Monday, February 24, 2020


The right-wing site BizPac Review reports:
... there was an ” Epstein didn’t kill himself” float in New Orleans.

The float depicts an “Epstein” character in an orange jumpsuit, while a woman behind him resembling Hillary Clinton holds something around his neck.

The persistent linkage of Bill Clinton -- but not another pal, Donald Trump -- to Jeffrey Epstein is the result of what Matthew Yglesias calls "the hack gap": right-wing media outlets "simply abjure anything resembling journalism in favor of propaganda," while there's nothing comparable taking place at mainstream or even lefty news organizations (and, in fact, the mainstream press often echoes right-wing propaganda).

No high-profile mainstream or lefty media outlet obsesses over the Epstein-Trump connection. Yet here's just a sampling of stories from Fox over the past few months: "Investigative journalist: Why is Bill Clinton escaping scrutiny in Jeffrey Epstein case?"; "ABC News' spiking of Epstein story draws scrutiny toward Clinton ally George Stephanopoulos"; "Bill Clinton 'knows nothing' about financier Jeffrey Epstein's 'terrible crimes,' former president's spokesman says"; "Chelsea Clinton denies close ties to Jeffrey Epstein’s ex"; "Bill Clinton 'not telling the truth' about Jeffrey Epstein, says investigative journalist who first revealed allegations in 2010"; "Maureen Callahan: Why is Bill Clinton escaping scrutiny in Jeffrey Epstein case?"; and on and on.

And, of course, now there's this guy, who can be considered a top voice in the right-wing media:
President Trump added fuel to the conspiracy theories surrounding multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide on Saturday when he retweeted a post that implied former President Bill Clinton was linked to Epstein's death.

The tweet came from self-described comedian Terrence K. Williams who echoed many on social media in suggesting a connection between the Clintons and Epstein, who previously was an acquaintance of the former president.

"Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen," the tweet read, alongside a photo of Epstein and one of the Clintons. "#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! RT if you’re not Surprised."
There was, briefly, a trending #TrumpBodyCount Twitter topic, but the hack gap has made suspicion of Clinton involvement in Epstein's death much more widespread than suspicion of Trump.

We're seeing this again in reports about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2020 election. These stories, of course, are reporting facts, not conspiracies. The intelligence community says that the Russians want Trump reelected, but also want to sow chaos, and they believe the nomination of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side will help accomplish that goal.

What's clearly emerging on the right -- and in Trump's Twitter feed -- is an effort to portray the reports of Russian interest in a Trump win as fake news, while the reports about Sanders are treated as gospel. If Sanders is the nominee, there's an excellent chance that Republican propaganda efforts will make him and not Trump seem like the Russians' choice.

We have a four-year head start, but the Republicans are better at this than we are. Can they make memories of Trump's Putinphilia go away, while persuading the public that Sanders is the Kremlin's real preference?

I wouldn't rule that out. They have the hacks to do it.

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