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Posts tagged "Scandals"

mediamattersforamerica:

A friendly guide for Sarah Palin and the other conservatives who need it. 

Hopefully he gets his ass voted out of office in November. Vote for Mary Burke (D)!!! 
h/t: :Philip Bump at WaPo’s The Fix

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

As the latest wave of Benghazi Fever grips the willing Republican Party, and as the far-right media apparatus stokes the fervor, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between the all-scandal strategy that’s being adopted by critics of Barack Obama, and the  same all-scandal wedge that was used, unsuccessfully, against Bill Clinton, the previous two-term Democratic president.

The Benghazi blueprint matches up right down to the fact that there’s no there there, in terms of a criminal White House cover up.  It “doesn’t add up to much of a scandal,” wrote Michael Hirsh at Politico this week, reviewing the facts of Benghazi to date. “But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right.” He added, “Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster” was in the 1990s.

Foster was the then-deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in Northern Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, not far from Washington, D.C. His suicide, which sparked controversy when the so-called Clinton Crazies accused the president and his wife of being part of a plot to murder their friend (he knew too much!), quickly become shorthand for the type of despicable claims that were so casually lobbed in the 1990s.

Looking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run, Hirsh wrote that the “Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster.”

The analogy is a strong and a factual one. But in trying to understand what’s happening today with the ceaseless, two-year Benghazi propaganda campaign, a blitz that’s utterly lacking in factual support, it’s important to understand how the media game has changed between the Vince Foster era and today. Specifically, it’s important to understand what’s different and more dangerous about the elaborate and irresponsible gotcha games that Republicans now play in concert with the right-wing media. (Hint: The games today get way more coverage.)

Here’s what’s key: Twenty years ago the far-right Foster tale was told mostly from the fringes. Word was spread via emerging online bulletin boards, snail mail pamphlets, faxed newslettersself-published exposes, and VCR tapes, like The Clinton Chronicles, which portrayed the president as a one-man crime syndicate involved in drug-running, prostitution, murder, adultery, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, just to name a few.

At the top of the Foster-feeding pyramid stood the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (“Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton”), and Robert Bartley’s team of writers at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, who spent eight years lost in a dense, Clinton-thick fog.

Notice the hole in that `90s media menu? Television. Specifically, 24-hour television.

Now, fast-forward to the never-ending Benghazi feast of outrage. Today, that far-right tale is amplified via every single conservative media outlet in existence, and is powered by the most-watched 24-hour cable news channel in America. A news channel that long ago threw away any semblance of accountability.

So yes, Fox News is what’s changed between 1994 and 2014, and Fox News is what has elevated Benghazi from a fringe-type “scandal” into the pressing issue adopted by the Republican Party today. (“Benghazi” has been mentioned approximately 1,000 times on Fox since May 1, according to TVeyes.com)

Remember, Rupert Murdoch’s all-news channel didn’t debut in America until October 1996 when it launched with just 17 million subscribers. (Today it boasts 90 millions subs.) And for the first few years it generally delivered a conservative slant on the news. It didn’t function as a hothouse of fabrications the way it does today.

Now, Fox acts as a crucial bridge between the radical and the everyday. Fox gives a voice and a national platform to the same type of deranged, hard-core haters who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s. Fox embraces and helps legitimize the kind of conspiratorial talk that flourished back then but mostly on the sidelines. The Murdoch channel has moved derangement into the mainstream of Republican politics.

By making the Foster comparison, I’m not downplaying how Republicans and the president’s dedicated detractors irresponsibly flogged the Foster story for years. It stood as one of the most rancid examples of the politics of personal destruction that defined the Clinton era. (The Foster family begged, to no avail, for an end to the use of “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”)

But given how vast the right-wing noise machine apparatus has expanded since the 1990s, I’m suggesting that if that same type of event unfolded under the current Democratic president and if Fox News decided to hype the story, regardless of facts, for ten, twenty, or thirty months, the scandal wouldn’t be treated as a fleeting affair. In other words, if Vince Foster truly were the ’90s equivalent of Benghazi, it would have received mountains of more media attention, from all corners.

Fact: During Clinton’s eight years in office, the New York Times published less than 30 news articles and columns that mentioned Foster at least three times, according to Nexis. By comparison, since the terror attack in Libya 20 months ago, the Times has published more than 250 hundred articles and columns that mentioned “Benghazi” three or more times.

That’s what happens when you add the mighty medium of television into the all-scandal mix. That kind of drumbeat of televised phony outrage forces and/or encourage Republican politicians to respond, as well as the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, how do we know Fox would’ve gone all in on the dark Foster story? Because in the mid-`90s Fox chief Roger Ailes, then programming CNBC, told Don Imus that Foster’s death could have been a murder. At the time, Ailes didn’t have the influence or the independence to unleash NBC-owned financial news channel on a reckless Vince Foster witch-hunt. But he certainly would have if he’d been running today’s hyper-partisan, hyper-irresponsible version of Fox News.

Also, even years after the ugly Foster smear campaign faded, Fox talkers like Sean Hannity push the lies:

After suggesting Vince Foster was murdered, Hannity praised caller who accused Clinton of multiple rapes

Discussing Foster, Hannity asked: “Did a close friend of Hillary Clinton commit suicide, or was it a massive coverup?”

Hannity asserted that “Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster” are “chapters remaining open” for Sen. Clinton

In 2007, Fox News host Sean Hannity hosted a special episode on the “mysterious death” of Foster, hinting that the Clintons might have pulled off “a massive cover-up.”

So yes, I’m pretty sure today’s Fox News would have eagerly endorsed the sordid Foster affair, relentlessly demanding that “unanswered questions” be addressed and that sweeping investigations be launched. That in turn, would have forced Republicans into action, which would have sparked endless mainstream news coverage.

That’s what happens when televised propaganda is added to the media scandal mix; the megaphone’s much bigger, much louder, and in many ways much more dangerous.

H/T: Eric Boehlert at MMFA

Move this seat to Tilt D. 

h/t: Eric Lach at TPM

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.

The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.

Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”

While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington PostPolitico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.

A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers ­mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”

In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”

Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.

Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”

Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.

As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):

Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.

Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.

Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.

If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.  

h/t: HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY at MMFA

crooksandliars:

Gov. Christie Clears Himself Of Bridgegate Scandal With His Own Probe

Are you ready for the JOTD? (Joke of the day) Chris Christie’s lawyers are proclaiming Gov. Chris Christie is innocent of any wrongdoings in the Bridgegate scandal…

Hahahaha:

With his office suddenly engulfed in scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey two months ago summoned a pair of top defense lawyers from an elite law firm to the State House and asked them to undertake an extensive review of what had gone wrong.

Now, after 70 interviews and at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by state taxpayers, that review is set to be released, and according to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings.

read more

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache

Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is “simply a conduit to send messages” and “can’t always vouch for the veracity” of the promoted products.

Huckabee is part of the conservative movement’s attempts to cash in on their followers by renting out their email lists to suspect sources. Fox News contributor Scott Brown was recently forced to disown a quack doctor after he sent a sponsored email touting the doctor’s dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures. Huckabee also sent emails promoting the doctor.

During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he’s sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer’s disease emails. 

Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”

Huckabee’s sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.

Huckabee sent an email on February 14 from “Fox News alumnus” Tobin Smith and “our paid sponsor, Champlain Media” about “important information” regarding the stock of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX).Huckabee’s message added that the sponsorship does “not necessarily reflect my views.” A Smith-penned message implored readers to “Buy shares of GFOX now while you can still get them at around $1.00 and you could… TURN $10,000 INTO $282,000 in the next 6 months!”

Tobin Smith is so disreputable that he was fired from Fox News — no small feat — for receiving compensation to promote a company stock, a violation of network policy. Smith engages in “sponsored research,” in which companies hire analysts like Smith to act as pitchmen. MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee noted that people like Smith take “money to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter” and target “novice investors who fail to do due diligence.”

Small print in the Huckabee email states that the email is part of a “paid advertising” campaign “by Tobin Smith” and “Cenad Ltd. has paid $155,040.88 for the dissemination of this info to enhance public awareness for GFOX.” It also adds that Smith “has received twenty thousand dollars for this and related marketing materials.” It is not clear how much Huckabee received for the email dissemination, though a MikeHuckabee.com card states that his list has 700,000 subscribers and charges $27.50 per thousand emails, with a “300,000 NAME MINIMUM ORDER $1,000.00 MINIMUM PAYMENT.”

While it is too early to know how GFOX will perform, Huckabee fans should be cautious about taking the advice. In addition to the investing dangers of sponsored research, a Media Matters review last year found that Smith regularly pitched lofty stock price targets which weren’t met. For instance, Smith recommended in January 2013 that readers buy the stock of Boldface Group “at less than 50-cents, and you could … Turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-12 months!” It’s now trading at one cent.

Fox News helps grow Huckabee’s email list, as the former Republican governor regularly promotes MikeHuckabee.com on his weekly program. When visitors reach the page, they’re immediately asked to sign-up for his list. In other words, Huckabee is growing his email list through Fox News, and then selling access to that list so hucksters like Tobin Smith can target his Fox fans.

As Salon’s Alex Pareene noted, “the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.” 

H/T: Eric Hanaoki and Joe Strupp at MMFA

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Illinois GOP Official Bunked With Male Staffer Over 50 Times

We already know that Dan Rutherford, Illinois Treasurer and Republican candidate for governor, took his 28-year-old assistanton several overseas adventures and “double-occupied” hotel rooms on trips to New York and Washington. In fact, that was just a fraction of their time together.

According to reimbursement recordsobtained by the Chicago Tribune, Rutherford and his assistant, Joshua Lanning, spent over 50 nights together in a studio apartment in Chicago when Rutherford visited the city during political campaigns in 2011 and 2012. (On visits for state business, the men billed the state for a single hotel room.) When confronted by the Tribune, Rutherford defended the arrangement:

Asked who he shared a room with other than Lanning, Rutherford said, “Well, I haven’t.”

Pressed on whether the practice raised questions about his judgment, Rutherford quickly responded, “No.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being friends with employees,” Rutherford said. “I consider myself friends with many in the office.”

The details of Rutherford and Lanning’s lodging arrangements come two days after Edmund Michalowski, a 43-year-old Rutherford aide, sued the Treasurer over claims of sexual harassment. Michalowski’s lengthy complaint alleges that, after he told the Treasurer’s chief of staff, Kyle Ham, about their boss’s sexual advances, Ham tried to cheer him up by arguing that Lanning had it much, much worse:

Rutherford grabbed Plaintiff’s arm and asked Plaintiff to go up to his hotel room. Plaintiff refused. Rutherford became angry, stating “you just said no to the Treasurer.” Upon returning to Chicago, Plaintiff reported the incident to Ham. Ham told Plaintiff that he was “not a team player.” Ham also informed him that “Josh Lanning has the worst job and you should feel lucky.”

Rutherford quickly denied the aide’s allegations, calling them “false,” “untimely,” and “calculated.” Lanning, on the other hand, has refused to comment to the Tribune and other outlets, including Gawker.

[Photo credit: Dan Rutherford’s Facebook page]

Dan Rutherford would make a terrible Illinois Governor.

Rachel Maddow: Michael Grimm the latest in ‘disgusting cesspool’ of corrupt NY lawmakers (via Raw Story )

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) may be famous in the wake of his belligerence toward a reporter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said Wednesday night, but he’s only the latest in a parade of New York state lawmakers making lurid headlines. “When it comes to…

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Federal authorities charged former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife with illegally accepting gifts from a Virginia donor in exchange for helping promote the donor’s business.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted on 14 counts in a Richmond federal court, the Washington Post reported.

The McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts, including a Rolex inscribed personally for Bob McDonnell, from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnells promoted Williams’ business, and helped Williams meet with Virginia officials.

The couple was informed late last year they were going to be indicted, but authorities later deferred the decision about whether to indict to the new year.

McDonnell, a Republican, was elected in 2009 and concluded his single term this month.

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - More than a dozen New Jersey officials, including top aides to Governor Chris Christie, were served with subpoenas on Friday as the state assembly begins its investigation into a massive bridge traffic jam that was apparently politically motivated.

Christie, seen as a likely Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, has denied any involvement in the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal that is dogging his second term in office.

Assembly Democrats named 13 individuals who were served with subpoenas seeking information related to the September traffic snarl, created by the abrupt closing of access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey.

Among those receiving subpoenas were Christie spokesmen Michael Drewniak and Colin Reed, communications director Maria Comella, the governor’s incoming chief of staff Regina Egea, and Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien.

The list also includes David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, two former Port Authority officials who have resigned.

Two batches of emails between top Christie aides and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, appeared to show the lane closures were orchestrated to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Governor Christie’s re-election bid last year.

Four days of hours-long jams left commuters fuming, and delayed school buses and emergency vehicles.

Nothing in the emails suggests that Christie had any direct knowledge of the plan to close the lanes. Christie has described himself as devastated and “blindsided” by his aides’ actions.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who ordered the lanes reopened, said in publicly released emails that he believed the closings violated state and federal law. New Jersey’s federal prosecutor has opened an investigation into the matter.

h/t: HuffPost

rtamerica:

Feds investigate NJ governor over Superstorm Sandy relief funds

Days after a traffic scandal transposed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the center of a federal probe, a United States congressman now says the embattled Republican is being investigated for allegations he misspent millions of dollars in relief aid.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) asked the inspector general of the United States Housing and Urban Development Department back in August to examine how Gov. Christie’s office spent around $25 million in federal aid from Washington meant to assist with relief efforts following 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Now five months later, Pallone says he’s been told that the probe has expanded to become “a full-blown investigation,” the second of such to be launched in under a week against the Christie administration.