This Time Peter Schweizer Went Too Far, Even for the New York Times

At a moment when the current President of the United States is up to his eyeballs in scandals related to sex, his finances and a possible conspiracy with Russians to influence the 2016 election—not to mention his obvious mental unfitness for office—it is nothing short of absurd that right-winger Peter Schweizer is out with a book about political corruption that ignores all of that.

Let’s remind ourselves of Schweizer’s most recent history. He co-founded the Government Accountability Institute with Steve Bannon and financing from Robert Mercer. His last book, Clinton Cash, was weaponized (with a huge assist from the New York Times) to lay the foundation for Trump’s “crooked Hillary” meme and the media’s obsession with the Clinton Foundation.

On the cover of Schweizers latest book, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, we see the faces of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell and Jared Kushner. During a recent interview with Sean Hannity, Schweizer claims that the inclusion of Kushner was more of a warning than an allegation of corruption. But it is worth noting that Schweitzer’s partner, Steve Bannon, has been pretty open about the fact that he considers the president’s son-in-law to be an enemy, along with Majority Leader McConnell.

The attacks on Biden and Kerry are apparently based on Schweizer’s assertion that, while in their roles as Vice President and Secretary of State, they went easy on China and their sons benefited in their business dealings as a result. Once again, he’s playing the “merchant of doubt” with no actual evidence of corruption. All he has is a factless assertion that these two politicians gave China a break and that their sons were rewarded.

Right-wingers are positively salivating over the inclusion of Barack Obama in all of this. Take a look at how the writers at Investor’s Business Daily open their report.

Former President Obama and his political supporters have repeatedly stated that his administration was scandal-free, unlike administrations before and after. “We’re probably the first administration in modern history that hasn’t had a major scandal in the White House,” Obama himself said…

But now comes Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends,” which shows that the Obama administration and its cronies were up to their necks in questionable business deals and may even have intentionally distorted public policy to accommodate their own profit-making.

They are mad as hell that none of their pseudo-scandals—from Benghazi to Fast and Furious—ever materialized into anything other than fantasies in their fevered imaginations. But now…they’ve finally got something on Obama. He and his cronies may have even “intentionally distorted public policy to accommodate their own profit-making.” It’s just that somehow, over the course of eight years, we all missed what was going on and Schweizer has finally broken the code.

Katelyn Caralle, writing in the Washington Examiner, summarized how this supposedly worked.

The book, released Tuesday, said Obama and his administration would deem industries either destructive to the environment or exploitative for the financial and professional gain of his friends, including industries such as coal mining, offshore drilling, cash advance companies, and for-profit colleges.

In other words, Obama didn’t really have an issue with polluters contributing to climate change or the way that payday lenders and for-profit colleges ripped people off. What was behind his executive actions was really a scheme about lowering the value of those companies so that his friends could swoop in a make a quick buck off of them.

It’s hard to miss the projection going on here. When conservatives suggest that they support coal miners, it’s really about lining the pockets of people like Don Blankenship. When they promote tax cuts for the middle class, it turns out that they’re really boosting the shareholder profits of major corporations. Given that, you can see why they might not understand that someone like Barack Obama really cares about the crisis of climate change or how various businesses set out to exploit people of modest means. There must be nefarious motives—like the enrichment of his friends.

Peter Schweizer knows better. This is nothing short of an attempt to distract us all from how Donald Trump and Republicans continue to exploit the working people of this country for their own political and financial gain. He and his pal Steve Bannon assume that this will give fuel to the mainstream media’s love affair with both siderism.

So far, it’s not working. Schweizer’s book is literally lighting up right-wing news sites. But this time, even the New York Times doesn’t seem to be buying it. His claims are so absurd that perhaps people are finally beginning to see him for the propagandist he’s always been.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.