Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative filmmaker and author charged this January with violating federal campaign finance laws, allegedly said that while he might eventually admit his guilt, he would initially plead innocent because it would give "him a window of opportunity to get his story out there." Conservative media have been happy to lend him a hand in doing so.
In January, federal prosecutors announced that D'Souza was being charged with filtering excessive campaign donations through straw donors to Republican Wendy Long, a friend of his who lost her 2012 campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. D'Souza pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to The New York Times, D'Souza's lawyer is claiming that the conservative pundit is being "targeted...because of his consistently caustic and highly publicized criticism" of President Obama. (The prosecution has called these claims "entirely without merit.") The Times also reports that prosecutors claim to have a recording made by the husband of a woman D'Souza was "involved with romantically" who was "one of the alleged straw donors." According to the woman, D'Souza said that if he were eventually charged, he might plead not guilty to help "get his story out there":
Prosecutors also said they had obtained a copy of a recording made surreptitiously last October by the husband of a woman Mr. D'Souza was involved with romantically around the time of the donations, when Mr. D'Souza was separated from his wife. In making the recording, the husband was not acting at the government's direction, prosecutors said. The woman, Denise Joseph, was one of the alleged straw donors.
Ms. Joseph was recorded as saying that Mr. D'Souza had told her that if he were charged he might plead guilty, but would initially plead not guilty because that "gives him a window of opportunity to get his story out there," the government said. Ms. Joseph had no comment, her lawyer said.
Conservative media have been crucial in helping D'Souza "get his story out there" -- his allies on Fox News, talk radio, and right-wing online outlets have loudly and repeatedly claimed that D'Souza is a victim of persecution because of his political beliefs.
The day after the indictment was announced, Matt Drudge tweeted that the charges against D'Souza and a former Republican Virginia Governor were evidence of Attorney General Eric Holder "unleashing the dogs" on "Obama critics." Rush Limbaugh saw the case as proof the Justice Department was "trying to criminalize as many Republicans and conservatives as they can." ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham announced on her radio show, "we are criminalizing political dissent in the United States of America. Welcome to the Brave New World of retribution justice."
Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones, in an alarmed video posted on Youtube with the title "Emergency: Obama Launches Purge," called the situation "like Nazi Germany."
Fox News, which has repeatedly hosted D'Souza since the indictment, reacted to the news by claiming "the left are rediscovering their inner Stalin." During an interview the week after the charges were announced, Hannity labeled D'Souza "the latest victim to be targeted by the Obama White House." Fox Nation linked to Drudge's conspiratorial tweet and a handful of other articles on conservative websites, asking their readers to "Sound Off" on whether there is a "COORDINATED, VAST LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY."
This conservative media narrative about the case has now become central to D'Souza's defense. Per the Times, the trial is "about a month away."