NY Times and Washington Post Feature Hillary Attacker Who has Poor Record for Accuracy; Is Long-Time Right-Wing Operative.

Election '16

Peter Schweizer, the author of a new book accusing the Clintons of conflicts of interest is clearly not a journalist, but a Republican propagandist whose smears about Democrats have been repeatedly debunked by newspapers and is a long-time conservative operator in his own world of crony capitalism.

Despite all this, the New York Times and the Washington Post cited and drew on Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash, giving credibility to attacks that were long on guilt by association and short on proof that the Clintons traded government favors while she was Secretary of State for donations to their global foundation.

After those reports were published, Schweizer appeared on several weekend network TV shows, where, when pressed, he could not produce proof about his allegations and swipes but said a closer look was warranted.  

The notion that Schweizer is an independent journalist investigating corruption is a farce. His resume, according to the right-wing watchdog group, Media Matters for America, includes: working as a speech writer for George W. Bush’s White House in the last year of his presidency: being paid $106,250 from Sarah Palin’s PAC in 2011 and 2012 to advise her on foreign policy; ghost-writing Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 2010 autobiography; contributing to Glenn Beck’s 2010 book Broke; working as an editor for Breitbart, which is a major Republican-boosting operation, and for the ultra-conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University; and speaking regularly to conservatives, including the Charles Koch Institute, the 2012 National Conservative Student Conference, and others.   

In June 2014, he gave a speech closing the Koch political strategy/donor summit, where Kevin Gentry, the emcee and vice-president of the Charle G. Koch Foundation, introduced him as, "a great researcher, a great, great asset for our movement and our cause." In his speech, entitled, "The Stakes: Who Will Define The American Dream," he attacked "progressives on the left," saying they "hate corporations," "hate the private sector," and want "to create a status of dependence, of the successful, on government."

"The left doesn't dislike you or hate you because of what you do. They dislike and hate you because of who you are," he said, before the Gentry told the room of wealthy libertarians that the Kochs were seeking to raise $290 million for their political operation. "The left and the academic sphere is not going to let up," Schweizer concluded. "The question is are we going to let up."

Conservative Crony

Schweizer is paid $203,846 a year as the president, treasurer and secretary of the Florida-based Government Accountability Institute, whose 990 federal tax form lists his salary and says GAI “produces detailed investigations of cronyism and government corruption to educate citizens on the need to protect free markets. GAI produced reports and partners with national media.”

Schweizer’s Institute is a glowing example of a crony operation—where success depends on insider favors. Its chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, is paid $100,000 a year, according to its 2013 IRS 990 form, is also chairman of Breitbart News Network, Inc. The IRS form also reports that GAI bought $102,500 in ads from Breitbart that year. Bannon also is a member of Groundswell, a secretive right-wing political strategy group run by Ginni Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  

Mother Jones reported in 2013 this “cadre of conservative activists, journalists, and aides has been meeting privately to coordinate messaging in a fight against progressives and the GOP establishment, according to documents obtained by Mother Jones. Groundswell’s participants include D.C. power players like Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, along with journalists from Breitbart News, the Washington Examiner, and the National Review.”

Bannon, was also the writer and director of a 2011 film, Undefeated, promoting the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, as well as the writer and director of Occupy Unmasked, a 2012 film that smeared the Occupy protests that was produced by David Bossie. Bossie is known in GOP circles for investigating President Clinton in the 1990s when working for House Republicans, and then making the anti-Hillary film in 2008 that led to the Citizens United lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court deregulating federal campaign finance laws.

Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash, will be published on Tuesday by HarperCollins. The publishers’ description on Amazon.com says it is “meticulously researched and scrupulously sourced, filled with headline-making revelations, Clinton Cash raises serious questions of judgment, of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests, and ultimately, of fitness for high public office.”

What that description does not say, as Media Matters notes, is “HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp, which is headed by Rupert Murdoch and the sister company of Fox News parent 21st Century Fox.” In other words, this is yet another example of the right-wing echo chamber, where GOP propagandists are featured on partisan programs where Democrats are smeared and Republicans lauded—or more political cronyism.

What’s astounding is not that Fox News or Breitbart or other known right-wing outlets are featuring right-wing noise makers. What’s astounding is the Times and Post used Schweizer’s screed as a jumping off point for their reporting—when there’s ample evidence that he was not to be trusted. As Media Matters documents, Schweizer’s attacks have been debunked many times.

The Providence Journal forced him to retract an allegation of insider stock trading by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. USA Today had to run a correction after he smeared Al Gore in a column. Even the Post has at least twice slammed him for big lies. Its fact-checker blog, as well as ABC News, found that GAI’s allegations that Obama skipped intelligence briefings was false. Post columnist Erik Wemple wrote that Schweizer’s allegations that Obama met former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius only once in three and a half years was false, was never fact-checked, was “a fatal shortcoming [akin to what one finds] in Journalism 101.”

Not surprisingly, Schweizer is now saying that he is being victimized for his daring—telling Bloomberg.com he’s even hired a security detail after his allegations about the Clintons. “The evidence is that pattern of behavior,” he told Bloomberg’s TV channel, summarizing his accusations.

Indeed, the pattern of behavior worth noting is that Schweizer is serial fabricator of falsehoods and conspiracies about Democrats that don’t hold up to scrutiny by mainstream journalists, fact-checkers and news organizations.  

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