Charges and counter-charges of “fake news” have been going around lately. The ultimate example of fake news was a report in The Washington Post (WaPo) linking to an anonymous blacklist of 200 sites that were infiltrated by Russia or run by “useful idiots” doing the bidding of Russia. The WaPo report was so unprofessional that backlashes came swiftly and continuously since publication.
One such backlash was on the high-budget Russian financed television and internet news network Russia Today or RT. As the apparent centerpiece of “Russian propaganda,” the network and many of its hosts were bound to respond.
Russia Today is a 24 hour network with varied news and information programs. Hosts include people like Larry King, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Lee Camp, and many Russian hosts who speak perfect English. RT invites popular and expert Americans onto its programs who are rarely seen on “mainstream media.”
Enter Peter Lavelle, the host of RT program CrossTalk. His show is a half hour talk and discussion program that usually showcases three guests to discuss various issues. Peter Lavelle has spent many hours analyzing fake news. But one day Peter Lavelle was complaining about being on “The List” of fake news sources; a few days later, Peter Lavelle was making fake news himself.
In a program entitled “Reckless Jill?” he brought on two partisan guests who literally laughed and made things up with the host for the entire program. Peter Lavelle himself added falsehoods onto the pile. The program was described:
Jill Stein’s call for a vote recount in three states is perplexing to say the least. No meaningful fraud has been claimed. And even Obama says the vote was free and fair from a cyber-security perspective. What does Jill want? Will the American presidential election ever be over?
His guests were long-time Republican operatives Michael Patrick Flanagan and Alex Newman. It never occurred to anyone that having an election recount, or for that matter, a full hand count of all the ballots or other integrity checks, would be supportable in a democratic nation.
All three agreed that Jill Stein’s recount effort was funded by George Soros, a total fabrication. The three could not stop saying the name Soros as if it had magic propaganda powers.
Peter Lavelle himself could not “help thinking” that Jill Stein was going to “keep the change” of the recount, which would be illegal under Federal Election Commission rules. As the costs keep increasing both by the states and by the intervention of lawsuits, Jill Stein is likely to end up short on money anyway.
The three were making things up that could not be verified presently and that are not going to happen, with no basis for the claims other than their political propaganda ends — to stop any count challenges in the election.
Michael Patrick Flanagan revealed his own partisan motives by projecting them onto Jill Stein: “The three of us might be making the same mistake here in that assuming that the forces working on this — Soros and the others — value a free election. They don’t. They value the possession of power, and if they get power by lying and cheating and stealing, that’s fine.” Speak for yourself, Michael.
They accused Jill Stein of working in concert with Hillary Clinton. Obviously, Hillary Clinton had more resources to pursue a recount and could have done so in as many states as she desired. She did not need Jill Stein to do it for her. In fact, Hillary Clinton only joined the recount efforts after Jill Stein took the initiative. President Barack Obama was against the recounts. Some Democratic Senators suggested there would be “no harm” in the recounts.
Jill Stein was not involved in a conspiracy with Democrats. Nevertheless, Michael Patrick Flanagan fabricated an illusion that the two women were working together, even while noting that Jill Stein had previously said Hillary Clinton was a worse candidate than Donald Trump. Peter Lavelle declared Jill Stein “in bed with the Clinton campaign.”
Here is a simpler idea: Jill Stein happens to like free and fair verifiable elections and the 2016 election was not that. Jill Stein has a history of challenging elections, and challenging this one was perfectly consistent with her previous actions. These concepts totally escaped host Peter Lavelle with his highly inflected question, “What does Jill want?” The answer from mainstream news source Boston Globe:
The Green Party has done this before, to little result. In 2004, when many Democrats asked whether Ohio had been lost to voter suppression, the Green Party teamed up with the Libertarian Party to pay for a recount.
Note that both of the “fringe” parties worked together then. Extending the Peter Lavelle hypothesis of collusion, both the Green and Libertarian Parties may have been working with Democrats then too.
The Boston Globe article went on to describe the 2016 election situation: “The inspiration for the recount: theories ranging from sketchy to debunked.”
Host Peter Lavelle picked up exactly this “fake news” perspective from the mainstream media that he detests so much, claiming there was no evidence of “fraud.” In fact, there was plenty of information to indicate problems with the counts which may or may not have been “fraud,” but that should inspire recounts, as examples:
- Claims by Republicans including Donald Trump and everyone on this episode of CrossTalk that there was “voter fraud.”
- Expensive measures by Republicans to stop something as innocuous and democratic as the recounts.
- Michigan tabulated totals did not match, and there were 87 thousand ballots with no presidential choice read by the machines.
- Pennsylvania totals were changing and declining before the recount started.
- Wisconsin totals changed during reviews too.
Guests contradicted the host on the fraud issue, talking at length about how voter fraud was everywhere. Michael Patrick Flanagan boasted that he was “one of the world’s great living breathing authorities on retail vote fraud” and provided an “anecdotal” example. Nobody seemed to notice or care about the contradiction, but all three agreed — fraud or no fraud — election recounts must stop.
The three actually gloated and laughed almost hysterically at those who seemed unhappy with the results on election night. They were also laughing that TV hosts were “suicidal.” Michael Patrick Flanagan thought this was “terrific,” and Peter Lavelle echoed the sentiment.
It is understandable that Russia Today and Peter Lavelle would present a different narrative or slant to their programs than the large media companies. However, when a news source slips to this level of distortion, hypocrisy and dishonesty, it loses credibility.
This episode of CrossTalk is rated FAKE NEWS. Peter Lavelle should apologize for this entire program and avoid becoming the fake news he despises so much from now on. Besides, there is no shortage of Republican propaganda — nothing independent about that.