The Smearing of Robert Mueller (Propaganda in Action)

Here at the blog we have promised to expose propaganda from time to time, and today we have a very clear example of it. It involves Sean Hannity at Fox “News” who, despite all his ethical lapses is, remarkably enough, still on the air.

Hannity has been on a one-man crusade against the Robert Mueller probe, echoing our sad President’s sentiments that this is all a Democrat-orchestrated witch hunt (despite the fact that the majority of people who are running or authorized the investigation, including Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe and Mueller himself are all registered Republicans).

Lately, in their efforts to discredit Mueller, the right wing machine has been claiming that Mueller was part of the conspiracy to protect Whitey Bulger, and was directly responsible for keeping four innocent men in prison, two of whom died while still incarcerated.

You can see Sean Hannity make this claim (above) starting at about 4:13 in his fifteen-minute diatribe.  There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s try to unpack some of it.

  • Whitey Bulger, for those who don’t know, got a good deal of his notoriety for being a mob boss in Boston while his brother (“Billy Bulger”) was the President of the Massachusetts Senate. In a bit of a Cain and Abel story, Whitey turned out to be an informant for the FBI – a bit of a “no no” for a mob boss – and fled to California, where he escaped capture for a remarkable 16½ years.[1]
  • Joseph Salvati and three other men were convicted in Massachusetts for the 1965 murder of Teddy Deegan, a murder they did not commit. Although the FBI knew the identity of the actual murderers, two FBI informants (Vincent “Jimmy the Bear” Flemmi and Joe “The Animal” Barboza) provided the needed testimony to convict Salvati and the others. Flemmi was, in fact, one of the murderers; he was also the brother of Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who was one of Bulger’s closest associates and also an informant for the FBI.
  • Salvati was eventually vindicated after the extent of the FBI’s use of Whitey Bulger and his associate’s was exposed.
  • In a subsequent civil trial for wrongful imprisonment and certain civil rights statues, which was presided over by Judge Nancy Gertner,[2] Salvati was awarded over $100 million (which was the largest award of its kind at the time).

Now, while I had a vague recollection of this, I was reminded of this history via an article in the Boston Globe which detailed a heavy-weight battle between former Judge Gertner and Alan Dershowitz, the legendary Harvard Professor and agent provocateur who made his fame defending the likes of Claus von Bülow. Dershowitz, who loves nothing like the spotlight, has recently been making waves by arguing legalities in defense of Trump. And Dershowitz provided Hannity with some of the “evidence” that led Hannity to conclude that Mueller conspired to let four innocent men rot in jail.

Are you still with me?

So here is the really interesting part: Gertner, having read every transcript and piece of evidence related to the Salvati case while she was presiding over the trial, said that Mueller’s name never came up.  He was not alleged to be part of the conspiracy, and there has been no credible evidence uncovered by anyone that he was.

That, however, has not led Sean Hannity to stop repeating the false accusation over and over again on his show.

Yes, the same Sean Hannity who was recently found to be the third of three clients of President Trump’s personal attorney, Andrew Cohen.[3]

Why can Sean Hannity get away with his blatant and obvious out-and-out lying on Fox “News”? It’s a good question, my friends.

And the answer is because Hannity is not part of the “news” department at Fox; what he offers is “commentary.” Which is a crucial distinction in the law of libel and slander.

However, a day of reckoning may be coming. Alex Jones was recently sued for continuing to repeat the lie that the murders of school children at Sandy Hook was a “staged event” by two of those parents. I can only hope and pray that they leave him bankrupt.

P.T. Barnum famously said “there’s a sucker born every minute.”[4] And let me tell you, my friends, we, the American voters, have been suckers for a long time. Not all of us, to be sure, but enough of us to bring you President Donald J. Trump.

[1] During this time he made it to the top of the FBI Wanted List.  The FBI took a huge public relations hit, especially in Boston, for essentially allowing Whitey to stay on as a crime boss, actively committing murders and other crimes, while they were getting inside information from him against other syndicates.

[2] Gertner was a legendary feminist and firebrand as a defense attorney before becoming a federal judge. While at Yale Law School, she was friends with Hillary Rodham (Clinton) and spent time with Bill Clinton.

[3] To his credit, Dershowitz subsequently went on Hannity’s show and told him on air that he should have revealed his conflict of interest to the public.

[4] Or maybe he didn’t say it because, let’s face it, some version of fake news has been around for quite some time.  But in any case, it’s been attributed to him.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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