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Netanyahu imports Trump and Breitbart conspiracy theorist as media advisor | Opinion

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Netanyahu imports Trump and Breitbart conspiracy theorist as media advisor | Opinion

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has officially hired right-wing journalist and author Aaron Klein as his new strategic and communications consultant, according to an announcement by his Likud party this week.

Klein, who has served as both Jerusalem bureau chief of Breitbart and a reporter for World Net Daily (WND), is a controversial figure with a penchant for amplifying conspiracy theories and wasonce described as Steve Bannons man in the Middle East.

Klein began advising Netanyahu in 2019 after the second of Israel’s three recent elections and Netanyahu credited him in part with his (albeit precarious) electoral victory in the third.

Klein, 41, has long been a frontline figure in fringe conservative media in the U.S. and has helped mainstream far-right conspiracy theories from his time at WND onwards. The Washington Post dubbed WND the granddaddy of right-wing conspiracy sites, and it was one of the first places to push the birther conspiracy theory falsely alleging Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and was thus an illegitimate president.

Before becoming president, birtherism was one of Donald Trumps first forays into conservative politics and Klein himself boosted one of its corollaries – that though Obama declared himself a Christian, he was in fact a secret Muslim. Klein even told now deplatformed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2013 Obama might be with Al-Qaida given his Islamic background.

Klein’s headlines from WND illustrate his tendency towards question mark journalism, where wild and unfounded accusations lead headlines, but give the writer (and platform) the opportunity not to offer proof by hiding behind a final question mark.

They include the likes of: U.S. politicians on video with underage sex slaves? on the Jeffrey Epstein case, Proof Hillary doomed Stevens with ‘classified’ emails? on U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens murder in Benghazi, Libya, and Is Obama biblical ‘Lord of the Flies’? – an article covering online prophecy sites which took a long sympathetic journey into the meaning of the fly that landed on President Obama during a press conference – proof he was possessed by a demonic entity.

Klein is not the first Netanyahu hire who stirred controversy for attacking Obama. In 2015, Netanyahu received blowback for appointing Ran Baratz as his spokesman after it was reported Baratz had called Obama anti-Semitic.

Klein reportedly “wanted to volunteer” to help Netanyahu counter the multiple criminal indictments against him and worked to rally his political base in America.

This U.S. strategy, which leans on lines familiar from Trumps own rhetoric and is directed at a similar pro-Trump demographic, made some impression, being amplified by right-wing media personalities. Fox News Mark Levin and Fox & Friends denouncing the charges against Netanyahu as fake news, part of Israels deep state, or a coup attempt.

Netanyahu gave Klein a very public shout out during his post-election rally in Tel Aviv once it became clear the Likud had won the closely-contested March 2nd poll, with 36 seats compared to his rival Blue and White partys 33 seats.

Klein played a small role in Trumps 2016 election campaign. Bannon, briefly Trumps 2016 presidential campaign manager and later senior strategist, credited Klein in a SiriusXM radio interview with the genius idea of inviting sexual assault accusers of former U.S. president Bill Clinton for media interviews ahead of the October 2016 presidential debate against Hillary Clinton.

A year later Klein was again on Jones InfoWars to push the all-out Breitbart campaign to discredit women alleging past sexual assault and harassment at the hands of then GOP senate candidate Roy Moore (some of whom were teenagers at the time). Trump accepted Moores denials and refused to withdraw his endorsement.

Klein isnt Netanyahus first political consultant from Trumpworld. In late 2019, he brought in Corey Lewandowski, Trumps first 2016 campaign manager (before he was replaced by Paul Manafort, later a convicted felon), and David Bossie – the deputy campaign manager for Trumps 2016 presidential campaign.

Both Lewandowski and Bossie abruptly left in unclear circumstances after a month on the job, having pushed for a strategy avoiding negative campaigning, leaving Klein as the lone Trump alumnus in the campaign. Lewandowski is now back advising Trump for the 2020 presidential elections, although not officially part of the campaign.

Klein, a native of Philadelphia and the oldest of 10 children from a modern Orthodox Jewish family, began his career as editor of his college newspaper – Yeshiva Universitys Commentator. He came to prominence with an interview of a radical Islamic cleric in the U.K. and later published his first book, Schmoozing with Terrorists, in 2007.

Kleins other books include the New York Times best-seller The Manchurian President: Barack Obamas Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists (2010) and Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office (2013). A hagiographic review of the latter in WND was headlined ‘Manchurian president’ [Obama] ushering in Islamic caliphate? and centered the allegation that Obama tacitly supported a Muslim Brotherhood revolution.

Klein has noted that their shared opposition to the rise of radical Islamic terrorism brought him and Bannon together: Were totally on the same page as far as our vision for the Middle East, the war on terror, he said in 2017.

Current Breitbart CEO Larry Solov has stated that the entire idea of the Breitbart newsite was actually born in Jerusalem, while he and Andrew Breitbart were in town on a visit, and that from its inception, Breitbart news was going to be unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel.

Steve Bannon made sure that happened, so finally Israeli affairs, Middle Eastern affairs, would be covered from an unabashedly Zionist, pro-Israel perspective, Joel Pollak, senior-editor-at large at Breitbart News told Politico in 2016 as Bannon was entering the White House.

Its no accident that Breitbart figures from the Bannon era like to consecrate what they describe as Bannons empathy for Jews. During the 2016 election, the ADL among others slammed Breitbart for pushing an explicit white nationalist agenda, calling it the premier website for the alt-right.

The high-profile establishment of Breitbart Jerusalem, and Kleins leadership, was often used as a convenient counterpoint to combat that reputation. As Pollak explained, Breitbart Jerusalem apparently showed the depth of Steves empathy for the Jewish people.

Breitbart Jerusalem chief Aaron Klein.

Breitbart Jerusalem chief Aaron Klein.Credit: Breitbart

Klein didnt leave his conspiracy theory days behind when he moved on from WND in 2015. While at Breitbart, he has focused much of his writing on attacking Democrats, George Soros, covering Trump-promoted conspiracy theories like Spygate and the Ukraine hoax. Klein recently wrote about Bidens involvement in the Russia collusion hoax.

And he has faithfully pushed the Trump camp line that the Democrats have become pathologically anti-Israel, a change that they claim will tip a Jewish exodus from the party (known in those circles by the neologism Jexodus.) On his own radio show, Klein opined: I think you are going to see American Jews, if they do care about Israel, bolt the Democratic Party because how could they stay in when the Democratic Party has taken a conscious decision to turn their backs on Israel?

An analysis which omitted the all but certain reality that 70 percent of U.S. Jews who vote Democrat arent going to cross the aisle and vote for their nemesis Trump.

Netanyahu taking on Klein is clearly a bet not only on Trump-style tactics to browbeat his way out of the substantial legal mess in which he is caught (or in yet another election), but is also a vote for Trump 2020 and the team around him. And while Netanyahu is an undeniably savvy and effective strategist, for some observers, thats a foolishly partisan choice. A plan that could be very risky.

The latest polls show Trump losing ground to Biden in key swing states and trailing nationally by 8 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. And the latest Gallup poll out this week shows Trump down to only a 39 percent approval rating – a ten point drop in a month. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are the only incumbents in modern U.S. history to have their approval ratings drop below 40 percent in June of an election year. Both lost their reelection bids.

Shalom Lipner, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and longtime veteran of the prime ministers office, slammed Kleins hiring on Twitter as short-sighted, arguing what Netanyahu should be doing is hedging his bets for the increasing likelihood of a Biden presidency, i.e. stop antagonizing Democrats.

A President Biden is unlikely to be thrilled to work with a world leader employing the man who literally wrote the book calling for Obamas impeachment, denigrates Democrat-voting Jews and took – with other partners-in-crime – U.S. political discourse to some of its dirtiest, unfounded and prejudiced places yet.



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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