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  • Wash. Post Fact Check: Trump’s Claim That He Has “Nothing To Do With Russia” Earns “Four Pinocchios”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that he has “nothing to do with Russia” the paper’s most severe falsehood rating: “four pinocchios.”

    Media figures questioned Trump’s relationship with Russia after he stood by “frightening” statements that he would defend NATO allies only if they “fulfill their obligations to us” and repeatedly expressed his admiration “for all things Putin-esque.” During a July 27 news conference, Trump denied that he had any financial ties to Russian government officials or investors.

    In a July 27 fact check, Kessler wrote that Trump has previously expressed “continuing interest in doing deals” with Russia but was “finding it difficult.” Kessler wrote that although “it may be possible that he has no current investments in Russia,” it is “not for lack of trying.” Kessler called Trump’s remarks “artfully deceiving” and rated Trump’s claim “four pinocchios.” Kessler wrote:

    In a news conference responding to evidence suggesting Russian agencies hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee, the GOP presidential nominee insisted that he had no business dealings in Russia — with one single exception.

    As he put it: “What do I have to do with Russia? … I bought [a Palm Beach, FL,] house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian. … I guess probably I sell condos to Russians, okay?” 

    [...]

    But there is other evidence that shows a continuing interest in doing deals not only with Russian real estate buyers, but deals in Russia. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” [Donald] Trump said in a 2007 deposition. “We will be in Moscow at some point,” he said.

    There is some evidence that Trump’s interest in doing business in Russia is unrequited. In 1987, he went to Moscow to find a site for [a] luxury hotel; no deal emerged. In 1996, he sought to build a condominium complex in Russia; that also did not succeed. In 2005, Trump signed a one-year deal with a New York development company to explore a Trump Tower in Moscow, but the effort fizzled.

    In a 2008 speech, Trump’s son, Donald Jr., made it clear that the Trumps want to do business in Russia, but were finding it difficult.

    [...]

    Trump’s remarks are artfully deceiving. He says he had nothing to do with Russia, pointing only to a Florida real estate sale. It may be possible that he has no current investments in Russia, but not for lack of trying.

  • By Shutting Out Pro-Choice Leaders In Convention Coverage, Cable News Feeds Abortion Stigma

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Cable news outlets effectively silenced the voices of pro-choice leaders by showing only a small part -- if any -- of their speeches at the Democratic National Convention. In doing so, networks fed the stigma around abortion, which is already prevalent in the media, and thereby contributed to anti-choice misinformation, which can manifest itself in dangerous laws closing abortion clinics and even violence.

    Fox News ignored Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards’ July 26 speech at the Democratic National Convention entirely, while CNN played a portion of it and MSNBC ran part of the speech in the corner of the screen with commercials over it, so viewers could not hear her words. Fox also ignored NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue’s July 27 speech at the convention, while CNN and MSNBC showed convention scenes while she was speaking during commercials and panel discussions, but included no audio of Hogue’s speech and did not indicate that Hogue was speaking.

    Media have pointed out that the speeches were both groundbreaking. Richards was the first speaker to mention the word “abortion” on the convention stage so far this year. Hogue “broke new ground,” according to Yahoo News, by discussing her decision to have an abortion.

    Networks’ reluctance to air the speeches feeds into existing abortion stigma, which can be defined as “a shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable.” One of the main manifestations of abortion stigma is “personal and cultural silence around abortion.” Silencing those who publicly discuss abortion or share their own abortion stories is a way of feeding that stigma.

    Media are no strangers to abortion stigma, which can take many forms in the news, including use of misleading b-roll footage of babies during news segments about abortion. Media figures also reinforce the idea that abortion is a risky and cruel procedure by parroting conservative talking points while discussing anti-choice regulations on abortion clinics. Hollywood is also guilty of feeding stigma about abortion, by not treating it like the “routine medical procedure” that it is.

    Abortion stigma’s prevalence in the media can be extremely dangerous because it leaves room for misinformation about the procedure, which is all too common. Lawmakers have adopted abortion myths and misinformation to promote anti-choice legislation and TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws, and these mistaken concepts even made their way to the Supreme Court. Even more dangerously, some anti-choice extremists use misinformation surrounding abortion to justify violence against providers. A series of videos attacking Planned Parenthood by the anti-choice group the Center for Medical Progress precipitated a ninefold increase in anti-choice violence.

    Abortion stigma is dangerous to women. By silencing the voices of pro-choice leaders, media are complicit.

  • Charlotte Observer Calls Out North Carolina GOP For Attacking Tim Kaine’s Pin Honoring His Marine Son

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Charlotte Observer called out North Carolina's Republican party after its official Twitter account tweeted that it was “shameful” for Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D-VA) to wear a “Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American Flag.”

    Throughout the convention, conservative media have tried to paint Democrats as unpatriotic by inaccurately accusing them of failing to displaying American flags on the stage and for not mentioning ISIS on the opening night of the convention. Right-wing media also specifically targeted Kaine's use of Spanish during his speech, mocking his accent and questioning if he was actually fluent in the language.

    The July 28 Observer article noted that the North Carolina GOP inaccurately tweeted that Kaine was wearing a “Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag.” However, WNYT reporter Ben Amey was quick to point out that Kaine’s pin was a “Blue Star Service pin for his son, who’s a deployed Marine.” The North Carolina GOP account replied, thanking Amey “for letting us correct our mistake,” but failed to apologize to Kaine for the error. From The Charlotte Observer:

    When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

    “[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”

    There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.

    Ben Amey, a reporter for WNYT, caught their mistake:

    Kaine’s son, 1st Lt. Nathaniel Kaine, is an infantry officer serving with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, who deployed to Eastern Europe shortly after his father was named Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

    In his first public speech after being named her vice presidential candidate, Kaine had referenced his pride for his son and the impending deployment.

    “He is a proud Marine, and in just a few days he’s deploying to Europe to uphold America’s commitment to our NATO allies,” Kaine said in the speech. “For me, this drives home the stakes in this election.”

    The person behind the Twitter account thanked Amey for alerting them to the mistake in a reply after deleting the tweet, but did not apologize to Kaine for the error. 

  • Trump War On Media Continues: Wash. Post Reporter Patted Down By Police And Barred From Entering Pence Rally

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    According to The Washington Post, one of the paper’s reporters, Jose A. DelReal, was “was barred from entering” a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) after being “patted down by police.”

    Trump and his campaign have waged a war on the media, which has included promising to “open up our libel laws” to more easily sue news outlets, threatening to retaliate against media outlets with the power of government agencies, issuing personal insults against journalists, and repeatedly suing or threatening to sue media figures. Trump has also shut out Hispanic media, giving only one interview to a Hispanic media network since announcing his candidacy, and revoked press credentials for various outlets, including The Washington Post. Most recently, journalists at the Republican convention expressed concern that Trump’s treatment of journalists show he is a “dictator-in-waiting.”

    In the July 28 article, Post reporter Paul Farhi recounted how DelReal “was barred from entering the venue [of Pence’s campaign event] after security staffers summoned local police to pat him down in a search for his cellphone":

    At Pence’s first public event since he was introduced as the Republican vice-presidential candidate two weeks ago, a Post reporter was barred from entering the venue after security staffers summoned local police to pat him down in a search for his cellphone.

    Pence’s campaign expressed embarrassment and regret about the episode, which an official blamed on overzealous campaign volunteers.

    Post reporter Jose A. DelReal sought to cover Pence’s rally at the Waukesha County Exposition Center outside Milwaukee, but he was turned down for a credential beforehand by volunteers at a press check-in table.

    DelReal then tried to enter via the general-admission line, as Post reporters have done without incident since Trump last month banned the newspaper from his events. He was stopped there by a private security official who told him he couldn’t enter the building with his laptop and cellphone. When DelReal asked whether others attending the rally could enter with their cellphones, he said the unidentified official replied, “Not if they work for The Washington Post.”

    After placing his computer and phone in his car, DelReal returned to the line and was detained again by security personnel, who summoned two county sheriff’s deputies. The officers patted down DelReal’s legs and torso, seeking his phone, the reporter said.

    When the officers — whom DelReal identified as Deputy John Lappley and Capt. Michelle Larsuel — verified that he wasn’t carrying a phone, the reporter asked to be admitted. The security person declined. “He said, ‘I don’t want you here. You have to go,’ ” DelReal said.

    [...]

    The incident involving DelReal marks another in a series of run-ins between the news media and the campaign.

    In June, Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger was ejected from a Trump event in San Jose by a campaign staffer and a private security guard after he tried to cover the rally without the campaign’s permission. In February, a photojournalist from Time magazine, Christopher Morris, was roughed up by a Secret Service agent as journalists rushed to cover a protest at one of his rallies. And Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, yanked and bruised the arm of a reporter for Breitbart News, Michelle Fields, when she tried to question Trump after a speech in March.

  • Houston Press: “Why The Dropped Charges Against The Anti-Abortion Activists Is Not A ‘Vindication’” Of Their Claims

    CMP’s Indictment For Actions Taken During Its Campaign Against Planned Parenthood Was Dismissed On A Technicality

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In January, a grand jury in Harris County, TX, indicted Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden and associate Sandra Merritt on a felony count for “tampering with a governmental record” as well as on a separate misdemeanor charge for “illegally offer[ing] to purchase human organs.”

    Daleiden and Merritt were accused of using fake California driver’s licenses in order to gain access to a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Houston. They used the access to secretly film inside and later release a deceptively edited video alleging Planned Parenthood employees were involved in the illegal sale of donated fetal tissue. A judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge in June on a technicality regarding “language left out of the original indictment.” The judge wrote that the indictment “does not include both that Daleiden intended to buy, sell or acquire human organs in violation of the law, and that he isn’t subject to a legal exception that allows medical entities to recoup expenses for obtaining or transporting organs.”

    On July 26, prosecutors moved to drop the felony counts against Daleiden and Merritt, citing the “limits” to what evidence a grand jury can investigate after being granted an extension order.

    The Houston Press’ Meagan Flynn reports in an article headlined "Why The Dropped Charges Against The Anti-Abortion Activists Is Not A 'Vindication'" that the case was not dismissed because of arguments about Daleiden’s “First Amendment” rights, as he has proclaimed, but rather on narrow, and somewhat unusual, technical grounds. From the Houston Press (emphasis original):

    Almost immediately after prosecutors decided, abruptly, to drop charges against the anti-abortion activists who infiltrated a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston using fake IDs, conservatives pro-lifers were calling it a "vindication." Even though the charges were dropped because of technicalities.

    […]

    When a Harris County grand jury investigated the case, it cleared Planned Parenthood entirely and instead indicted Daleiden and Merritt in January for their shady tactics, prompting outrage from conservatives across the country. The Center For Medical Progress, the group the activists really worked for, said in a statement: "The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press."

    When the Harris County District Attorney's Office let them off the hook not because of the merits of the case, but because of technical procedural issues, supporters of Merritt and Daleiden considered it a validation of their defense. After the hearing, Daleiden told reporters, "I'm glad the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists have been vindicated today." (To be clear, all journalists learn in J-school 101 that using fake IDs to "go undercover" will land you jail time, not a Pulitzer, which we discussed with a law professor in January.)

    Melissa Hamilton, a visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston Law School, said that this case "isn't a vindication for anybody." And, she said, what's strange about this entire case is that the technicalities used to drop both Daleiden's solicitation of the sale of fetal tissue charge and the tampering with government records charges are rarely ever seen. "Cases are dropped all the time for procedural issues—but not these," she said.

     
  • NY Times: After Ailes’ Departure, An “Icy” Split Inside Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times reported that following the departure of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit, “there is a continuing split inside the network” between “one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are defending Ailes -- and are “resentful” toward those “cooperating with lawyers” -- and “another contingent” who are “dismayed” by Ailes’ defenders.  

    Earlier this month, former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit that alleged Roger Ailes fired her from the network after she declined his sexual advances. Since Carlson’s lawsuit, an additional 25 women came forward to make similar claims, including Fox host Megyn Kelly. On July 19, media reported that Ailes would leave Fox News as a result of the allegations, which has created a rift within the network that Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz called “painful and embarrassing.”

    In a July 27 article, Times reporters Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Steel, reported that “nearly a dozen Fox News employees” described an “icy” atmosphere amid the “continuing split inside the network.” The explained the split as between two camps. One of which is a “camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are upset at Ailes’ “ouster” and are “resentful toward [network anchor Megyn] Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.” The other is “dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment.” From the article: 

    The Fox News skybox here turns into a hive of activity as the network’s star anchors analyze the Democratic National Convention for millions of viewers.

    When the cameras blink off, however, the banter has been replaced by something rarely heard in the television news business: silence.

    Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

    Even as Fox News goes about broadcasting as usual, scoring its highest convention ratings in 20 years, interviews this week with network employees show an organization grappling with internal division after the abrupt exit of Roger Ailes, the once-omnipotent chairman at the center of a sexual harassment investigation.

    Nearly a dozen Fox News employees, who work in front of and behind the camera, were granted anonymity to speak candidly about highly sensitive matters inside a network where privacy is still prized.

    The hosts’ on-set interactions have improved slightly since last week’s shows at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which were broadcast immediately after Mr. Ailes’s departure.

    Still, employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.

  • Wash. Post: Roger Ailes’ "Offensive Style Of Broadcasting” On Display With O’Reilly’s Meltdown Over Slavery

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post journalist Erik Wemple hammered Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly for defending his comments that slaves who built the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodgings,” lambasting both his “offensive” remarks and the “gap” between “historical fact” and O’Reilly’s assertions.

    On July 26, O’Reilly responded to Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention Speech, where the first lady paid homage to the slaves who helped build the White House, by inexplicably adding that they were “well-fed and had decent lodgings by the government.” The media widely criticized O’Reilly’s “morally bankrupt” comments.

    O’Reilly, who has a long and sordid history of racist attacks, responded to the media criticism by doubling down, saying on July 27 that his “commentary” was “100 percent accurate” and “fact.”

    Washington Post’s Erik Wemple excoriated O’Reilly, noting that his remarks fit right in line with the “offensive style of broadcasting” that thrived under recently ousted former Fox President, Roger Ailes. Wemple noted that historians roundly criticized O’Reilly’s false claims, explaining that the real conditions of slaves were unknown because “slaves were not given a choice on what they ate or where they lived.” Wemple added that O’Reilly reached new “extremes” by lashing out at the “far left” and calling for his entire network “to band together … to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network” because “they want me dead.” From the July 28 Washington Post article:

    Well, it’s been a week since Ailes left, and his offensive style of broadcasting lives on. On Wednesday night, host Bill O’Reilly took to the network’s airwaves to attempt a defense of his comments of last night regarding first lady Michelle Obama’s Monday night speech here at the Democratic National Convention. She said, in part, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

    [...]

    As the Erik Wemple Blog pointed out this morning, Jesse J. Holland, who wrote the book on slaves and the White House, noted that the slaves were housed in a barn and were provided with food. Yet there’s a gap between that historical fact and what O’Reilly alleged, which, again, is that they were “well fed” and resided in “decent lodgings.”

    [...]

    Information scarcity notwithstanding, O’Reilly stands by his conclusions about well-fed-decent-lodgings. At this point, it’s incumbent on him to substantiate these judgments or concede that he’s making them without supporting documentation — a common malaise on certain Fox News programs. A smaller point pertains to O’Reilly’s sudden and complete faith in the ability of government to provide sustenance and accommodations for its people. Why does this guy, a small government proponent, all of a sudden think that the public sector can perform such programs with such efficiency?

    [...]

    Further evidence that O’Reilly has reached new extremes emerged in this comment: “I think the time has come now where this whole network is going to have to band together — all of us — and we are going to have to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network by using lies and deception and propaganda. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name because that’s how bad it’s become.” What O’Reilly failed to mention is that the sexual harassment scandal of his former boss — Ailes — is doing far more to destroy Fox News than could any outside critic.

  • Fox News Completely Ignores Convention Speech By Mother Whose Son Was Killed In Orlando Massacre

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    As CNN and MSNBC aired a moving speech from Christine Leinonen, a mother whose son was killed at the Orlando, FL, massacre at a gay nightclub, during the Democratic National Convention, Fox News completely ignored the appearance, instead holding a panel discussion about inner city poverty and Donald Trump’s appeal to disaffected voters.

    On July 27, Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher "Drew" Leinonen, a victim in the hate crime massacre at the Pulse Nightclub, spoke onstage at the Democratic National Convention to advocate for common sense gun safety laws, endorse Hillary Clinton, and memorialize her son. Leinonen lamented the lack of “common sense” gun safety laws prohibiting the sale of assault weapons in her speech. Both CNN and MSNBC aired Leinonen’s full remarks:

    On Fox News, an outlet that has brought lies and fearmongering to the debate over gun safety and shamed victims of the Orlando massacre for not fighting back, the appearance went unmentioned:

  • Forbes Highlights Roger Ailes’ Use Of “Sex Appeal” And “Objectification Of Women” To Boost Fox News’ Ratings

    Forbes, Citing Former Fox Anchor, Reports Ailes Stipulated Female Contributor “Remain A Size Four”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News president Roger Ailes exploited female employees' “sex appeal” and instituted a “culture of objectification of women” to boost ratings, according to Forbes. Reportedly among the “sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes” was a condition in a female Fox contributor's contract that “required her to remain a size four.”

    Ailes had a long and sordid history of rampant sexism and misogyny during his time as Fox News’ chief. Since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, dozens of women have reportedly come forward to make claims of similar harassment.

    Amid fallout from the allegations and Ailes’ ouster, media reports unearthed a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation at Fox that went beyond Ailes and suggested a “broader problem in the workplace.”

    Forbes’ Madeline Berg, citing “former Fox employees,” wrote that Ailes “fostered” a “sexually charged culture” at Fox News that rested upon the “objectification of women” and “sex appeal.” Ailes frequently relied on showing “a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk” as a “formula for boosting ratings,” according to the article. Berg quoted a “former anchor” who said a female contributor “claimed her contract required her to remain a size four,” and a "former producer" who said "skirts were a 'requirement'" for female employees. From the July 27 Forbes article:

    These “second floor” recommendations reflect one of many examples of the sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes at Fox News and Fox Business News, the two networks he created and ran for the parent company 21st Century Fox.

    Following a lawsuit filed against Ailes earlier this month by former anchor Gretchen Carlson alleging sexual harassment and retaliation, FORBES spoke to a number of former Fox employees to get a sense of what went on behind the scenes during the Ailes era.

    21st Century Fox declined to comment on the story. Representatives for Ailes did not respond to requests for comments. But the former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described a culture of objectification of women and an unwillingness to stand up to superiors, including the authoritarian and god-like Ailes, who earned an extraordinary degree of autonomy from his notoriously hands-on boss, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, due to the unprecedented success he brought to 21st Century Fox.

    [...]

    One part of Ailes’ formula for boosting ratings: sex appeal.

    A look at almost any show on the network often shows a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk.

    [...]

    A former anchor recalled a contributor who claimed her contract required her to remain a size four—very thin, especially considering she was 5’9’’.

    And a former contributor and guest host said that he even knew female anchors who chose to wore (sic) waterbras to enhance their cleavage due to pressure to look a certain way.

  • Wash. Post’s Dana Milbank: Trump Loves Conspiracies Until They Involve Him

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy he doesn’t like -- one that involves himself.

    Milbank’s column noted reports that security experts say Russian hackers are behind the publication of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails on the night before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The timing and sourcing of the email dump led media to question whether Russian officials were attempting to influence United States elections and whether Trump had any connections to Russian officials that may have played a role in the hack.

    Trump has a well-documented history of invoking and encouraging conspiracy theories, claiming a “fix” was in when the FBI decided not to indict Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, suggesting President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists and not an American citizen, and claiming the suicide of a Clinton aide was “very fishy.” Trump has also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who believes the government coordinated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that a New World Order plans to exterminate 80 percent of the world.

    In the July 26 article, Milbank wrote that despite engaging in theories that “President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination,” Trump is "conspicuously incurious" about suggestions that he is working with Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election. If Clinton were in Trump’s position, Milbank wrote, “it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin.” From the Milbank column:

    Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

    He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

    But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

    The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banks, gets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

    [...]

    If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

    He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case.