Dinesh D'Souza | Media Matters for America

Dinesh D'Souza

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  • Actual historian dismantles Dinesh D'Souza's lie about slavery and the Constitution

    On Fox, D’Souza dismissed slavery’s impact on the Electoral College by separating it from the three-fifths compromise, and Mike Duncan fact-checked him

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On the October 8 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, pardoned felon and infamous serial liar Dinesh D’Souza responded to a tweet from New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by misleadingly suggesting that the three-fifths compromise did not indicate that the founders considered Black people less than fully human, because “the South wanted Blacks to count for a full person.” D’Souza also claimed that the Electoral College is “a different matter,” as it was merely about “the large states and the small states” vying for power. 

    As explained by author and award-winning history podcaster Mike Duncan, this is nonsense -- the three-fifths compromise was about artificially inflating “the political weight of the landowning white southerners” to increase both the number of representatives they received in the House and the impact of their votes for president.

  • Dinesh D'Souza's lazy, ugly propaganda film

    Death of a Nation is a disgusting farce, even by D’Souza standards

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Dinesh D’Souza’s new fake-documentary Death of a Nation opens with Adolf Hitler and his companion Eva Braun grimly committing suicide in the Fuhrerbunker, after which their bodies are hauled up to the streets of war-ravaged Berlin and set on fire. If you were to ask me why the movie opens with this gruesome reenactment, or why D’Souza had the actor portraying the Nazi dictator stare poignantly into the camera before shooting himself in the head, I honestly could not tell you. Nor can I offer any coherent explanation for why this film inflicts several other cinematic retellings of Hitler’s life upon the viewer. None of it is explained, and none of it makes much sense. What I can say is that Death of a Nation is a terrible and disgusting film, even by D’Souza standards.

    By now D’Souza’s filmmaking shtick is tiresome and relentlessly predictable: He play-acts at being a public intellectual and haphazardly tortures the historical record in the service of “proving” an ill-considered argument. In the process, he typically ends up accidentally disproving his own thesis and veers off into bigotry. The shodiness of the scholarship is (poorly) papered over with cinematic flourishes and ego-engorging footage of “Dinesh D’Souza: Serious Historian” as he walks around historically significant sites bathing them with terribly meaningful glances. Death of a Nation ticks all these boxes and offers a couple more pathetically self-indulgent twists, like carving out a few minutes of screentime for D’Souza’s wife to warble a treacly song about America.

    The thrust of Death of a Nation is that America is at a moment of existential crisis similar to the Civil War, and that the nation will, ahem, die if “the left” (George Soros, antifa, moderate Democrats, whoever) succeeds at whatever nefarious scheme it is assumed to have. The only thing standing between America and its demise is President Donald Trump, whom D’Souza casts as a glittering reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln. D’Souza presents the divide between left and right in hilariously childish terms, describing Democrats and progressives as “the bad guys” (meaning racists and fascists and totalitarians) and Republicans and conservatives as “the good guys” (the opposite of the bad guys). This dynamic has held firm throughout American history, D’Souza argues, and is a global phenomenon as well.

    That brings us back to Hitler. D’Souza’s theory of history requires that every villain be of the left, so he is obligated to demonstrate that fascism is actually a left-wing ideology. D’Souza is a late arrival to this rotten exercise in partisan revisionism, and his contributions to it are characteristically lazy. “Check out the official Nazi platform,” D’Souza says. “State-controlled health care, profit-sharing for workers and large corporations, moneylenders and profiteers punished by death, state control of education, state control of media and the press, state control of banks and industries, seizure of land without compensation, state control of religious expression -- this reads like something jointly written by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders!”

    This grotesque comparison required D’Souza to both water down the explicit bigotry of the Nazi platform and impute its totalitarian character to two sitting senators -- one of whom is Jewish, and neither of whom advocate for murdering bankers or call for state-run media, etc. But since D’Souza wants to ply this simple-minded exercise, I’ll point out that the Nazi platform also calls for a ban on immigration, mass deportations, a military buildup, and “legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press.”

    Blundering and incendiary allegations of leftist-fascist alignment abound in Death of a Nation. D’Souza argues that Auschwitz doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele was a “progressive” because he performed abortions in South America after the war. “Under Obama, we saw government control increase dramatically over banks, investment companies, energy companies, the entire health care sector, and education,” D’Souza says. “This is state-run capitalism [it isn’t], which is the clinical definition of fascism [it’s not].”

    His treatment of Hitler’s relationship with Ernst Röhm, the commander of the Nazi Party paramilitary force Sturmabteilung, clearly demonstrates D’Souza’s pernicious sloppiness. “Some progressives try to portray Hitler as a right-winger by insisting he was anti-gay,” D’Souza says. “But Hitler knew that the brownshirt leader Ernst Röhm was a notorious homosexual, as were many other brownshirts. ... When Heinrich Himmler urged Hitler to purge the gay brownshirts out of the Nazi movement, Hitler refused. Hitler said he didn’t care what the brownshirts did in private, as long as they were good fighters. Hitler was no social conservative.”

    This argument is a disgusting whitewash of Nazi terror and is an accidental indictment of social conservatism. To suggest that Hitler was somehow tolerant of (or indifferent to) homosexuality because he declined to persecute the stormtroopers who committed political violence on his behalf deliberately ignores Third Reich’s legal attacks on Germany’s LGBTQ population and the countless LGBTQ people who died in Hitler’s concentration camps. Röhm’s purge was followed by a viciously homophobic propaganda campaign used to justify the action.

    And it’s absurd for D’Souza, himself a social conservative, to define “social conservatism” against Hitler’s politically expedient hesitancy to expel/murder gay men from his political movement. If Hitler’s (temporary) unwillingness to do that disqualifies him from the ranks of social conservatives, then what does that say about true social conservatives?

    The flipside to D’Souza’s artless smearing of leftists as the “real” fascists is his equally incompetent effort to absolve the right generally (and Donald Trump specifically) of the taint of white supremacy.

    D’Souza tries to argue that 2017’s violent white supremacist outburst in Charlottesville, VA, which left one counter-protester dead, had nothing to do with right-wing politics or Donald Trump. “There they are, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Trump hats,” D’Souza sneers over footage of the Charlottesville rallies. “Doesn’t that prove that racism today is on the right?”

    Not at all, D’Souza counters, saying that Charlottesville organizer and white supremacist Jason Kessler was once an Obama supporter. He doesn’t explain why that fact precludes Kessler being a white nationalist Trump supporter now, nor does he explain how it debunks the footage D’Souza himself aired of white supremacists in Charlottesville wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, nor does he address the fact that Trump defended the white nationalist protesters. He just makes a largely meaningless observation that leaves the ongoing issue of white nationalists’ affinity for Trump glaringly unresolved.

    D’Souza also interviews white supremacist figurehead Richard Spencer in an attempt to demonstrate that Spencer’s and Trump’s worldviews are wholly divergent, and his gambit backfires. D’Souza asks him: “Would you be happy with an immigration strategy that basically said, ‘We want people from New Zealand, Australia, white guys from Europe, Iceland, and South Africa; we don’t want that many people from -- if any -- Barbados or Bombay?’” After Spencer says yes, D’Souza responds: “Now this seems very different than Trump.”

    It’s not really that different, though, given that Trump reportedly told lawmakers that he wanted more immigrants from Norway and fewer people from “shithole countries” -- Haiti and African nations, specifically. That comment was a big hit among white supremacists, including Spencer. D’Souza insists to Spencer that “the line that Trump is drawing is not a racial line but a line between the legal and the illegal immigrant.” The Trump White House, meanwhile, is reportedly planning harsh restrictions on legal immigrants seeking citizenship.

    Ridiculous, self-defeating arguments like this permeate Death of a Nation primarily because D’Souza doesn’t give a shit and has precisely zero respect for his intended audience. D’Souza does not want to change minds or start a discussion about political history -- this movie exists to wring as much cash as can be wrung from people who already believe that Democrats are Nazis and, as D’Souza puts it, “the real racists.” He doesn’t care about the soundness of his arguments. He just wants money and to go on TV.

    At this point, D’Souza barely bothers to conceal his avarice and mendacity because he doesn’t have to. He exists within a putrefying conservative political and media ecosystem that either celebrates his fraudulent money-grubbing or determinedly ignores it. He’s doing the rounds on Fox News and talk radio, and he has the support of the president and the president’s family. None of them care that D’Souza has been discredited more times than can be counted, or that he’s erasing Hitler’s murderous persecution of LGBTQ people, or that he accidentally demonstrated parallels between Trump and white supremacists. D’Souza is calling Democrats “fascists” and Donald Trump the next Abe Lincoln, and that’s good enough.

  • Everything right-wing media tried to blame for the Trump administration’s family separation policy

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    As President Donald Trump’s administration implemented a new “zero tolerance” prosecution policy at the border that led to unprecedented and systematic separation of immigrant families and locking kids in cages, right-wing media flailed around trying to blame the administration’s policy on anybody or anything except Trump.

    The president’s media enablers blamed Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, “the law on the book,” Democrats in Congress, the media, the families themselves, and even “the Illuminati of K Street” for the Trump administration’s policy:  

    Blaming the families themselves

    • Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that families “are choosing to be separated” by coming to the United States in the first place. Co-host Steve Doocy agreed, saying “the part that is troubling ... is the conscious decisions the parents are making” in trying to bring their children to America.

    • Recently pardoned felon Dinesh D’Souza rhetorically questioned whether the “deported aliens” were “the ones choosing to separate their families.”

    • Fox’s David Bossie said that if parents “don’t become criminals, they’re not separated” from their children.

    • Fox’s Tomi Lahren said, “If you do not want to be separated, do not cross the border illegally. Follow our laws, follow the process. That's the best way to ensure that your family stays together.”

    Blaming former presidents

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that family separation at the border "is an entirely manufactured crisis. It’s entirely manufactured. This has been going on for years. It happened during the Obama administration."

    • American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp declared, “Obama and Trump have [the] same child protection policy.”

    • Turning Point USA Communications Director Candace Owens falsely claimed that “these policies were in place” during the Obama administration.

    • Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk falsely stated, “All of this happened for 8 years under Obama.”

    • CNN commentator Ben Ferguson shared an image on Facebook that claimed that policies of separating children from “illegal parents” had been in effect since 2009.

    • Breitbart claimed Trump’s “new ‘zero tolerance’ policy worked during the presidency of George W. Bush,” referring to an initiative that began in 2005 and has not worked.

    • Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs stated that “previous presidents, including Bush and Obama, long ignored” family separation at the border until Trump “mov[ed] to stop” the practice.

    • Fox’s Sean Hannity claimed, “This is nothing new and took place in previous administrations as well.”

    • Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said that family separation has been “standard procedure for decades” when you “pick up a group of a hundred people and you have no idea who the hell they are.”

    Blaming a nonexistent law

    Blaming media, claiming they were using family separation as a distraction

    • Fox’s Brian Kilmeade said that Trump’s media detractors “had to reach for something else” after Trump “put a lot of the skeptics to bed … and they found it with the so-called separation of kids and parents.”

    • Rush Limbaugh claimed that media is inundating Americans with “manufactured crises” like family separation to distract from the Department of Justice inspector general report and strong economy.

    • Fox’s Tucker Carlson, host of one of the most racist hours on television, said that reporting on family separation is just the media pursuing their goal “to change your country, forever.”

    • NRATV commentator Dan Bongino claimed that media reporting on family separation is “propaganda, nothing more.”

    • Hannity accused the media of harboring an “obsession” with “the so-called policy” of separating children from their parents in order to mislead Americans.

    • Twitter troll Bill Mitchell predicted, “Every Sunday news show will be about Trump's #FakeNews ‘concentration camps’ and NOTHING about the OIG.”

    • Sinclair Broadcast Group’s propagandist Boris Epshteyn devoted his “must-run” segment on family separation to attacking the media for their “politically driven” attempts “to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are somehow monsters.”

    Blaming Democrats, claiming they were using family separation for political ends

    • According to The Gateway Pundit, Democrats “would rather the problem persist so they can continue to wring their hands over another manufactured crisis to distract from the damning IG report and robust economy.”

    • Fox Business’ Stuart Varney complained that Democrats “hijacked” a hearing on the IG report “within seconds of it beginning,” and “poured out [their] scorn for President Trump” instead.

    • Fox’s Trish Regan commented that Democrats “would much rather cry on television like [Rep.] Elijah Cummings [D-MD] did” than stop family separation, because “it plays to any hatred they can gin up, as we go into ‘18, for Donald Trump.”

    • National Review’s David French wrote, “I have a feeling that for some partisans, it’s fascism to impose the policy and fascism to try to end it -- at least so long as the GOP is in charge of the process.”

  • Right-wing media are rallying to defend the Trump administration’s inhumane separation of families at the border 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Trump administration is separating immigrant children from their parents or legal guardians after they cross the border, with at least 2,000 children taken from their parents since April 19. The administration’s merciless and inhumane policy has spurred numerous heartbreaking stories, including reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers. Yet right-wing media figures have been quick to defend the policy and dismiss its inherent cruelty:

    • Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak justified separating families at the border, saying the Border Patrol facilities are "better than what they had." Pollak also claimed that ICE taking children from their parents and putting them in detention facilities is “just about caring for the kids.”

    • Right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza, who recently received a pardon from President Donald Trump, questioned whether immigrant parents are “the ones choosing to separate their families.”

    • Fox's Pete Hegseth defended the separations because the children get food and "soccer and video games." Hegseth also called images of detained children “quite compassionate,” and said the policy was “defensible.”

    • Fox News’ Trish Regan argued that Trump is showing asylum-seeking families "tough love" by taking children away from their parents.

    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce called for White House press briefings to end after reporters confronted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about the separation of families.

    • Fox's Jesse Watters argued that the White House should "start ripping press passes away" from reporters who ask about families getting separated at the border. Watters also said that “some would say” that separation is “a more humane policy” than detaining the families together.

    • In a series of tweets, Twitter troll Bill Mitchell aggressively defended the policy, accusing the media of focusing on “#FakeNews ‘concentration camps,’” complaining about the money spent to keep the children captive, suggested that many of the children are “not with their families at all - they are with smugglers” (only a very small percentage of cases involve smuggling and often a bona fide relationship between the child and adult is clear), and claiming, “President Trump is PROTECTING these children.”

    • Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade downplayed “the so-called separation of kids and parents” at the border, arguing that the Democrats are using it to distract from the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Singapore Summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

    • Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said that families are “choosing to be separated” by showing up at the border. She also argued that “you can't even really blame an administration” for the separation policy.

    • Her fellow Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said that “the part that is troubling” is not children being ripped from their parents, but the parents choosing to come to the United States in the first place. Doocy also argued that the cages some children are being housed in shouldn’t be called “cages” because rather they are “walls [built] out of chain link fences," and he defended family separation by suggesting the U.S. government spends a lot of money to “make sure that those kids wind up with all that stuff” that detention facilities offer.

    • Fox & Friends repeated or referenced Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s lies about family separation throughout the June 18 broadcast. Nielsen initially claimed that separation wasn’t happening -- it is.

    • Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich said that Trump was “keeping [children] safe in dorms,” and he accused former President Barack Obama of giving children “to human traffickers.”

    • Fox host and Trump lackey Sean Hannity claimed that the policy of separation “took place in previous administrations” (neither the Obama nor the Bush administration separated families as a matter of policy). Hannity also accused the media of having an “obsession” with the “so-called policy of separating illegal immigrant families.”    

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham called the “outrage” over the separation policy “hilarious,” complained about watching “our country try to contort itself into other peoples' cultures,” and excused the separations because the children have “entertainment, sports, tutoring, medical, dental, four meals a day, and clean, decent housing” even though their “parents irresponsibly tried to bring them across the border illegally.” On her Fox show, Ingraham called the administration’s child detention centers “essentially summer camps” and compared them to “boarding schools.”

    • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn choose not to editorialize on the cruelty of family separation itself, instead attacking the "discourse" around separation policy and claiming it is what's wrong with Democrats and media.

    • Right-wing columnist Ann Coulter warned the president not to fall for “these child actors weeping and crying on” cable news.

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh called the outrage over family separation “an entirely manufactured crisis” and claimed “it happened during the Obama administration” too (it didn’t).  

    • One America News Network correspondent and internet troll Jack Posobiec defended the policy by fearmongering that children crossing the border could be with traffickers as opposed to family members. There is clear evidence of the relationship between many of the children in detention and the adult that accompanied them.

    • American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, a frequent cable news guest, contended that “Obama and Trump have same child protection policy” (they do not).

    • Fox’s David Bossie attempted to shift the blame onto the parents, arguing that “if they don't become criminals, they're not separated.” He also claimed that Trump is just “following the law,” ignoring the reality that separation is a Trump administration policy, not the law.

    • Fox host Tucker Carlson warned his viewers that people speaking up against America detaining children in cages just want to "change your country forever."

    • Chris Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation, criticized the "hyperbole" over family separation and child detention.

    • Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge attempted to paint Latin American children as violent by publishing a photo of children in Azaz, Syria.

    • Turning Point USA spokesperson Candace Owens claimed that “these policies were in place” during the Obama administration (they were not).

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter aggressively defended the policy, suggesting that the U.S. ought to “separate the children and then send them all away” and “in prison (sic) the parents until they serve their sentence then throw them out.”

    • Infowars frontman and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that separation has been the “standard procedure for decades” when you “pick up a group of a hundred people and you have no idea who the hell they are.” Infowars also claimed that Trump had exposed “the hoax that the US is mistreating migrant children.”

    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro fallaciously argued that Trump is simply “enforcing the law on the books.”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk posted a series of tweets fearmongering about “illegal immigration” and claimed that “all of this happened for 8 years under Obama” (nope).

    • NRATV host Dan Bongino claimed that reporting on the “immigration/children story” is “propaganda, nothing more” and argued that anyone who believed it is “delirious, and should seek professional help.”

    • Radio talk show host Ben Ferguson shared an image on Facebook claiming that policies of separating children from “illegal parents” had been in effect since 2009 and that Democrats just started talking about the issue because “they only care about making Trump look ‘bad.’” The post has been shared over 100,000 times.

    • Conservative commentator Dick Morris claimed that families seeking asylum at the borders were part of a “scam” in which adult immigrants were “abusers” who are using their children as a “battering ram to force their way into the country.” He also said the solution to this problem is to deny asylum to all immigrants who come to the border with a child.

    • Fox New contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich posted a series of tweets comparing the separation of asylum-seeking families to the separation of children and arrested parents and supporting Sarah Sanders’ claims in which she portrayed “illegal aliens” as criminals who are responsible for separating U.S. families permanently by “committing murder or killing through drunk driving.”

    • Conservative Review TV’s Jon Miller claimed that media are trying to push controversy around separation policies in order to “distract from the disastrous IG report and anything else this president has done that will cause people to vote for him.”

    • Fox News’ Tomi Lahren tweeted that “we owe ILLEGAL immigrants NOTHING,” and suggested that family separation is just one of the “consequences” parents have to accept when they “drag [their] kids over here ILLEGALLY.”

  • Right-wing media praise, justify Trump's decision to pardon Dinesh D'Souza

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Right-wing media figures were quick to defend and rejoice over President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon conservative author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza for his felony conviction for violating campaign finance law.

    On the morning of May 31, Trump tweeted:

    D’Souza was indicted in 2014 for violating campaign finance laws, and right-wing media figures also jumped to defend him then, portraying him as a victim of political persecution by the Obama administration, which D’Souza had criticized in a lie-filled book attempting to trace Obama’s liberal policy motivations and later in a lie-filled movie. But D’Souza pleaded guilty to the charges against him five years ago. His more recent missives have included tweets mocking students who survived the February school shooting in Parkland, FL and likening Democrats to Nazis.

    Following Trump’s announcement that he will give a full pardon to D’Souza, right-wing media figures celebrated the decision and claimed that D’Souza was indeed treated unfairly:

    Fox News host Jeanine Pirro: “Fantastic news @DineshDSouza to be pardoned by @POTUS. Obama’s political prosecution null and void.”

    Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano: Trump’s pardon of D’Souza is “a marvelous act of justice. Not mercy, justice.”

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “It’s about time”; pardon “was long overdue.”

    Right-wing troll Mike Flynn Jr.: “WOW! Incredible! @DineshDSouza totally deserves this! CONGRATS!”

    Pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: “Good to see Trump using that power” to correct “a lot of these travesties of justice that are taking place.”

    Wash. Examiner’s Byron York and Ingraham agree D’Souza sentencing was a “travesty” and “outrage.”

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh: D’Souza was sentenced “so that Obama could flex his muscles and show what a tough guy he was.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth: “I thought that was great.”

    Right-wing blogger Jim Hoft: D’Souza’s prosecution was an “Obama political hit job and “an obvious witch hunt.”

  • The staggering corruption of Dinesh D’Souza’s pardon

    A conspiratorial, racist fraud gets a reprieve from the like-minded president

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Dinesh D’Souza got off easy. Back in 2014, the right-wing crank was indicted for committing campaign finance fraud, and he pleaded guilty to illegally reimbursing “straw donors” to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long, his friend from college. Prosecutors wanted to throw D’Souza in prison for 10 to 16 months, arguing that the contrition he claimed to feel for his crime was belied by his many cable news appearances in which he said he was a victim of political persecution by the Obama administration. At his sentencing, the judge told D’Souza that “it is still hard for me to discern any personal acceptance of responsibility in this case.”

    The judge nonetheless showed leniency and gave D’Souza five years of probation, eight months in a “community confinement center,” plus community service. At the time, D’Souza said he was “relieved” and thanked the judge “for imposing a fair sentence.”

    Since then, D’Souza has tried to turn himself into a martyr. With the eager assistance of his friends in conservative media, he’s spun his conviction (he pleaded guilty, remember) and light sentencing as proof that Barack Obama’s administration pursued a vendetta to silence one of its conservative critics. That theory is based on precisely zero evidence.

    But it was good enough for President Donald Trump, who announced earlier today via Twitter that D’Souza (a vocal supporter of the president) will be receiving a full pardon.

    This is an obvious abuse of the president’s pardoning power and it follows a pattern of corrupt pardons. Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff (and current Republican Senate candidate) Joe Arpaio last year after he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey judicial orders to halt his department’s racial profiling of Latinos. Former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors in the Valerie Plame affair, got a pardon after his Trump-loving attorney pleaded his case to the White House.

    In all these cases, there are two common and related themes: Trump using his pardoning power to bestow favors on his cronies, and the insistence that the pardoned person was “treated unfairly.” Trump said Arpaio was “treated unbelievably unfairly,” his statement on Libby’s pardon said that “for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” and his tweet announcing D’Souza’s pardon said he “was treated very unfairly by our government.” What’s clear in all these instances is that “treated unfairly” means that the convicted person did not receive the sort of preferential legal treatment that the president feels his allies should enjoy.

    D’Souza’s pardon is also an expression of the corruption rotting away at conservative politics and the right-wing media. A healthy political movement would have long ago ostracized a bigot and fraud like D’Souza. He is a racist troll and inveterate conspiracy theorist who spends his days mocking school shooting survivors on Twitter. Leading up to the 2012 election he wrote a lie-filled book and produced a howlingly mendacious “documentary” arguing that Obama inherited a “Third World, anti-American” ethos from his absentee father. He wrote a book arguing that the “cultural left” was to blame for the September 11 attacks, and another book insisting that “the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”

    Rather than booting this extremist to the fringes, conservative media turned D’Souza into a cause célèbre. He was a fixture on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program during his campaign finance fraud trial, where he was given an open platform to assert his persecution at the hands of Obama. His idiotic conspiracy theories about Obama’s father garnered an enthusiastic endorsement from Newt Gingrich, who argued that you can understand the first black U.S. president only “if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” D’Souza is a regular guest on conservative talk radio and routinely hits the lecture circuit with the backing of right-wing activist groups.

    Now this racist, conspiratorial fraud has been pardoned by another racist, conspiratorial fraud, and this long-simmering corruption is being lauded within the Republican Party -- Trump’s pardon of D’Souza was quickly celebrated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who called D’Souza a “powerful voice for freedom.”

  • GOP groups are using right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza for fundraising

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Republican Party groups are continuing to partner with right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza for fundraising. D'Souza has mocked the survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, claimed that Rosa Parks was an “overrated Democrat,” and written that slavery wasn’t “a racist institution” and “the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well."

    D’Souza was the headline speaker for a March 10 fundraising event for the Flathead County Republican Central Committee in Montana. The Daily Inter Lake, which was allowed to attend the event while “reporters with the Missoulian and Montana Public Radio could only speak with attendees outside,” reported that “the evening was a can’t-miss event for many of Northwest Montana’s current and aspiring political leaders”:

    State Reps. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, and Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, state Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, Montana House candidate Shawn Guymon, Flathead County Sheriff candidate Calvin Beringer, and U.S. Senate candidates Matt Rosendale, Troy Downing and Al Olszewski were all seen greeting guests in the center’s lobby beforehand. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., came in just before the event.

    D’Souza is also scheduled to keynote an April 14 fundraising dinner for the Bonneville County Republican Party in Idaho. The group stated that Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidates “Congressman Raul Labrador, Dr. Tommy Ahlquist, and Lt. Governor Brad Little are expected to attend and offer remarks at the second annual event.”

    Bonneville County GOP first vice chair Bryan Smith has defended the group's choice, telling "EastIdahoNews.com that his organization has received some pressure to cancel D’Souza’s speaking engagement" but the local party isn't considering changing the speaker:  

    “We’ve had phone calls to two of our phone numbers. They often don’t leave names, or it’s a bogus name with no return number,” Smith tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Nobody on the executive committee involved in organizing the event thought for a moment to get another speaker. It’s a free country. We believe in free speech. We do not cancel people because we disagree with their views. Let him come and speak, and then we can judge it on the outcome.”

    D’Souza was invited to the Lincoln Day Dinner before the controversy erupted. Smith says one reason is because the author “epitomizes the great American dream.”

    D’Souza headlined a February 16 Republican Party event in Nevada that was attended by Nevada Republican officials including Sen. Dean Heller and state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.

    D’Souza should be considered too toxic to have a place in mainstream politics.

    Last month, the right-wing pundit took to Twitter and repeatedly mocked the student survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. While D’Souza eventually apologized, his comments were part of a long pattern of vitriol. As Daily Beast Senior Editor Andrew Kirell wrote:

    Over the past year, D’Souza has: suggested the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally (which led to the murder of an anti-racism protester) was a “staged event” designed to make the right look bad; shared a meme calling former President Barack Obama a “gay Muslim” and suggesting Michelle Obama is a man; started a conspiracy theory that the media covered up Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s background as an anti-Trump activist (he wasn’t); used a photo of a grieving military widow—despite her protests—to attack football players kneeling during the national anthem; and defended Adolf Hitler, who sent thousands of gay people to death camps, as being “NOT anti-gay.”

    D’Souza also called civil rights activist Rosa Parks an “OVERRATED DEMOCRAT,” and wrote of slavery: "Was slavery a racist institution? No. Slavery was practiced for thousands of years in virtually all societies. … the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well." He also called for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, explaining he believes that the “law should be changed so that its nondiscrimination provisions apply only to the government.” (Many of D’Souza’s other idiotic remarks can be found here and here.)

    Shortly after D’Souza’s Florida shooting remarks, a business association canceled an event featuring him, citing "circumstances beyond our control."

    D’Souza pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to a Republican Senate campaign in 2014. He has since claimed that the prosecution was “a political prosecution” and attacked prosecutor Preet Bharara as “a familiar Indian type, one of those gang leaders out of 'Slumdog Millionaire' transplanted to the United States. … Since Preet Bharara doesn't have a strong Indian accent he may be employable as one of those tech guys who helps you fix your computer.”

  • Texas business association cancels Dinesh D’Souza event after his comments mocking school shooting survivors

    Organizations should stop booking the idiot troll in the first place

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce in Texas has canceled its event with conservative author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza after he mocked the student survivors of the Parkland, FL, school shooting.

    An organizer for the event confirmed to Media Matters in an email today that the event has been canceled. 

    The event, titled “Dinesh D'Souza - The Case for Capitalism," was scheduled for February 23 and was sponsored by local groups and financial institutions like NewFirst National Bank and First Financial Bank (a cache of the event page, which has been taken down, is available here).

    Student survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been speaking out against gun violence, calling for new gun laws, and organizing rallies. Right-wing media personalities, however, have smeared the students with attacks and conspiracy theories.  

    D’Souza has recently mocked the student survivors and said their grief “strikes me as phony & inauthentic”:

    D’Souza’s remarks drew widespread criticism. The Conservative Political Action Conference, where D’Souza spoke in the past, said “his comments are indefensible.” On Twitter, activists criticized the Texas event and its listed sponsors. While D’Souza claimed he was “sorry,” there’s little in his history to suggest he actually cares about basic decency.  

    As Daily Beast Senior Editor Andrew Kirell summarized in a piece wondering why D’Souza is on the National Review’s masthead:

    And yet, his comment about the teenagers was no isolated incident. And National Review's own star editors and writers are well-aware of that.

    Over the past year, D’Souza has: suggested the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally (which led to the murder of an anti-racism protester) was a “staged event” designed to make the right look bad; shared a meme calling former President Barack Obama a “gay Muslim” and suggesting Michelle Obama is a man; started a conspiracy theory that the media covered up Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s background as an anti-Trump activist (he wasn’t); used a photo of a grieving military widow—despite her protests—to attack football players kneeling during the national anthem; and defended Adolf Hitler, who sent thousands of gay people to death camps, as being “NOT anti-gay.”

    In 2014, a federal judge sentenced D’Souza to a five-year probation, “with eight months during the first year to be served in a community confinement center, after having pled guilty to violating the federal campaign election law by making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others.”

    D’Souza’s resume -- both before and after his tweets about Parkland -- is so toxic that any legitimate organization should avoid him. Still, he recently headlined a February 16 Republican Party event in Nevada that was attended by Nevada Republican officials such as Sen. Dean Heller and state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.

    And in 2017, D’Souza headlined fundraisers for groups such as the Florida State University College Republicans, the Washington County Republican Party in Utah, and the Ector County Republican Party in Texas.

    While the Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce canceled D’Souza’s appearance, he is still set to appear at other events in the near future. He is scheduled to:

    • speak at an event sponsored by the Flathead County Republican Party (MT) in March;  
    • appear at the 14th Annual Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast (FL) in March; and
    • headline the Bonneville County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Banquet (ID) in April.

    Requests for comment to those three groups were not returned.

  • Here are the right-wing media figures defending Trump’s racist “shithole” comment

    ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    During a meeting on immigration policy in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump reportedly questioned the United States’ policy of accepting immigrants from, what he said, were “shithole countries,” such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. In the aftermath of the president’s racist remarks, many in right-wing media rallied around him to defend his comments.

  • The right-wing scramble to lie about Beverly Young Nelson

    Breitbart and Fox News seize an opportunity to dishonestly undermine the sexual assault reports against Roy Moore

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s allies in the conservative media have been trying desperately to undermine the numerous credible reports of sexual misconduct by Moore, and today they thought they’d finally spied an opportunity -- which they immediately seized on with characteristic dishonesty.

    Beverly Young Nelson, who says Moore assaulted her when she was 16 years old, went public with her story at a November news conference and offered evidence of her past relationship with Moore: a high school yearbook containing a signed inscription from the Alabama Republican. Today, in an interview with ABC News, Nelson told reporter Tom Llamas that while the inscription and the signature were written by Moore, she added notes underneath indicating the date and location.

    In certain corners of the conservative media, all hell broke loose as Moore’s defenders claimed that this “bombshell” revelation vindicates their candidate, whose campaign had argued that the handwriting did not match Moore’s and that he was the victim of a conspiracy.

    Obviously this is information that should have been disclosed when Nelson (and her attorney, Gloria Allred) went public with her story, given the sensitivity of the issue and the weight placed on the yearbook as material evidence of the relationship between Moore and Nelson. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Moore and his defenders would challenge the authenticity of the inscription -- one of those defenders, apparently, is President Trump, who reportedly has been privately calling the signature a forgery.

    Nelson’s clarification provided Moore’s supporters an opening to mount a deceitful campaign to discredit her. She maintains that the message and signature in her yearbook still belong to Moore, but Moore’s allies in the conservative media are embellishing what Nelson said and dishonestly reframing her comments to make it seem like she admitted to fabricating the whole thing.  

    They’re accomplishing this through deliberately sloppy language and tendentious use of the word “forged.” Breitbart.com’s headlined screamed “Roy Moore Accuser Beverly Nelson Admits She Forged Yearbook,” which is a perniciously false characterization of what Nelson said. “Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama senate candidate,” read a (since deleted) Fox News tweet. Right-wing crank Dinesh D’Souza tweeted that Nelson had “forged his signature in her yearbook,” which is not at all what happened.

    Setting aside the bad-faith argument being put forth by Breitbart and Fox News, there’s still the fact that eight other women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexual assault and other inappropriate behaviors, often dating back to when they were very young. Moore’s conservative defenders don’t have anything to say about those women beyond insane conspiracy theories about George Soros and Mitch McConnell engineering some sort of anti-Moore plot. (And they’re determinedly unconcerned by the fact that Moore, after having admitted meeting some of his accusers, changed his story to claim he doesn’t know any of them.)

    The unstated but obvious goal behind the rush to exaggerate and mischaracterize what Nelson actually said is to discredit everyone who has come forward with stories of misconduct by the Alabama Republican. As I wrote earlier this week, Moore’s allies in the conservative media have mounted a sustained and dishonest campaign to defend the candidate and concoct an alternate reality in which the charges against him have been proven false. Right now they’re trying to throw so much mud that some of it sticks to the other women whose stories have nothing to do with Beverly Young Nelson's yearbook.