Accuracy in Media


President Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza on Thursday, and it’s safe to say the mainstream media did not agree with the president’s assessment that D’Souza should be pardoned because he “was treated very unfairly by our government!”

In a flash news story on the incident, Slate didn’t so much trace the case against D’Souza nor the case for a pardon but instead focused on how bad a person he is.

“Dinesh D’Souza is a right-wing writer and speaker who began his career as an ostensibly respectable intellectual but has since become the familiar kind of relentless alt-right goon-troll who suggests, for example, that the Charlottesville white supremacist rally was staged by liberals and that Barack Obama is a ‘gay Muslim,” wrote Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley.

D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to illegally using straw donors to contribute to a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. D’Souza, now 57, was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months in a halfway house.

Trump’s assistant press secretary, Raj Shah, told the media D’Souza has expressed regret for the crimes, made restitution and was prosecuted far more harshly than most people convicted of similar crimes.  

“President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will issue ‘a full pardon’ to Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative activist and provocateur who regularly peddles conspiracy theories,” read the lead of the story on HuffPost.

Later, it described D’Souza as “famous for his right-wing conspiratorial documentaries, as well as a long history of offensive comments, from smearing the survivors of the Parkland school shooting earlier this year to regularly making racist remarks about President Obama.”

The remark about Parkland referred to tweets D’Souza sent in the days after the shooting in which he mocked “a photo of emotional Parkland students watching the Florida House vote down a ban on assault weapons.”

“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” D’Souza had tweeted. “Adults 1, kids 0,” he added. “Genuine grief I can empathize with. But grief organized for the cameras – politically orchestrated grief – strikes me as phony & inauthentic.”

USA Today said the pardon of D’Souza – following those of former Vice-President Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, late boxer Jack Johnson and Arizona sheriff and now U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio – was meant to send a signal to others that a lifeline was at hand.

“The D’Souza pardon would continue Trump’s use of clemency power to correct what he perceives as unjust, politically motivated prosecutions,” it wrote. “But they also come amid investigations into his own campaign and inner circle – including a probe into whether his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, violated the law when he illegally paid off a porn star who said she had a relationship with Trump.

“Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor who specializes in election law, said the pardon sends ‘yet another signal to Michael Cohen and others about the possibility of a Trump pardon – and this one, like potentially Cohen’s case – involves campaign finance violations.”

Yahoo! wrote that “Democrats and legal analysts” said, “the Republican president had undermined the rule of law with a series of pardons based on political considerations.”

Later in the story, it supplied supporting quotes from a Democratic member of the House and from the managing editor of the Lawfare blog, produced by the Brookings Institution.

“Allowing Trump to engage in such flagrant open abuse of his constitutional powers without consequences will have far more damaging ramifications,” said the Lawfare editor.

This even though Prett Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and staunch Obama ally who prosecuted D’Souza and was later fired by Trump, admitted Trump had the right to pardon D’Souza.





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