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6 Manufactured News Scandals Produced And Promoted By Breitbart News And New Trump Campaign Chief Bannon

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6 Manufactured News Scandals Produced And Promoted By Breitbart News And New Trump Campaign Chief Bannon

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Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon listens during Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Published with permission AlterNet.

Since its inception, the aim of Breitbart News has been to taint liberals and the left with the stench of scandal, by any means necessary. Most often, the favored means involves manufacturing scandal, sometimes through innuendo and misconstruance, and most effectively through the posting of misleadingly edited video.

Now Breitbart News CEO Stephen K. Bannon brings those same fact-free, mud-slinging values to yet another reboot of Donald J. Trump’s flagging presidential campaign. On Wednesday, Trump named Bannon as his new campaign chief, replacing Paul Manafort, who resigned today under a cloud of scandal concerning his consulting work for the deposed Ukrainian former president Victor Yanukovych, widely viewed as a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here we offer a brief overview of six scandals manufactured by Breitbart News, both under Bannon’s leadership and that of Andrew Breitbart.

1. Louisiana flooding and Obama. Nowhere in the Breitbart News coverage of the federal response to the ongoing flooding disaster in Louisiana will you see a quote from Gov. John Bel Edwards suggesting that now would not be a good time for President Barack Obama to visit his state because of the logistical nightmare it would impose on first responders. Instead, what you’ll find is invective against the president for being on vacation, and a characterization of his absence from the scene as something negligent.

Yet, here’s what Edwards has had to say about it, according to the Times-Picayune:

Edwards said a presidential visit could cause additional problems for flood recovery efforts. Obama’s motorcade requires many roadways to be shutdown—and many local streets are still closed because of the flooding. Also, a presidential visit puts a strain on law enforcement. First responders shouldn’t be pulled away to deal with Obama, when they are needed for search and rescue missions still, Edwards said.

The Breitbart slam on Obama was published alongside a report that Donald Trump and running-mate Mike Pence headed today to Louisiana. Not that they’d want to exploit the disaster for political purposes or anything.

2. Benghazi! Bannon is part of a cabal that demanded the Republican Congress pursue endless investigations of the State Department response to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. If you’re wondering why Congress has so far spent $6.7 million investigating the tragedy, it’s partly over the fear that Breitbart News will marshal its resources to push members of the relevant congressional committees out of office if they don’t come up with a viable scandal to hang around the neck of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state when the incident happened. (Breitbart News is credited with having forced the resignation of former House Speaker John Boehner.)

In 2013, Mother Jones exposed the agenda of Groundswell, a weekly planning meeting convened by the right-wing group Judicial Watch. Bannon’s name was on the guest list for a May 8, 2013 meeting, and Breitbart reporter Matthew Boyle and the late editor Mike Flynn were active on its listserv and participants in the messaging strategies on a range of issues at the time of the Mother Jones report. Others in the group, according to Mother Jones:

One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

In one email message to the group, Boyle assures Groundswell members:

“I’m saying we can get pieces out fast on Breitbart. Whenever you have an idea, email or call me with a pitch and I’ll do my best to get the story out there. Keep us on offense, them on defense. Even if the idea isn’t perfect, I can help massage it to get there.”

Audio of one of the group’s meetings obtained by Karoli Kuns of Crooks and Liars reveals Boykin of the Family Research Council pushing the false Benghazi narrative of a State Department coverup, suggesting that the message be conveyed to Boehner and Rep. Darryll Issa (R-Calif.), then chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that nothing short of the appointment of a special committee on the Benghazi matter would do. Conspiracy theorist, Islamophobe and birther Frank Gaffney is heard saying that in a meeting the previous night, he impressed upon the speaker and the committee chair that “there’s a lot of restiveness on the part of folks like us, and some of their donors as a matter of fact.” In May 2014, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was appointed to lead the newly formed Select Committee on Benghazi.

Breitbart News stepped up to spin every small revelation into a false narrative of a gargantuan scandal.

3. False ‘sting’ on Planned Parenthood. Breitbart News was the big player in disseminating the demonstrably false narrative that Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit. No matter that it’s not true: The story, however many times it’s been debunked, has been used as a bludgeon in Congress and state legislatures across the nation as a reason to withhold government funding of Planned Parenthood’s health-care services to poor and working-class women.

In a series of videos concocted by Daniel Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, interviews with Planned Parenthood employees are misleadingly edited to confirm the false narrative. (The true story is that if a woman having an abortion at a Planned Parenthood opts to donate the fetal remains for medical and scientific research, Planned Parenthood facilitates the donation, sometimes charging the recipient to cover the costs of preparation and transportation of the aborted fetus.)

In March of this year, Florida was the 12th state to defund Planned Parenthood’s health care, and Republicans in Congress attempted to withhold federal funds in a bill that was vetoed by President Obama. Parts of the Florida law were struck down on Thursday by a federal judge, but in other states, similar laws remain in effect.

While in Florida, the defunding legislation has been rolled back by a federal court, the false narrative has stuck. In November 2015, gunman Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. shot and killed three people and wounded nine, using the phrase “no more baby parts” to explain his actions to police.

4. The smearing of Shirley Sherrod. Bannon may have been a talented maker of propaganda before he met Andrew Breitbart, who honed his skills at the Drudge Report, but under the latter’s tutelage, he learned the art of the smear. According to Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek, Bannon “marveled at Breitbart’s visceral feel for the news cycle and his ability to shape coverage through the Drudge Report, which is avidly followed by TV producers and news editors.”

Yet one of Breitbart’s most famous smear campaigns actually got him in trouble with the right—once it splashed back all over the movement.

In July 2010, Breitbart’s BigGovernment site posted an explosive video of Shirley Sherrod, a black official of Obama’s Department of Agriculture appearing to say, in a speech to the NAACP, that she would not provide help to a white farmer who was on the verge of losing his farm. Breitbart’s posting of the video appeared to be in retribution for a July 16 vote taken at the annual meeting of the NAACP in which delegates unanimously condemned racist elements in the Tea Party. The Obama administration promptly fired Sherrod, and Ben Jealous, then leader of the venerable civil rights organization, called Sherrod’s remarks “appalling.” The right exploded in celebration. It was to be short-lived.

The NAACP searched its video archives and unearthed the full video of the speech, which showed Sherrod making exactly the opposite point of that depicted in the highly edited version posted on Breitbart. In fact she said that, in setting aside any race-based judgment she might have made about the farmer, Roger Spooner, she learned that the real enemy was poverty.

Spooner stepped into the media limelight to defend Sherrod. “If it hadn’t been for her, we would’ve never known who to see or what to do,” he told CNN. “She led us right to our success.”

Still, the life of Shirley Sherrod—whose father was shot to death by a white farmer in a dispute over livestock—was forever changed. President Obama called her to not quite apologize, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack offered her another position, which she declined. She brought a lawsuit against Breitbart News, which was settled in October 2015 (terms undisclosed).

Fox News, which heavily promoted Breitbart’s false Sherrod narrative, was for a time banned from appearing on the channel’s shows.

5. The destruction of ACORN. In 2009, Breitbart protégé James O’Keefe and sidekick Hannah Giles set out to conduct a “sting” on ACORN, the community organizing group that, in addition to its advocacy work on housing for poor people, conducted a get-out-the-vote operation among the nation’s poor (who, when they vote, tend to vote for Democrats). The two posed as pimps, or pimp-and-sex-worker, visiting several ACORN offices to ask for assistance with smuggling underage undocumented immigrants into the U.S. for sex work. One wore a hidden camera.

After their field work was done, they created a series of deceptively edited videos that appeared to show ACORN employees to be willingly complicit in the scheme. Later it was shown that many simply played along in the moment, not knowing quite what to do. Juan Carlos Vera, an ACORN employee in San Bernardino, lost his job when Fox News aired a video posted on Breitbart News that showed him interacting with O’Keefe and Giles. In fact, Vera said he played along in order to collect as much information from the pair as possible, and then he called the police.

In order to make ACORN employees—mostly people of color—look as stupid as possible, O’Keefe filmed set-up shots of himself and Giles dressed as cartoon versions of pimp and sex-worker—loud suit and outrageous glasses for him; minimal clothing on her—leaving the impression that they dressed that way while wielding the hidden camera. In fact, they arrived in ACORN offices dressed like staffers on Capitol Hill.

As a result of the O’Keefe videos, congressional hearings were held and Congress voted to defund ACORN, which had received around $2.5 million a year in federal funds for the community services it provided. In 2010, on the verge of bankruptcy, the group disbanded.

An investigation by the Congressional Research Service found that ACORN had appropriately managed funds it received from the government, and criminal investigations yielded no evidence of criminal activity by the organization.

Juan Carlos Vera won a $100,000 settlement and a weak apology from James O’Keefe.

6. Snookering National Public Radio. In 2011, NPR development director Betsy Liley thought she was talking with a potential donor to the non-profit radio network. The man called himself Ibrahim Kasaam, and said he represented an organization called the Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC); the organization wanted to make a $5 million anonymous donation to NPR, he said. The man’s real name was Simon Templar, and the non-profit he worked for was James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. Liley was unaware that she was being audiotaped.

Once that sound file was posted to Breitbart.com, all hell broke loose. According to CNN’s account:

“It sounded like you were saying that NPR would be able to shield us from a government audit. Is that correct?” the man asks.

NPR Senior Director of Institutional Development Betsy Liley responds: “I think that is the case, especially if you were anonymous, and I can inquire about that.”

However, that wasn’t everything Liley said, though you wouldn’t know it from the ensuing uproar. Again, from CNN:

But in the recording, Liley also advises the man that NPR executives would investigate the giver before accepting any large donation, examining tax records, looking it up on a foundation database and checking out other organizations that have received donations from the giver.

Liley also raises the possibility of NPR turning down substantial gifts and stresses the “firewall” between the revenue-generating part of NPR and its news operation.

Two days before Liley’s quotes were posted, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller had resigned when Breitbart posted video from a meeting with Templar in his MEAC guise, in which she referred to the Tea Party as “racist” and “scary.”

O’Keefe later explained his motivation for the NPR video as retribution for the firing of news analyst Juan Williams for having made comments during a Fox News appearance that were regarded as anti-Muslim.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet’s senior Washington editor. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.

Published: Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon listens during Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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43 Comments

  1. JPHALL August 20, 2016

    This should be a very interesting run up to the election.

    Reply
  2. Jmz Nesky August 20, 2016

    WARNING! WARNING!! American Nazi’s infiltrating our society masquerading as right wing conservatives and constitutional patriots, Beware!.. Know where you’re fellow conservatives stand.. underhanded tactics should not be be tolerated.. end warning.

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 21, 2016

      Right on target with that!! Great job!

      Reply
    2. itsfun August 21, 2016

      What about the want a be dictator we now have?

      Reply
      1. FireBaron August 21, 2016

        What wannabe dictator? You mean the one who hasn’t taken away your guns? You mean the one who hasn’t put the Koran on every judge’s desk and witness stand? You mean the one with an operative clue, as opposed to the clueless wonder you are supporting? Just wondering?

        Reply
        1. itsfun August 21, 2016

          I mean the one that unconstitutionally changed the ACA tax law by changing the implementation date on part of the law. I mean the one that just lied to the nation about paying ransom to Iran. I mean the one that said I could keep my doctor if I liked him. I mean the one that say the ACA would only cost as much as my monthly cell phone bill. That’s the one I mean.

          Reply
          1. King of America August 21, 2016

            Oh no, not changing a date on a tax law

            The horror

            Reply
          2. itsfun August 21, 2016

            It is a clear violation of the Constitution. What does he take next, free speech, freedom of the press, remember when he first got into office how he wanted to stop talk radio shows.

            Reply
          3. King of America August 21, 2016

            Yes just like Hitler.

            Reply
          4. King of America August 21, 2016

            Also that last delusion of yours is hilarious. Where on Earth did you hear that?

            Reply
          5. King of America August 22, 2016

            Hahaha thanks, I love a good paranoid rant from idiots.

            Can’t quite see how they manage to blame imaginary provisions of the Fairness Doctrine, which was introduced in 1949 and stopped being the law in 2011, on Obama, but I guess stupid people can manage anything if they don’t think too hard.

            It’s especially weird since Obama opposed the Fairness Doctrine.

            Reply
          6. Dennis Price August 21, 2016

            You really need to loosen up that tin foil hat It’s a tad tight.

            Reply
          7. King of America August 21, 2016

            I do kinda want to know about Tyrant Obama’s dastardly plan to ban talk radio, though.

            Reply
          8. jmprint August 21, 2016

            hide your guns, dork.

            Reply
      2. iamproteus August 21, 2016

        No worries, itsfun, Trump hasn’t been elected yet and isn’t likely to be, so he’s irrelevant…..thank God!

        Reply
  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 21, 2016

    I’m just wondering out loud—Is breitbart’s garbage and that of Ailes the result of feeling humiliated as a result of their darling Nixon’s public disgrace, and feeling such trauma over the attention given to Reagan’s senility and his being chastised for his courtship of racists in the South during his ill-gained presidency?

    What else could explain why grown men like Bannon and those at FOX would revert to an infantile behavior of such a proportion that all their waking hours are wasted on manufacturing lies, and possessed by a demonic desire to defame and denigrate.

    This is indeed the essence of an anti-Christ attitude and one which has to end in a abysmal finality in this life for Breitbart and company.

    Reply
  4. Charles Winter August 21, 2016

    The article neglected to note that Virginia Thomas is the wife of Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. So much for an unbiased judiciary.

    Reply
    1. AgLander August 21, 2016

      So you are saying that any judge who dares to make rulings based on the actual law and not on a narrow liberal political ideology that seeks to overthrow or ignore the law is biased. Got it!

      Reply
      1. A. D. Reed August 21, 2016

        Since when has Clarence Thomas ever made a ruling based on the actual law? I can’t think of a single case.

        Reply
    2. itsfun August 21, 2016

      Then you saying Trump is right not wanting the judge with Mexican heritage presiding over his case. Would that be biased judiciary?

      Reply
  5. AgLander August 21, 2016

    The Clintons have been embroiled in scandal after scandal from the first day they entered politics back in the 1970’s. Anyone who brazenly claims they are the victims of manufactured scandals is asking for the total suspension of disbelief on the part of any person of even below average intelligence. I guess that explains why leftist wing nuts continue to claim the poor Clintons are victims! The Clintons are General Motors when it comes to scandals……just as General Motors is totally responsible for the units rolling off their production line, the Clintons are totally responsible for their production line that continues to spit out one scandal after another!

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 21, 2016

      Still got Clintons on the brain. Your dreams must be filled with images of the Clintons and show a hidden and secret desire to be in their company.
      Psychiatrists would love to get you in a session to find out what is eating at your already-decimated innards.

      Reply
      1. Dennis Price August 21, 2016

        The Clinton’s are living rent free in these tRumpanzees’ heads. It’s a huge laugh. All they can do is scream Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi or what ever the latest of their pretend outrages/scandals is.

        Reply
      2. Box August 21, 2016

        Before Id make a comment like that, look at your own posts and get help for whats in your brain 24/7. A goldmine for the right doctor.

        Reply
        1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 22, 2016

          Box, you wouldn’t qualify as mail boy for that criminal organization called Brietbart. But they might let you clean the toilets—with a toothbrush.
          Looks like you have a case of “Clinton-envy”, but there’s no cure for your strain of the ailment.
          Are you now a doctor with a degree from Trump U.?? (rah!rah!rah!)

          Reply
    2. latebloomingrandma August 21, 2016

      Yeah, $500million “investigating” the Clinton over the years, and the only thing actually found in these faux scandals is that the former Pres. had a zipper problem and lied about it . (WHo wouldn’t?) The left, such as Mother Jones, actually does old fashioned investigative reporting. The right just makes up stuff. And that’s a fact.

      Reply
    3. King of America August 21, 2016

      And yet despite all the things you and inept cretins like you have made up, none of it has ever stuck. Sad.

      Reply
    4. Dennis Price August 21, 2016

      No, those are made up scandals. Made up by people who realize that their product is so flawed and vile that the only way they have a chance of winning is by cheating and lying all the tine. We’re on to you pal. Give it up.

      Reply
      1. Box August 21, 2016

        Give up what? Witnesses who were there, involved, center of attention, the victims, dont agree with you. Just one example, are you now claiming Monica Lewinsky was a GOP-fabricated victim, and Bill saying “i never touched that girl” was in fact the truth? Give it up.

        Reply
        1. Dennis Price August 21, 2016

          Monica was a grown woman who knew what she was doing. She was no victim. So Bill lied about getting head in the Oval Office, big deal. You people are pathetic. Besides, this isn’t about Bill. Like I said, give it a rest. Nothing you rant about has any relevance. How sad it must be, to be you.

          Reply
        2. jmprint August 21, 2016

          And what about the young 13 year girl old that knows how she felt when Trump raped her an abused her. You want that scumbag in the white house. He will be in court soon defending himself with more lies. And then there are the other 2 ladies that also have accused Trump of rape.

          In your words: Give it up! Christ what an asshat.

          Reply
        3. JameSon August 23, 2016

          So, Box, would you prefer a president who scammed people with Trump U? Or refused to pay contractors and employees who did work for him? Or cheated on his first two wives while dating the next wife? Or has a court date coming up on charges of rape? Declared bankruptcy at least four times and left others holding the bag? Read more Trump scandals here– http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/donald-trump-scandals/474726/

          Reply
    5. Mondomyr August 22, 2016

      Sorry, I can’t understand you when you have Trump’s dk in your mouth.

      Reply
  6. 1Zoe55 August 21, 2016

    It’s interesting to watch how Trump is shooting himself in his (whatever). Does he or close members not vet the latest additions to his staff? Manafort with ties to Russian/Ukraine; Schmidt’s and his father’s hatred of Jews; the woman who ran Todd Akin’s campaign–he of the infamous statement that during a rape “that thing down there stops a woman from getting pregnant;” and now Breitbart who most sane people would lock inside their outhouses, never to be seen again. Did these new staff members not realize that they would now be under the microscope of investigative journalism? Wow, that’s some job you’re doing there Trump.

    Reply
  7. itsfun August 21, 2016

    Not manufactured, they happened. The left puts one kind of spin on them and the right another kind of spin. What the author says about Breitbart, a author writing for Breitbard would say the same kind of things about an author writing for the National Memo.

    Reply
  8. A. D. Reed August 21, 2016

    Amazing how self-deluding some people can be. They watch an edited video that makes a specific claim about the actions, words, and motivations of the person featured in the video, like Shirley Sherrod. Then the complete video is shown, demonstrating that her words expressed the exact opposite of what was claimed, and that the actions she took were the exact opposite of what the editors claimed she had done, and that in her speech she explained her motivations very, very clearly, and that they were perfectly aligned with her actions.

    And then some dimwitted clown can only respond, “Not manufactured, they happened.” And tries to pretend that the ACTUAL VIDEOTAPE is “some kind of spin” and that the EDITED VIDEOTAPE is just “another kind of spin.

    If I write, “I simply do not believe that Donald Trump is competent to be president.” and Breitbart edits my quote to “I … believe that Donald Trump is competent to be president,” some people, like itsfun, would then assert that such fraud is normal editorial discretion in reporting.

    I wonder how such a person, with such a clear inability to think rationally, got through middle school.

    Reply
  9. meridaest August 21, 2016

    These people are not jokes. They are dangerous. Nothing less than an onslaught of facts and pressure on the media to report their lies will do. They are not the “JV” team. Media wants a close Presidential race for ratings and will be tempted to take the bait. They can always apologize for their negligence after the election. It worked for them with the Iraq invasion.

    Reply
  10. IPDAILY August 21, 2016

    So it’s about time someone give the Leftists a taste of their own medicine. The Leftists have nothing to say about manufactured misleading comments.
    Like Romney’s binder full of women. Or Bush when he flew over Louisiana.
    The double standard with the news media in this country is laughable. The Bias sucks for the American public.
    CNN the Clinton News Network, MSNBC, Mainly Sponsoring Nightly BullSh!t for Clinton, NBC,Nothing But Clinton, ABC, Always Broadcasting Clinton, CBS Clinton Broadcasting Station. It is so apparent who these commentator stand with, They don’t even hide the fact that their in bed with Knakles.

    You go Steven!

    Reply
    1. Marc Schenker August 23, 2016

      Read reply to box. Join him.

      Reply
  11. Box August 21, 2016

    No comment on those six stories, I dont know the facts, but a Breitbart article today to implicate Leonard DiCaprio is the truth. I know this history extremely well. The article today implies that DiCaprio cancelled a fundrasier for Hillary because he is busy, knee deep in legal trouble involving the allegations that his movie, Wolf of Wallstreet, was made with government money stolen out of Malaysia with the Prime Ministers help. Since I do know this story and it is one of many that get twisted by left media, im going to assume Breitbart is correct and the left is twisting to discredit any possible shred of truth.

    Reply
    1. Marc Schenker August 23, 2016

      I could say something innocuous like get a life, but you and your kind of way too gone to do that. What you should do is what your handle implies: find a box, find a friend, impossible as it that might be, climb in said box and have the friend put food through a hole in it. As for the defecation, sit on it, since you’re so comfortable in it already.

      Reply
  12. elizabetta February 25, 2017

    Brietbart is right wing nut job rubbish. Bannon is leading Trump around like a stupid dog.

    Reply

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