Photo Illustration By Kim Bubello for TIME
Featured image via screen capture from embedded video
Trump’s pick for press secretary, noted numbnut Sean Spicer, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss, well, various things. At one point, he was asked about whether Russia actually did try to rig our election, and he decided to deflect instead of actually give us a real opinion on it. However, his deflection is just plain insane. Despite the fact that Hillary lost the election, he decided to say:
“We’re having part of a conversation. Why aren’t we talking about other influences on the election? Why aren’t we talking about Hillary Clinton getting debate questions ahead of time? That’s a pretty valid attempt to influence an election.”
Well, first off, she lost, so why is Spicer even bringing this up? Most likely because there’s no excuse for Russia meddling in our election, along with the fact that Trump’s closeness with Russia looks really bad. It looks so terrible there’s no way to make it look pretty without deflecting. So, yeah, sure, Russia’s bad, but Hillary’s worse, and blah blah blah punish her for it!
Yes, Spicer said that, too:
“When are we going to start talking about the other side of this? Which is: What did Hillary Clinton do to influence the election? Is she being punished in any way?”
PLEASE. Someone stop these people from embarrassing the whole country any further. Watch the whole ridiculous segment below:
Now he tells us – just as he’s leaving power.
In his gloves-off warning about Israeli settlements, Secretary of State John Kerry evoked his inner Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking hard truths about a monumental global crisis, just before stepping down from office.
In January 1961, President Eisenhower warned of the “unwarranted influence” and “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power” by the “military-industrial complex.” It was a powerful and prophetic warning, one which, if issued years earlier, might have empowered Ike to confront the issue directly. But three days after giving that speech, he was no longer president.
Now comes Kerry, on the heels of a rare U.S. abstention from the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlements. Without the usual U.S. veto, the resolution passed, further isolating Israel internationally and evoking the fury of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the U.S. abstention “shameful” and “underhanded.”
In his speech five days after the U.N. vote, Kerry repeatedly decried Israel’s occupation, its “web” of military checkpoints that severely restrict the movements of ordinary Palestinians, and most of all Israel’s incessant building of settlements. “Settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation,” Kerry said, “are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality.”
But Kerry, like Ike, is coming late to the truth-telling.
Without a doubt, the secretary spoke bluntly. He declared that “the settler agenda is defining the future of Israel,” making “a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.” He even evoked the Palestinian “Nakba,” or catastrophe, when some 750,000 Palestinians were dispossessed and forced into exile during the creation of Israel in 1948.
But words only go so far. Kerry had four years, and the Obama administration eight, to go beyond eloquent speeches and diplomatic cajoling to apply direct economic and political pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction. The last time that happened was in 1992, during the first Bush administration, when Secretary of State James Baker threatened to withhold funds unless Israel stopped building settlements on Palestinian land. “The choice is Israel’s,” Baker asserted, making clear the difference between the superpower and the client state.
Since September 1993, when Bill Clinton rang in the Oslo Accords with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, no U.S. administration has brought such pressure to bear. Facing no genuine consequences, Israel has continued to entice Israelis, with major state subsidies, to settle on Palestinian land in the West Bank — from 109,000 settlers in 1993 to more than 400,000 today. That doesn’t include East Jerusalem, where some 17 Jewish settlements now surround Palestinian neighborhoods, all but cutting them off from the West Bank and putting a dagger into hopes that East Jerusalem can be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Thus the Oslo “peace process,” ostensibly created to birth a two-state solution, has instead facilitated its destruction. The U.S. has been directly complicit in that deed. Its enabling of an out-of-control ally — underscored by the recent 10-year, $38 billion military aid package to Israel — created the “one-state reality” that Secretary Kerry so eloquently decries.
That reality is clear to anyone who has traveled to the Holy Land in recent years. I’ve been there some 15 times since 1994, and I’ve watched as lines of settlements connect to confine the Palestinian population into an archipelago of ever-shrinking enclaves, isolated from each other and controlled by nearly 500 checkpoints, roadblocks and other “closure obstacles” — this in a West Bank the size of Delaware, our second-smallest state. The occupation, which will mark its 50th anniversary next June, has deeply scarred generations of Palestinians, humiliating adults and children alike with body searches and endless delays as people attempt to reach work, school and family in nearby yet increasingly unreachable towns.
While some of this is reversible — checkpoints can be taken down — the settlement and accompanying military infrastructure, which divides Palestine from itself, is massive and entrenched.
How unhelpful it was, then, that in his speech this week, Kerry continued to prop up the zombie known as the two-state solution. Yet in 2013 he warned that “the window for a two-state solution is shutting,” adding that the window would be open for two years at the most, “or it’s over.” In other words, by Kerry’s own estimation, the two-state solution died in 2015. In its parting shot at the extremist Netanyahu government, the Obama administration is thus pleading for a “solution” it must know is no longer possible.
When Kerry this week warned of “segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank with no real political rights; separate legal, education and transportation systems; vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives [Palestinians] of the most basic freedoms,” he was in fact speaking of the present, not some future reality. “Separate and unequal” is not “what you would have,” as Kerry said, but what we do have.
The potential irony of American extremists overseeing Middle East policy in a Donald Trump administration is that finally the single-state, Jim Crow reality will be clear. Trump’s selection for U.S. ambassador to Israel, bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, is deeply entrenched in Israel’s settler movement. Trump also suggested that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could have a major role in future “peacemaking” efforts. Kushner, a real estate broker with zero diplomatic experience, has arranged meetings between Trump and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a champion of the settler movement. All favor moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a direct attack on Palestinian aspirations to make East Jerusalem the capital of its sovereign state.
These moves, along with Israel’s promised settlement expansion, are direct attacks on the longstanding U.S. policy of two states standing side by side in peace. Destructive as they are, they help clarify that the reality on the ground is a single, apartheid-like state with perpetual Israeli occupation and dominance over Palestinian lives.
“If no Palestinian state, & no equal rights,” tweeted Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, “then it’s apartheid. Let’s have that discussion.”
With the two-state myth shattered, a new solution based on justice and equal rights — fueled by nonviolent actions such as boycotts, Palestinian petitions to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and continued international isolation of Israel — can finally emerge as widely accepted next steps. A just resolution will likely never involve a Trump or Netanyahu government, but perhaps, in the not too distant future, history will pass them by.
Photo Illustration by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
What happened to the U.S. in 2016 is historical and terrifying, and most of us were unprepared for it. This year saw the rise to power of a vocal, right-wing extremism with white supremacist and Fascist leanings not considered a legitimate part of American politics in over half a century, while the ideological differences between the left and right splintered so far that it seems to have fractured reality itself.
That’s not hyperbole. In 2016, it became difficult even to achieve consensus about what’s actually real.
These reality distortions took hold deeply in 2016. “Post-truth” was the OED’s word of the year, reflecting the fact that we now have an incumbent White House staffed with people who do not all believe in a consistent version of reality. Trump has appointed many climate change deniers who question basic scientific consensus. His national security advisor is a man whose “flimsy” grasp on factual information got him fired from the Obama administration, and whose son has already been fired from the Trump transition teamafter spreading fake news that resulted in a real-world armed conflict. And a host of Trump’s other staffers have helped perpetuate wild conspiracy theories.
In the middle of all this looms the biggest reality distortion of all: the remaking of white supremacy and Fascism into a legitimate modern political platform. White supremacists who have refashioned themselves as the “alt-right” now speak openly about the hope Trump has given them that their dream — an ethnic cleanse of all non-white Americans from the U.S. and the establishment of a literal Aryan nation — might one day come to pass.
All of this happened, to a large degree, because of the internet — specifically because of social media, and a convergence of elements that played out across social media.
Social media did much of the work of Trump’s campaign. It provided an outlet for Americans to express and spread their deepest fears and darkest opinions. It allowed right-wing extremists to call for an upending of social norms and the re-establishment of a white male-centric society. And although this regressive ideology was built around pre-existing white nationalist rhetoric, it found its way into the mainstream disguised as memes, fake news, and populist conspiracies. Social media helped remodel white supremacy into a more palatable ideology centered on fear of the other and a desire for “law and order” that caters to that fear. In other words, social media laid the groundwork for the rise of authoritarianism that carried Trump into office.
These elements all existed online before 2016. But during this year’s election, they all came together in a perfect storm that altered the real world as we know it. It’s necessary to understand how that happened, and how social media was the tool that shifted us toward a post-truth future. Above all, it’s necessary to realize that it wasn’t the inhuman parts of social media — the faceless fake news suppliers or the robotic algorithms or hordes of faceless trolls — that got us here.
All of those elements were powered by human behavior; the trolls were never faceless. In 2016, the way in which we interact with and understand — or misunderstand — what social media is had consequences. If we’re to make changes in 2017, we need to start by realizing that online culture and behavior has real-world consequences.
Many people don’t think of Google as social media, but Google’s many moving parts, from YouTube to Gmail to Docs, are among the most impactful ways we communicate on the internet. And its essential, algorithm-driven search engine is the main way we receiveinformation on the internet.
But in 2016, if we wanted to understand the main elements at play during this election, we couldn’t always just Google it.
Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr recently noticed a problem with Google’s autofill search predictions: When she typed the words “are Jews” into the search engine, one of its suggested autocomplete searches was, “are Jews evil?” In response, Google said it removedthe suggestion from its search engine, along with similar autocomplete suggestions like “are Muslims bad?” But when I tested Google’s autocomplete suggestions myself, once a week ago and once this week, I was met both times on multiple browsers with queries like “are black people real” and “are black people evil” even when all I typed was “are bl.”
And when I searched “are Muslims evil,” Google helpfully suggested the following “related” questions to help me expand my thinking:
Google rewards search behavior by algorithmically weighting the links people click on to be more prominent in future searches, which is how we got into this mess: as Wired put it last year, Google search algorithms are racist “because the internet is racist.”
Human behavior — in this case the racist thought patterns that lead people to type in racist search queries — dictates the results Google returns, which then leads innocent search queries like my “are bl” to return horrifying results. And every time I click on a result that leads to a sketchy or biased source — even though I’m doing so for professional reasons — I’m boosting that page’s ranking and making it that much harder for actually accurate results to reach the next person who searches. The next person who searches for, and receives, harmful distorted information through Google is also helping to boost those inaccurate results, especially if they continue searching for more info. In both cases, the algorithm is learning from our human behavior that these searches are desirable.
Google tries to combat this trend in a variety of ways, from fact-checking digital news to frequent algorithm tweaks to curtail Google bombing and other inaccuracies, but it can’t be everywhere at once. A Google spokesperson told Vox the site constantly works to correct and remove offensive patterns from its algorithms — in fact, it quickly removed “are black people evil” from its autofill predictions following my email to the company — but that it’s an ongoing, nebulous process:
Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically generated based on users’ search activity and interests. Users search for such a wide range of material on the web — 15% of searches we see every day are new. Because of this, terms that appear in Autocomplete may be unexpected or unpleasant. We do our best to prevent offensive terms, like porn and hate speech, from appearing, but we don’t always get it right. Autocomplete isn’t an exact science and we’re always working to improve our algorithms.
None of this is anyone’s fault — it’s just how the algorithm works. But Google’s algorithmic search results can significantly impact public opinion. Not only does Google’s search ranking influence politics, but it reinforces ideological silos — it helps you agree with yourself. Instead of providing accurate and balanced info, Google allows people to, for example, search for deliberately negative and biased stories against Hillary Clinton.
The worst ramification of the search engine’s learned bias may already have occurred with the 2016 election. In August of 2015, statistician Robert Epstein released a widely cited study on human bias in reaction to Google search results. His research suggested that Google search results could shift the vote in November by up to 2.6 million votes. That’s because what gives these searches power, according to Epstein, is that generally, peoplethink they’re fair and balanced. The public perceives Google search as an arbiter of truth and reality rather than an algorithmic system of learned biases specific to the individual user.
Until August, Facebook’s trending topics were curated by a special team of staffers whose main task was to vet the site’s news algorithm and identify whether stories it picked up were news. But the curation process came under fire in May when Gizmodo reported that “stories covered by conservative outlets (like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax) that were trending enough to be picked up by Facebook’s algorithm were excluded unless mainstream sites like the New York Times, the BBC, and CNN covered the same stories.”
It’s important to note that Facebook curation guidelines were clear that trending news had to be about “a real-world event.” Many of the example conservative websites, despite being popular, have been described by media watchdogs as promoting false or misleading information. (Though it’s worth noting that Breitbart, at least, is on Facebook’s list of over 1,000 media outlets from which curators were told to corroborate stories.) Thus it’s arguable that any human effort to suppress these stories from trending results was less politically driven and more about weeding out inaccurate information that did not correlate to a real-world event — the very problem Facebook would soon have.
Nonetheless, conservatives were swift to accuse Facebook of bias; Facebook issued a response noting its guidelines. But then, in late August — just as the election cycle hit its peak — Facebook
Chaos erupted as soon as Facebook’s human news curators left the building. Much as racist Google searches led Google to suggest racist searches, recurring keywords in various conversations across Facebook led Facebook’s algorithm to define the topics of those conversations as “newsworthy,” even if the conversations themselves were misleading or their claims blatantly false, such as an entirely false item that claimed Fox anchor Megyn Kelly had been fired for voting for Hillary Clinton. And without a human editor to oversee the process, fake news began trending almost immediately.
It’s difficult to overstate the potential of fake news on Facebook to influence people’s opinions. According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of American adults get their news from social media, 44 percent primarily from Facebook. And since the election, news outlets have frequently cited this Pew statistic to argue that Facebook’s fake news problem played a serious role in leading Trump to victory.
On internet forums like 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, the alt-right has spent years strategically developing methods to mask its sincere ideology, which is nothing less than pure, old-school, KKK levels of white supremacy and racism. These methods include harassment, conspiracy theories, and ironic trolling and meme-ing, as well as the use of male-centric mainstream communities as a recruitment pool.
In 2016 we saw all of these elements surfacing to influence the election. The Harambe meme became a racist harassment tool. The Pepe the frog meme became a way for Trump supporters to unite around the ironic belief that his presidency was pre-ordained. The racist alt-right trolls on Gamergate enclave 8chan drove thousands of hits to Donald Trump’s website — nearly a 600 percent increase from a year ago.
Meanwhile, the conspiracy theories generated and stirred on social media by the alt-right and other Trump supporters sent people into zealous overdrive. Innumerable false and unsourced claims surrounded Clinton — that she was terminally ill, that she had had FBI agents killed, that she sold weapons to Isis, that her daughter was stealing money from the Clinton Foundation, that her associate George Soros was an evil foreign (Jewish) overlord who was paying protesters and rigging voting machines, that her campaign manager took part in Satanic rituals — the list is endless.
Normally this is all the kind of extremist right-wing propaganda that circulates on the fringes of the internet. But in 2016, it filtered into the mainstream again and again: at the end of the election, fake news on Facebook outperformed real news, and 17 of the 20 highest-performing fake news stories were anti-Clinton.
These fake news stories and conspiracy theories helped shift people’s ability to understand or accept what was real. Pew released a study conducted after the election which found that nearly two-thirds of American adults believed fake news caused “a great deal of confusion.” A Stanford study released in late November found that students lacked the critical thinking necessary to parse real news from fake news. A man shot up a D.C. pizza joint because he feared it was housing a bogus child sex trafficking ring as part of the anti-Clinton conspiracy known as Pizzagate. Grieving relatives of victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were continually harassed by conspiracy theorists who were convinced the entire shooting never happened, as were victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
All of these distortions of reality tended to favor right-wing extremism and worldviews based on fear and suspicion of social systems. This is because they generally filtered into the mainstream from the alt-right. Even the Macedonian teenagers who spent most of the year monetizing fake news on Facebook took their fake claims directly from fringe alt-right sources. It’s a reduction to say that someone shot up a pizza joint because of white supremacy, but ultimately, Pizzagate and the response to it were extensions of the alt-right’s online tactics: ironic, hyperbolic distortions of reality disseminated as memes and alarmist propaganda, but masking real white-supremacist hate and vitriol.
Writing gleefully before the election about how Trump’s campaign had ushered in a new era of hatred for Jewish people, Andrew Anglin, a Nazi whose ultimate goal is the eradication of Jewish people, predicted that the more strident and unapologetic the alt-right’s Nazi rhetoric was, the more it would spread. Memes like Pepe, Anglin writes, “embody the goal of couching idealism within irony” so that it can spread subtly. The “idealism” he’s referring to is a belief system of racialized hatred, divisiveness, and extreme white nationalism.
Through the tools of social media and the conventions of internet culture, the alt-right got people in the mainstream to enjoy racist memes and listen to extreme right-wing conspiracy theories. And thus, they worked to create a reality where Fascism and white supremacy were that much more palatable and easier to accept as part of American culture.
But perhaps the biggest boost the alt-right got was the direct access to Trump provided by Twitter. In January 2016, marketing research company Little Bird ran an analysis of Trump’s Twitter and found that a majority of the accounts he retweeted in a given week had significant ties to white supremacy. Trump’s ideas fed off the alt-right and the alt-right fed off Trump; he has now brought those ideas, and the reality distortion they signal, with him to the White House.
“The fact is social media did help elect Trump,” the prominent white-supremacist Richard Spencer said in a YouTube video after the election. “This is a clear sign that we have power. Even if it’s just in our own little small way — even if it’s just sending a sarcastic tweet or two — we have power, and we’re changing the world.”
Ironically, all of this may ultimately have happened because we have such a hard time believing that the internet is real. Research has shown that trolling decreases real-world empathy precisely because trolls don’t believe what they do matters offline. Reviewing Karla Mantilla’s book Gendertrolling, critic Richard Seymour writes, “The new inflection that the internet appears to make possible is the trolls’ disavowal of moral commitment, which depends on a strict demarcation between the ‘real’ offline self, and online anonymity. I am not what I do, as long as I do it online.”
The rest of us forget this, too. Many people, including those of us who have spent years reporting on the online phenomena that reached their apotheosis in 2016 and helped usher Trump into office, did not take his campaign seriously until it was too late. Perhaps this is because he was a candidate born from the worst impulses of the internet. After all, we’ve spent a generation teaching ourselves to ignore and dismiss those impulses when we meet them online, to write them off as “just trolling,” and to ignore and block manifestations of hate in the form of online harassment. So, too, the media, again and again, dismissed Trump and his noisiest followers.
This is what Nazis like Anglin, who strategized ways to meme their way into the mainstream, were counting on. Anglin notes that one of the key elements of the alt-right’s success in online communities like 4chan was that they could be anonymous — they could share their socially unacceptable views under cover of darkness, without having to be accountable for their racism, while they found their views echoed and emboldened by the other anons around them. 4chan was the online equivalent of KKK members’ white hoods. And in 2016, the people under the hoods — the trolls — became a movement, and that movement echoed in the mainstream.
Perhaps this was the inevitable result of our failure to understand that what happens on the internet can never stay on the internet; it is and always has been an extension of real life. Fake news can fuel real news cycles. Conspiracy theories can have real-world consequences. A Google search can change real thought patterns. Online trolls are real people. And real people can vote.
But as we move into 2017, one thing social media will also do is help remind us that none of this is normal. While online communities have brewed morally repugnant extremism, they have also grown social activism, allowed marginalized voices to speak out against discrimination and hate, and brought people of all walks of life together. We have seen and recognize the tools extremists used to bring us to this point. But if social media can be deployed to spread disinformation and sanitize hate, it can also be deployed to spread accurate facts and bolster progressive voices for equality and freedom.
In 2016, social media gave rise to some of our worst impulses. In 2017, hopefully it will give rise to more of our best.
President-elect Donald Trump had the most perfect New Year’s tweet. And by “perfect” we mean perfectly awful. Say what you will, the man has an uncanny ability to compress his entire sick personality into a mere 140 characters.
“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” he tweeted.
It’s a little hard to celebrate the end of 2016, a truly awful year, when in 20 days, this petty, vindictive man with the maturity and impulse control of a five-year-old and the ossified views of a dinosaur will be president.
Though you may be cowering hungover under your bed in dread at the idea, we thought we’d take you on a little stroll to recap of some of the horrors—and absurdities—the right-wing visited upon us during the year that was.
1. Donald Trump staged a year-long assault on truth.
Donald Trump lies all the time. He lies malignantly, and he lies ridiculously. Of course, his entire political career is founded on the “birther” lie, which he still brags about. He ran his campaign on lies about black crime, dangerous immigrants, and non-existent jobs, more or less defrauding the American people in the same way he defrauded students at Trump University. In some cases, the lies he told were so utterly, demonstrably false that they were almost funny. Almost.
“There is no drought,” Donald Trump told Californians while campaigning there last May.
If there is a water problem, he continued, it’s because someone closed the water, and he’s going to open it.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” Trump said.
It’s just so crazy to say this. Arguably, it’s one thing to deny climate change, which is a bit complicated and requires scientists to explain it. But droughts? Not to mention air pollution. Dude, we can see those.
Another bizarre one in the final days of the campaign was a depiction of how President Obama treated a protester at a Clinton campaign rally:
“He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him,” Trump told his apparently insanely gullible crowd in Tampa, Florida.
“By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they [note: the mean old media] would say, ‘He became unhinged! He spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”
This was, in fact, the very opposite of what had happened and been televised. Obama had urged the slightly rowdy crowd to take it easy on the protester, who was older and appeared to be a veteran. It was not just a lie, it was a masterpiece of projection. For, Trump is the one who consistently endangered protesters at his rallies by literally inciting his supporters to rough them up and worse.
2. Trump spokesperson Scottie Nell Hughes confirms facts don’t matter anymore.
The persistence and outrageousness of lies can be attributed the sobering reality that the Trump era helped usher in the “post-truth” world we now find ourselves living in. The tweeter-in-chief spreads unfounded conspiracy theories, spins minor victories into major coups, and occasionally in an unguarded moment spews some accidental truth about how he can’t believe how many people actually believe anything he says.
But still, you’re not supposed to just come out and say that truth and facts don’t matter.
CNN Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes confirmed all of our worst fears after the election when she said, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU, an NPR affiliate.
She was explaining the truth according to Trump to her fellow aghast panelists when it comes to the tweeter-in-chief’s claim of, “millions of fraudulent voters,” having given Hillary Clinton her 2.8 million popular vote victory.
Here is what Hughes purported to be her logic:
“Mr. Trump’s tweets amongst a certain crowd, a large—a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some—in his—amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”
That is seriously scary. We have a president and his minions who now believe truth is what he says it is.
3. Trump surrogates wildly misunderstand Pussygate.
Trump’s recorded assertions that he could grab women by the genitals because he is famous threw some of his surrogates into disarray, but not all. And a few of them performed some of the more hilarious contortions seen on the campaign trail to deflect attention from the damaging revelations.
One was Newt Gingrich who reinforced his already creepy image by conflating sex and sexual assault in a dustup with Megyn Kelly in October. While she pressed for answers and expressed concerns for women’s safety, Gingrich countered with the accusation that Kelly is just “fascinated with sex,” because she kept on talking about it.
Funnier still was Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor or New York, whose nut job takedown of Obamacare invented the concept of death panels. She argued that if you like Beyonce’s music, you can’t complain about sexual assault. Like other right-wingers, she seemed to think the problem with the tape was Trump’s foul language, rather than the whole rapey/consent thing.
Hillary Clinton, a fan of Beyonce, likes bad words more than Donald Trump, McCaughey argued, before whipping out and performing the lyrics to “Formation.”
“‘I came to slay, bitch. When he f-ed me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.’ That happens to be from Beyoncé, her favorite performer,” McCaughey said of Clinton. “Whom she says she idolizes and would like to imitate. There’s a lot of hypocrisy, in Hillary Clinton expressing such horror at language on the bus.”
McCaughey was triumphant. She really scored there.
Later, after several women accused Trump of sexually assaulting them, McCaughey called such accusations an example of “man-shaming” and suggested the women should not be believed.
“With all due respect, that was the same thing that the folks over at Bill Cosby’s camp said,” CNN Don Lemon pointed out.
“Well, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong,” McCaughey countered.
Ummm, yeah. They were right.
4. Ted Cruz’s unconscionable defense of Senate’s despicable blocking of Obama Supreme Court appointment, and threat to continue under a Clinton administration.
In October, Ted Cruz, who for some reason had forgotten that everyone including his own party detests him, floated an idea about the Supreme Court. Maybe, if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency, Senate Republicans really would just take all of their toys and go home and stonewall on any Supreme Court appointment she attempted to make. So there.
“There is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” Cruz lied at a campaign event. “Just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”
Cruz’s threat did not quite pack the punch of fellow tea partier Joe Walsh’s threat to “grab a musket” if the election did not go Trump’s way, but was more in Cruz’s trademark mealy-mouthed and thoroughly dishonest style.
For starters, there is no long history of that, and secondly, Breyer did not say that. The Senate’s inaction on Supreme Court appointees has severely and demonstrably affected the high court’s ability to do its job. Deadlocking on cases involving immigration and unions and other vital issues that have come before it means the court is literally failing to do its job, which is to decide things.
The Supreme Court is only the best known example of the harm GOP stonewalling has done to the judiciary. Republicans have confirmed only 18 of Obama’s federal court nominees, and created a “judicial emergency,” which is a term for when courts are so back-logged and caseloads are so high that Americans’ access to justice is endangered.
Cruz knows about this emergency and has gleefully propagated it. Unlike his idiotic fellow traveler, John McCain, whom Cruz was echoing. Cruz is a lawyer and touts himself as a constitutionalist, but for some reason it’s okay for him to ignore that part of the constitution that gives the powers of appointing justices to the president.
Cut to present and Cruz’s name has sickeningly been floated for a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, and Cruz accused the Democrats of threatening to be the most obstructionist party in history.
Ha! One hopes.
5. Melania Trump’s barely hidden misogyny revealed itself in her softball interview with Anderson Cooper in October.
At first glance, Melania Trump did a good job of seeming like a decent sane person in her softball interview with Anderson Cooper in October. She reported that her husband had apologized to her about bragging he sexually assaults women, and that she accepted his apology. But, she pointed out, it was not his fault. Billy Bush made him do it. Donald is, she acknowledged, a big kid, barely more mature than their 11-year-old, Barron.
But her mixed messages about her husband’s level of maturity were only part of the problem. On closer inspection, there was quite a bit of misogyny lurking behind her words and viewing women as the real predators seems pretty firmly ensconced in her worldview. Since boys will of course be endearing if potty-mouthed boys, Melania blamed the manipulative women who are always hitting on her husband, sometimes right in front of her, throwing themselves at him “unappropriately.” This was in the context of talking about sexual assault allegations, so the unmistakable conclusion was that she was implying some women ask for it.
As for Natasha Stoynoff, the People magazine writer who said Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a Lago, the most important thing Melania wanted to convey was that she was never friends with Stoynoff and would not recognize her on Fifth Avenue, despite the fact that Stoynoff attended the Trumps’ wedding. (And the most important thing Mr. Trump would have you know, is that Stoynoff is not his idea of attractive enough for him to sexually assault.) And Stoynoff has recently confirmed that knowing Trump would attack her looks did give her pause before going public with her ordeal. How many more?
6. Rudy ‘9/11’ Giuliani conveniently forgot when 9/11 happened.
In September, self-proclaimed September 11 hero Rudy Giuliani managed to forget when 9/11 happened so that he could make the laughably false statement that there were no terrorist incidents before Obama took office. Around the same time he made that brain fart, and right after the first debate where Trump tanked badly, Rudy posted a banner week that week sucking up Trump’s fumes. Here were some of the lowlights:
Diagnosis: The bile has finally eaten all the way through Giuliani’s brain.
7. Britt Hume’s idiotic whining about how he’s not even allowed to say Hillary Clinton is shrill and needs to smile more.
Britt Hume, Fox News’ so-called reasonable one, gave the following critique after Hillary Clinton’s Democratic convention speech: “She has a habit, when speaking, of breaking into a kind of a sharp, lecturing tone, [it] makes you feel like. She has a great asset, as a public person, which is a radiant smile, but she has a not-so-attractive voice.”
Now, technically, he did not actually use the word “shrill” having somehow gotten the message that that word is not very well-disguised sexism. A few weeks later, Hume and Tucker Carlson, were having a little chat about what they can and cannot say about Hillary Clinton. It’s so frustrating being a white male these days. Everybody’s always picking on you, trying to take away the privileges to which you’ve become accustomed.
They were discussing the outrage of Clinton not smiling enough while she was talking to the families of dead soldiers during the “Commander-in-Chief” forum. Carlson said he admires Clinton’s toughness (ha! no), but thinks she undercuts that when she mentions the sexism in the media’s coverage of her. How so? Not sure.
But poor Hume just doesn’t even know what he can say anymore; everything has become so unfair.
“You know at the Democratic convention, I was on after her speech, and it struck me that she did some things effectively in that speech, particularly her critique of Donald Trump,” Hume said. “But she seemed—and she has at other times in the campaign—to be kind of angry and joyless, and yes, unsmiling. I said that on the air, and I really caught it on Twitter from people who said, ‘You’re just a sexist, I can’t believe somebody’s saying that.’ But it raises this question, Tucker, in America today, is it possible for a woman to be shrill, and if so, or joyless, or unsmiling, is it possible for somebody to say that without ending up in jail?”
The dreadful persecution of Hume continued apace and other men who wish to call women shrill with impunity continues .
8. Pond scum emerges, says vile scummy things, gets book contract.
If there is a more despicable piece of shower mold than Breitbart.com’s Milo Yiannopoulos, then we do not know it.
In a mediascape that normalized Trump’s demagogic drunk uncle act and legitimized him into the presidency, this other creature from a hateful lagoon was granted a hearing on ABC “Nightline” with Terry Moran.
Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign of deeply disgusting misogynist and racist abuse of the comedian Leslie Jones, something of which he is apparently proud.
“I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll,” Yiannopoulos bizarrely self-aggrandized in the interview.
We like to think of him with a stake driven through his tongue, but hey, we like to think lots of things.
Moran thought maybe he could pull some decency out of this cockroach, and asked if Yiannopoulos would tell Leslie Jones “she looks like a dude” in person.
“Yeah, probably,” Yiannopoulos replied. ”I probably would.”
“Then you’re an idiot, really,” Moran said
Moran again tried to reason with the moron. “You’re going to go after somebody’s body to denigrate their ideas? What grade are you in? Seriously. Are you a 13-year-old boy? Because somebody doesn’t have a weight that you think is proper? That’s revolting.”
Revolting is a word Yiannopoulos can relate to.
“I’ll tell you what’s revolting,” Yiannopoulos responded. “What’s revolting is the body positivity movement. What’s revolting is this idea now that you can tell women that they’ll be healthy at any size.”
And now, having discussed this vile piece of bellybutton lint, we need to go take a bath.
It was a great year for racist, misogynist Alt-Right scum! While some ended up in the White House, Yiannopoulos ended his 2016 with a book contract.
9. Trump sons went from comparing refugees to Skittles to just making sh*t completey up.
It was Donald Trump, Jr. who compared refugees to Skittles, prompting the candy to distance itself from the Trump campaign (as Tic Tac later did.) But it was son Eric who made up the absurd original lie of his father’s sh*tshow of a campaign in the Fall. He swore it was not President Obama’s Kenyan birth, or secret status as a Muslim “Manchurian candidate,” it was a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love a Christmas story?
During an interview, Eric said Trump entered the political sphere because the Obama/Grinches stole Chistmas. “He sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’ instead of ‘Christmas tree. I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.”
One teeny tiny leetle problem. It’s not true. As in has no basis in reality. Didn’t happen. Throughout the Obama Administration, The White House Christmas Tree was called the “White House Christmas Tree.” It’s not even the “White House Xmas Tree.” There’s been no concession to secularism, to separation of church and state. It’s a made-up story, a myth, a manufactured crisis, and all part of the nonexistent war on Christmas that isn’t being waged anywhere.
Eric also pointed out other pseudo outrages galvanizing his father’s run.
“He opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck,” Eric Trump told The Stream’s James Robinson.
There are just a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, Donald Trump doesn’t open a paper. He opens his Twitter feed, Fox News or maybe Breitbart. Sometimes he glances at the National Enquirer, especially if “people are saying” there’s a good conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father, or Hillary Clinton’s health on the cover. Second, a newspaper that covers things like that would go out of business fast due to snoozing readers.
The Kool-Aid in the Trump household was clearly very strong.
10. Before Trump surrogate Carl Paladinosaid horrendously racist and hateful things about the Obamas, he said other horrible racist things.
Back in August, while Trump was attacking the Khan family for having an American war hero son while being Muslim, his pal and upstate New York school board official Carl Paladino went on “Imus in the Morning” to defend his right to do so. He started by making stuff up about Hillary Clinton.
“We’ve got an un-indicted felon [he means Clinton] as his opponent and you’re talking about Khan, about [Trump] making a remark about this man? All right, I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion. I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”
It’s hard to be worse than Trump himself, but apparently manageable for some.
Keeping the level of discourse as high as possible, Paladino went on insist that Obama is a Muslim and Hillary Clinton is “devious” for hiding her alleged health problems, health problems that have been debunked.
“But if you’re really looking at what’s been exposed about Hillary and Hillary’s demeanor, I mean, just look at the deviousness. If it is true about her health problems, I mean, how devious can a woman possibly be? And not telling the American people that she’s got some sickness, she’s definitely impaired.”
Diagnosis: Paladino is morally impaired.
11. Bill O’Reilly instructs black people to hate Black Lives Matter.
In December Bill O’Reilly let his White Supremacist flag fly in a rant about opponents of the Electoral College.
But we shouldn’t let that despicable moment obscure another one back in July, when several police officers in Dallas were gunned down after a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, which has nothing to do with the shooting.
Bill O’Reilly took the opportunity to insist that everyone must hate and fear Black Lives Matter immediately. He and other Fox Newsians spent a good deal of their post-Dallas airtime whipping up as much hysteria and anger as possible against a group that has a name and a message no sane person can argue with. But sane people do not sit at Fox roundtables, as an episode of “Outnumbered” clearly shows. Meanwhile, colleagues Megyn Kelly and racist ex-cop Mark Fuhrman took it upon themselves to lecture black people to stop exaggerating about problems with police. You got that, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling?
But O’Reilly is just so sick and tired of black people not listening to him when he tells them what is good for them. Speaking to his guest, NAACP director Hilary Shelton on Friday, O’Reilly said, “So, you know what I think? I think that if you really want, if African Americans really want to bring the country together and have good racial relations, they have to distance themselves from Black Lives Matter. Am I wrong?”
Yeah, you’re wrong, Shelton said, explaining that the Black Lives Matter marches are occurring for a very good reason. And lots of people understand that.
But white people ha-a-a-te Black Lives Matter, O’Reilly whined, mistaking the echo chamber in his head for reality once again. “White Americans despise this crew. And if black Americans don’t understand that, we’re just going to grow further apart.”
Shelton carried on saying reasonable things that are in the spirit of bringing people together, among other things pointing out that people of all races join Black Lives Matter marches and believe in the movement and in justice for all Americans.
All on deaf ears. O’Reilly was just too busy breaking the douchebag-o-meter.
12. Fox Newsians say asking Trump for his tax return is discrimination against rich people—with straight faces.
No, seriously, Kimberly Guilfoyle really did say this. She and her other co-hosts from “The Five” were discussing this terrible miscarriage of justice—the fact that Mitt Romney suggested there might be a bombshell in Donald Trump’s unreleased tax returns, and that now everyone is all over his case to release them. The Donald has come up with various reasons not to produce them, including the hilarious statement that the IRS picks on him because he’s such a strong Christian. One suspects the real secret the Donald is hiding is that he is not nearly as wealthy as he makes himself out to be, which is the only revelation in the universe that could bring the shameless reality star the remotest sense of shame.
But Guilfoyle and equally idiotic Eric Bolling just think it is so mean—so, so rude—to ask the Donald to produce his tax returns. Co-host Dana Perino tried to explain that the office of the presidency is that of a public servant, not the gold-plated throne from which to order decrees that Trump imagines it to be, and pointed out that although taxes are “complicated for [insert the word rich] people,” they would likely be an issue in the general election.
Juan Williams pointed out that Donald’s taxes are “relevant right now.”
Guilfoyle jumped all over that, whining, “What about discrimination, Juan?”
“Against rich people,” Guilfoyle said. “And one percenters. Nobody ever asks to see the poor—it’s so rude.”
So rude. Poor people get all the breaks.
Mika and Joe Scarborough (MSNBC)
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough furiously denied that he and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski “partied” on New Year’s Eve with President-elect Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported Sunday that the pair had been “among the revelers” at Trump’s New Year celebration at Mar-A-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, and reporter Sopan Deb, who covered Trump’s campaign for CBS News, tweeted about their presence at the party.
Deb, who will soon join the Times as a culture reporter, pointed out on Twitter that then-candidate Trump had publicly thanked Scarborough and Brzezinki as “supporters” during a phone interview in February.
Scarborough strongly objected to Deb’s use of party as a verb, and claimed in a series of tweets that he and his co-host were at Trump’s New Year’s Eve bash for business — not pleasure.
The TV host claimed he and Brzezinski had a 7 p.m. appointment with Trump to set up an interview, which he said was no different than what reporters do at CBS News or the Times.
“The event was black tie. Both Mika and I were in casual clothes, did not attend the party, and left before any ‘partying’ began,” Scarborough tweeted. “Nothing that Mika and I did in setting up this meeting was any different than what all good reporters and news hosts try to do daily.”
“Anyone suggesting otherwise is a hypocrite who ignores what great journalists from Ben Bradlee to Tom Brokaw have done for years,” he added. “I hope we get the interview. Stop lying about us.”
He insisted that he and Brzezinski went through security and around the guest area, where they were briefly stopped by some of their show’s viewers, before walking to their meeting with Trump.
“That is not, by any reasonable definition, ‘attending’ the party,” he tweeted.
Maggie Haberman, who wrote the Times report, stood by her work.
“They literally were among the revelers,” Haberman tweeted. “As in, in the crowd. Doesn’t mean they stayed all night etc.”
Scarborough has drawn criticism for his relationship with Trump in the past.
Both he and Brzezinski are close friends with the president-elect, who was a reality TV star for NBC on “The Apprentice,” and the former Republican congressman has often stayed at Mar-A-Lago with his family.
Scarborough said Sunday evening that he didn’t stay at the Trump party but instead watched “Groundhog Day” and “Ghostbusters” with his children after his scheduled meeting the president-elect, and then watched “the Mariah Carey dumpster fire” on TV.