Peter Schweizer

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  • The Discredited Books At The Heart Of Trump's Speech

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Donald Trump cited claims from two discredited anti-Clinton books -- Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash and Gary Byrne’s Crisis of Character -- in his June 22 speech attacking Hillary Clinton. Clinton Cash is filled with errors and sloppy research, while Crisis of Character has been strongly denounced by Secret Service veterans as implausible.

  • The Breitbart Team Turned An Anti-Clinton Smear Book Into A Terrible Documentary

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The upcoming anti-Clinton documentary Clinton Cash largely rehashes the shoddily-researched conspiracies from the 2015 book on which it’s based.

    Media Matters attended a screening of the film Thursday in New York City ahead of its release. Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon – who co-wrote and co-produced the film -- were on hand to promote it to an audience that included Fox News personalities Bill Hemmer and Brian Kilmeade. 

    When the book -- which largely pushes the evidence-free claim that while serving as secretary of state, Clinton did favors for foreign entities that donated to the Clinton Foundation -- was published last year, Schweizer, a Republican activist with a history of factual problems, was criticized by Media Matters and other outlets for a series of sloppy errors. Some of the errors were later corrected in the Kindle version of the book. 

    Clinton Cash also heavily relied on innuendo in the absence of solid proof for its central allegation that the Clintons have traded favors for money. As Slate writer Jamelle Bouie put it, “Peter Schweizer’s attack on the Clintons leads with his conclusions and never connects the dots.”

    The film has many of the same factual problems. For example, a key accusation lobbed at the Clinton Foundation in the film in order to undermine the idea that it does important charitable work is the claim that only “10 percent” of its donations actually go to charity.

    Schweizer repeatedly relied on this talking point while on the Clinton Cash book tour last year, claiming that other than the 10 percent the Clinton Foundation gives to “other charitable organizations, the rest they keep for themselves.”

    But the “10 percent” statistic is deceptive -- even Fox News labeled it “incredibly misleading.” Network correspondent Eric Shawn explained in a report last year that the Clinton Foundation doesn’t “give grants to other charities. They do most of it themselves." He also cited IRS figures indicating the foundation has a "rate of spending of about 80 percent" and "experts for charity say that's very good.”

    The film uses big headlines and grainy news clips to paint the Clintons as being in the pocket of anyone who pays for a speech or donates to the Clinton Foundation, but still fails to connect the dots with substantial evidence.

    “You have money coming at certain times and then you have policy decisions that are made that affect the people that sent the money, then people are left to the question: is this all coincidence or is this a case of follow the money,” Schweizer told Media Matters after the screening. “I just don’t believe it’s coincidence.”

    The film doesn't feature interviews with sources or people with direct knowledge of the events that Clinton Cash claims prove a quid pro quo arrangement. 

    “That was intentional,” Schweizer said about the missing outside voices. “We simply wanted to narrate the stories as they came through and explain to people how it rolled out. We didn’t want it to be talking head.” 

    Following the screening, Bannon said the film is going to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, and that the producers are “in discussions with people approaching us to get this out before the [Democratic] convention.”

    Bannon added, “We may cut a TV deal with a broadcast or a cable network like Yahoo or Netflix, we are in discussion with people to get this out to a broader audience.” He later joked, “We’re open for bids right after this.”

    He said the movie “cost a couple million bucks” to make, but did not elaborate on the funding sources.

    Schweizer claimed the documentary is not designed to just throw “red meat” out to a conservative audience, instead suggesting the filmmakers are trying to dissuade people outside the Republican party from supporting Hillary Clinton. 

     “This is really designed to appeal to people in general, who may not know much about how the Clintons have operated,” Schweizer said. ”You can have a business model that says ‘let’s throw red meat out there that make a lot of money,’ or you can create a documentary film that’s designed to inform people who may not necessarily agree with your point of view and get that information out.”

    When Bannon was asked by an audience member about the reaction to the book, he turned defensive, claiming the mainstream media was ignoring the findings. He also criticized the Democratic primary debate panelists for not raising any of the issues in the debates.

    “12 to 14 debates, 35 to 40 hours of prime time debates, not one question about anything in this film,” Bannon said. “That’s an indictment on the mainstream media and that’s an indictment of everybody who had a debate.”

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has recently indicated that he plans to use the claims from Clinton Cash in a likely general election matchup with Clinton. In an interview with Breitbart News this week – where Schweizer also serves as senior editor-at-large – Trump called the Clinton Cash book “amazing” and said he is sure the movie “will be good” because of Bannon’s involvement.

    Breitbart News has faced widespread criticism over the past year for its Trump cheerleading. Last year, Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins reported that “many” people inside Breitbart “believe Trump has provided undisclosed financial backing to the outlet in exchange for glowing coverage.” (Bannon called the allegation “a lie.”)

    After the screening, Schweizer said Trump and his campaign had “zero” involvement with the film, and said that because of his role as president of the non-profit Government Accountability Institute, “we are not allowed to do that.” 

    When asked what he thought of the reaction the book got and if he was disappointed with all of the criticism, Schweizer said, “I think we got good media coverage. Some people in your organization have disagreements on some of these matters, the interpretations."

    Media Matters’ fact check of Schweizer’s book can be read here

  • TIME Calls Error-Ridden Book Clinton Cash “Heavily Researched”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    TIME magazine’s Philip Elliott misleadingly called Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash “heavily researched” in an article about the book's film adaptation, despite the book’s numerous errors and the author’s history of shoddy reporting and partisan ties.

    Schweizer’s book, which alleged supposed corruption by the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, had more than 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions and was dismissed by many media outlets and figures  -- including TIME itself -- for lacking evidence to back up its charges. Schweizer is a Republican activist and strategist with a history of faulty reporting.

    In a May 12 article, Elliott wrote that the film was based “on a heavily researched book by the same name,” and is “careful in laying out a series of facts that are mostly true, though both the book and the movie sometimes draws connections and conclusions that aren’t as solid as their evidence.” Elliott admitted the book and movie make “impossible to prove” assumptions, yet concluded that “as a work of persuasion, the movie is likely to leave on-the-fence Clinton supporters who see it feeling more unsure about casting a vote for her”:

    It would be easy to dismiss an hour-long film adaptation of Peter Schweizer’s book about the charitable-political-nonprofit complex of Bill and Hillary Clinton as nothing more than conservative propaganda. But sitting in a Manhattan screening room late Wednesday, it quickly became clear that conservatives weren’t the intended audience for Clinton Cash.

    Environmentalists. Anti-nuke activists. Gay-rights advocates. Good-government folks. They’re all going to find themselves increasingly uncomfortable over claims that the likely Democratic nominee, in the film’s words, takes cash from the “darkest, worst corners of the world.”

    The 60-minute indictment of the Clintons will soon find its way to an awful lot of televisions ahead of November’s elections. Based on a heavily researched book by the same name, Clinton Cash is careful in laying out a series of facts that are mostly true, though both the book and the movie sometimes draws connections and conclusions that aren’t as solid as their evidence.

    “When it comes to the Clintons, you have to follow the money,” Schweizer says in a rough-cut previewed for TIME.

    No doubt, there are many places where dotted lines are smudged into solid ones, and some assumptions are made where concrete evidence of quid pro quo is impossible to prove. But as a work of persuasion, the movie is likely to leave on-the-fence Clinton supporters who see it feeling more unsure about casting a vote for her. Made by the conservative Breitbart News’ executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, and director M.A. Taylor, this film rises above the traditional campaign hit job.

    [...]

    Unlike Hillary, Clinton Cash is a more narrowly focused production with a clear-cut thesis that it repeats through a litany of perceived shifty associations. One alleges that that the Clintons helped the Russian nuke agency get control of 20% of American uranium as part of a deal that involves a Canadian billionaire, Kazakhstan mining officials and Vladimir Putin. Another claims that the Clintons got into bed with African strongmen with horrendous human rights records. “Paul Kigali is a friend of Bill Clinton’s,” the film tells audiences of Rwanda’s leader and suggests the Clintons are engaging in neo-colonialism in exploiting African countries’ natural resources.

    The film also accuses Hillary Clinton of flip-flopping on the Keystone XL pipeline after an investor booked Bill Clinton for lucrative speeches. Schweizer also says Clinton’s State Department spared Sweden’s Ericsson of troubles over selling technology to Iran after it, too, booked Bill Clinton for a paid talk. The list goes on: that Bill Clinton pocketed KGB money, a mining company put Hillary brother, Tony Rodham, on its board after it won concessions.

    The individual facts are largely true and based on widely reported events and public documents. The conclusions, however, are not as cut-and-dried as the film makes them out to be when assembled together. In general, the film’s reasoning is that if one thing followed another, it was a case of cause-and-effect.

    [...]

    This is not a movie that is going to dissuade the #imwithher crowd from supporting Clinton. But it is a movie that might keep disaffected liberals at home, energize the Sanders supporters to keep up the fight even after their preferred candidate bows to reality and serve up new fodder for conservative talking heads on cable news. This isn’t a game-changing movie, but one that could keep some less enthusiastic voters on the sidelines.

  • Error-Filled Book Clinton Cash To Be Turned Into Movie For 2016 Election

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Breitbart News' Stephen K. Bannon and Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer have turned Schweizer’s error-ridden book Clinton Cash into a movie in order to "engage voters" and attack Hillary Clinton.

    According to Bloomberg News, the movie will premiere in Cannes, France in May at a screening arranged for distributors, but it will make its American debut “on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.” As Bloomberg explained, "the Clinton Cash movie is less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons”:

    But while polls suggest Trump and Sanders will have a hard time stopping [Clinton], the team behind Clinton Cash—[Peter] Schweizer and Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News—haven’t given up. They’ve turned Clinton Cash into a movie, directed by M.A. Taylor, that will premiere next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors).

    As the trailer below indicates, the Clinton Cash movie is less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons[.]

    “It’s a story that resonated with people on the printed page,” said Schweizer. “We felt we needed to look at other platforms, too. The key is to engage voters. If you look at what’s motivating Trump and Sanders fans, it’s disgust with cronyism and corruption in Washington.”

    […]

    According to Bannon, the film’s U.S. premiere will be held in Philadelphia on July 24 on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. During the first week of August, he added, it will have a limited release in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

    Media outlets -- particularly The New York Times and The Washington Post, which had exclusive editorial agreements with Schweizer -- hyped the book before its release. Fox News gave the book more than $107 million in free publicity -- before the book was even released. However, the book contained numerous false and misleading claims. Many media outlets subsequently admitted the book had little evidence to back up its claims. Schweizer, who has a history of faulty reporting, attempted to claim he was non-partisan because he was also investigating Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). The result of that effort was a 38-page e-book, which is nearly a quarter of the length of Clinton Cash.

    To read more about the 20-plus errors, fabrications, and distortions in Peter Schweizer's book, click here.

  • The NY Times' Shoddy And Sexist Attacks On Hillary Clinton

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Following former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson's acknowledgment that The New York Times gives an unfair "level of scrutiny" to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the Times' most ludicrous, false, and sexist attacks on Clinton.

  • Anti-Clinton Author Gives Up Nonpartisan Cover

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media outlets previously helped Peter Schweizer push back against criticism of his anti-Clinton book Clinton Cash by credulously reporting that he was conducting a similar investigation into former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But now that the product of his investigation has been released -- a 38-page e-book compared to The New York Times bestseller he wrote on Bill and Hillary Clinton -- Schweizer says "there's not a comparison" because the Clintons' behavior is "unprecedented." Schweizer's Clinton allegations were widely debunked.

  • Fox & Friends Revives Debunked Clinton Cash Talking Points To Attack Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Fox & Friends uncritically parroted debunked allegations made by Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash in order to falsely suggest wrong-doing at Hillary Clinton's State Department regarding the Uranium One deal that gave the Russian government ownership of U.S. uranium mines. 

    During a June 21 interview on WMUR's CloseUP with Josh McElveen, Hillary Clinton shut down Schweizer's false claims made in Clinton Cash that the former secretary of state had pushed through the Uranium One deal after the Clinton Foundation received donations from stakeholders in the deal, noting that the claims had "no basis" behind them. Peter Schweizer responded in a June 22 op-ed for The New York Post, suggesting that Clinton's interview showed "grave incompetence or brazen dishonesty" and doubling-down on his assertion of a quid pro quo in the Russian uranium deal. Schweizer called Clinton's statement "an admission of extreme executive negligence," and said it "strains credulity."

    Fox News parroted Schweizer's attacks on Clinton during the June 23 edition of Fox & Friends. Asking whether Clinton's involvement in the Uranium One deal was evidence of "incompetence" or "deceit," host Elisabeth Hasselbeck speculated that donations to the Clinton Foundation may have influenced the outcome of the deal. Reciting Schweizer's talking points, Hasselbeck called into question Clinton's statement that nine government agencies were involved in approving the deal:

    ED HENRY: As you can imagine, Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, believes that was pointed at him when she said that there was a partisan axe that was dealt here. So he's got an op-ed  in the New York Post today.

    HASSELBECK: Yeah, and it said this, quote 'The transfer of 20% of U.S. uranium -- the stuff used to build nuclear weapons -- to Vladimir Putin did not rise to the level of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's time and attention? Beyond being an admission of extreme executive negligence on an issue of utmost national security, Hillary's statement strains credulity to the breaking point for at least three other reasons.' And those three are this: at least nine of the investors who profited from that uranium deal collectively donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. Okay, one of them happened to go globe trotting with her husband and donated $100 million in pledges there. The second point that would bring up, and his third, is that Clinton said that there were nine government agencies. Okay, so she's correct in saying that who signed off on the deal. She forgets to mention that her State Department was one of the nine and happened to be the only agency whose chief, he states, received $145 million in donations from shareholders in that deal. Who, by the way, brings you back to point one -- who ended up donating to the Clinton Foundation. And by the way, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a single speech he delivered in Moscow, and she couldn't answer to that either. 

  • "Simply Wrong": Another Fact Checker Blows Up A Favorite Conservative Lie About The Clinton Foundation

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Clinton Foundation

    FactCheck.org called a common conservative myth -- that the Clinton Foundation spends only a small fraction of its money on charitable works -- "simply wrong." The flimsy statistic has made the rounds on conservative media, and was most recently repeated by Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

    The fact-checking organization noted on June 19 that Fiorina had claimed that "'so little' of the charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation 'actually go to charitable works.'" When pressed for more details, a super PAC supporting her campaign* claimed that only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue goes to charitable grants, and for the rest, "there really isn't anything that can be categorized as charitable."

    But as FactCheck.org explained, "That just isn't so. The Clinton Foundation does most of its charitable work itself." In fact, an independent philanthropy watchdog found that about 89 percent of Clinton Foundation funding goes to charity, through their in-house work. FactCheck.org concluded the false claim "amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work."

    This myth surfaced earlier this year thanks to the error-filled anti-Clinton book Clinton Cash, written by discredited Republican activist Peter Schweizer. While promoting his book in May, Schweizer repeatedly claimed the Clinton Foundation gives just "10 percent" of its budget "to other charitable organizations, the rest they keep for themselves."

    As Media Matters noted at the time, several other media figures picked up Schweizer's cherry-picked statistic. Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed "85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff." As FactCheck.org noted, Fox Business host Gerri Willis said only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue "went to help people." And on Fox News, The Five co-host Eric Bolling said that "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses."

    But even one of Bolling's Fox News colleagues called this statistic "incredibly misleading." When Fox correspondent Eric Shawn was asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the "accusation ... that there only 10 percent of the money raised -- and it's $2 billion -- goes to grants out to poor people or institutions," Shawn responded:

    That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading, because, the way the charity works, they don't give grants to other charities -- they do most of it themselves. So that, they actually have a rate of spending of about 80 percent, according to the IRS figures, they say 88 percent, you know Bill -- the experts for charity say that's very good.

    PolitiFact's PunditFact has also evaluated these claims, and found them to be "mostly false." 

    *FactCheck.org originally reported that this information came from the Fiorina campaign, but has since corrected its post to note it came from the CARLY for America super PAC. Our language has been updated accordingly.