Oliver Willis

Trump Brings His Devious Social Media Director, Dan Scavino, To The White House

President-elect Donald Trump’s newly announced assistant to the president and director of social media, Dan Scavino, frequently used social media while working on the Trump campaign to share links from sites that push fake news and conspiracy theories. He was also responsible for an anti-Semitic Trump campaign tweet and routinely attacked Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who cited Scavino as a reason she received death threats during the campaign.

Scavino, The Trump Campaign’s Social Media Director, Will Serve The Same Role In Trump’s White House. In a press release detailing the senior members of the incoming White House communications team, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Dan Scavino will serve as assistant to the president and director of social media, calling him a “key member of my team during the campaign and transition.” Scavino was “a lucky 16-year-old who happened to be in the right place at the right time” when in 1990 he was selected to caddie for Trump. He would later become general manager of Trump National Golf Club, then would “travel the world with Trump visiting courses” before becoming the social media director of the Trump campaign in February 2015. [Twitter, 12/22/2016; CNN.com, 7/5/2016]

Scavino Uses Twitter To Push Conspiracy Theories And Fake News Purveyors

Scavino Has Repeatedly Promoted Content From Alex Jones’ InfoWars Website. Scavino has repeatedly promoted stories from Trump ally Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website InfoWars. Jones believes the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, multiple school shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Boston Marathon bombing, among many other conspiracies theories. [Twitter, 7/26/153/3/167/28/16Media Matters12/1/16]

Scavino Has Also Repeatedly Shared Links To Stories On Sites Known For Pushing Fake News. Scavino has shared stories from outlets including Western Journalism, The Conservative Tribune, The Angry Patriot, and Gateway Pundit on Twitter. All four of these outlets have produced fabricated news stories labeled by fact-checking websites as “false” or completely “unproven.” [Twitter, 12/6/151/9/163/23/164/12/16; Snopes.com, 7/31/15Media Matters, 12/14/16]

Scavino Shared Hoax Video Purporting To Show “Syrian Refugees In Germany Rallying For ISIS.” BuzzFeed reported in December 2015 that Scavino “shared a video on Twitter Friday, falsely asserting that it showed Syrian refugees in Germany rallying for ISIS. The video, which has existed on YouTube since 2012, actually shows Salafist Muslims protesting an intentionally provocative rally held by an extreme right-wing group in Germany.” BuzzFeed noted that the video “has found new life on the Internet since November, when people on the far-Right began claiming that the clip depicted a pro-ISIS rally.” Scavino’s tweet has since been deleted. [BuzzFeed, 12/21/15; Twitter.com, 12/18/15]

Scavino Promoted A Smear That Ted Cruz Had An Affair With A Former Staffer. Mediaite reported that Scavino shared on Twitter a video that alleged Sen. Ted Cruz had an affair with Amanda Carpenter, a former staffer for the Texas senator. Carpenter, a CNN contributor, responded to Scavino’s tweet in an interview with Jake Tapper, denouncing the “sexist smears” directed against her. [Mediaite, 3/29/16]

Scavino Pushed False Trump Claim That “Thousands” Of New Jersey Muslims Celebrated 9/11. Scavino published multiple video news clips claiming to bolster Trump’s false claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks. The Washington Post’s fact-checker explained that the reporter in the clips “later tweeted that his reports did not back up Trump’s claim of ‘thousands’ cheering on the roofs” [The Washington Post11/22/15]

Scavino Pushed Conspiracy Theory Alleging Rupert Murdoch Manipulated A Poll To Make Trump Look Weak. During the GOP primary, Scavino suggested on Twitter that an NBC News/Wall Street Journal that showed Cruz leading Trump was manipulated by Journal owner Rupert Murdoch. Trump later attacked Murdoch over the poll, calling it a “Rupert Murdoch hit.”

[Twitter, 2/18/16Media Matters2/18/16]

Scavino Was Responsible For Trump’s Anti-Semitic “Sheriff’s Star”

As The Trump Campaign’s Social Media Director, Scavino Was Responsible For Sharing An Anti-Semitic Image On Social Media. On July 2, Trump’s official Twitter account shared an image showing opponent Hillary Clinton superimposed over a pile of money. The image included a Star of David with the text “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Mic.com reported that the image “was previously featured on 8chan's /pol/ -- an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump's rhetoric.” Before Trump’s campaign tweeted it, the image had also been shared on Twitter by a now-defunct account that often posted material “most people would consider racist or anti-Semitic,” according to PolitiFact. Responding to the ensuing controversy, Scavino released a statement in which he claimed the Star of David image was actually a “sheriff's badge -- which is available under Microsoft's 'shapes.'” Trump confirmed that Scavino “put out” the tweet. [Mic.com, 7/3/16; PolitFact, 7/5/16; CNN.com, 7/4/16Media Matters7/6/16]

Scavino Threatened And Attacked Megyn Kelly, Reportedly Leading To Her Receiving Death Threats

Scavino Threatened Fox’s Megyn Kelly After He Didn’t Like An Interview She Did With Newt Gingrich. After a contentious interview in which Fox host Megyn Kelly asked former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about sexual assault allegations against Trump, Scavino wrote on Twitter that Kelly is “not very smart” and also said, “Watch what happens to her after this election is over.” [Mediaite, 10/25/16; Twitter, 10/25/16; Twitter, 10/25/16]

Scavino Frequently Attacked Kelly On Twitter With The Hashtag “KellyFailed.” Angry over the fact that Kelly asked Trump during a debate about his past sexist statements, Scavino sent nine tweets using the hashtag #KellyFailed on August 6 and 7. [Twitter, accessed 12/22/16]

Kelly Later Cited Scavino As A Reason She Received Death Threats For Her Coverage Of Trump. The Guardian reported, “Journalist Megyn Kelly, who is under armed guard after receiving death threats, has accused Donald Trump’s social media director of stirring hatred on the internet.” Kelly said during a December talk in Washington, D.C., “It’s that far corner of the internet that really enjoys nastiness and threats and unfortunately there is a man who works for Donald Trump whose job it is to stir these people up and that man needs to stop doing that. His name is Dan Scavino.” [The Guardian12/6/16]

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Gonzales Secretly Authorized CIA Torture

This post, written by Oliver Willis, originally appeared on Like Kryptonite to Stupid

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Your government, on Conservative Republicans.
When the Justice Department publicly declared torture "abhorrent" in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales's arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on "combined effects" over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion's overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be "ashamed" when the world eventually learned of it.

Will Young People Doom Barack Obama?

This post, written by Oliver Willis, originally appeared pn Like Kryptonite To Stupid

So many campaigns in the last twenty years were supposed to be the ones that finally expressed the will of young people, except that when it comes time to do actual work and actual voting, the majority of the young fail time and time again. Last cycle it was the groundswell of support behind Howard Dean that never appeared at the polls in Iowa, and this cycle it looks like Sen. Barack Obama is on pace to get screwed by the youth vote that doesn't show up.
The campaign's challenge will be converting the excitement of Kizzie and other students into votes. Candidates who have charmed young voters in the past have largely failed when it came to mobilizing them. Interviews with two dozen students as they went back to school at three black colleges found support for Obama, but with summer breaks having ended only recently, the campaign's fledgling student organizations do not match the enthusiasm.
About 18 students showed up for the first meeting of Students for Barack Obama at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. The group's volunteer coordinator Kevin Heard, 19, was disappointed with the showing.
"We have to get more people here," he said. He joined the group, Heard said, because it offers an opportunity "to help a black man who is showing positive images of African American men. By helping someone as positive as he is, I'll show America that I am positive, too."

Jon Stewart Is The Only Real Journalist In America

This post, written by Oliver Willis, originally appeared on Like Kryptonite To Stupid

Last week the mainstream media went wild with Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, describing them as anti-war when in fact Pollack wrote a book arguing in favor of invading Iraq and both are on record in favor of the surge. Nobody in the mainstream media seriously challenged this dominant theme:
*Purporting to document Pollack's evolving views on Iraq, CNN left out his original gung-ho Iraq "tune"
*CBS Evening News falsely described proponent of Iraq "surge" as former opponent of it
*Fox News Sunday is latest program to call Iraq invasion proponents "critics" of the war
But then on Monday night, on what is - theoretically - a "fake" news show hosted by a comedian, conservative pundit Bill Kristol tried to get away with the line about Pollack / O'Hanlon and Jon Stewart did what the mainstream media refuses to do time and time again as they roll over and play complicit lapdog for the Bush administration: He said nuh-uh. Jon Stewart does not have superpowers.

Romney Thinks He Can Buy Victory in Iowa

This post, written by Oliver Willis, originally appeared on Like Kyptonite to Stupid

My main takeaway from this story about Mitt Romney's ridiculous spending on the Ames, Iowa straw poll is that he kind of screwed himself. If Romney wins, as is likely, that's going to be expected - he's spent the most, organized the most, and none of the other serious contenders are competing there with him. But if he loses, or it's close, doesn't he look really stupid and weak?

This is, I think, why Mitt Romney has to keep shoveling so much of his own vast personal wealth into his campaign - he's not very smart about managing money. He's spent millions on ads, and has been unable to move the needle nationally, while in some polls he's been left as an also-ran by Hollywood actor Fred Thompson's not-yet real campaign.
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