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Bannon Seeking To Escape Irrelevance — In Sweden

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Steve Bannon revealed to a Swedish newspaper that he will be visiting the country to “learn from” the Sweden Democrats (SD), an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim party attempting to rebrand away from its neo-Nazi roots. In seeking alliances with Sweden’s most prominent right-wing party leaders, Bannon is trying to dig himself out of the political irrelevance his downfall has brought. But it appears that even the members of a party with neo-Nazi origins are embarrassed to be associated with him.

In a March 28 interview with Dagens Nyheter, a daily newspaper in Sweden, Bannon revealed his plan to visit the country in the next few months “to learn” from the Sweden Democrats, “some of whom we have studied closely.” When asked what insights would he share with SD members from his time at the White House (he was fired in August 2017), Bannon said he’d urge the SD to continue fighting, increase the party’s contact with the base, and stay away from the so-called “globalists.” He also called SD leader Jimmie Åkesson a “dynamic” politician and characterized SD as an example for “the whole world to study.”

Bannon’s interest in Sweden is neither new nor surprising, as he has long telegraphed his plans to export his far-right politics to Europe. During Bannon’s time at the helm of Breitbart.com, as well as during and after his White House stint, the outlet has shown an obsession with a mythical migrant crime wave in Sweden, particularly as the nation prepares for a general election (Sweden has become a gateway to the anti-migrant agenda in Europe). Bannon’s announcement of his plans comes on the heels of a series of embarrassing setbacks for him — ranging from a humiliating electoral loss by a Republican politician he championed in a ruby-red state to his ousting from Breitbart, which he helped build. It appears he is looking for a comebackwherever he can find it.

When asked directly whether the SD party invited him to visit Sweden, Bannon gave a vaguely affirmative answer, stating he didn’t want to make an announcement yet but that he would “definitely come to Sweden … relatively soon.” But just hours after the interview was published, the secretary of the Sweden Democrats party denied that anyone in the party arranged or even had knowledge of Bannon’s trip and refused to say whether SD will welcome Bannon to Sweden.

Though SD was born out of neo-Nazi circles in the late ‘80s, it has since attempted to enter the mainstream by distancing itself from the overt white nationalism of some of its past leaders. In 2006, the party changed its logo from the torch used by the U.K.’s fascist National Front to an innocuous blue and yellow flower. Now, Sweden Democrats is the nation’s most established right-wing party and boasts a thriving (if controversial) social media presence. But its polarizing message has pushed its supporters away from the party in recent months.

Though SD was polling as the nation’s second-largest party last June, a December 2017 poll showed support for SD has dropped to its lowest level since 2015. In February, a local SD member was forced to resign after posting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Facebook. Just last week, the party suffered another self-inflicted wound when one of its members was sentenced for repeated domestic abuse.

The recently created more extreme far-right party Alternative for Sweden (inspired by the German AfD) serves as an additional threat to SD. AfS hopes to curry favor with SD’s most extreme elements and has successfully recruited several SD parliamentarians in the past few months, including one who was expelled from SD for extremist ties.

It’s a testament to Bannon’s toxicity that the Swedish party that perhaps most viably embodies Bannon’s ideology has denied any contact with him, seemingly in an attempt to protect its vulnerable credibility. SD’s Åkesson has admitted that in the past, his party has been its own worst enemy, a problem which Bannon might find hard to resist, probably because he can easily relate.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Fascist Trolls And White Nationalists Defend Trump’s Anti-Muslim Video Retweets

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right, ultranationalist Britain First political organization, who has previously been “found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.” Trump’s retweets of three videos attempting to link Muslims to violent crime, one of which has been debunked and the other two of which lacked context, were praised by white nationalists and far-right ideologues on Twitter and by Internet trolls on 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit message boards. At least one prominent fake news website also defended Trump’s retweets.

Prominent white nationalist David Duke:


Far-right vlogger and identitarian movement supporter Peter Sweden:


White nationalist podcast host James Allsup:

White nationalist associate of Richard Spencer, Evan McLaren:


White nationalist congressional hopeful Grant J. Kidney:

White nationalist group Defend Europa:

Anti-immigration hate website VDARE:

poster on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board: “Trump just went full alt right.”

Another 4chan/pol/ user wrote, “PRAISE TRUMP,” calling the videos Trump shared “/POL/-TIER MUSLIM CHIMPOUT VIDEOS” — an indication that the videos were extreme enough to have been promoted by 4chan users.

One user on the 8chan/pol/ message board, in reference to Trump’s tweets, wrote, “I’m still not tired of winning. Sieg fucking heil.”

And on the pro-Trump subreddit “/r/The_Donald,” one user shared the videos Trump retweeted and directed other users to an online tool that can be used to download the videos, likely to share them through different mediums.

Fake news website Conservative Tribune praised Trump’s tweetstorm in a post, writing, “Refusing to cower to political correctness, President Donald Trump went rogue Wednesday, taking dead aim at radical Islamic terrorists and the violence they sow.”

Network And Cable News Ignore Rohingya Plight In Primetime

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

The Myanmar government’s military forces are conducting ethnic cleansing of the country’s RohingyaMuslim population — an ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar — through systematic violence and expulsion. Facing murder, rape, and now famine, hundreds of thousands have fled the country in recent months. Prime-time cable news and broadcast evening newscasts, however, have been reluctant to cover what the U.N. is calling a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

National newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post as well as Time magazine and NPR have reported extensively on the state-sponsored “clearance operations” with in-depth analyses and multimedia features devoted to the state-sponsored violence, but broadcast evening newscasts and prime-time cable news shows have been nearly silent on the issue. In a period of nearly two months following a government crackdown and subsequent mass flight of Rohingya from Myanmar into Bangladesh, evening news referenced the crisis a mere three times: in two reports by Fox News and one from ABC’s World News Tonight.

Of the two reports by Fox News, one, which appeared on the September 21 edition of The Story with Martha MacCallumexploited the ethnic cleansing to scandalize Hillary Clinton’s past support for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader who has drawn criticism for her failure to denounce the recent violence — and to praise the response from President Donald Trump’s administration. The other Fox News report, which appeared on the October 10 edition of Special Report, was a 20-second segment in which host Bret Baier garbled the word “Rohingya” and focused on Pope Francis’ response to the violence.

CBS Evening NewsNBC Nightly News, and evening prime-time programming on MSNBC and CNN completely ignored the humanitarian disaster taking place in Myanmar. While CNN International devoted almost 50 segments to the expulsion of Rohingya, none of these reports were re-aired during CNN’s evening programming. Moreover, most reports of Rohingya erasure on CNN International occurred on CNN Newsroom, a program that airs between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.

While the Trump administration has called for the Myanmar military to cease its campaign against the Rohingya, U.S. officials have stopped short of encouraging a formal resolution condemning the violence or imposing targeted sanctions against the military’s leaders. Additionally, the United States still funds military cooperation with Myanmar. And the Trump administration has placed a ban on refugees from around the world and plans to cap refugee admissions over the next year at 45,000 — the lowest limit ever. Last year, refugees to the United States from Myanmar, including Rohingya, outpaced arrivals from Syria, a nation that has been embroiled in a civil war for over six years that has displaced millions

Activists say they are being censored, and local journalists say they are putting their lives on the line in order to expose Myanmar’s crimes against humanity. Cable and broadcast news networks have an opportunity and responsibility to lift up voices of the Rohingya, whose plight is only becoming more desperate amid the news cycle’s continued silence.

                       Dayanita Ramesh and Miles Le / Media Matters

Methdology:

Media Matters used Nexis to search transcripts from ABC’s World News TonightCBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News and weekday programming between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from August 24 to October 16, 2017, for mentions of one or more of the following terms: Rohingya, Burma, Myanmar, or Bangladesh. Reports of flooding across South Asia were not included.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Trump Blames Clinton For Execution Of Iranian Scientist After The Right-Wing Lie Was Debunked

Published with permission from Media Matters of America

Echoing a myth peddled by right-wing media, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that there was a link between the execution of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist in Iran, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which contained a couple emails that appear to discuss Amiri’s case. But there is no evidence either that Clinton’s server was hacked, which would have been necessary for Iran to see the emails, or that the email discussion of Amiri had any connection to his eventual death.

Iran Executed A Nuclear Scientist For Treason, Accusing Him Of Giving Information To The U.S.

BBC: “Iranian Nuclear Scientist Shahram Amiri Executed For Treason.” The BBC reported that the Iranian government executed Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, for providing “‘vital information to the enemy,’” according to a judiciary spokesperson. Amiri had “defected of his own accord,” U.S. officials said, and initially returned to a “hero’s welcome” in Iran, the BBC reported, but he was later “arrested and tried for treason. From the August 7 report:

An Iranian scientist who provided the US with information about the country’s nuclear programme has been hanged for treason, the government has confirmed.

Shahram Amiri was executed for giving “vital information to the enemy”, a judiciary spokesman said.

Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the US, where he claimed to have been abducted and interrogated by the CIA.

[…]

After reappearing in the US in 2010, he said he had been kidnapped and put under “intense psychological pressure to reveal sensitive information”.

However US officials at the time said Amiri had defected of his own accord and provided “useful information”.

He initially returned to Tehran to a hero’s welcome, but was later arrested and tried for treason. [BBC.com, 8/7/16]

Sen. Tom Cotton Later Said Clinton Had Emails About The Executed Iranian

Sen. Tom Cotton: “Reckless” And “Careless” Clinton Had Emails About The Executed Iranian On Her Private Email Server. The Hill reported that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) attempted to portray Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as “reckless” on CBS’s Face the Nation by citing emails on her private server “that included references to the Iranian nuclear scientist who was executed there for treason.” From the August 7 report:

“I’m not going to comment on what he may or may not have done for the United States government, but in the emails that were on Hillary Clinton’s private server, there were conversations among her senior advisers about this gentleman,” Cotton said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

“That goes to show just how reckless and careless her decision was to put that kind of highly classified information on a private server and I think her judgment is not suited to keep this country safe.” [The Hill, 8/7/16]

Right-Wing Media Run With The Claim To Imply Clinton’s Emails Led To Scientist’s Execution

Fox & Friends Co-Host Ainsley Earhardt: “Many People Are Wondering” If “He Die[d] Because Someone Hacked Into Her Emails.” On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt explained that “the reason these stories” about Clinton’s private email server and Amiri’s execution “connect” is because of the possibility that “someone hacked into her emails and they found out that he was spying for the U.S. and then as a result he was killed.” From the August 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Meanwhile, our big story yesterday was the execution of that Iranian scientist by the name of Shahram Amiri. And yesterday at the Department of State, the report is — there he is right there;  he was executed on Wednesday. His name showed up in a couple of email on Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server in her basement in Chappaqua, New York. And yesterday, Elizabeth Trudeau, who is the State Department spokesperson, was asked about: Is there possibly a connection between his death and her email? Here’s what she said.

[BEGIN VIDEO]

ELIZABETH TRUDEAU: We’re not going to comment on what may have led to this event, but as we spoke about with Matt, there was public reporting on this topic back in 2010. Former Secretary Clinton discussed this issue in public at that time. So this is not something that became public when the State Department released those emails.

[END VIDEO]

DOOCY: So they dodged the question.

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): That’s right. There was public comment at the time but certainly no outing of him as a spy or an ally of the United States.

[…]

HEGSETH: What she said in 2010 is that he’s free to go, he’s free to come, and those decisions are his to make. So, basically saying if he’s with the Iranians, he can go back to Iran. Nothing about him being a spy. But in the emails you hear coded language to “our friend” and other things he had done to benefit the United States.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): And the reason that these stories connect is many people are asking does this individual, did he die because someone hacked into her emails and they found out that he was spying for the U.S. and then as a result he was killed. We don’t know that. But many people are wondering that. Just like the families in Benghazi are wondering if their sons — if they were tracked and they were located in Benghazi in Libya because of Hillary Clinton’s negligence.

HEGSETH: At the very least it underscores her recklessness with that server. [Fox News,Fox & Friends, 8/9/16]

Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “Is [Clinton] Responsible … For What Happened Here?” On Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked retired United States Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, “Do you make that connection? Is [Clinton] responsible, by being being reckless and irresponsible and not protecting that server, for what happened here?” after explaining that it “would appear that [Amiri] was compromised and somehow was found out.” From the August 8 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I look at all this, and I look at what he said this weekend. This person had access to the country’s secret and classified information, had linked to — this is what Iran says, according to the AP, Iran confirmed that he had been hanged for treason and spying, and that they said this person had access to the country’s secret classified information, has “been linked to our hostile and number one enemy, America, the great Satan,” a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said. He provided the enemy with vital and secret information about the country. So it would appear that this guy was working for us. It would appear that he was compromised and somehow was found out. Now, if Senator Cotton, pretty credible senator, says that he knows that in fact this information came from her server, do you make the connection? Is she responsible then, by being reckless and irresponsible and not protecting that server, for what happened here? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/8/16]

Wash. Examiner: “Hillary Clinton’s Private Emails May Have Played A Role In [ Amiri’s] Recent Fate.” The Washington Examiner’s Sarah Westwood wrote that State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau “dodged questions” when asked about the connection between Clinton’s email server and Amiri’s execution and speculated about whether a pair of her private emails “may have played a role in his recent fate.” From the Washington Examiner article:

A State Department spokeswoman dodged questions Monday about whether the discussion of Shahram Amiri, an Iranian scientist who was executed by the Iranian government for working with the U.S., in a pair of Hillary Clinton’s private emails may have played a role in his recent fate.

“We’re not going to comment on what may have led to this event,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, a State Department spokeswoman.

“I couldn’t speak to Iranian judicial procedures related to this specific case,” Trudeau said. “We’ve made our concerns known writ large around Iranian due process.”

She noted the State Department had been “very public about this case when [Amiri] chose to return to Iran,” pointing to a press conference Clinton gave in July 2010.

In those remarks, Clinton compared Amiri’s ability to leave the U.S. on “his own free will” with Iran’s decision “to hold three young Americans against their will.” She did not reference the scientist’s work with the U.S. government. [Washington Examiner, 8/8/16]

Breitbart: “Erik Prince: Hillary Clinton ‘Very Likely Caused’ Iranian Nuclear Scientist’s Death.” On Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon, Bannon asked former Navy SEAL and former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince whether Clinton “should be considered complicit” in Amiri’s death, to which Prince replied that “Hillary’s emails, playing fast and loose with national security matters, very likely caused this guy to die.” From the August 8 interview:

Bannon asked if Hillary Clinton should be considered complicit in the execution of Iranian nuclear physicist Shahram Amiri, on charges of spying for the United States, who was discussed in some of the emails on Clinton’s unsecured private server.

“The physicist that came out, he defected, he was a treasure trove of information, but the CIA and the Clinton State Department botched it while he was in the States, left him pretty much unsupported,” Prince replied, calling it a major mistake to leave Amiri’s family in Iran.

[…]

“Once again, the administration screwed it up. He goes home; of course, he’s arrested. And then Hillary’s emails, which were in the open, certainly readable by foreign powers, were talking about Hillary’s so-called friend, who was a defection, and not an abduction, as the guy was claiming,” he added.

Prince said that if the American people want to break through what Bannon described as “the media Praetorian Guard” around Clinton and Obama, to get some real coverage of the Amiri story, they should understand that “Hillary’s emails, playing fast and loose with national security matters, very likely caused this guy to die.”

“This administration, particularly Hillary Clinton, plays fast and loose with classified information, and doesn’t really care about the people who help America, and they suffer, and our national security will suffer for it yet again in the long term,” Prince concluded. [Breitbart News, 8/8/16]

Gateway Pundit: “Sen. Tom Cotton: Clinton’s Unprotected Emails Got Iranian Nuclear Scientist Executed.” Jumping off of Cotton’s comments, The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft wrote that Iran “found out [Amiri] was working for the US thanks to Hillary Clinton’s emails. Nice work, Hillary.” From the August 7 article:

Iran hanged nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri.

They found out he was working for the US thanks to Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Nice work, Hillary.

[…]

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Face the Nation on Sunday that Hillary got this Iranian nuclear scientist killed. [The Gateway Pundit, 8/7/16]

Drudge Report: CLINTON EMAIL LED TO EXECUTION IN IRAN?

[Twitter, 8/7/16]

Trump Attempts To Link Clinton’s Email Server To Scientists Execution

Trump: “Many People Are Saying That The Iranians Killed The Scientist Who Helped The U.S. Because Of Hillary Clinton’s Hacked Emails.”

[Twitter, 8/8/16]

There Is No Evidence That Links Clinton To The Scientist’s Execution

Wash. Post: “Clinton’s Email Server Did Not Lead To An Iranian Scientist’s Death.” The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin wrote that “despite what you may read on Donald Trump’s twitter feed,” Amiri’s execution was “not caused by Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.” He explained that there’s both “no reasonable connection between the discussion of Amiri’s case on email by Clinton’s staff to Amiri’s eventual execution” and “no evidence her server was hacked.” From the August 8 article:

Despite what you might read on Donald Trump’s twitter feed, the Iranian execution of a nuclear scientist who defected to the United States and then changed his mind was not caused by Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The scientist outed himself; it wasn’t Clinton’s fault.

[…]

[T]here’s no reasonable connection between the discussion of Amiri’s case on email by Clinton’s staff to Amiri’s eventual execution. There’s no evidence her server was hacked. The Iranians knew all about Amiri well before the emails were released publicly. His kidnapping story never held water and his fate was sealed long before his sentence was carried out. [TheWashington Post, 8/8/16]

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a campaign event in Radford, Virginia February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane