Fox News, fringe media outlets, and fake news purveyors echoed New York Post columnist Paul Sperry’s claims that former President Barack Obama is establishing a “shadow government” through his nonprofit organization Organizing for Action (OFA), with an “army of agitators -- numbering more than 30,000” -- to organize protests against, and to “sabotage,” President Donald Trump. Sperry has a history of pushing falsehoods, misleading claims, and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. A similar claim about an Obama “shadow government” was also made on Fox by discredited author Ed Klein in December 2016.
Discredited NY Post Columnist Claims Obama Is Running “Shadow Government” To Organize Anti-Trump Protests
Paul Sperry: Obama Creating “Shadow Government” To “Sabotage” Trump, And His Organization “Helped Organize Anti-Trump Marches … Some Of Which Turned Into Riots.” New York Post columnist Paul Sperry wrote that former President Barack Obama is creating “what will effectively be a shadow government” to “sabotage the incoming administration” with “an army of agitators — numbering more than 30,000.” Sperry claimed that “activists” involved with Obama's nonprofit, Organizing for Action (OFA), had already organized “anti-Trump marches across US cities, some of which turned into riots.” From the February 11 column:
When former President Barack Obama said he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests, he was sending a message of approval to his troops. Troops? Yes, Obama has an army of agitators — numbering more than 30,000 — who will fight his Republican successor at every turn of his historic presidency. And Obama will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.
In what’s shaping up to be a highly unusual post-presidency, Obama isn’t just staying behind in Washington. He’s working behind the scenes to set up what will effectively be a shadow government to not only protect his threatened legacy, but to sabotage the incoming administration and its popular “America First” agenda.
He’s doing it through a network of leftist nonprofits led by Organizing for Action. Normally you’d expect an organization set up to support a politician and his agenda to close up shop after that candidate leaves office, but not Obama’s OFA. Rather, it’s gearing up for battle, with a growing war chest and more than 250 offices across the country.
Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account. In fact, he gave marching orders to OFA foot soldiers following Trump’s upset victory.
Far from sulking, OFA activists helped organize anti-Trump marches across US cities, some of which turned into riots. After Trump issued a temporary ban on immigration from seven terror-prone Muslim nations, the demonstrators jammed airports, chanting: “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!”
Obama will be overseeing it all from a shadow White House located within two miles of Trump. It features a mansion, which he’s fortifying with construction of a tall brick perimeter, and a nearby taxpayer-funded office with his own chief of staff and press secretary. Michelle Obama will also open an office there, along with the Obama Foundation. [New York Post, 2/11/17]
Sperry Is A Discredited Former WND Writer Who Frequently Publishes Anti-Muslim And False Content. Sperry, a former Washington bureau chief for conspiracy outlet WorldNetDaily (WND), has a history of pushing falsehoods and conspiracies. In 2005, he published a book alleging that “Islamic radicals have worked their way into our government through intimidation and exploitation of religious tolerance.” In 2009, he published a follow-up story claiming that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest Muslim civil rights advocacy organizations in the United States, was attempting to infiltrate Congress and undermine democracy by seeking to place Muslim interns in congressional offices. In 2016, he falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton’s aides illegally “cut and pasted” classified materials and sent them to Clinton's personal email, that Clinton “routinely” asked her maid to print out classified material, and that Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s parents edited a “a radical Muslim publication.” [Media Matters, 4/15/05, 10/15/09, 1/24/16, 8/30/16, 11/6/16]
On Fox, Discredited Author Ed Klein Made Similar Claims About A “Shadow Government” In December
Ed Klein: The Obamas “Are Setting Up What They Are Calling A Shadow Government.” Discredited author Ed Klein appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday on December 18 to claim that the Obamas were setting up a “shadow government” as “almost an insurgency” to oppose the Trump administration. From the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday:
ED KLEIN: For the past 100 years, every president who is outgoing has packed up his stuff, gone home, and not criticized his successor. This is not what the Obamas are planning to do. They’ve rented an eight-bedroom mansion in the Kalorama section of Washington from Joe Lockhart, who is Bill Clinton’s last press secretary. In that house, there’s enough room for Valerie Jarrett, as well as Michelle and the kids, a place for ten cars to park. They are setting up what they're calling a shadow government.
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): So they’re saying though that it’s just their children are in D.C., they want to stay there. You're saying it’s more than that.
KLEIN: But that’s not the real reason that they're staying there. They're staying there because, despite what the president said on his press conference, he’s in a sense of outrage over this incoming Trump administration, which he thinks is going to wipe out his legacy. So he’s setting up this kind of almost an insurgency. He’s picking people in foreign affairs, labor, abortion, union matters. He’s setting them up to start appearing on television, making speeches, doing op-ed pieces. For the next four years, you’re going to see not only a Trump administration, but you’re going to see a shadow government opposing the Trump administration. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 12/18/16]
Ed Klein Is A Discredited Author. Ed Klein is a discredited author who has a history of publishing false allegations, including that Chelsea Clinton was conceived through rape. Klein has been widely criticized by other media figures across the political spectrum. [Media Matters, 6/29/14]
Fringe Outlets And Fake News Purveyors Run With Sperry’s Claims
Gateway Pundit: “Obama Is Leading OFA In Shadow Government To Take Down Trump.” In a February 12 post, Gateway Pundit published both a video of Klein’s interview and an excerpt from Sperry’s New York Post column, calling it “more evidence that Obama is working behind the scenes to take down Trump.” [The Gateway Pundit, 2/12/17]
Infowars: “Sabotage: Obama Is Commanding An Army Of 30,000 Anti-Trump Activists From His Home 2 Miles From The White House.” Infowars used Sperry’s “excellent article” to claim that Obama’s new home would serve as a “command center” used to direct his “army of more than 30,000 anti-Trump activists.” The post continued that while “many people have been pointing the finger at George Soros for funding and organizing anti-Trump activists, … the truth is that Organizing for Action is perhaps even more involved than Soros is.” Infowars also echoed Sperry’s claim that OFA’s alleged anti-Trump marches “turned into riots.” From the February 13 article:
[Barack Obama’s] new home is less than two miles from the White House, and from this “command center” he will be directing the activities of an army of more than 30,000 anti-Trump activists. In fact, as you will see below, this army has already been heavily involved in many of the protests and riots that have been popping up around the nation in recent days. “Sabotage” is a very strong word, but it is becoming apparent that Obama intends to do all that he can to sabotage the Trump administration, and that is very bad news for the American people.
On Saturday, the New York Post ran an excellent article by author Paul Sperry that was entitled “How Obama is scheming to sabotage Trump’s presidency”. In that piece, Sperry actually accuses Obama of setting up “a shadow government” to oppose Trump…
But Organizing for Action is not just about peaceful political action. In fact, according to Sperry some of the anti-Trump marches that Organizing for Action helped put together actually “turned into riots”…
So many people have been pointing the finger at George Soros for funding and organizing anti-Trump activists, but the truth is that Organizing for Action is perhaps even more involved than Soros is.
And Barack Obama is guiding and directing Organizing for Action from his brand new compound less than two miles from the White House. [Infowars, 2/13/17]
Allen West: “REVEALED: Obama’s Devious Plan To SABOTAGE Trump.” A post by Matt Palumbo on Fox News contributor Allen West’s website highlighted an excerpt of Sperry’s article, calling the claims “downright unnerving.” The post added that while Obama “won’t be directly criticizing Trump,” his “army of over 30,000” are “primed and ready to spread mayhem, chaos and violence.” From the February 12 article:
With Donald Trump as the president now, would Obama uphold the precedent set by Bush? He said in November that he wouldn’t criticize Trump, unless he felt that the Trump administration was “attacking American values.”
And as if on cue, not one week after leaving office, Obama said he was “heartened” by the anti-travel ban protesters.
While one could argue whether this was open criticism, it gives some insight into what Obama has planned, and it’s downright unnerving. Seems B. Hussein is going right back to his community-organizing roots…with a vengeance.
So what he said was technically true. He won’t be directly criticizing Trump – he’s just got an army of over 30,000 to do it for him — primed and ready to spread mayhem, chaos and violence. “Spontaneous” protests? My arse. [AllenBWest.com, 2/12/17]
Before It’s News: “Obama Establishes Shadow Government With 30,000 Shock Troops.” Fake news purveyor Before It’s News posted an excerpt of Sperry’s article, adding that “Obama was running and supervising all the riots during his Presidency out of the White House.” Before It’s News also accused Obama of ordering “Baltimore and Ferguson and all the other cities to give the rioters ‘space to destroy’” and called protesters there Obama’s “troops.” The post also alleged that George “Soros finances a lot of it.” [Before It’s News, 2/13/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Right Wing News: Obama Is “Organizing An Army Of Liberals” To Go After Trump. Fake news purveyor Right Wing News claimed that Sperry’s article showed that Obama wasn’t “just preparing to criticize Trump on his own” and was instead “organizing an army of liberals to do it with him.” It also suggested that Obama’s “army” was behind “the protests that the mainstream media have been calling ‘spontaneous.’” From the February 13 article:
According to the New York Post, Obama will be working with liberal non-profit organizations through Organizing for Action. The group is raising money and has opened more than 250 offices around the country. Staff has been increased, and young liberal activists are aggressively being recruited. The website proclaims, “We’re not backing down.” Obama’s legacy on issues like immigration, Obamacare, and climate change are what these activists are hoping to preserve.
OFA has been behind some of the anti-Trump protests across the country, including some that have turned into riots. According to federal tax records, OFA has 32,525 volunteers nationwide. It’s also registered as a 501(c)(4), so it doesn’t have to disclose who its donors are. So far, they have raised more than $40 million since evolving from Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America.
Obama isn’t just preparing to criticize Trump on his own — he’s organizing an army of liberals to do it with him. Clearly, the protests that the mainstream media have been calling “spontaneous” are nothing of the sort. [Right Wing News, 2/13/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Fox News Hosts Sperry To Spread His Conspiracy
In An Interview With Sperry, Fox’s Kilmeade Uses “Shadow Government” Claim To Suggest Save-Obamacare Protests At GOP Townhalls Have Been Set Up By Obama. Fox & Friends hosted Sperry to push his conspiracy theory, including the claim that anti-Trump protests are “not spontaneous” and instead are all “coming from Obama” and his “shadow government.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade ran with Sperry’s claims to suggest that save-Obamacare protests at Republican townhalls were set up by OFA, saying, “You know where it starts. You know where the foundation is.” From the February 14 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Protests erupted over President Trump’s refugee executive order. Former President Barack Obama said, quote, he’s "heartened by the demonstrations.” Is that it? Well our next guest says that was a message to his troops, an army of agitators with one goal: sabotage Trump’s presidency.
Paul, you point to Organizing for America. What is Organizing America doing with these protesters, and what's the president link to that organization?
PAUL SPERRY: Yeah, all these protests against Trump, they’re not spontaneous. They’re premanufactured by OFA, and OFA is Obama. OFA is the Organizing For Action. It's an nonprofit that's officially tied to Obama.
KILMEADE: But the guy’s wind surfing. Is he really organizing?
SPERRY: Oh, yeah. He’s behind all these protests that are breaking out across the country. He -- they want you to believe that this is some broad-based, sudden uprising against Trump's policies, but it's not. It's just Obama and his radical activists.
KILMEADE: How many are involved? How many are involved in OFA?
SPERRY: Well, according to their tax records that I looked up, they’ve got an army of over 32,000 hard core, Alinsky-trained agitators, and they’re training thousands more as we speak. They’ve got a big training summit coming up in March, and so basically Obama is building a shadow government to sabotage Trump at every turn. And he’s got an army to do it.
KILMEADE: Like with something -- you know something was up when [Rep.] Jason Chaffetz [(R-UT)] wins his district with 73 percent of the vote, yet at a town hall, 70 percent of the people at that town hall were screaming at him over Obamacare.
SPERRY: He’s in a safe Republican district. Yeah, that wasn't spontaneous, of course. That's all from right out of the training manual that OFA has put out. I’ve got a copy of it, and they actually have a whole section in here on how to target these town halls and ambush Republicans who go back to and have and hold these town hall meetings. It says, “Get seated and spread out. Head into the venue a bit early to grab seats at the front of the room, but do not all sit together. Sit by yourself or in groups of two. And spread out throughout the room. This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.”
KILMEADE: And if you talk to the administration offline and even sometimes on camera, they are stunned by the amount of uprising, the fact that these protests haven't stopped. You're not, because you know where it starts. You know where the foundation is.
SPERRY: Yeah, the Trump White House, these Republican lawmakers, they are just completely blindsided. They don't know where this is coming from. The opposition in the media say this is organic.
KILMEADE: Got you.
SPERRY: It's not organic. This is where this is all coming from. It's coming from Obama. I mean he’s basically set up an opposition government. And boy, I tell you, there is no precedent for this. This is the first president who’s actually staying behind in Washington at least for the last, within the last 100 years.
KILMEADE: And we just touched on the surface, which your investigating has revealed. Organizing for America, Barack Obama vs. Donald Trump, it continues. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/14/17]
Update: Following A Fox Segment, Trump Claims Protests Are “Planned Out By Liberal Activists”
Immediately After Fox Segment, Trump Tweets That Protests Are “Planned Out By Liberal Activists.” Minutes after a February 21 segment on Fox News’ Special Report in which Peter Doocy suggested protests at Republican town halls were “very well choreographed by the liberal activists that helped get Barack Obama elected president,” President Donald Trump tweeted, “The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” [Fox News, Special Report, 2/21/17; Twitter, 2/21/17]