WND reporter Aaron Klein's history of outrageous conspiracy theories has already cast serious doubt on the credibility of his new book, The REAL Benghazi Story. But the book itself contains major distortions of reality, including selectively-edited evidence and distorted facts, reconfirming Klein's commitment to pushing convoluted hoaxes.
Klein's book, which Media Matters obtained a copy of in advance of its September 9 release, claims to "expose" the "truth" about the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya, revealing "What The White House and Hillary Don't Want You To Know." Included are a few of the more conspiratorial analyses that Klein has previously pushed at the birther website WND, such as the claim that Benghazi is linked to the Boston Marathon bombing -- because a handful of members of a jihadist group may have taken part in the Benghazi attacks, and that group also "is behind" a magazine "thought to have provided bomb-building instructions" for the accused marathon bombers.
Klein's book does include one seemingly "new" Benghazi theory, which is also entirely false. Klein attempts to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for what he claims is her previously "unreported role" in Benghazi, by falsely claiming she must have personally approved security conditions at the Benghazi compound.
The Benghazi mission was unusual for government buildings overseas, as it featured a CIA annex that was separate from the diplomatic compound, roughly a mile apart. Typically government agencies are housed together in the same building, which is called "co-location." According to Klein, State Department regulations would have required Clinton to personally sign a waiver permitting the Benghazi mission to be set up like this, and thus provided "personal approval of security conditions at the compound":
...it can now be said that Clinton personally provided the legal waivers for U.S. personnel to occupy that death trap of a mission. This largely unreported detail was confirmed in the Senate's January 2014 report on Benghazi. Senate investigators found the Benghazi facility required a special waiver since it did not meet the minimum official security standards set by the State Department.
Some of the necessary waivers, the Senate affirmed, could have been issued at lower levels within the State Department. However "other departures, such as the co-location requirement, could only be approved by the Secretary of State." ... This means Clinton herself approved some aspects of the U.S. special mission, including separating the mission from the seemingly more protected CIA annex. In doing so, did Clinton know she was approving a woefully unprotected compound? If not, then at the very least she is guilty of dereliction of duty and the diplomatic equivalence of criminal negligence.
But the fact is the Benghazi mission did not require this kind of waiver. The State Department regulations Klein is referencing lay out the responsibilities of the Secretary under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act, or SECCA. But as the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB) that investigated Benghazi explained, the Benghazi facility was exempted from SECCA. SECCA applies to diplomatic facilities, such as consulates, that are officially notified to the host government. Instead, the special mission in Benghazi was a "temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government," and as such SECCA rules -- waivable or not -- did not apply.
In fact, the document approving the set up and security conditions for the compound has been public since at least September 2013, when it was posted online by Al Jazeera America. It clearly shows the signature of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, as well as clearance from a number of other low-level officials.
State's ARB report acknowledged that the Benghazi mission's "'non-status' as a temporary, residential facility made allocation of resources for security and personnel more difficult." They recommended State develop minimum security standards for temporary facilities and encouraged co-location in the future. Clinton accepted the recommendation and began implementing it before leaving office.
Real flaws in security at Benghazi do not, however, justify Klein's attempt to ignore the facts and claim Clinton personally signed waivers approving the compound.
WND reporter Aaron Klein is releasing The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don't Want You to Know, which claims to "expose" the "truth" about the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya. Klein is utterly devoid of credibility -- he's a conspiracy theorist who claims President Obama has an "eligibility problem," says Obama may be a Muslim who "might be with" Al-Qaeda given his "Islamic background," and previously authored books about Obama being a "Manchurian President" deserving of impeachment.
Conspiracy website WND is using Robin Williams' recent suicide to try to sell DVDs about celebrities using "demonic" powers to gain stardom.
On August 14, WND reprinted an excerpt of an opinion piece by Joe Schimmel that argues Williams used the help of "demonic powers" that "aided him on stage," but these "insidious forces" eventually "drove him to suicide":
Everybody is currently talking about Robin Williams and his tragic suicide. Many are puzzled as to how a man, who made so many people laugh, could be so depressed that he would violently end his life. What people are not learning is the deeper truth about the insidious forces that tormented Robin Williams and drove him to suicide.
Robin Williams acknowledged that he had opened himself up to transformative demonic powers that aided him on stage. Without the aid of such demonic powers, it is likely that you would have never have heard of Robin Williams and many other famous celebrities. Williams also recognized that these powers had manifested a very evil influence on stage and that there could be a hefty price to pay for their assistance.
At the end of the excerpt -- the full piece is published at "Good Fight Ministries" -- WND links to its website store with the text, "Is Satan using music to corrupt our youth? See Joe Schimmel's shocking three-hour video: 'They Sold Their Souls for Rock 'n' Roll.'"
For the "Discount Price" of $15.95, readers can purchase the "3 Hour Version" -- which has been "condensed from the best of the full 10-hour version" -- of Schimmel's movie, which argues "how Satan has been effectively using popular music to undermine God's plan for the family and ultimately heralding the coming of the Antichrist and his kingdom on earth."
The Schimmel excerpt is currently featured prominently on WND's opinion section with the headline, "Robin Williams: The Sad Truth Media Won't Tell You":
WND's Superstore regularly attempts to profit off of crass paranoia, selling products claiming President Obama's birth certificate is fake, Harry Potter is "witchcraft," and John "Lennon may well have sold his soul to the devil and that the assassination was merely Satan collecting his due."
Right-wing media are exploiting the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa to stoke fears that undocumented immigrants could carry the deadly virus across the southern U.S. border, even though the Centers for Disease Control and other health experts have stated that the likelihood of such an event is "almost nonexistent."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out after the cancellation of an upcoming concert, claiming his critics are like Nazi chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
On July 21 the Coeur d'Alene Tribe announced that Nugent will not perform at the tribe's Idaho casino on August 4, citing "Nugent's history of racist and hate-filled remarks." The Puyallup Tribe followed suit, cancelling two scheduled concerts at its Washington state Emerald Queen Casino because they didn't want their venue used "to promote his racism."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, responded to his critics in his regular column for conspiracy website WND.com, comparing them to an infamous Nazi. While claiming that American Indians are his "BloodBrothers," Nugent wrote that those who lodged complaints against his scheduled performances were part of the "Josef Goebbels gang." He also wrote, "Josef Goebbels and Saul Alinsky would be very proud of them and very angry at me. Cool."
Nugent's Nazi comparison comes as the NRA is already under fire from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists compared a proposal to expand background checks on gun sales in Washington state to the policies of Adolf Hilter, and mocked Jewish individuals who support gun safety.
Rep. Paul Ryan's poverty proposal, which would in part punish impoverished Americans for not getting themselves out of poverty on a specific timeline, is based on the conservative myth pushed by right-wing media that blames poverty on individuals' "spirit" and personal life choices. Experts say poverty is the result of systemic inequality and lack of opportunity.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent demonized those in poverty, describing them as "stupid" and having "no one to blame but themselves," while attacking their access to "luxuries" such as "air-conditioning," "bling-bling," and "clean water."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, wrote in a July 16 column for WND, "America's Whining 'Poor' -- And Other Conundrums," that "the squawking poor just keep on getting poorer, and as is always the case, they have no one to blame but themselves. Stupid is as stupid does."
He went on to complain that "America's so-called poor live a life far better than do real poor people around the world and have luxuries they can only dream of," citing access to clean water and other supposed "luxuries":
As the Democrats continue to get away with their crimes, the squawking poor just keep on getting poorer, and as is always the case, they have no one to blame but themselves. Stupid is as stupid does. Brainwashing only works if you give up your brain and your soul to the brainwashers.
Another mind-boggling conundrum is the fact that America's so-called poor live a life far better than do real poor people around the world and have luxuries they can only dream of.
With their cell phones, automobiles, microwave ovens, air-conditioning, new clothes, manicures and pedicures, bling-bling, clean water, more food than they can eat, pretty much redistributed everything handed to them, they still whine how America should be more like those other countries.
If you're a conservative who wants to impeach President Obama, time is running out. You need to give Allen West money, and quickly. It's an "emergency."
In a series of emails sent to subscribers in recent weeks, Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman Allen West has implored people to donate to his PAC, the Allen West Guardian Fund, in order to hasten Obama's impeachment. And West isn't alone -- numerous conservative media figures and political groups are looking to cash in on Obama's supposedly impending impeachment through donations, books, and various impeachment merchandise.
Right-wing media have been pushing for Obama's impeachment for more than five years over a wide range of issues, but impeachment chatter got a boost earlier this July when Sarah Palin penned an opinion piece for Breitbart.com. She called for Obama's removal from office, arguing that the president's "unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, 'no mas.'" She reiterated her call on Fox's Hannity, telling viewers it was time to "get going" on impeachment.
While numerous members of the conservative noise machine are agitating for impeachment, not everyone is on board. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, for one, thinks "impeachment would be crazy" at the moment.
But regardless of whether impeachment is good politics for conservatives, it's starting to look like good business.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent wrote that some people who supported President Obama "defiled the sacrifices and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spat on his grave" because they voted for Obama "based on the color of his skin instead of the content of his character."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, added in his July 9 column for conspiracy website WND that Obama's election represented "the worst case of racism I have ever witnessed in my lifetime":
We have all seen the roving reporter man-on-the-street interviews. I'm sure we all have some friends, acquaintances, even family members and others who have uttered the painful statement. I don't know about anyone else, but when I first heard people say that they voted for Barack Obama because he was black, or that it was "time" for a black president, my skin crawled.
I am well aware that that statement of mine will be isolated and made out to be "racist" by the dishonest media and the maniacally boneheaded Saul Alinsky gang over at the Huff-n-Puff Post and beyond, but the real horror is that the worst case of racism I have ever witnessed in my lifetime was the indecent choice en mass by millions of Americans who defiled the sacrifices and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spat on his grave when they actually admitted that they voted for this president based on the color of his skin instead of the content of his character.
In a later section of his column that sought to downplay racism in the United States, Nugent claimed he has "never personality witnessed" it in his lifetime:
Does racism still exist in America today? I'm guessing that is does, but in my nonstop world travels over a lifetime, being the ultra-gregarious chap that I am, enjoying the friendships of many good people, performing more than 6,500 concerts around the globe, diligently pursuing diverse peoples and places, I have never personally witnessed racism or hatred of any kind with anyone I have ever met.
Why would WND dispatch Jerome Corsi to London to publish a series of reports on the trial of a conspiracy theorist? As is often the case with Corsi and WND, there's an utterly bizarre explanation: the guy on trial thinks President Obama's mother isn't his real mother.
After the nonsensical conspiracy that President Obama lacked a proper American birth certificate was finally put to rest when he released the long-form version of that document in 2011, birther conspiracy theorists have forged increasingly convoluted and bizarre allegations to try to keep the story alive. Right-wing fringe sites like WND -- which, not coincidentally, sells a wide range of birther swag at its online store -- have spent the years since the release of the long-form certificate desperately trying to breathe life back into the conspiracy. Based on things like a smudged stamp ink and a supposedly-hidden "smiley face" in the long-form certificate, writers like Corsi have declared the document to be a forgery (a ridiculous claim also endorsed by people like Donald Trump).
Hand-in-hand with the conspiracy that Obama lacks or is hiding an authentic birth certificate, conspiracy theorists have also obsessed over the idea that Barack Obama Sr. is not the president's real father. Candidates for the "real father" have included Malcolm X, an unidentified "American black," "some Indonesian," and, most prominently, Communist poet Frank Marshall Davis. (The latter theory was the focus of an inane 2012 "documentary," which found fans in Corsi and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley.)
In an article filed earlier this week from London, Corsi highlighted the outlandish claims of Michael Shrimpton, "a middle-aged London barrister by profession and self-proclaimed intelligence expert." Shrimpton is currently awaiting trial in England for allegedly intentionally misleading the British government by falsely claiming terrorists planned to detonate a nuclear weapon during the 2012 Olympics that he claimed was stolen from a sunken Russian submarine.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has again dipped into the fringes of the conservative media for support. The Washington Post reported that Paul is building a national network to potentially support a 2016 presidential run, and is using Fritz Wenzel as his pollster.
Wenzel is a birther who has called President Obama an "imposter," and teamed up with conspiracy site WND to push dubious polling about the president's birth certificate. In addition to promoting conspiracy theories, Wenzel is also an objectively poor pollster. He has a long history of offering wild electoral predictions, prompting Slate reporter Dave Weigel to dub him the "pollster that's always wrong."
Wenzel's WND polling isn't limited to birtherism. WND articles about his polls carry headlines like, "AMERICANS WANT 'GAY' LESSONS BANISHED"; "POLL: SEEDS OF TYRANNY PRESENT IN AMERICA"; "ANSWER TO BENGHAZI OBFUSCATION? IMPEACHMENT"; and "POLL: PALIN WOULD STIR UP EVEN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY" (a poll that claimed Palin would be competitive against Obama in a Democratic primary).
Wenzel's problematic history means the media should treat his polling and analysis skeptically as Paul ramps up his presidential efforts.
The website of Wenzel Strategies touts an endorsement from Paul, who states: "Fritz Wenzel and Wenzel Strategies played a crucial role in my [Senate] election victory ... He is smart, swift, great to work with, and provides top-quality work. I would recommend him to any political campaign." Wenzel was also the pollster for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign.
Paul's birther pollster is his latest connection to fringe conservative media. Last year Jack Hunter resigned from Paul's Senate office after his "neo-Confederate" and "pro-secessionist" punditry (including defenses of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth) surfaced. Hunter co-wrote Paul's 2011 book, and also appeared in The Daily Caller and on Fox Business. Paul has also repeatedly appeared on the program of leading 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Paul used Jones' program as a publicity and fundraising platform during his U.S. Senate campaign, and Jones was an enthusiastic and active supporter of his candidacy.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent wrote that opponents of gun safety laws "must learn from Rosa Parks and definitely refuse to give up our guns," citing a Connecticut law that banned assault weapons following the use of an AR-15 in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Nugent's claim in his regular column for conspiracy website WND that Parks is his "hero" because of her efforts to fight segregation came on the same day that Media Matters made available a copy of a 1990 interview where Nugent defended the apartheid, a system of racial segregation enforced in South Africa, with the claim, "All men are not created equal."
In his March 26 column, Nugent wrote, "If anyone believes that gun confiscation is not a real threat here in America or that it couldn't happen here like it did in the U.K. and Australia, just look to what is happening in Connecticut." Connecticut's new law prohibits the future purchase of assault weapons and requires current owners of assault weapons to register their guns. Despite a federal court ruling that the law is a constitutional means of regulating weapons under the Second Amendment, thousands of gun owners are reportedly refusing to register their weapons.
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for the Outdoor Channel, went on to compare the supposed plight of gun owners to the experiences of victims of racial discrimination who fought against segregation:
In 1955, my hero, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a city bus. Good for her. In 2014, gun owners must learn from Rosa Parks and definitely refuse to give up our guns. As Rosa Parks once said, "You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."
(Image from Jackson's 2010 video, "There's a Communist Living in the White House)
When former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson announced this week that she will be seeking political office in Tennessee, it capped perhaps the most bizarre recent career in fringe conservative media.
After appearing on SNL in the 80's, Jackson had largely faded from public view until she reshaped herself in recent years as a tea party activist and conservative bomb-thrower. Her proclamations that Obama is definitely a communist and possibly the Antichrist sparked something of a second career, leading to a stint as a columnist for conspiracy website WND, a web-TV series, occasional Fox News interviews, and regular appearances at conservative and tea party events.
This week, Jackson "filed to run as an independent candidate for a seat on a county commission outside Nashville, Tenn."
Conservative media spend a lot of time and energy wringing money out of their followers. Between the conservative publications that use their email lists to scam subscribers with dubious health advice, and the conservative radio hosts who pitch precious metals to their listeners, and the symbiotic relationship that exists between right-wing pundits and conservative non-profits and activist groups, it's all but certain that at any given moment some overly credulous right-leaning Americans are throwing good money at bad investments.
Salon writer Alex Pareene has posited that "the conservative media movement exists primarily as a moneymaking venture." Indeed, conservative websites -- particularly conspiracy-minded ones -- offer a wide array of products inspired by their nonsensical jibbering. WND, for example, has an entire section of its online store devoted to selling products related to the Obama birth certificate conspiracy the site has been flogging for more than five years.
These sites hawk a staggering array of often-bizarre products, ranging from gear to protect you and your family from the ever-imminent Apocalypse, to playing cards featuring the members of the New World Order. All of it generously marked up. Right Wing Watch highlighted several gift options from conservative outlets "for the prepper in your family," including "a $150 bucket of black bean burgers" (with ketchup).
In the spirit of the season, here is Media Matters' Christmas (not holiday) shopping guide to right-wing websites.
Price: $1,499 from WND.com
WND has published dozens of articles over the years warning its readers of an impending attack on the U.S. -- possibly by Iran, North Korea, or Cuba -- with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon that could leave "9 out of 10 Americans dead." This Faraday cage -- "manufactured specifically for WND" -- will ensure that "your electronics will survive" the devastating EMP attack, even if you don't.
It weighs a barely-there 55 lbs, and at the low price of $1,499, it only needs to protect 3 iPhones from an EMP attack (or one iPhone from three EMP attacks) in order to pay for itself. Be sure to supplement your Faraday cage with some "EMP Faraday Bags," designed with "desiccant pouches to remove humidity and a sliding bag clamp to ensure a tight Faraday cage seal."
"Super Male Vitality™"
Price: A steal at $69.95 (on sale from $89.97) from InfoWars
Super Male Vitality™ uses the "science of modern day technology" to keep you from losing "vitality, energy, sexual drive, and overall wellness." Alex Jones himself attests to the fact that Super Male Vitality™ is "literally an infusion of the highest quality sources and naturally derived essences."
So what goes into this magic science potion? There's "a ground vine with deep roots," various types of ginseng, "the common oat," and a tree bark that "has been described as an aphrodisiac and sexual stimulant."
You may think that paying $70 for a 2-oz. bottle of oats and ginseng is a bit excessive. But just listen to Alex Jones: "This product works so well for me that I actually had to stop taking it before I go on air or else I would want to do hours and hours of overdrive with complete focus."
Makes a great stocking stuffer alongside Fluoride Shield™, which protects you from the dangers of fluoride with the help of exotic, hard-to-find ingredients like tamarind and cilantro.
As the one-year anniversary of the December 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School approaches, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is blaming "the self-inflicted scourge of political correctness" for the shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut.
In his regular column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent wrote on December 11 that unless America followed a series of his policy recommendations -- including arming teachers, eliminating "gun-free zones," and getting "deranged people off the streets" -- "then those precious little 20 children and their six teachers and faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary died for nothing."
He also explained mass shootings as a product of "political correctness" run rampant in society:
The first lesson we should take away from the Sandy Hook massacre is that the self-inflicted scourge of political correctness has dumbed down America enough to allow the conditions to continue to exist that will facilitate another twisted individual capable of doing the same thing to flounder about our society. In fact, it already happened at the Washington Naval Yard. It is going to happen again. And again.
There is no evidence, however, that Nugent's recommendations would prevent school shootings or reduce gun violence generally.
Channeling the NRA's first-post Newtown comments, Nugent claimed that, "The only way to stop a madman with a gun is a good guy or two with guns. Nothing else will work." Thus, according to Nugent, "supporting arming teachers and other faculty members is clearly the right choice."
In fact, an analysis of public mass shootings by Mother Jones that covered the past 30 years did not find a single mass shooting ended by an armed civilian. While the Obama administration and the National Education Association have supported funding for placing more armed members of law enforcement in schools, there is no evidence that the NRA and Nugent's unpopular proposal to arm teachers would prevent shootings.