If you can’t see the MP4 video above, click below:
(Cross-posted at The National Memo)
We’re about to hit what has been a solemn anniversary in America for a decade — September 11.
But this year, Republicans, led by Fox News, are set to focus on a more recent terrorist attack — the one that claimed four American lives, including that of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, last year in Benghazi, Libya.
Making this tragedy into a scandal has been a Republican goal since Mitt Romney held a press conference to blast the president just hours after the attack occurred.
A year later, conservative activists still believe there’s a cover-up that needs to be exposed and even suggest that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is protecting the president. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested that the proposed strike against Syria is just an attempt to distract in part from Benghazi. And on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked liberal commentator Juan Williams to defend President Obama’s dismissal of Bengahzi as a “phony scandal.”
Williams had no problem doing so.
“You had an accountability review board come in and make 29 recommendations, and the State Department has accepted just about every one of them,” Williams said, citing a report led by George H.W. Bush’s former UN Ambassador, Thomas Pickering.
“You say this is not going away,” Williams said. “It’s gone away.”
Fox News contributor Karl Rove then responded with his most hilarious performance since he refused to let the channel declare that Mitt Romney lost.
“You may be comfortable with the American people being told a deliberate lie by the administration,” Rove said. “But I’m not.”
Ironically, Rove was not talking about the Bush administration’s falsehoods that led to the Iraq War. He was referencing the fact that former UN Ambassador Susan Rice delivered talking points she hadn’t prepared that represented the best intelligence available at the time.
Williams was unconvinced by Rove’s and Brit Hume’s insistence that no, there’s still questions that need to be answered, even though every question they asked has been answered by Pickering’s report or the House Republicans’ investigation.
“It’s gone, baby. It’s in your head. That’s the only place,” Williams concluded.
The evidence that Benghazi is a “phony scandal” is overwhelming. But pointing that out at the beginning of Fox News’ “Benghazi Week” won’t make the Republican desire to exploit another tragedy that took place on September 11 go away.
At LGF we’ve noted many times the curious phenomenon of the Unison Wingnut Chorus — the almost instantaneous coordination of talking points throughout the right wing blogs and media. And of course, there’s nothing spontaneous about it; like good little authoritarians, wingnut bloggers and journalists are following directions from a group of far right loons (including Frank Gaffney, Allen West, and the Breitbrats) called “Groundswell,” dedicated to fighting a “30 Front War” against progressives.
The amusing part is that Karl Rove’s on their hit list too, because they hate him almost as much as they hate the 21st century.
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).
Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.
Groundswell, which meets at the same time as Norquist’s group, appears to be a more ideologically pure version of the Norquist confab, and its emergence—given the prominent role of Ginni Thomas and the participation of journalists—prompts several intriguing questions.
Critics have contended that Thomas’ work as a lobbyist opposing Obamacare posed a conflict of interest for her husband, who would rule on the constitutionality of the health care reform initiative. (Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court minority that favored striking down the law.) And Common Cause has maintained that Justice Thomas had a conflict of interest when he participated in the Citizens United case because his wife at the time was running a conservative nonprofit fighting the “tyranny” of President Barack Obama that would benefit from removing limits on such groups’ spending and fundraising. With her involvement in Groundswell—which zeroes in on contentious issues that come before the high court, including voting rights, abortion, and gay marriage—Ginni Thomas continues to be intricately associated with matters on which her husband may have to render a decision. Ginni Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
The participation of journalists in coordinating messaging with ideological advocates and political partisans raises another set of issues. Conservatives expressed outraged when news broke in 2009 about Journolist, a private email list where several hundred progressive-minded reporters, commentators, and academics exchanged ideas and sometimes bickered. (I was on Journolist, mainly as a lurker.) The late Andrew Breitbart once offered $100,000 for the full Journolist archives and denounced it as “the epitome of progressive and liberal collusion that conservatives, Tea Partiers, moderates and many independents have long suspected and feared exists at the heart of contemporary American political journalism.” The Groundswell documents show conservative journalists, including several with Breitbart News, colluding on high-level messaging with leading partisans of the conservative movement.
Speaking this morning at the Aspen Ideas Festival (co-organized by Quartz’s sister publication The Atlantic), Rove discussed in some detail how it works:
“In the Republican case, they take up to 450 pieces of household-level of information about you in order to develop three numbers: how likely are you to vote, how persuadable are you, and then a complex algorithm for every voter and non-voter—everyone registered and everybody unregistered—that describes your view of the world, what’s important to you and how do you think about things, what will motivate you.”
Campaigns then use that data to target individual voters with specific messages, or calls or visits from campaign volunteers. Rove said that Republicans were earlier to use such technology, but a contributing factor to president Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election was Democrats’ “dynamic micro-targeting” of voters. Rove said that this allowed Democrats to identify on-the-fly how news and campaign developments could sway specific voters, while the Republicans’ campaign modeling was more fixed.
You know your Nazi analogies are getting out of control when you start using them against people who are basically on your side: Tea Party Group Pictures Rove in Nazi Uniform.
A top tea party group is taking its clash with Karl Rove to a new level, sending out a fundraising email Tuesday featuring a photoshopped image of the GOP operative in an SS uniform.
“Wipe the Smirk Off Karl Rove’s Face,” reads the subject line of the email, from Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots.
The email features a photo illustration in which Rove’s face is grafted onto a photo of a uniformed officer in the Reichsführer-SS, an elite class of soldier in the German Schutzstaffel during Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. The lower left-hand corner of the photo features the inscriptions “Reichsführer-SS” and “K. Rove,” and appears to match a photo of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler.
The spokesman for Tea Party Patriots says it was an accident. Because anybody could end up with a picture of Karl Rove wearing an SS uniform in a fundraising email. There’s a lot of it going around.
Jameson Cunningham, a spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, said the image was added by accident. “The image was a mistake which was never approved by TPP,” he told POLITICO.
Gotta love those wacky, irrepressible teabaggers. They keep coming up with new ways to make themselves look like complete idiots. Good thing they’re not actually influential with the Republican Party or anything like that. (Cough.)