Category Archives: media

Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State

Given all the commotion over the past week or so, some of it right here on CounterPunch, you’d think that “rogue” journalist Caitlin Johnstone was the reincarnation of Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens made his fateful pact with the neocons of the Bush administration. Johnstone is now offering a tentative hand of solidarity to white nationalists. Johnstone has her clique of admirers, but she’s not yet in Hitchens’ class, either as a writer or a professional heretic.

I suppose many of you are too young to remember the Iraq War, but let’s recall that back in those hazy days of yore the neocons packed cruise missiles in their pockets, while the white nationalists (those who weren’t moonlighting as members of your local police department) were goose-stepping around with flaming torches, when they could afford the matches. Hitchens, who retains a curious band of Lefty loyalists to this day, was invited to the Bush White House several times to help plot bombing targets in Iraq; Caitlin hasn’t helped burn down a single black church, as far as I’m aware.

On Thursday, we ran a long, hyper-ventilating piece by Patrick Walker that proved to be less a defense of Johnstone than a rather fusillade of inchoate invective about CounterPunch. Fine. We publish these types of rants by Walker and his tiny cohort of Bernie or Busters every few months just to air out the inbox and eradicate the black mold. He’s known in the office here as HR Huff-n-Puff. Amid the fumes of Walker’s torpid verbiage, he didn’t even have the courage to address the topic at hand: Johnstone’s call for the Left to find common ground with the Alt-Right-Delete. I can’t help thinking that Johnstone deserved a little better from her champion.

Let me start by confessing that I’m not a huge fan of Johnstone’s writing. In surveying her greatest hits over the last few months, I came away with the sense that Johnstone is basically riding a one-trope pony, with that trope being the malign nature of the Deep State. Who knew the CIA was so evil? (Of course, many big time columnists, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman, come to mind, have yet to master even a single trope worth reading, so Johnstone’s already far outpacing those tired geldings.) For the conspiratorial Left, the Deep Staters seem to have eclipsed the 9/11 Truthers as the heralds of a new political Theory-0f-Everything. This is a welcome shift of emphasis as far as I’m concerned.  Who really needs to read yet another belabored story on the demolition of WTC 7?

For many decades now, the American Left, what there is of it, has been in search of a comforting explanation for its rapidly eroding fortunes. It seems inexplicable to many that the Left could have become so politically impotent in an era of permanent wars and raging inequality. Rather than engage in rigorous self-inspection of its leaders, strategies and tactics, the Left has tended to point to malevolent outside forces as the agents of its demise, from the CIA’s domestic black ops to the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Of course, there are many blood trails left by both of these agencies across the American political landscape, from the infiltration of the anti-war movement and SDS to the assassinations of black radicals and the decimation of the American Indian Movement. The Feds didn’t even try very hard to wipe up the trace evidence of their complicity in these crimes of the state.

I first encountered the phrase “Deep State” in the writings of the Canadian Peter Dale Scott (a fellow Eng. Lit major), though the predicate of the theory far predates Scott’s relatively docile explorations of the dark forces manipulating the secret management of the Empire.  The origin myth of leftwing Deep State theory is, of course, the assassination of JFK, an act of internal regime change by a CIA hit-team orchestrated by Allen Dulles in retaliation for the president’s alleged plan to break-up the agency and yank US troops out of Vietnam. From that moment on, according Deep State theorizers, the secret government was firmly in control and no political transgressions against its agenda would be tolerated. As an omnipotent force, the existence of a Deep State satisfies the Left’s desire to rationalize its own sense of perennial powerlessness.

Of course, I remain an unrepentant Magic Bullet man, fully persuaded that Lee Harvey Oswald, as an ardent devotee of the Cuban Revolution, had a more personal motive to kill the anti-communist Kennedy (the first neoliberal) than did fussy old Allen Dulles. With a couple miraculous shots from his Carcano Rifle, Oswald demonstrated that regime change could be a two-way street.

The far right has cultivated it’s own Deep State theory, which dates back at least to the paranoid fever-dreams of the John Birchers, who are now enjoying something of a resurgence. For reactionary nationalists, the Deep State is a globalist contagion that has infiltrated institutions as varied as the Commie-penetrated State Department, the “liberal” CIA, the Federal Reserve, the United Nations and, of course, the National Park Service. For the right, the control room of the Deep State is occupied by bankers (Rothschilds), internationalists (Soros), multi-culturalists (Cornel West) and tree huggers (Jane Goodall) intent on eradicating the white Protestant values that made the Republic what it was during it’s glorious apogee in the Andy Jackson administration.

It took the election of Trump to achieve the potential “intersectionality” of these two disparate branches of Deep  State Theory. Here at last was a JFK-like figure of the nationalist right, a man who was ready to smash NATO to pieces, revoke global trade pacts, retreat from interventionist wars, make nice with the Russians and chase all the little Hitlers out of the CIA. Then it all began unravel under the weight of RussiaGate©, a faux-scandal concocted by the Deep State to serve as a slo-motion coup d’etat. The tragedy of Trump makes for compelling reading, including dozens of articles probing similar veins that have appeared here on CounterPunch.

This is a fertile time for political polemicists and Johnstone’s popularity on the left side of the spectrum confirms my long-held view that many web-based readers like to wake up in the morning by having their core beliefs reconfirmed with a single click of the mouse. They crave the same basic menu of stories each day, written by the same writers at increasingly higher decibel levels. We can see the evidence by looking at the Google analytics for stories on CounterPunch. The louder the volume, the higher the hits.

As a writer of polemics, you seek to provoke, irritate and push right to the edge (and sometimes off-the-cliff) of permissible discourse. I’ve never called for a politician to die before, as Johnstone did recently in her column on John McCain, but I’ve come close.  Alex and I even predicted McCain’s imminent death from cancer in a column…9 years ago. (Almost all of our political predications proved wrong, including Alex’s initial assessment of Rick Perry in 2011 as being a man of “presidential material.”)

Still you have to write without fear or apologies. Not too long before Cockburn died, I asked him if he regretted anything he’d written (secretly hoping that he would retract his climate change denialism). “Regret? Jeffrey!! Never regret!!” He paused. “Well, I suppose if I hadn’t been over my deadline I might have rephrased that sentence about Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. But once it’s out there you have to stand by it, man.” That sentence about Afghanistan was this one, “I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but if ever a country deserved rape it’s Afghanistan.” The man had a way with words.

I even have a trace of sympathy for Johnstone’s call to engage with the far right on issues where there might exist a sliver of common ground on which we could stand and fight the same enemy. I’ve walked in those shoes and have been roundly condemned for such heresies. As Johnstone was coming under fire, I flashed back to a June morning in 1995.

The phone rang at 5 am. It was Cockburn, of course, an hour ahead of his normal call.

“Wake up, Jeffrey. You’ve been libeled!”

“I’ve been what?”

“It’s spelled: L-I-B-E-L-E-D…Libeled by some little punk at the New Yorker.”

“Which little punk? Not that Elizabeth Drew, I hope, she’s too boring to commit libel.”

“Perish the thought. A sniveling twit named Kelly. Michael Kelly.”

“What did he write?”

“Something about you consorting with terrorists, I think.”

“Have you read it?” Knowing Alex would rather get a root canal (his greatest phobia) than subscribe to the New Yorker.

“Are you kidding? Brother Andrew told me.” Andrew Cockburn would know. He reads everything. “He’ll fax to me. I’ll fax to you. Stand by your machine.”

That’s the way things worked in the days before Alex was enticed to abandon his Underwood for a Tangerine-Colored-Streamlined-Baby-i-Mac.

As I waited for Cockburn’s fax to rattle through the machine, I felt a little swell of excitement at making the hollowed pages of The New Yorker, like Steve Martin’s character in “The Jerk,” when he gets his hands on the new phonebook and finds his name in it.

My initial giddiness dissipated as the fax machine began to spit out Kelly’s eleven-page long hit piece titled “The Road to Paranoia,” which was itself a paranoid screed warning neoliberal America of the coming alliance between the radical left and the radical right. Buried in the avalanche of Kelly’s turgid prose, my cameo proved almost as fleeting as the appearance of poor Osric in “Hamlet.” I was accused of colluding with the enemy by giving a speech (later reproduced in the Earth First! Journal) at a gathering of the rightwing Wise Use Movement in Reno, where I viciously attacked the mainstream environmental movement for its political timidity. My crime, according to Kelly, was in promoting a seditious brand of “fusion politics.” If only it had taken root.

Over the ensuing years, similar slurs would come hurtling our way from other guardians of liberal respectability. During Clinton’s war on Serbia, Cockburn and I spoke at several rallies sponsored by the feisty libertarians at AntiWar.com, who were among the few courageous souls to oppose that ignoble enterprise. Even the freshly-elected socialist Bernie Sanders backed the bombing of the socialist city of Belgrade, a failure of nerve which prompted a few of his more honorable staffers to resign in protest. For this treachery, we were both denounced as genocide-denying tools of the isolationist menace.

When CounterPunch went online in 1999, we compounded our thought crimes by publishing some of the verboten voices of the anti-imperialist movement, from Ron Paul to “Werther,” Paul Craig Roberts to the civil libertarian James Bovard, whose appearances on our homepage elicited howls of outrage from the likes of Eric Alterman and Katha Pollitt. Naturally, we basked in the glow of their opprobrium.

Perhaps it’s just the writer in me, but from where I sit the real villain of this imbroglio isn’t the verbal provocateur Caitlin Johnstone, but David Cobb, the Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of the Green Party, who has been one of the most zealous promoters of Johnstone’s incendiary writings. What’s rich fodder for a political columnist can prove lethal for a political movement, especially a movement as bruised, battered and pale as the Greens. Can the Greens really afford to get any whiter than they already are?

Since his mysterious emergence as a leader of the Greens in 2004, Cobb has steadily squandered the political base that Ralph Nader helped build. Whether this was through incompetence or intent is unclear, but Cobb’s decision to make the Green Party a safe space for Democrats was a fatal miscalculation from which the party has never really recovered.  The hapless John Kerry, running as a war-monger, lost to Bush in any event, so the compromises of 2004 proved fruitless, except, perhaps, to the progressive donor class, who could now feel as if they could ease their consciences by occasionally throwing some money at the Greens without risking any political blowback.

In 2016, however, the prospects for the Green Party suddenly seemed brighter than at anytime since 2000, largely because of the inspired choice of Ajamu Baraka as Jill Stein’s running mate. Despite the involvement of many veterans from Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition” campaigns of the 1980s, the Green Party had never really gained traction with blacks and Hispanics. Baraka’s presence on the ticket offered a real promise of expanding the Green Party’s base for the first time since Nader’s run. This wasn’t so much because Baraka is black, but because he was able to articulate a theory of political engagement that spoke directly to the experience of black and brown Americans.

Then David Cobb was brought on as campaign manager and almost immediately the wheels began to fall off. By election day, the Green ticket, which only a few weeks earlier held such promise, now seemed like a stealth campaign. In an election featuring two of the most unpopular candidates in history, the Greens could only manage a microscopic 1.1 percent of the popular vote, 3 million fewer votes than the dysfunctional Libertarian duo of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Cobb’s response to this humiliation at the polls wasn’t to resign, but to almost immediately pursue, along with Jill Stein, recounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, recounts which could only serve to benefit Hillary Clinton. Millions of dollars poured in from frantic Democrats in a desperate, and doomed, attempt to overturn the results of the election. The motives behind this curious affair have never been clearly ascertained, but once again Cobb demonstrated to the progressive funding machine that the Green Party presented no real threat to the political hegemony of the Democrats.

Now, Cobb seems intent on promoting a green-brown alliance, along the lines sketched by Caitlin Johnstone, as a means of reanimating a political movement that he, more than any other single figure, has helped to emasculate from the inside-out. This is a quest for fools gold at best, something more sinister at worst.

Environmentalists have been down this road before and it didn’t end well. In the 1990s, the Sierra Club was infiltrated by a vicious band of Malthusians, who scapegoated immigrants as a primary cause of environmental degradation. This shameful episode debased the Sierra Club and elevated the profile of the xenophobes, giving them a legitimate national platform for the first time and a political foothold that eventually metastasized into the virulent forces fueling the Trump campaign.

At an operational level, white nationalists already dominate the political agenda of the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. The Greens invite them under the frayed flaps of their tent at their own peril.

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Rising Number of Discrimination Lawsuits Highlights the Lack of Diversity In the Media

Before and after he entered the White House, President Donald Trump has vilified the media, branding news agencies that report unfavorably on him “fake news.” His unrelenting attacks on journalism have led politicians, public figures and news reporters themselves to champion the benefits of a free press. But there’s one area in which the mainstream media deserves a heavy dose of criticism—their deplorable record on race, age and gender.

Since just last year, a number of major news organizations have been hit with discrimination suits. CNN is now the subject of racial discrimination suit, first filed in December, accusing managers of giving Black employees lower performance evaluations, lower pay and using racial slurs, among other misdeeds. More than 175 employees have reportedly expressed similar complaints about their experience at the network, and the total number of people involved in the class action suit is expected to expand. Also, in March, a dozen Fox News employees sued the network for “racial discrimination and creating an abusive work environment.” But cable news networks aren’t the sole targets of these racial bias suits. Both The New York Times and the Associated Press have recently faced similar charges. Two Black female Times employees last year sued the paper for age, race and gender discrimination, arguing the paper favors young white employees without families. A Black female editor at the Associated Press made almost identical allegations about that news organization in a lawsuit filed filed in 2016 as well.

These lawsuits are particularly alarming because people of color remain woefully underrepresented in newsrooms. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, journalists of color made up just 17 percent of employees at the 737 news agencies that responded to its 2016 survey on newsroom diversity. A lack of diversity combined with toxic work environments for the journalists of color who have broken into the industry may very well dissuade young Black and brown reporters from pursuing a career in the news, keeping the industry and its perspective overwhelmingly white.

A lack of diversity in newsrooms, especially in managerial roles, likely contributes to the fact that Black girls don’t receive nearly as much news coverage as white girls do when they go missing. In many cases, missing Black girls receive no coverage at all. Mostly white reporting staffs also play a factor in how news outlets cover crime stories involving people of color. When young Black and brown people get killed, reporters tend to make a point of stating whether these individuals were gang members. They don’t typically comment on whether white crime victims may have gang ties. By commenting in the former situation and not the latter, the media insinuates that when Black or brown men die they must have done something to deserve it.

And in the age of Black Lives Matter, a number of news agencies have faced criticism for their depiction of police killing victims. It’s common for news organizations to bring up the criminal histories of victims, even if their record did not factor into why police apprehended these individuals, brutalized or killed them. The media has also faced criticism for using old mugshots of Black victims of police violence rather than a family photo or picture posted on a social media network. When white Stanford University student Brock Turner made headlines for sexually assaulting an unconscious classmate, outraged social media users urged the media to use his mugshot in their reports about the case rather than smiling portraits of him in a suit. That’s because convicts of color aren’t presented in the same way in the media.

Arguably the top way the mainstream media has failed the public this year is by perpetuating the idea that Trump voters deserve the nation’s sympathy. Trump supporters feel alienated and economically anxious, newspapers such as The New York Times have reported as recently as last week. But such stories overlook the racial gap between whites and people of color, that whites of all class backgrounds backed Trump and the research suggests that racial animus, not the economy, led voters to back the current president. It’s not only unlikely that a racially diverse news staff would run a series of stories sympathetic to Trump voters but that such a staff would have given Trump as much attention as he received in the press leading up to the election. Without the enormous amount of free press Trump received, it’s unclear that he’d be in the White House today. But white news executives such as Les Moonves of CBS found Trump’s presidential campaign entertaining and good for ratings. Meanwhile people of color in and outside of journalism found much of Trump’s rhetoric terrifying, not amusing.

Collectively, the rash of lawsuits filed against the nation’s top news organizations aren’t just troubling because they may drive budding journalists of color away from the industry. They’re troubling because they reveal the journalism industry, which prides itself on objectivity and exposing wrongdoing, to be hypocritical. The fact that so-called liberal news agencies have been sued for racial discrimination along with Fox News shows that there’s not much of an ideological divide between these news organizations. They’re all historically male and white and have perpetuated the status quo by not hiring journalists of color or creating hostile work environments for them when they do. Whether you label a corporate media outlet liberal or conservative doesn’t matter. What does is how these news agencies perpetuate racial bias in both society and in the workplace.

By Nadra Nittle/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim

Right-wing terror is real, and it’s a problem.

When it comes to domestic terrorism in America, the numbers don’t lie: Far-right extremists are behind far more plots and attacks than Islamist extremists.

There were almost twice as many terrorist incidents by right-wing extremists as by Islamist extremists in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016, according to a new report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Looking at both plots and attacks carried out, the group tracked 201 terrorist incidents on U.S. soil from January 2008 to the end of 2016. The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists ― from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” ― compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists. Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents.

When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also ‘mostly men’ and ‘almost purely white.’Reporter David Neiwert

While the database makes a point of distinguishing between different groups within right-wing extremism, lead reporter David Neiwert told HuffPost that “those are all gradations of white supremacy, variations on the same thing.” When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also “mostly men” and “almost purely white,” Neiwert said.

Attacks by right-wing extremists were also more often deadly, with nearly a third of right-wing extremist incidents resulting in deaths compared with 13 percent of Islamist extremist cases resulting in deaths. However, the sheer number of people killed by Islamist extremists ― a total of 90 people killed ― was higher than the death toll at the hands of right-wing extremists ― 79 people killed.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has focused his rhetoric and policies almost entirely on countering Islamist extremism, and not white supremacist extremism.

“As with a lot of things related to Trump and the Islamophobic right, the reality is viewed through an upside-down looking glass,” Neiwert said. The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.

The Investigative Fund’s findings reflect those of previous studies of domestic terrorism. The New America Foundation, for instance, which has been tracking deadly terror incidents on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, also finds an almost two-to-one ratio of attacks by far-right extremists to Islamist extremists, with 21 deadly attacks by far-right extremists, compared to 11 by Islamist extremists.

Despite the facts, many Americans still associate terror attacks with Islamist extremistsrather than far-right extremists, Neiwart noted.

“I think the larger perception in the public ― and this includes many progressives and liberals ― is the inversion of the reality: that the greatest threat we face is Islamist radicals,” Neiwert said. “And it’s reflected in the way the press report upon various kinds of domestic terror attacks: When it’s a white domestic terrorist, they underplay it, write it off to mental illness.”

The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.Reporter David Neiwert

The media has a long history of double standards when it comes to covering terrorism ― starting with how slow mainstream media is to label attacks by white perpetrators as “terrorism,” and quick to label them as such when attackers are perceived as nonwhite or “other” ― and specifically, Muslim.

Part of problem is the complex nature of how officials choose to categorize attacks as terrorism. The FBI has specific criteria its uses to classify terrorist incidents ― but the public doesn’t always agree with officials’ labels. For instance, many people condemned the government for not labeling Dylann Roof a terrorist after he killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, even though he specifically said he was there “to shoot black people,” according to witnesses.

“There’s actually a debate over whether what Dylann Roof did was domestic terrorism, when it so plainly is domestic terrorism,” Neiwert told HuffPost. “A lot of this has to do with embedded judgements about where these threats come from ― and that has to do with fear-mongering around Islamophobia.”

Investigative Fund’s interactive map showing terrorism incidents by ideology since 2008. 

The solution, according to Neiwert, lies with the government first acknowledging the scale of the problem of far-right extremism, and then dedicating resources to fighting it.

So far Trump has shown a clear double standard in his response to terrorism: After Islamist extremists attacked London on June 3, for instance, Trump condemned the violence on Twitter the same day ― but after an attack in Portland, Oregon, by a white supremacist on May 26, Trump waited more than two days before tweeting about it. After the London attack, Trump also called on the courts to reinstate his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries ― which was roundly criticized. After the Portland attack, Trump made no calls to change policy to prevent future attacks.

The Trump administration also reportedly just dropped funding for nonprofit Life After Hate, a group that helps people leave the white supremacist movement.

Trump administration has dropped funding for a group dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis and stopping white extremism. via @playbookplus

But it’s not just Trump that’s the problem. The Fund’s database goes back to 2008 and shows clearly how government resources have been disproportionately dedicated to tackling Islamist extremism over right-wing extremism. The government succeeded in interrupting the vast majority of Islamist extremist terror cases since 2008, for instance: 76 percent of incidents tracked were “foiled plots,” which the group noted showed “a significant investment of law enforcement resources.” When it came to right-wing extremism, only about a third of incidents were interrupted ― 35 percent ― and the majority of the cases included acts of violence that led to deaths, injuries or damaged property.

At the end of the day, it’s not only on the government to acknowledge the reality of the growing threat of far-right extremism, according to Neiwert, it’s on everyone from members of the media to average Americans.

“First thing we need to do is recognize that it’s there, it’s a problem, it’s a threat ― as great a threat as Islamists,” Neiwert said. “And it needs to be taken seriously.”

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman/HuffPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump Creates a ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission, Taps a White Supremacist to Lead It

President Trump has signed an executive order to create a commission to address voter fraud. This is a nonexistent issue tied to Trump’s fallacious, unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election and cost him the popular vote. The measure is part of a larger effort at voter suppression, to deny Black people and others the franchise and to deprive them of their voting rights — a cause of concern among civil rights and civil liberties groups. One of the leaders of this newly created body is a driving force behind voter suppression and anti-immigration laws across the nation and a figure with white supremacist sentiments and ties to white nationalist groups.

On May 11, Trump established a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” which is charged with identifying the following:

(a) those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;

(b) those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and

(c) those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.

The election integrity commission will have a staff to carry out its mission and will engage with federal, state and local officials and election law experts. Vice President Mike Pence is the chair of the commission, while Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the vice chair. The selection of Kobach raises red flags and speaks to the insidious motives of the commission.

Kobach, who was once considered a contender to head the Department of Homeland Security, according to Politico, has gained a reputation for his controversial anti-immigration stance and for supporting draconian voter suppression laws that federal courts have struck down for discriminating against nonwhite voters. According to civil rights advocacy groups, Kobach is a racial extremist with white supremacist ties. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Yale-trained lawyer who also has degrees from Harvard and Oxford is a “central figure” in the nativist movement and the author of Arizona’s “papers please” law, SB 1070, which amounted to a racial profiling law for Latinos. The U.S. Supreme Court found most of the measure unconstitutional in 2012. Kobach also played a key role in enacting similar legislation in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Since 2004, Kobach has served as counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR, according to SPLC, has “historical ties to white supremacists and eugenicists” and has received $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, an organization founded by Nazi sympathizers. Kobach was a supporter of birtherism during his run for Kansas secretary of state, and called for President Obama to release his “long-form” birth certificate to answer questions about his birthplace. SPLC reported that in 2014, Kobach also led an effort to purge voter rolls known as Interstate Crosscheck. The program compiled a master list of the names of one-seventh of all Black voters in 27 states, people who officials alleged were suspected of voting twice in the same election, as Al Jazeera America reported. In 2015, Kobach also gave himself the power to prosecute voter fraud, making Kansas the only state allowing its secretary of state with such authority. Kobach has urged states to require not only photo identification as a requirement to vote, but proof of citizenship, including a birth certificate or passport. This draconian measure had its impact in Kansas in 2015, where 37,000 people who attempted to register to vote were placed on a “suspense list” barring them from voting unless they provided documentation, as The Washington Post reported.  That year, Kobach was a featured speaker at The Social Contract Press, a white nationalist writers’ workshop created by FAIR.

Kobach’s ties to the organization led to his defeat in a 2004 race for Congress.  In a statement opposing Kobach and calling him unfit to serve and his appointment “nothing less than an outrage,” SPLC said Kobach “is a longtime lawyer for far-right extremist groups with ties to white nationalists” and “a leader in the movement to suppress the votes of minorities.” The statement added that voter suppression is the real threat to democracy.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump claimed the election was rigged, and that if he lost, his defeat would be attributed to rampant, nonexistent voter fraud and so-called illegal immigrants voting. After he won the Electoral College in November, he then said the margin of his deficit in the popular vote was due to voter fraud. Without providing a shred of proof of his allegation, Trump tweeted on November 27 that “in addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” As FiveThirtyEight reported, Trump misused research from an Old Dominion University study to falsely claim that 14 percent of noncitizens were registered to vote.

I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….

even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!

Last week, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Vice President’s office demanding evidence to back up Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said the commission is a “boondoggle” and part of Trump’s plan to “spread his own fake news about election integrity” as The Hill reported.

“The president … has alleged that ‘millions of votes’ were ‘illegally’ cast ‘for the other side.’ No concrete evidence has been provided thus far to support the president’s serious indictment against American democracy. Yet the president’s allegations are the basis of an executive order … to establish a ‘Commission on Election Integrity,’” the FOIA request from the ACLU read. “This FOIA demands that the government release the factual basis and evidence supporting the president’s allegations.”

In its FOIA request, the ACLU noted that Trump has suggested he will enact new voting restrictions based on a Department of Justice investigation. The civil liberties group stated that for 150 years since the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 to today, “politicians have consistently perpetuated unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud to justify discriminatory restrictions on the right to vote.” The request added that if federal and state governments plan to rely on the Department of Justice investigation to justify voting discrimination, “then the health of our democracy urgently demands that the public know the bases for such potential discrimination immediately.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, has noted that the issue has been studied and widespread voter fraud does not exist in the U.S. “But there is no evidence that millions, thousands or even hundreds of instances of in-person voter fraud occur in the United States,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in February. “One of the most reliable studies found only 31 instances of fraud in more than 1 billion votes cast over nearly 15 years. A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud.”

Trump’s executive order comes as the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will not reinstate North Carolina’s draconian voter ID law, which was regarded as one of the most restrictive in the nation and designed to discriminate against African-Americans.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Will Sinclair Broadcast Group take on Fox News after buying Tribune Media in a $3.9-billion deal?

Sinnclair Broadcast Group Inc., the Baltimore-based company that has kept a low profile, will become a nationwide player with the planned acquisition of Tribune Media and its 42 TV stations, giving it a powerful platform to potentially launch a right-leaning programming service to rival Fox News.

The company, which already is the largest TV station group owner in the U.S. with 139 stations, has operated largely out of the media business fishbowl because it had no outlet in New York or Los Angeles.

Now, with the Tribune acquisition, Sinclair will have a footprint in most of the country’s major markets, spanning about a third of the nation’s households.

Image result for wgntelevision
Image : wgntv

Sinclair said Monday that it will acquire Tribune Media Co. for $3.9 billion plus the assumption of about $2.7 billion in debt. Tribune shareholders are to receive $35 in cash and 0.23 of a share of Sinclair common stock for each Tribune share; based on Tribune’s closing stock price Friday, that’s a total value of $43.50 a share.

WGN is Tribune’s flagship station, founded by the Chicago Tribune in 1948.

More from LA Times

Posted by Libergirl