Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they are charging conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza with violating campaign finance laws. D'Souza has been a mainstay in the conservative media for years, and his outlandish theories have received heavy promotion from outlets like Fox News and prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh.
Reuters reports that D'Souza "has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate," allegedly reimbursing "people who he had directed to contribute $20,000" to the unnamed candidate.
D'Souza made waves during the 2012 presidential election thanks to 2016: Obama's America, a shoddy "documentary" he made smearing the president as "anti-American." Though the movie was filled with nonsensical theories and inaccuracies, it became a surprise box office success thanks in no small part to hype by conservative media outlets.
Fox News and Fox Business repeatedly went to bat for D'Souza's movie, hosting him at least five times in the run-up to its wide release. (To give a sample of the tone of the segments, Lou Dobbs told his audience, "We've got a much better fate awaiting us if we just will simply awaken to what Dinesh is revealing in the wonderful movie, '2016,' August 10.")
In 2010, D'Souza was at the center of a firestorm for penning an article for Forbes magazine arguing that President Obama is animated by an "anticolonial" worldview imprinted on him by his father. In keeping with his usual scholarship, D'Souza's anticolonial theory was utter nonsense, but was nonetheless widely championed by major conservatives, including then-Fox contributor and soon-to-be presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, then-Fox host Glenn Beck (repeatedly), and Rush Limbaugh.
Though he has seemingly kept a somewhat lower profile recently, D'Souza is -- or at least was -- reportedly working on a sequel to Obama's America to release this year.
While it remains to be seen how D'Souza's conservative media allies will handle his indictment, Matt Drudge is already getting the conspiracy theory ball rolling, claiming the charges are evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder is "unleashing the dogs" on Obama critics.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Right-wing media have insisted that President Obama is a failure because the unemployment rate has been higher than it was when President Obama took office. Now that this is no longer true, Fox is suggesting that people look at different employment statistics to judge Obama.
The latest jobs report found that the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, the same rate Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009. Before the latest report, conservative media harped on the fact that the unemployment rate was higher than it was at the beginning of 2009.
Before today's report, right-wing media had said that Obama needs to be judged on the unemployment number. For instance, in September, conservative author Dinesh D'Souza said on Fox: "Unemployment when he came in, 7.8 percent. We are not saying it should be 2 percent, but it's higher than it was four years ago. Despite all the money and bailouts and the stimulus, Obama needs to be judged on his record."
Other conservative media figures have been highlighting the same number, including Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade who claimed that the Obama campaign slogan, "Forward," was not appropriate in part because "the jobless rate is now up to 8.2" percent as compared to 7.8 percent when he took office.
But now that this talking point no longer works, Fox's Stuart Varney and Charles Payne moved the goal posts. They said Obama should be judged on a different statistic: the labor participation rate, which is a measure of the labor force as a percentage of the population.
From the September 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Last night, responding to attacks on the American embassy in Egypt and consulate in Libya in which the ambassador to Libya and several other Americans were killed, Mitt Romney released a statement slamming President Obama for "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks." Romney was referencing a statement put out by the embassy in Egypt before the attacks which condemned an anti-Islam film that was the pretext for riots in Cairo and Benghazi.
Foreign policy experts (Republicans among them) have criticized Romney's timing and journalists have pointed out that the attack itself "does not stand up to simple chronology." But the content of the message -- that the president is sympathetic to people who attack and kill Americans -- is noteworthy in that it is a direct echo of the fevered and inflammatory smears aimed at the president by fringe elements of the right-wing media.
Indeed, Romney's statement was almost a word-for-word rehash of an accusation leveled against Obama by Dinesh D'Souza in his documentary film, 2016: Obama's America -- a slipshod, pseudo-intellectual smear job that's drawn condemnation from across the ideological spectrum. In the film, D'Souza argues that Obama inherited a "Third World collectivist" worldview from his deceased father that he is secretly implementing in order to reduce America's global stature, which leads the president to be "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis" captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is obvious nonsense, given the administration's record on terrorism, but it appeals to the slice of the population that already believe that Obama is foreign and dangerous and a threat to the country. This inflammatory gibberish -- along with the long-standing canard that the president constantly "apologizes for America" -- has risen all the way from the right-wing fever swamp and is now animating high-level Republican political strategy on foreign policy.
It's a jarring reminder that the fringe, while not always visible, has a distressingly high amount of influence on national politics.
This past weekend I went to see 2016: Obama's America, the new documentary by right-wing author Dinesh D'Souza that opened nationwide after a limited release last month. I saw it twice, in fact, in two different theaters and chatted with a few fellow movie-goers to get their impressions of the film. And even though 2016 is rife with basic factual errors and logical inconsistencies, and steps on its own anti-Obama message with moments of unintentional comedy, the faithful that the movie preaches to love it, warts and all.
The most charitable thing I can say about 2016 is that it's poorly timed. The movie argues that President Obama's true ideology (inherited from his absentee father) is a "failed Third-World collectivism" that seeks to reduce America's stature in the world, as evidenced (in part) by Obama's determination to "lower NASA's horizons" so that it no longer exists as a symbol of American greatness. And this might be a compelling argument had NASA not just successfully deposited a Volkswagen-sized robot with a rock-vaporizing laser on the surface of Mars a few weeks ago.
Similarly, D'Souza's film argues that this "Third-World anti-American" viewpoint of the president's leads him to be "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis" captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, outside the movie theaters, news broke this weekend of an air strike that killed a senior Taliban official in Pakistan. (The obvious counterexample, Osama bin Laden's demise, doesn't merit mention in the film)
But again, to merely point out these untimely real-world inconsistencies is to do this movie a favor. 2016 is an outgrowth of D'Souza's 2010 book, The Roots Of Obama's Rage, a controversial and much-derided tome in which D'Souza laid out his hypothesis that Obama's actions are best explained by the aforementioned "collectivist" worldview he inherited from Barack Obama Sr. As Slate's Dave Weigel pointed out after viewing the movie's July premier, some of the blatantly false and risible elements of Roots didn't make it into 2016, but there's still plenty of nonsense to fill out an 89-minute documentary.
Conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza appeared on Fox & Friends to hype his latest book and companion feature-length movie spreading myths about President Obama. During his appearance, D'Souza pushed the falsehoods that Obama spent a decade as a "close buddy" of Bill Ayers and that Obama went on an international "apology tour" for America.
It's not surprising that D'Souza would be pushing falsehoods about Obama. After all, D'Souza explained during his Fox appearance that the thesis of his new book and movie is that Obama has some sort of "anti-colonial" world view, handed down to him by his father and mentors, that acts as the motivation behind his actions and policies as president. It is just another form of birtherism, albeit a more highbrow variety of the ongoing conservative conspiracy theory.
Moreover, D'Souza's anti-colonial theory rest on a long series of falsehoods about Obama such as the claims that "Obama launched" the TARP program, that Obama started going by his given name Barack to adopt his father's "African identity," and that Obama supported the release of a Lockerbie bomber from Scottish prison.
But none of these falsehoods mattered to Fox, which aired a clip from D'Souza's movie and complained that "the Hollywood left" was attacking the movie as "feature-length Obama hate."
The marketing materials for the upcoming film 2016: Obama's America claim that it "takes audiences on a gripping visual journey into the heart of the world's most powerful office to reveal the struggle of whether one man's past will redefine America over the next four years." If the movie is anything like its source material, we can expect it will be a mostly fraudulent journey.
The movie is based on Dinesh D'Souza's book The Roots Of Obama's Rage, which received high praise from people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, neither of whom have shown any qualms about promoting outright lies, distortions, and outlandish claims in the past.
The New York Times reports that the film is partially financed by billionaire investor Joe Ricketts, who previously considered financing a multimillion dollar political ad campaign linking the racially charged rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright to President Obama.
From the October 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
In place of Glenn Beck, Fox News ran a special by John Stossel on "What's Great About America." When it became clear that the special would include a segment on race relations, we had some fear.
After all, Stossel has called for repeal of the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits hotels and restaurants from discriminating on the basis of race. He has attacked the government for apologizing for widespread discrimination by the Department of Agriculture. He has mocked affirmative action programs by holding an "affirmative action bake sale" in which members of different races are charged different prices for baked goods. He has even suggested that employers should be allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities.
And our fears were not unjustified. After disclaimers about our nation's troubling racial past, Stossel pointed out that we have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow. He also pointed out that race riots have recently occurred in other countries. He then said: "America has done remarkably well. Racial mixing is normal. One poll found that 80 percent of Americans say they have a close friend of another race."
Unmentioned by Stossel was the fact that a poll by the Democratic-leaning company Public Policy Polling found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal, compared to just 40 percent who think it should be legal. Thus, while interracial marriage has been legal across the land for more than 40 years, it is still not acceptable everywhere.
From the July 1 Fox News special What's Great About America with John Stossel:
Loading the player reg...
A couple of weeks ago, as I was reading Dinesh D'Souza's new book The Roots of Obama's Rage, I took a quick break from the merciless punishment it was inflicting on my logic centers to poke some fun at one of the more risible claims D'Souza makes -- that Obama wants to rein in NASA to prevent the realization of 19th-century British colonial magnate Cecil Rhodes' dream of colonizing space.
Yeah, he actually wrote that.
I had my fun mocking it and then got back to dismantling the rest of the ridiculous book, not really expecting the space colonization argument to pop up anywhere else.
But yesterday the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed by D'Souza titled: "Is Obama trying to 'decolonize' space?" At first I laughed, but then the realization sank in that not only had D'Souza revisited the space decolonization argument, but he made it the focus of an entire op-ed, and a mainstream newspaper agreed to publish this op-ed aware that the person who wrote it was earnestly arguing that the President of the United States wants to "decolonize" outer space in accordance with the ideology he inherited from the father he met only once as a young child.
D'Souza's theory has been discredited more times than should be necessary and slammed from both sides of the political spectrum as nativist garbage. And it's absolutely staggering that this dishonest, intellectually vacant, and on-its-face absurd rubbish has been published in two mainstream papers: first the Washington Post, and now the Christian Science Monitor.
Newspapers have an obligation to keep their readers informed, and publishing op-eds on the secret presidential plan to protect Mars from American colonial interests definitely runs counter to that goal.
From the October 10 edition of CNN'S Reliable Sources:
Loading the player reg...
My colleague Ben Dimiero has already laid out the many reasons why the Washington Post looks ridiculous by publishing Dinesh D'Souza's op-ed on President Obama's "anti-colonial" ideology (the theme of D'Souza's new, lie-filled book), but I'd like to kick in a couple more.
First, the Post isn't the only media outlet to feature D'Souza today. WorldNetDaily, the internet's buzzing hive of birtherism, published their fawning interview with D'Souza this morning, wholeheartedly endorsing his "anti-colonial" theory, which amounts to a sort of high-brow birtherism. So in publishing D'Souza, the Post has found some common ground with a website that credulously reported the "smoking gun" of Obama's (fake) Kenyan birth certificate.
Second, Howard Kurtz, the Post media critic who just defected to the Daily Beast, criticized the paper on Twitter this morning, asking why the paper would "run a condensed version of Dinesh D'Souza's Forbes piece, abetting [the] discredited argument that Obama's dad made him anticolonial?"
It's a good question, and there really is no good answer.
A couple of weeks ago, Forbes published a falsehood-ridden cover story from pseudo-intellectual hatchet man Dinesh D'Souza about Barack Obama's supposed "anti-colonial" worldview. Though D'Souza's theory drew praise from people like Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, the article became an embarrassment for Forbes. After the publication initially defended the piece by laughably claiming that it's "facts" were not in contention (they were), the fact-checker they tasked with vetting the article -- after it had already been published -- turned up inaccuracies and the magazine was impelled to issue a correction.
The article drew criticism from, among many others, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Forbes columnist Shikha Dalmia, who ripped D'Souza's "intellectual goofiness," "factual problems," and "unsubstantiated ideological accusations."
Apparently not content to sit idly by while Forbes took the lion's share of embarrassment for promoting baseless smears of the president, the Washington Post decided to give D'Souza a platform in their paper this morning to explain "Why Barack Obama is an anti-colonialist." As we detailed this week, D'Souza's new book laying out this theory is filled with absurd leaps of logic, baseless accusations, and outright lies. Why, after D'Souza's lies have already been exposed and another publication already got burned by his serial mendacity, did the Post think it was a good idea to give him space to misinform their readers?
Last year, after the Post gave Sarah Palin column space to spread numerous falsehoods about climate science, op-ed editor Autumn Brewington defended the decision to publish the op-ed because Palin "is someone who stirs discussion and we are in the business of putting out opinion." Essentially, the Post argued that they are content to publish garbage, as long as you'll click on it.
While this D'Souza op-ed is sure to "stir discussion," that discussion is likely going to focus on the lack of standards at the Post and the ongoing trainwreck that is their op-ed page. Is that really the type of discussion they want to have?