Will the Media Get Punked Again By the Merchants of Doubt?

I’d like to take a moment to step back and take a look at what has happened in this presidential election over the last month.

  1. Republicans suggest that it’s “midnight in America” at their convention and many Republican leaders begin to distance themselves from their party’s nominee.
  2. The DNC is attacked with the Wikileaks release of internal emails in an attempt to promote the idea that they “rigged” the primaries against Bernie Sanders. Facts fail to support that claim.
  3. The Democratic Convention is a tremendous success. Polls begin to indicate the election could be a landslide.
  4. Polls tighten as the media spins stories about the Clinton Foundation to suggest a “pay for play” relationship while she was Secretary of State. Facts fail to support that claim.

I’m beginning to see a pattern. Just as it looks like Hillary Clinton is about to put this election away, the “merchants of doubt” spin a story to discredit her and lead the media into weeks of speculation about this “flawed” candidate. The race begins to tighten until Donald Trump does something even more inflammatory than the last thing he did, and/or the facts emerge to discredit the story.

I have never been one to prognosticate about what will happen in the future. But the “merchants of doubt” are giving us a pretty clear heads-up about what’s coming. First of all, Donald Trump just hired David Bossie. We know the history of how he operates. And Kellyanne Conway was pretty clear in describing what his role would be.

Bossie will also work on crafting attacks against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, mining past controversies involving her and former president Bill Clinton, and cultivating Trump’s bond with conservative activists.

From another corner, we have the guy who described Clinton as “a demon that is going to put nooses around everyone’s necks as soon as she wins the election” – Julian Assange – about to begin releasing more documents.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday that he plans to release several batches of documents pertaining to the Hillary Clinton campaign within the next few weeks and the first could come out as soon as next week.

That gives us a moment to prepare for what we’re about to witness. Will the major media outlets get punked by these folks once again? Or have they learned anything about them that would urge more caution next time?

As a prelude, just yesterday the Trump campaign jumped on the conspiracy theory drummed up by Alex Jones about Clinton wearing an earpiece during the NBC forum on Tuesday night. Not wanting to be left behind on that one, Julian Assang’e Wikileaks joined the fray with this little tidbit.

Jon Favreau captured the reluctance so many people feel at having to respond to this kind of nonsense.

One can hope that people (especially in the media) are taking note that these are the people who are preparing to spread more innuendo and dirt. Rather than chasing after the non-stories they promote, perhaps it is time to begin to question the source rather than have to wipe the egg off your face after you’ve bought into their nothingburgers. We’re about to find out whether or not anyone has learned that lesson.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.