Donald Trump is a Nazi sympathizer

Reuben Brigety writes: For those who occupy the highest offices of the land, I must reluctantly pose some difficult questions.

How, Chief of Staff John Kelly, can the parents of two African-American 82nd Airborne paratroopers killed in Iraq the day after the carnage in Charlottesville be assured that the deaths of their sons mean as much to the president as the tragic and heroic death of your own son in combat — when Trump defiantly and repeatedly equates white supremacists with those brave enough to confront their vile hatred?

How, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, can you convince the men and women serving in the greatest military the world has ever known, and who comprise virtually every creed and color of our great nation, that racism will not be tolerated in the ranks if you do not publicly and powerfully challenge the blatant racism of their commander-in-chief?

How, Gen. H.R. McMaster, can you convince the American people that you are using your position as national security advisor to protect them from the threat of terrorism abroad if the president you serve refuses to call the white supremacists the terrorists they are, rather than insisting that there must be some “very good people” among them?

How, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, can you convince the world that American values are a force for good in the world, and convince your own workforce who hail from every corner of our country to confidently project America’s image in the world, if you fail to publicly challenge a president who embraces the latter-day Nazi spawn of the greatest evil the world has ever seen?

How, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, can you have a shred of dignity when you look in the eye of your Senate colleagues (and the constituents they represent), who confirmed you for your post with the benefit of the doubt against decades-old charges of racial bias levied against you if you do not seize this moment to specifically and directly condemn the racism of the man who heads our government?

And how, gentlemen, can you continue to rationalize serving a man who so consistently tramples on the most basic values of our country that each of you, in your own way, has spent a lifetime serving? At what point does your duty to country lead you to confront the evil bigotry of the president, rather than trying to find a way to rationalize it so you are free to serve some greater good? [Continue reading…]

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‘Terror’ struck Barcelona, according to Trump. Charlottesville? ‘Call it whatever you want.’

Callum Borchers writes: Within hours of a vehicular attack in Barcelona that killed at least 13 and injured dozens of others on Thursday, President Trump called it “terror.”


Yet at a news conference three days after a similar episode in Charlottesville, where an alleged Nazi sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19, the president would not definitely assign the same label.

“Was this terrorism?” a journalist asked on Tuesday.

“Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country,” Trump replied, “and that is — you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want.” [Continue reading…]

However each attack gets labelled, the more important question is how they are related since it’s hard to dismiss the temporal sequence as purely coincidental.

The reality is that an attack of this kind requires very little planning and thus the first attack could indeed have triggered the second. Moreover, the attacker in Barcelona would surely have been fully aware of the attack in Charlottesville and thus seen global media attention as ripe for the picking through an escalation of violence.

Was the latest attack conceived as a way of mocking (and goading) American Islamophobic terrorists — as if to say, your brutality is no match of ours?

Was it intended to highlight Trump’s hypocrisy in his responses to violent attacks?

What seems least likely is the possibility that Charlottesville was nowhere within the considerations of the perpetrator(s) of today’s deadly attack in Barcelona.

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Trump believes fiction can defeat terrorism

 


Snopes fact checks Trump’s story. Conclusion: False.

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Trump business partner, Felix Sater, ‘told family he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ says report

Raw Story reports: Felix Sater, one of Donald Trump’s shadiest former business partners, is reportedly preparing for prison time — and he says the president will be joining him behind bars.

Sources told The Spectator’s Paul Wood that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s deep dive into Trump’s business practices may be yielding results.

Trump recently made remarks that could point to a money laundering scheme, Wood reported.

“I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?” the president said.

Sater, who has a long history of legal troubles and is cooperating with law enforcement, was one of the major players responsible for selling Trump’s condos to the Russians.

And according to Wood’s sources, Sater may have already flipped and given prosecutors the evidence they need to make a case against Trump.

For several weeks there have been rumours that Sater is ready to rat again, agreeing to help Mueller. ‘He has told family and friends he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ someone talking to Mueller’s investigators informed me.

Sater hinted in an interview earlier this month that he may be cooperating with both Mueller’s investigation and congressional probes of Trump. [Continue reading…]

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Trump ‘sad’ over removal of ‘our beautiful statues’

The New York Times reports: Under fire for defending racist activist groups, President Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that he was “sad” to see United States’ history torn apart by the removal of “our beautiful statues and monuments,” echoing a popular refrain of white supremacist groups that oppose the removal of Confederate monuments.


Officials in several states have called for the removal of public monuments that have become symbols of the Confederacy.

The Twitter posts were the latest in his escalating remarks that critics contend validate white supremacist groups who led a bloody rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va. The proposed removal of a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park in Charlottesville spurred the demonstrations. [Continue reading…]

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White supremacists in the U.S. military

Andrew Exum writes: White supremacist groups and their sympathizers were especially present in the ranks of the U.S. Army’s combat arms units and the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1986, an exasperated Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, ordered the military to crack down on these groups, and another purge was ordered after U.S. Army veteran Timothy McVeigh planted a bomb that almost leveled the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, killing 168 people. 1995 was the same year a paratrooper from the Army’s 82d Airborne Division murdered a black couple outside Fort Bragg.

When I arrived in my first infantry unit in 2000, I remember encountering non-commissioned officers who were by then quite adept at interpreting the tattoos on the young white men arriving to the unit fresh from basic infantry training. By that point, though, recruiters were already weeding out most of the men who showed up with any sign of affiliations with white supremacist groups. [Continue reading…]

Military Times reports: A Marine veteran has been identified as the leader of a white supremacist group whose members marched at Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counter-protester was killed.

The news site Splinter first reported on Monday that former Marine recruiter Dillon Ulysses Hopper is the leader of white supremacist group Vanguard America.

Hopper served in the Marine Corps from July 2006 until Jan. 30, leaving the Corps as a staff sergeant, according to Manpower & Reserve Affairs. He deployed to Iraq from January 2008 to January 2009 and to Afghanistan from July 2010 to February 2011.

James Alex Fields Jr. was arrested Saturday after allegedly killing a woman by ramming a car into counter-protesters.

Fields, 20, was charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bail. At the rally he was photographed behind a shield bearing the emblem of Vanguard America, according to The Associated Press. The group has denied Fields was a member. [Continue reading…]

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WikiLeaks turned down leaks on Russian government during U.S. presidential campaign

Foreign Policy reports: In the summer of 2016, as WikiLeaks was publishing documents from Democratic operatives allegedly obtained by Kremlin-directed hackers, Julian Assange turned down a large cache of documents related to the Russian government, according to chat messages and a source who provided the records.

WikiLeaks declined to publish a wide-ranging trove of documents — at least 68 gigabytes of data — that came from inside the Russian Interior Ministry, according to partial chat logs reviewed by Foreign Policy.

The logs, which were provided to FP, only included WikiLeaks’s side of the conversation.

“As far as we recall these are already public,” WikiLeaks wrote at the time.

“WikiLeaks rejects all submissions that it cannot verify. WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere or which are likely to be considered insignificant. WikiLeaks has never rejected a submission due to its country of origin,” the organization wrote in a Twitter direct message when contacted by FP about the Russian cache.

(The account is widely believed to be operated solely by Assange, the group’s founder, but in a Twitter message to FP, the organization said it is maintained by “staff.”)

In 2014, the BBC and other news outlets reported on the cache, which revealed details about Russian military and intelligence involvement in Ukraine. However, the information from that hack was less than half the data that later became available in 2016, when Assange turned it down.

“We had several leaks sent to Wikileaks, including the Russian hack. It would have exposed Russian activities and shown WikiLeaks was not controlled by Russian security services,” the source who provided the messages wrote to FP. “Many Wikileaks staff and volunteers or their families suffered at the hands of Russian corruption and cruelty, we were sure Wikileaks would release it. Assange gave excuse after excuse.”

The Russian cache was eventually quietly published online elsewhere, to almost no attention or scrutiny. [Continue reading…]

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Steve Bannon’s reaction to Charlottesville: ‘Just give me more.’

Steve Bannon phoned Robert Kuttner, editor of The American Prospect to discuss what Bannon regards as their convergent views on China. Having neglected to request his remarks be kept off the record, Bannon was later apparently dismayed that he was quoted. Even though in the course of the interview, Bannon usurps Trump’s authority by repeatedly speaking as though he is the president, others in the White House say Trump is afraid of firing him. Jonathan Swan at Axios predicts that if Bannon gets fired, Breitbart will go “thermonuclear” in its attacks on Trump for dumping their champion of white nationalism.

Kuttner writes: Bannon explained that his strategy is to battle the trade doves inside the administration while building an outside coalition of trade hawks that includes left as well as right. Hence the phone call to me.

There are a couple of things that are startling about this premise. First, to the extent that most of the opponents of Bannon’s China trade strategy are other Trump administration officials, it’s not clear how reaching out to the left helps him. If anything, it gives his adversaries ammunition to characterize Bannon as unreliable or disloyal.

More puzzling is the fact that Bannon would phone a writer and editor of a progressive publication (the cover lines on whose first two issues after Trump’s election were “Resisting Trump” and “Containing Trump”) and assume that a possible convergence of views on China trade might somehow paper over the political and moral chasm on white nationalism.

The question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up. This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America.

I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base.

He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

From his lips to Trump’s ear.

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: [Bannon] said in an interview that if Democrats want to fight over Confederate monuments and attack Mr. Trump as a bigot, that was a fight the president would win.

“President Trump, by asking, ‘Where does this all end’ — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions,” he said.

“The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,” Mr. Bannon added. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

Much of the party’s political class, however, was in shock. Former Presidents George and George W. Bush issued a rare joint rebuke of Mr. Trump’s stance, saying hate should be rejected “in all forms.”

And among younger Republicans there was a sense that the damage would be profound and enduring.

“The last year and especially the last few days have basically erased 15 years of efforts by Republicans to diversify the party,” said David Holt, a 38-year-old Oklahoma state senator running for mayor of Oklahoma City. “If I tried to sell young people in general but specifically minority groups on the Republican Party today, I’d expect them to laugh me out of the room. How can you not be concerned when the country’s demographics are shifting away from where the Republican Party seems to be shifting now?” [Continue reading…]

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The road to radicalism in Charlottesville

Julia Ioffe writes: “Of course, it was terrorism,” said General H.R. McMaster on Sunday morning, the day after James Alex Fields, Jr. allegedly plowed his gray 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-white supremacist protestors, then reversed and, bumper dangling by a thread, hit still more people on the way back. When he was done, one person, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was dead and 19 more were injured. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that the attack was an act of “domestic terrorism” and that the Department of Justice was investigating him. Fields is being held without bail on a second-degree murder charge.

In being an act of violence with an apparent political motive, Fields’s alleged actions clearly “count” as terrorism according to most definitions of the term. But there are also parallels between Fields and other terrorists in aspects of his route to Charlottesville.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Fields, but there is evidence that he was an adherent of a violent and extremist ideology. Just hours before he allegedly drove his car into that crowd, he was seen marching with and carrying a shield featuring the insignia of Vanguard America, a known white-supremacist group. According to Fields’s former high-school teacher Derek Weimer, Fields was also infatuated with the Nazis. “It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” Weimer told The Washington Post. “He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.” A paper Fields wrote in high school, according to the teacher, was a “big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS.”

In American political discourse, terrorism is a label often reserved for followers of a violent interpretation of Islam, whereas people who commit violence in the name of extremist far-right ideology based on race are sometimes portrayed as troubled young men, or criminals. The actions of the Trump administration have only deepened that gap. As one of its first acts, the administration reoriented the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program away from combatting white-supremacist groups. Life After Hate, an organization which helps people leave such groups, says it never received a promised $400,000 grant, even as the Southern Poverty Law Center received increased reports of hate crimes and threats in the period immediately after the election. In the months after the election, Life After Hate reported getting a 20-fold uptick in calls from family members, begging for help to pull their loved ones out of violent white supremacist groups. [Continue reading…]

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Trump lawyer forwards email echoing secessionist rhetoric

The New York Times reports: President Trump’s personal lawyer on Wednesday forwarded an email to conservative journalists, government officials and friends that echoed secessionist Civil War propaganda and declared that the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town.

“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”

The contents of the email are at the heart of a roiling controversy over race and history that turned deadly last weekend in Charlottesville, where white nationalist groups clashed with protesters over the planned removal of a statue of Lee. An Ohio man with ties to white nationalist groups drove his car through a crowd, killing one woman and injuring many others, authorities say.

In a fiery news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Trump blamed “both sides” for that violence. He said many of those who opposed the statue’s removal were good people protesting the loss of their culture, and he questioned whether taking down statues of Lee could lead to monuments of Washington also being removed.

His words were widely criticized in Washington but were praised by white supremacists, including a former Ku Klux Klan leader. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s isolation grows in the wake of Charlottesville

The Washington Post reports: President Trump now finds himself more isolated than ever from his own party, world leaders and the business community that once cautiously embraced him — a fissure that was growing for weeks but turned into a chasm following his response to the racist violence in Charlottesville this weekend.

Trump had to disband two corporate advisory councils after a slew of chief executives resigned from the panels while criticizing the president for a day earlier blaming both white supremacists and counterprotesters for the melees that led to the death of a 32-year-old woman. Republicans continue to distance themselves as they call on the president to more forcefully condemn the racist groups that gathered for the “Unite the Right” rally. And foreign officials lined up this week to make clear they strongly disagree with Trump’s view of the events in Charlottesville.

Trump had already stoked tensions in recent weeks as he repeatedly attacked congressional GOP leaders for his stalled legislative agenda and alarmed allies at home and abroad with threats of military force against North Korea and Venezuela.

But his reaction to this week’s violence, which roiled the nation at a time when a president is typically leaned on for comfort and guidance, has created deep uncertainty about whether he can effectively lead his party and focus on urgent tasks looming in the fall, including avoiding a government debt default and moving forward on the tax cuts he promised during the campaign. [Continue reading…]

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The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now

 

David Motadel writes: America is currently experiencing a wave of increasingly aggressive far-right and neo-fascist activism. Observers have routinely considered fascism an ideology alien to American society. Yet it has deeper roots in American history than most of us have been willing to acknowledge.

Consider the interwar period. The crisis years of the 1920s and 1930s not only gave rise to fascist movements across Europe – a moment captured in Ernst Nolte’s classic The Three Faces of Fascism – but around the globe. The United States was no exception.

Charlottesville reveals an emboldened far right that can no longer be ignored
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Across the country, fascist and proto-fascist groups sprang up. The most prominent among them was the paramilitary Silver Shirts movement, founded by William Dudley Pelley, a radical journalist from Massachusetts, in 1933.

Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s aides tried to conceal his crazy, racist beliefs from the country

Jonathan Chait writes: A legitimate public rationale can be made for serving the administration in certain roles. The federal government plays a vital role in domestic and global security, Trump is a dangerous and erratic figure, and somebody needs to try to steer him away from decisions that would provoke unalterable tragedy. That justification covers serving Trump as a foreign-policy adviser, or as homeland security and disaster-response officials.

But what justification can the domestic and political advisers offer? Any benefit they can get by helping produce what they regard as better policies is surely offset by the cover they (and their policy successes, should they produce any) provide him.

Suppose yesterday’s remarks had gone off as planned. Suppose Trump had pushed his message of infrastructure. Suppose further every subsequent step also worked as planned — Trump manages to build political support for the huge infrastructure build-out he campaigned upon, and created millions of jobs and the backdrops for several powerful reelection campaign ads. All they would have done is fulfill Steve Bannon’s dream of a worker’s party uniting economic populism with ethnonationalist grievance. “Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up,” he told Michael Wolff after the election, “We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

Trump certainly has revived certain aspects of the political excitement of the 1930s: Nazi torchlight parades, presidential attacks on the media as enemies of the people, and street battles between armed extremist factions. He has not yet revived the infrastructure build-up that supplied a great deal of the Nazi party’s political capital. The apparent objective Trump’s domestic advisers hope to achieve is to create a political constituency for a president they consider racist, while concealing his racism as best as they can.

A West Wing official tells the Times that Trump has “expressed sympathy with nonviolent protesters who he said were defending their ‘heritage.’” (This is a rally that began with chants like “Jews will not replace us.”) Preventing Trump from doing something damaging is a legitimate and even noble calling. But that admirable motivation can easily mutate into rationalization. Are Trump aides really working to protect the country from him? Or are they working to keep the country from seeing his real nature? [Continue reading…]

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Bannon sees Trump ditching ‘globalists’ to side with ‘his people’

Axios reports: On Tuesday night, while Gary Cohn was fuming about President Trump’s latest comments, Steve Bannon was excitedly telling friends and associates that the “globalists” were in mass freakout mode.

  • Today, Bannon reveled in the disbanding of the president’s business council, seeing this as yet more evidence that the Trump administration is at odds with the “Davos crowd,” as Bannon often calls these corporate elites, in a voice dripping with contempt.
  • Bannon saw Trump’s now-infamous Tuesday afternoon press conference not as the lowest point in his presidency, but as a “defining moment,” where Trump decided to fully abandon the “globalists” and side with “his people.”
  • Per a source with knowledge: “Steve was proud of how [Trump] stood up to the braying mob of reporters” in the Tuesday press conference.

[Continue reading…]

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What Trump gets wrong about antifa

Peter Beinart writes: Antifa activists are sincere. They genuinely believe that their actions protect vulnerable people from harm. Cornel West claims they did so in Charlottesville. But for all of antifa’s supposed anti-authoritarianism, there’s something fundamentally authoritarian about its claim that its activists—who no one elected—can decide whose views are too odious to be publicly expressed. That kind of undemocratic, illegitimate power corrupts. It leads to what happened this April in Portland, Oregon, where antifa activists threatened to disrupt the city’s Rose Festival parade if people wearing “red maga hats” marched alongside the local Republican Party. Because of antifa, Republican officials in Portland claim they can’t even conduct voter registration in the city without being physically threatened or harassed.

So, yes, antifa is not a figment of the conservative imagination. It’s a moral problem that liberals need to confront.

But saying it’s a problem is vastly different than implying, as Trump did, that it’s a problem equal to white supremacism. Using the phrase “alt-left” suggests a moral equivalence that simply doesn’t exist.

For starters, while antifa perpetrates violence, it doesn’t perpetrate it on anything like the scale that white nationalists do. It’s no coincidence that it was a Nazi sympathizer—and not an antifa activist—who committed murder in Charlottesville. According to the Anti-Defamation League, right-wing extremists committed 74 percent of the 372 politically motivated murders recorded in the United States between 2007 and 2016. Left-wing extremists committed less than 2 percent. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s faux breakup with his manufacturing council

Annie Lowrey writes: It was a quick turn for 26 hours’ time. On Tuesday morning, President Trump blasted Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive officer of Merck Pharmaceuticals, for leaving a White House advisory council in protest of Trump’s equivocating statement on the white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville. On Wednesday afternoon, after more than half a dozen CEOs joined Frazier in publicly refusing to work with the White House (and others reportedly quietly indicating they might do the same), Trump abruptly disbanded two advisory panels.

The question of who dumped whom aside, the breaking-up of the two panels did not make for the best optics for an often chaotic White House. That said, the development seems unlikely to change the course of policymaking in Washington. The panels were largely ceremonial, and the Trump administration has shown a remarkable willingness to heed the demands of big business, even if big business has this week shown a remarkable willingness to chide the Trump administration.

Both the manufacturing council and the strategic and policy forum—a group of top executives from a broad range of industries, representing Boeing, General Electric, and JPMorgan Chase, among other firms—were launched with significant fanfare. In a statement, the then-president-elect said that “pioneering CEOs” would help “create new jobs across the United States from Silicon Valley to the heartland.” Soon after, the White House held a few splashy events with the corporate executives who signed on, eager to get the president’s ear.

But it was never clear exactly what the councils were doing other than providing photo opportunities. [Continue reading…]

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This week should put the nail in the coffin for ‘both sides’ journalism

Margaret Sullivan writes: He’s the false-equivalency president.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the national news media’s misguided sense of fairness helped equate the serious flaws of Hillary Clinton with the disqualifying evils of Donald Trump.

“But her emails . . .” goes the ironic line that aptly summarizes too much of the media’s coverage of the candidates. In short: Clinton’s misuse of a private email server was inflated to keep up with Trump’s racism, sexism and unbalanced narcissism — all in the name of seeming evenhanded.

In a devastating post-election report, Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center concluded that media treatment was rife with false equivalency: “On topics relating to the candidates’ fitness for office, Clinton and Trump’s coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone.”

That was a factor — one of many — that helped to put Trump in the Oval Office. [Continue reading…]

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