Friday, May 13, 2016
Consider the source, people
This piece by Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast about the coming Trump slime fest is worth reading just to get a little background on the tabloid scandal industry that's very close to him and is clearly already feeding him his "oppo." The mainstream press has never been diligent in calling this out so it's important that people read this an understand where it's coming from. This is just an excerpt so you need to click over for the rest:
[T]he most colorful subgenre of Clinton literature is the conspiracy scrapbook. These books tend to differ from books that merely tear them down (think Christopher Hitchens’s No One Left To Lie To, 1999). The reporting is questionable, the writing is bad, and the contempt the author(s) has for the subject overshadows the story they’re trying to tell.
Since 2005, four prominent texts that fall into this category have been published by Stone, Morrow, and Klein: The Truth About Hillary (Klein, 2005); Blood Feud: The Clintons v The Obamas (Klein, 2014); Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary (Klein, 2015); and The Clintons’ War On Women (Stone and Morrow, 2015).
And what an eclectic crew the three authors are.
Stone, 64, is the white-haired, body-building, fashion-obsessed, sex-club-visiting former aide to Richard Nixon with a portrait of Nixon’s face tattooed between his shoulderblades. Stone was introduced to Trump in the 1970s by Roy Cohn, Sen. Joe McCarthy’s legal counsel, who mentored Trump politically. Stone remained in Trump’s orbit over the decades, advising him informally, before joining his presidential campaign in 2015. He left in August amid staff infighting (he butted heads, in particular, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), but he returned to the inner circle when Trump hired Paul Manafort, who’d been his partner at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a lobbying firm in D.C. that they started in the early 1980s.
For his first (and so far only) book about the Clintons, Stone enlisted Morrow—whose résumé has far fewer traditional bulletpoints than his own—for help.
Morrow, 51, is a towering and disheveled presence who dresses like a math teacher who’s fallen on hard times.
He lives in Austin, Texas, and serves, much to the ire of the Travis County GOP, as the chairman of the Travis County GOP. He survives on an inheritance, and when he’s not rating anime porn on a scale of 1 to 10 on Twitter, he devotes his every waking moment to uncovering and perpetuating information—most of it highly questionable, to put it politely—about public officials.
He spent much of 2011 campaigning against Rick Perry, who he called “a rampaging bisexual adulterer.” He even ran an ad against him that asked, “HAVE YOU HAD SEX WITH RICK PERRY? ARE YOU A STRIPPER, AN ESCORT, OR JUST A ‘YOUNG HOTTIE’ IMPRESSED BY AN ARROGANT, ENTITLED GOVERNOR OF TEXAS?” He provided a phone number and email address where such people could reach him to get their stories out.
Morrow, interestingly, hates Trump. He’s a Ron Paul devotee who campaigned—and volunteered in Iowa—for Rand Paul before switching over to support Ted Cruz. Now he likes Gary Johnson, the libertarian. But he’s happy to see his work being put to use to destroy Clinton, regardless of how he feels about Trump.
“Here’s the key point,” he said, “Donald Trump didn’t murder 76 innocents at Waco in 1993, and Hillary did.”
He thinks Trump is awful—“a narcissistic, pathological, lying psychopath who says that he wants to torture the enemy and commit war crimes against their families”—but, he reasons, “the future we do not know but the past we know for certain.” And the past, as Morrow understands it, is full of Clinton’s sins.
The parts of The Clintons’ War On Women that are written coherently are hard to put down. Imagine a special edition of the National Enquirer that ran several hundred pages long and focused solely on the Clintons—that’s sort of what it’s like.
Stone and Morrow harp on what they say is Bill’s relentless coke habit, dazzling with tales of him snorting lines as the Arkansas attorney general and then in the governor’s mansion. They wink-wink for a never-ending chapter on his association with Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire pedophile, but they never outright allege Bill engaged in pedophilia himself on any of his “eighteen” trips on Epstein’s private plane, which is “known as the ‘Lolita Express.’” (Trump, too, knows Epstein—he even dined at his house).
Unlike Stone and Morrow, Klein’s… eccentricities… aren’t apparent on the surface. He doesn’t have a Twitter account where he ranks anime “boobies” like Morrow and he’s never posed for a photoshoot dressed up as the Joker from Batman like Stone. Without reading any of his work, you might think Klein is your average veteran reporter. Just a nice 79-year-old guy with a friendly demeanor on the phone, probably somebody’s grandpa.
In conversation, he’s quick to note his long history in the news business writing for and editing reputable publications—not to boast, he says, but just for context. He started out at the New York Daily News, moved onto Newsweek, then The New York Times, and finally The New York Times Magazine, which he edited and, his biography brags, received a Pulitzer during his reign. He’s maintained what he says is not a friendship, but a reporter-source relationship, with Trump for decades. Earlier this month, they had lunch together.
Klein started writing books in the mid-’90s and, he told me, began researching Clinton around 2003. Over the last 13 years (and three Clinton books), he said, he’s developed countless sources—some of whom he’s interviewed more than 70 times.
This all sounds great and credible until you read what they allegedly told him.
The beginning of Unlikeable, his most recent book, for instance, is an elaborate scene that Klein says happened “one evening” while she and Bill “were having drinks with friends” and Bill suggested she contact Steven Spielberg for advice about how to be more likable.
Klein reproduces an entire conversation’s worth of dialogue between the Clintons, in which Hillary is quoted as saying, “I get $250,000 for a speech, and these Hollywood jackasses are going to tell me how to do it!”
Later in the book, Klein writes that “in the presence of several friends” Hillary told Bill, “I don’t want to be a pantsuit-wearing globetrotter.”
In Blood Feud, Klein wrote that Hillary said, verbatim, in a private conversation, “Now we are going to be together on the campaign trail, and it’s going to be complicated. Plus, there is the dynamic that when I run for president I’m going to be the boss, and I’m not sure Bill will be able to handle that. He says he’ll be my adviser and loving husband, but I’m afraid that if I’m elected, he’ll think he’s president again and I’m first lady. If he starts that shit, I’ll have his ass thrown out of the White House.”
Unless Klein wired his sources and his sources were Bill and Hillary Clinton, none of this is likely to be even kind of true. It’s possible Klein is a fabulist, or it’s possible he has terrible sources. It’s also possible that he’s a looney toon and the multiple sources he’s interviewed upwards of 70 times each are all in his head.
Who’s to say? If I were Ed Klein I might say I know that last thing for a fact.
Clinton conspiracies are, of course, as old as the Clintons’ political careers themselves.
In 1995, the White House counsel’s office produced a 332-page internal memo (PDF) called “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.” Revealed by The Wall Street Journal in 1997 and made public by the Clinton Library in 2014 (though now inexplicably removed from the website), it detailed how Clinton conspiracies made their way from “well funded right wing think tanks” and conservative “newsletters and newspapers” to the Internet, then to the British tabloids, who’ll print just about anything, then to the New York tabloids, and ultimately to the “the mainstream media.”
“After the mainstream right-of-center American media covers the story,” the memo read, “Congressional committees will look into the story. After Congress looks into the story, the story now has the legitimacy to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a ‘real’ story.”
Nowadays, the process is simpler: Trump says something and it’s immediately a legitimate story, because the de facto Republican nominee and leader of one of the country’s two major political parties saying something crazy is news.
Please read the whole thing. You'll need to understand where all this comes from when the mainstream press starts treating it as real because "it's out there."
It's already starting and the media is already lapping it up:
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I know it's a rough story, and a lot of people know about it. People have been talking about it for a couple of years. And, you know, that's right next to my golf club, I have a great club up there, Trump national golf club, right literally a few minutes away. And people have been talking about that for years. I have no idea what went on. I certainly don't. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/13/16]
That's about a story in the New York Post about some womanizing thing with Bill Clinton that came through the National Enquirer. The smear can be traced to one anonymous source named in a hit job book by a man named Glenn Kessler, a World Net Daily wingnut conspiracy writer. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ...
Remember Trump has the National Enquirer in his back pocket. Oy.
digby 5/13/2016 05:00:00 PM