Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Amid the shock and horror accompanying yet another mass-shooting of school children in Florida, an anonymous White House official exhibited the sheer moral squalor of Trumpism.

“For everyone, [the massacre] was a distraction or a reprieve,” the official said. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”

Getting pummeled, that is, about White House aide Rob Porter’s keeping his job for almost a year after FBI investigators warned wife-beating made him vulnerable to blackmail, thus a security risk. Not to mention Chief of Staff John Kelly getting caught in yet another barefaced lie.

Seventeen dead students and teachers. A reprieve, the man said. (Although there are certainly women in this White House capable of saying that.)

Anyway, let’s try a little thought exercise. Let’s pretend that Donald J. Trump himself needed to be vetted for a security clearance by the FBI. Any chance he’d pass muster?

None whatsoever.

Let’s put aside Trump’s suspect entanglement with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin for a moment. What investigators look for in deciding if somebody can be trusted with Top Secret intelligence is evidence of bad character and/or significant vulnerabilities.

Trump’s half-dozen bankruptcies alone might disqualify him. Settling a $25 million fraud lawsuit, as the president did in the Trump University case, would also ruin his chances. Not to mention a long list of business partners, contractors and customers who’d say he refused to pay legitimate debts, violated contracts, or simply walked away. He’s been sued literally thousands of times.

Three wives could be an issue, and a well-publicized history of multiple adulteries. First wife Ivana filed a divorce petition alleging assault and rape, although it was later withdrawn. The list of women publicly accusing Trump of sexual assault has reached 20. Paying hush-money to porn stars and Playboy playmates demonstrates vulnerability to blackmail—an immediate disqualifier.

Never mind Russia; the tabloid newspaper National Inquirer appears to have Trump in its pocket.

So no, on moral grounds alone Donald J. Trump would never be entrusted with the nation’s secrets.

Furthermore, at the risk of getting ahead of myself, what are the odds that the Russians don’t have compromising video of Trump cavorting with Moscow prostitutes? He’s made a show of being too worldly-wise to jump into such a trap, but what if a “top oligarch” told him the women were a gift from Putin?

Bingo!

Flattery gets you everywhere with Trump. Everybody knows that.

Something’s got to explain his obsequious fawning over Putin besides Trump’s dictator-envy. (Pardon indicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort? In Moscow, he’d take an accidental fall from a hotel balcony. In America, Manafort’s more apt to cop a plea.)

Anyway, it’s always sex or money.

Alas, the United States has no vetting process for political leaders. None of the above facts about the man’s character is in serious dispute, although listing them is certain to infuriate some of this column’s more excitable e-mail correspondents. Not to mention “Boris” and “Natasha,” the Russian trolls I unmasked during the 2016 campaign, provoking scatological insults that might have shocked me if I hadn’t grown up in New Jersey.

So anyway, there he is: the President of the United States, a certifiable low-life who couldn’t pass muster as a White House security guard. If Trump had any sense he’d resign the presidency in the wake of Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for conspiring to disrupt the 2016 election—possibly saving the Republican Party and sparing himself and the country the melodramatic confrontation that looms ahead.

Truthfully, the man should never have run in the first place. Indeed, Trump appears to have envisioned the presidency as the ultimate reality-TV show, mistaking the national news media for the celebrity tabloids he so easily manipulated back when he’d brag to radio host Howard Stern about his sexual conquests and telephone gossip columnists raving about the wild immorality of Russian women.

Confronting an independent news media and the limitations of the U.S. Constitution, however, has driven Trump clear around the bend. In a bizarre series of tweets over the weekend, the president claimed he’d never described Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “hoax”—although everybody but the most far-gone adepts of the Trump personality cult remembers him doing so countless times. Also as a “witch hunt.”

But Mueller’s Russian indictments are clearly predicate to more damning evidence to come: hacked Democratic emails, WikiLeaks, and Donald, Jr.’s already-documented dalliance with Russian operatives. Heavy shoes appear sure to drop.

Even Trump himself must know it. That’s why he’s in such a panic.

That said, Democrats would be wise to lay off the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor analogies. Let the evidence speak for itself.

Maybe they’re laughing their asses off in Moscow, but when they start laughing in Keokuk and Moscow, Idaho, you’ll know it’s over.  

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


s3.amazonaws.com


Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.