Samantha Bee explains how Peter Schweizer manipulates the media into amplifying false smears

Bee: “You don't need to cover stories that aren't true. It's a reckless, unprofessional, offensive choice you're making. ... And now the media are falling for the same scam all over again.”

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Citation From the October 23, 2019, edition of TBS's Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

SAMANTHA BEE (HOST):Yesterday, the U.S.'s top diplomat in Ukraine testified to Congress that the quid? It was oh so pro quo. This is the strongest evidence we've seen that Trump really did pressure Ukraine to investigate his rivals since Mick Mulvaney went on TV and admitted it. Jesus Christ, how many times do these guys have to confess? This is like a Law & Order episode where the suspect admits to the murder in the first three minutes. "Mario? Yeah, I knew him. I killed him."

For those who are a little confused by the Biden/Ukraine controversy that Trump was supposedly investigating, let's do a comprehensive explainer of the whole scandal. It's bullshit. Explainer over. I mean, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of reasons to criticize Joe Biden, from his treatment of Anita Hill to his vote for the Iraq war to allegations that he inappropriately touched a train, but the Ukraine story is not one of them, because there is no evidence that either Biden did anything illegal in Ukraine. So where did Trump get this crazy idea? From this guy: right-wing author Peter Schweizer.


Now, you may not have heard of Peter Schweizer unless you've been at an airport Hudson News or are anyone's dad, but his newest book, Secret Empires, created the Biden/Ukraine conspiracy theory that Trump is obsessed with. If only Trump had picked up a Stephen King book instead, we could be talking about his executive orders against homicidal, Satanic cars. ... But Trump's not the only one who believes Schweizer's tale of Biden-ly misbehavior. Schweizer is very good at injecting his nasty little gas bubbles into America's bloodstream.


That's like if 2 out of the 5 power rangers were anti-Vaxxers, which is a very real possibility. They're the right age and they do live in LA. So, who the hell is Peter Schweizer and how does he keep Schweizing us? Schweizer is a right-wing "journalist" and think tanker. He spent years hovering around Steve Bannon, much like the flies that live in Bannon's personal stinkcloud. He was an editor at Breitbart and with Bannon, he co-founded the Government Accountability Institute. Schweizer's been writing factually questionable books since the early-90s, including a Disney exposé that claimed the company was spreading a gay agenda. He wrote that, "Male employees at Disney World wore the Mini Mouse costume to flirt with male guests, and a costumed Donald Duck seductively whispered gay slurs to park visitors." That is nonsense. Donald Duck isn't exactly the whispering type, for God's sake he's already walking around the park pantsless. It takes real nerve to be that homophobic when you're also the president of an organization called GAI.

But in his recent books, Schweizer comes off relatively sane, by right-wing crackpot standards. That is not a coincidence. With Bannon's help, he devised a clever way to use the mainstream media against liberal politicians. Just gather a bunch of provocative but unrelated facts about a Democrat and pretend they point to a nefarious plot that's completely unsupported by those facts. Then, instead of feeding them to the right-wing media fever swamp, feed them to respectable, mainstream outlets that, in their desperate quest for balance, will investigate, promote, and legitimize the story, allowing it to spew all over the news ecosystem. It's a system Steve Bannon called "anchor left, pivot right," which is also his system for putting on his human suit in the morning. But amazingly, this method really works, as Schweizer demonstrated with Clinton Cash, his book from the 2016 campaign.


Public figures shouldn't have to address baseless claims. It would be like asking Wolf to address the rumor that he moonlights as a stripper named Wolf Blitz-Her. The media incessenty covered Schweizer's groundless speculation about Clinton despite one teeny little problem with his story.


ABC NEWS REPORTER: ABC found no evidence that Hillary Clinton took action based on these contributions.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ANCHOR): Do you have any evidence that she actually intervened in this issue?

PETER SCHWEIZER: No. We don't have direct evidence.


BEE: Then why in the holy fuck were we talking about it? You don't need to cover stories that aren't true. It's a reckless, unprofessional, offensive choice you're making.


And now the media are falling for the same scam all over again. In May, the New York Times ran the Biden allegations under the headline, "For Biden, a Ukraine Matter That Won't Go Away." Jeepers, why won't this rumor we're promoting on page A1 go away? In the Times' defense, their 47-paragraph story did mention, in paragraph 19, that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden, and in paragraph 45 that the evidence actually contradicts Schweizer's theory. It's the inverted inverted pyramid that every reporter learns about in journalism school.

Schweizer has in some ways author has, in some ways, authored the reality we live in by helping Trump get elected and perhaps re-elected. The good news is that this time his scheme backfired and it may lead to Trump's impeachment. The bad news is that he probably has further plans for 2020 so listen up the media. There's a good chance this guy will soon come out with a book suggesting that Elizabeth Warren has a condo in North Korea. It will contain a sprinkling effect and be boring enough that you don't dismiss it out of hand. But if you give him a respectable platform to spread his bullshit, it will burn your house down. Stop letting this guy jerk you around with empty innuendo.