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For The Record  

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

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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

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