Ugh, we've been down this unpleasant road before. (Flashback: We are all Kenneth Gladney!) But sadly, when it comes to weaving half-baked conspiracy theories, Andrew Breitbart has shown he will attack law enforcement without hesitation, and without regard to the facts.
Still, I'm a bit surprised by the trend simply because smearing federal prosecutors doesn't really seem to be in accord with proud conservative values in this country. (Was the FBI agent involved in O'Keefe's arrest also crooked, Andrew?) But it appears the only card Breitbart has left to play is to claim his protégé was "framed" by federal prosecutors.
Don't you see people, there are all kinds of nefarious dots to connect, but only Breitbart and his protégé can properly paint the picture. To the rest of us, the conspiratorial claims make no sense. (AG Holder was somehow involved?!) But for Breitbart and his day-dreaming crew, after stewing over the arrest for six or seven days and pumping up their own self-importance to almost comical levels, it all makes perfect sense. And yes, it reaches to the highest level of government.
Meanwhile, let's note how funny it is that last week when news first broke of O'Keefe's arrest, Breitbart was practically sprinting away from his once-prized student, stressing that O'Keefe was merely an "independent contractor." (Albeit, an "independent contractor" who 's paid a "salary." I want that gig.)
Now however, O'Keefe has been transformed, at least in the unlimited imagination of Breitbart, into a martyr. Apparently O'Keefe was practically penning is own Letter From New Orleans Jail before the feds finally let him go, dontcha know.
BTW, having had the unpleasant task of monitoring Breitbart's colossal Gladney fiasco last fall, I can tell you where this O'Keefe nonsense is going. In the coming weeks and perhaps even months, Breitbart and his crew of clueless bloggers will launch all sorts of wild claims about O'Keefe's arrest as well as smear prosecutors associated with the arrest. And in the end, even if none of the allegations pan out, Breitbart will claim he was right all along.
It's a truly delusional spectacle to behold. And FYI, It's best viewed as a comedy/tragedy.
UPDATED: Note how Breitbart wants to focus on the 24 hours after O'Keefe was arrested. Because according to Breitbart there was some vast, left-wing government-wide conspiracy unfolded.
Note also that that has nothing to do with what O'Keefe was arrested for. Breitbart wants to turn O'Keefe's arrest into a process story, while he downplays the actual charges. Does that mean Breitbart condones the infiltration of Landrieu's office. Does that mean he thinks activists all over the country should suddenly start making undercover videotapes of their local representatives' office? And does Breitbart consider the charge against O'Keefe -- an intent to commit a felony -- to be trivial?
I guess suddenly, being a law-and-order Republican means dismissing federal charges as unimportant, and smearing prosecutors.
Good to know.
UPDATED: How exactly were O'Keefe and friends "framed"? David Neiwert at Crooks and Liars has it all figured out:
Apparently they were lured into donning phone-repairman disguises and attempting to infiltrate the phone system at a federal building. By, um, Sen. Landrieu! That's the ticket! They did the whole "jammed phone lines" thing just to sucker in poor O'Keefe. Uh-huh. Poor guys.
From February 2 edition of Fox & Friends:
On Sunday's This Week, Ailes told Arianna Huffington that when Beck insisted the White House and progressives are "taking you to a place to be slaughtered" that he was simply "talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people."
This blatantly false interptation of Beck's remarks means one of two things: either Ailes does not watch Beck's show or Ailes is lying.
Here was Beck in November:
BECK: They need to do it this way. They need it do it in the cover of darkness. They need you to not to listen to me -- because if you start to listen to me, you're never going to willingly give up your freedom. You're going to be nudged into it, and if they can't nudge you into it, well then they'll push you into it.
What was it that Andy Stern just said a minute ago?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STERN: We're trying to use the power of persuasion. And if that doesn't work, we'll use the persuasion of power because there are governments and there are opportunities to change laws that affect these companies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STERN: We took names. We watched how they voted. We know where they live.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BECK: Yes, they do know where I live. They know where you live, too. All they need is that final emergency, and it's going to come creeping up. We didn't realize it was this bad. Mark my words. No, don't mark my words -- mark the words of George Soros or anyone else around this White House. Play Soros' words again!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOROS: The system we have now has actually broken down, only we haven't quite recognized it. And so, you need to create a new one, and this is the time to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: These are the people that broke the system! It's broken because of corruption.
Look, this is not about the things that you and I believe in. Progressives think they know better than you do. They want to control every aspect of your life. Workers of America unite against these people!
The smart grid is not about saving energy or helping the planet. It is about one person, the rich guy, paying more than another guy, the poor guy. He'll pay less!
They call it social justice. They call it fair. They call it -- they call it anything but what it is, Marxism, spreading the wealth, leveling out the playing field.
There is one thing you cannot call any of these plans. You can't call it America. You can't do it.
I told you yesterday buckle up your seatbelt, America. Find the exit. There is one here, here and here. Find the exit closest to you and prepare for a crash-landing because this plane is coming down because the pilot is intentionally steering it into the trees! Most likely, it will happen sometime after Christmas.
You are going to see this economy come up -- we're already seeing it - - and now it's going to start coming back down again. And when you see the effects of what they're doing to the economy, remember these words: we will survive. We know we'll do better than survive. We will thrive -- as long as these people are not in control. They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered. [emphasis added]
Not content to let his boss do the heavy lifting, Beck mounted his own defense of his violent rant: he flat out denied it.
BECK: I don't even know if I've ever used the word "slaughtered." And if I used the word "slaughtered," if it wasn't in a context of Mao, Stalin, or Hitler, it was in the idea that the truth is being slaughtered by this administration, not saying that this administration is going to slaughter anyone. [...] I have said that progressives, this ideology has lead to the slaughtering of millions. It has, it has. In particular: eugenics.
With these assertions, and O'Reilly's recent defense of his colleague, it raises the question: Does anyone on Fox (including Beck himself) watch Beck's show?
And if they do, is there any length they won't go to in order to defend him?
From Andrew Breitbart's twitter feed:
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his February 1 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
"Warn your kids[!] Better yet, home school [them]," because Obama is "Brainwashing America's Youth," again -- if the latest bit of right-wing fear-mongering is to be believed, that is. Several conservative bloggers have run with the "story" that Organizing for America is accepting applications for its semester-long internship program/"civilian youth brigade," in which the "shocking list" of suggested reading includes community organizer Saul Alinsky's 1971 book Rules for Radicals (the purpose of which is: "indoctrinating [your children] into Saul Alinsky's radical tactics and ideology").
If so, you'd better keep your kids away from those Tea Parties.
Tea Party leader and "the co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter" Michael Patrick Leahy has written an entire book based off of Alinsky's "shocking" work, deftly entitled: Rules for Conservative Radicals: Lessons from Saul Alinsky[!] the Tea Party Movement and the Apostle Paul in the Age of Collaborative Technologies. In his book, "Leahy argues that today's conservative radical should follow the tactics of Saul Alinsky, but apply the morals and ethics of Martin Luther King."
And Leahy is not the only conservative poisoned by what right-wing blogger Pamela Geller calls "the mother's milk of the left."
Conservative "hero" and Fox News' favorite investigative journalist James O'Keefe is also a fan. The Los Angeles Times reported that O'Keefe found an "unlikely source of inspiration" in Alinsky and O'Keefe "took to heart" Alinsky's principle to: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."
Also, on Fox News' Glenn Beck, David Horowitz advocated for conservatives to follow "what Saul Alinsky argues"
Alinsky's "evil" has even reached all the way out to the Heartland, with The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reporting: "in Kansas City, Missouri, a group of conservative organizers will conduct a most unusual training session. They will teach the "Rules for Radicals' laid down by the god of community organizing, Saul Alinsky. The idea: learn to recognize the footprints of the enemy." Similarly, The Washington Independent's David Weigel has reported that "Alinsky has found a thriving and surprising fan club in the modern conservative movement," with "many 'Tea Party' activists say[ing] they're cribbing from Alinsky."
Yes, if Geller and the other bloggers on the right are to be believed, Obama is coming for your children through the vessel of Saul Alinsky. And in Geller's own words: "Can you imagine if the Republicans attempted such a stunt?" The mind boggles.
Appearing on Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith to discuss Iran's nuclear capabilities, K.T. McFarland, former Republican senatorial candidate, Reagan administration spokesperson, and host of FoxNews.com's "Defcon 3" insisted that President Obama has "said nothing" on pro-democracy protesters in Iran. In fact President Obama specifically spoke about Iranian dissidents and condemned the violence on December 28, 2009.
From Obama's Dec. 28, 2009 comments:
Before I leave, let me also briefly address the events that have taken place over the last few days in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death.
For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days. And each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.
What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.
As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.
Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.
We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.
McFarland could have even found these comments on... FoxNews.com.
Judicial Watch has received much attention from the usual right-wing outlets for its recent mini-report claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent $2 million in taxpayer money on Air Force aircraft. The press release seems rather deliberately underwritten, suggesting that much, if not all, of that money was spent solely on Pelosi and her immediate family -- for example, their press release's headline states that Pelosi's "Military Travel Cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a Two-Year Period." But the release later discloses that the data is actually for "103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations" -- i.e., the congressional delegations set up through the Speaker's office, many of which included other members of Congress as well -- not her personal travel. WorldNetDaily, for one, took that bait.
Judicial Watch is also completely silent about the passenger lists for these CODELs -- perhaps because some of them include Republican members of Congress and their spouses. For instance, Judicial Watch highlighted a May 2008 CODEL to Israel and Baghdad that "included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone," as well as a copious stash of alcoholic beverages. Unmentioned by Judicial Watch was that Republican Reps. David Dreier and Adam Putnam were also on that trip (Republican Leader John Boehner was originally scheduled to go as well but later withdrew). Republican members also brought their spouses on Pelosi-led delegations to Europe in 2007 and Europe and India in 2008.
In highlighting how some of these Pelosi-related trips "included members of the House Speaker's family," Judicial Watch curiously fails to mention that family members traveling on Air Force aircraft are generally required to reimburse the government for the cost of flights and food, paying the price of a coach ticket on a commercial airline. Indeed, the authorizations from Pelosi's office for members of her family to travel on CODELs make clear that the "[t]ravel is on a reimbursable basis."
Also glossed over: Pelosi's predecessor as House speaker, Republican Dennis Hastert, also authorized members to bring family members on CODELs. Indeed, the Freedom of Information Act documents Judicial Watch posted to support its attack on Pelosi bear this out -- for instance, a request by Hastert for a 2006 CODEL to Greece, India, and Vietnam shows that of the congressmen going on the trip, all but one were Republican, and all but one brought their wives, including Hastert himself.
Even though Republican Hastert arranged and went on junket-esque CODELs, and even though Republicans were on numerous CODELs arranged by Pelosi, Judicial Watch sees fit to bash only Pelosi.
This appears to be nothing more than the latest round of smearing Pelosi as a prolific abuser of the House speaker's travel privileges. That falsehood-laden accusation was debunked.
From a February 1 post at TPM Muckracker:
Interviewed on Fox just moments ago, Andrew Breitbart claimed that alleged Landrieu phone tamperer James O'Keefe "sat in jail for 28 hours without access to an attorney."
Breitbart, who has been on a public campaign defending O'Keefe, a paid contributor to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, also charged that the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisiana leaked information to the press "helping" them to frame the episode as "Watergate Junior."
Breitbart complained that after the news of the arrests broke last Tuesday, O'Keefe's attorney and Breitbart himself were being called by the media but they could not locate O'Keefe -- "and that's because he was sitting in jail without access to an attorney," Breitbart said.
He accused the U.S. attorney of leaking information to the media in a "concerted effort" to frame the episode in a way that would put O'Keefe in a bad position.
Asked by Fox's Megyn Kelly what motivation the U.S. Attorney would have to make such an effort, Breitbart responded: "Well, it's tied to the Justice Department. And we've been very aggressive in asking Eric Holder to investigate what's seen on the ACORN tapes, and he's ignored it."
Interviewed by TPMmuckraker this afternoon, Jan Mann, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said: "The suggestion that he makes about the motivations of our office are untrue. We're not going to try this case in the press. But we deny the accusations about our office."
Mann declined to comment on the claim that O'Keefe was denied access to a lawyer.
From the February 1 broadcast of Fox News' America Live:
From Andrew Breitbart's Twitter feed:
As the walls come crashing down on undercover ACORN video auteur James O'Keefe and his carefully constructed "citizen journalist" image evaporated, Andrew Breitbart clearly found himself at a moment of choosing. By all accounts, things did not look good -- his star pupil and the famous face of his newly-established online media empire had been arrested by the Feds for unlawfully entering the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu with the intent to commit a felony, and his name, mugshot, and connection to Breitbart were being plastered all over the media. Breitbart was faced with a dilemma -- what to say about the actions of his protégé?
I can't presume to know which thoughts ran through Breitbart's head as he mulled over the situation, but I'd like to think that he boiled it down to two scenarios, one reality-based, the other... well, not.
SCENARIO 1: O'Keefe, the newly-minted hero of the right-wing media, turned out to be not so much a "journalist" as an unethical, lying hack who allegedly refused to allow basic journalistic integrity or the law get in the way of his ideologically-motivated scam-jobs. The story already had legs on its own (unlawfully entering a senator's office -- allegedly -- is news in and of itself), but the coverage was fueled by O'Keefe's own notoriety, which, ironically, had been burnished by Breitbart and the other media conservatives now complaining about how much attention the story was getting.
SCENARIO 2: Attorney General Eric Holder, upon hearing that O'Keefe had been detained on bogus charges in Sen. Landrieu's New Orleans office, immediately threw together a conference call with editors from local and national newspapers. Explaining to them that he wanted to keep secret his secretly secret plans to never ever prosecute ACORN over the O'Keefe videos (even though they totally showed ACORN doing, like, all kinds of illegal stuff), Holder announced his intention to mobilize all the Justice Department's resources, in coordination with these newspapers, in a massive effort to destroy O'Keefe's reputation and maybe send him to prison for a while, even though he'd done nothing wrong. Every single newspaper editor agreed to the mission, then they crossed their hearts, hoped to die, and promised to stick a needle in their eye if they ever told anyone, and got to the business of smearing and defaming O'Keefe.
And the best part is, Breitbart's take on things, like most conspiracy theories, is immune to evidence and common sense. Of course there's no proof -- not even the slightest indication -- that Eric Holder has anything to do with O'Keefe's arrest, or that the Feds in Louisiana fed information to the media (an accusation they deny). But Breitbart insists that Holder must be involved because, well, that's the easiest way for him to continue to ignore reality. Hence, you get this wild theory about massive government corruption with the aim of destroying the reputation of one 25-year-old non-journalist.
Points for creativity. Demerits for pants-on-head stupidity.