me when I spoke with him recent­ly.) What would have induced Broad­hurst to par­tic­i­pate in an entrap­ment scheme? (When I asked Strother this ques­tion, he said, “Mon­ey.”) How exact­ly was the scheme sup­posed to work? Hart had been intro­duced to Don­na Rice at least once before (briefly, at an event at the musi­cian Don Henley’s house, in Col­orado, that Hart attend­ed with his wife), and he phoned her after the Mon­key Busi­ness week­end. Both Rice and Hart denied any affair. A few peo­ple still liv­ing may know what hap­pened that week­end, and why. (Rice, who now leads an inter­net-safe­ty group called Enough Is Enough and goes by her mar­ried name, Don­na Rice Hugh­es, did not respond to repeat­ed requests for com­ment.) Most like­ly the rest of us nev­er will.
    ...

    So Lee Atwa­ter appar­ent­ly paid a guy to arrange for an incrim­i­nat­ing pho­to of Gary Hart, which led to the down­fall of Hart’s polit­i­cal career and quite pos­si­bly the vic­to­ry of George H. W. Bush in 1988. Hart was inno­cent and almost nobody knew for the last 30 years!

    As we can see, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burk­man are no Lee Atwa­ter. Thank­ful­ly. But that rais­es an obvi­ous ques­tion: so who among the right-wing oper­a­tives today does actu­al­ly have the skills of Lee Atwa­ter and the abil­i­ty to suc­cess­ful­ly pull off a sex-relat­ed set up? Who is the con­tem­po­rary Lee Atwa­ter and what have they been up to in these mat­ters? And how can soci­ety, and the #metoo move­ment, defend itself against these kinds of par­tic­u­lar­ly nasty dirty tricks. It was already an impor­tant ques­tion before this lat­est stunt and the rev­e­la­tion about Gary Hart. It’s just a much more impor­tant ques­tion now that we’re get­ting con­fir­ma­tion that the right-wing has been up to these tricks for years and is still up to them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2018, 5:20 pm
  6. @Pterrafractyl:

    Dur­ing Gary Hart’s pres­i­den­tial bid in the “80s he promised to re-open the JFK assas­si­na­tion inves­ti­ga­tion if elect­ed. How­ev­er from 1975–1976
    Hart, along with Repub­li­can Richard Schweik­er, was a mem­ber of the Sen­ate Select Com­mit­tee On Intel­li­gence Agen­cies, bet­ter known as the
    Church Com­mit­tee, named after Ida­ho sen­a­tor Frank Church.

    Osten­si­bly it was an inves­ti­ga­tion into covert action pro­grams includ­ing assas­si­na­tion. Com­ment­ing on the mur­ders of orga­nized crime fig­ures
    John­ny Rosel­li and Sam Gian­cana (both witnesses/targets for the Committee)in 1975 and 1976 Hart said “You don’t have to be a genius to believe
    that they knew some­thing about the coin­ci­dence of events — Cuba, Mafia, CIA and Kennedy — that some­body did­n’t want out in the pub­lic 12 years
    lat­er.” Farah Mohamed, Ryan Grim Huff­Post 10/29 2017
    “Twelve years lat­er” of course refers to the time elapsed since Kennedy’s mur­der in Dal­las in 1963.

    One “some­body” had to be George H.W. Bush who served as CIA direc­tor from 1975–1976. It’s no secret that Bush despised the Church
    Com­mit­tee for expos­ing the “crown jew­els”. Bush is also a covert actor in the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion with strong ties to CIA/petroleum milieu and Dal­las White Rus­sians as well as anti Cas­tro Cubans in Flori­da. Run­ning against a Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger vocal in his desire to re-open the JFK
    case would undoubt­ed­ly have made Bush ner­vous, as ear­ly polling indi­cat­ed Hart could beat Bush in the quest for the White House.

    Hence right wing polit­i­cal hatch­et man Lee Atwa­ter became an oper­a­tive for the cam­paign of Vice Pres­i­dent and for­mer CIA direc­tor George Bush
    Sr. who like­ly feared Hart might very well access mate­r­i­al from the Church Com­mit­tee harm­ful to Bush’s bid for the pres­i­den­cy.
    This echoed the promise in Robert Kennedy’s 1968 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to reopen his broth­er’s assas­si­na­tion and which threat­ened the dark
    secrets of Richard Nixon, Allen Dulles and the US nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment close­ly held since 1963. And we know what the out­come was for
    RFK. At least Gary Hart escaped with his life.

    So while the smear­ing of Gary Hart might be regard­ed as a pre­cur­sor to the weaponized #MeToo move­ment I think it should also be seen in the
    con­text of what Peter Dale Scott defines as “deep events”, struc­tures and actions sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ema­nat­ing from dark forces polit­i­cal­ly repres­sive
    in nature.

    Posted by Dennis | November 2, 2018, 12:03 am

Post a comment