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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Right-wing media immediately seized on the announcement that former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe will not face criminal charges to generate outrage and push for President Donald Trump to pardon his longtime adviser Roger Stone.

Prosecutors announced that they are not pursuing criminal charges against McCabe in a letter on February 14. The investigation began in 2018 after a referral from the Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz, who alleged that McCabe misled investigators about a media leak. The new announcement from prosecutors indicates that the case against McCabe has been closed.

Right-wing media have called for months for Trump to pardon his longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, who was convicted in federal court on seven charges, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. In particular, right-wing media have ramped up calls for Trump to pardon Stone as the Department of Justice and Stone’s attorneys submitted their recommendations to the court for his sentencing, which will be on February 20. Trump has already granted clemency or pardons to controversial right-wing figures during his term, including Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza, and the president said on February 12 that he won’t rule out a pardon for Stone. 

With the announcement that McCabe will not face criminal charges, right-wing media immediately used it as an opportunity to inaccurately compare him to Stone and to say that Trump needs to pardon Stone. In many cases, they also called for Trump to pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017.

Claiming that DOJ’s treatment of these cases is hypocritical is a bad-faith argument being used to downplay Stone’s crimes and create faux outrage — common tactics of right-wing media. Here are some of the most egregious examples:

  • Human Events publisher Will Chamberlain
  • Human Events Managing Editor Ian Miles Cheong
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk
  • Turning Point Action’s Ryan Fournier
  • Conservative radio host Buck Sexton
  • Newsmax TV host John Cardillo
  • Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee
  • One America News Network host Liz Wheeler
  • Pro-Trump conspiracy theorist and OANN host Jack Posobiec

Photo Credit: Marc Nozell

Photo Credit: Marc Nozell

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.