Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Trump’s Mind-Boggling History of Corruption

One of the most maddening things about much of the news media is that it has become merely an echo chamber for what political candidates say without ever bothering to verify whether the statements are true or not.  Similarly, in the quest for false equivalency, the actual past and/or behavior of a candidate gets glossed over.  A case in point is Donald trump, a man with a sleazy history of corruption, what amount to political bribes, and business practices that in anyone else would be condemned as unethical and best and outright dishonest in fact.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the idiocy of the meme that Hillary Clinton is corrupt while Trump continues to get somewhat of a pass on his shady background.  Here are excerpts:
In the heat of a presidential campaign, you’d think that a story about one party’s nominee giving a large contribution to a state attorney general who promptly shut down an inquiry into that nominee’s scam “university” would be enormous news. But we continue to hear almost nothing about what happened between Donald Trump and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.
I raised this issue last week, but it’s worth an update as well as some contextualization. The story re-emerged last week when The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold reported that Trump paid a penalty to the IRS after his foundation made an illegal contribution to Bondi’s PAC. While the Trump organization characterizes that as a bureaucratic oversight, the basic facts are that Bondi’s office had received multiple complaints from Floridians who said they were cheated by Trump University; while they were looking into it and considering whether to join a lawsuit over Trump University filed by the attorney general of New York State, Bondi called Trump and asked him for a $25,000 donation; shortly after getting the check, Bondi’s office dropped the inquiry. At this point we should note that everything here may be completely innocent. Perhaps Bondi didn’t realize her office was looking into Trump University. Perhaps the fact that Trump’s foundation made the contribution (which, to repeat, is illegal) was just a mix-up. Perhaps when Trump reimbursed the foundation from his personal account, he didn’t realize that’s not how the law works (the foundation would have to get its money back from Bondi’s PAC; he could then make a personal donation if he wanted). Perhaps Bondi’s decision not to pursue the case against Trump was perfectly reasonable.
But here’s the thing: We don’t know the answers to those questions, because almost nobody seems to be pursuing them.
[T]he comparison with stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Clinton Foundation is extremely instructive. Whenever we get some new development in any of those Clinton stories, you see blanket coverage — every cable network, every network news program, every newspaper investigates it at length. And even when the new information serves to exonerate Clinton rather than implicate her in wrongdoing, the coverage still emphasizes that the whole thing just “raises questions” about her integrity.The big difference is that there are an enormous number of reporters who get assigned to write stories about those issues regarding Clinton.
When it comes to Trump, on the other hand, we’ve seen a very different pattern. Here’s what happens: A story about some kind of corrupt dealing emerges, usually from the dogged efforts of one or a few journalists; it gets discussed for a couple of days; and then it disappears. Someone might mention it now and again, but the news organizations don’t assign a squad of reporters to look into every aspect of it, so no new facts are brought to light and no new stories get written.
The end result of this process is that because of all that repeated examination of Clinton’s affairs, people become convinced that she must be corrupt to the core. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of negative coverage of Trump, because of course there is, but it’s focused mostly on the crazy things he says on any given day.
But the truth is that you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has. The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering. Here’s a partial list:
  • Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
  •  Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses
  • Trump University, which includes not only the people who got scammed and the Florida investigation, but also a similar story from Texas where the investigation into Trump U was quashed.
  • The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money
  •  The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins
  • Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
  • ·Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work
  • ·Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work
  •  Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination
  •  Trump’s connections to mafia figures involved in New York construction
  • ·The time Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company
  • ·The fact that Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment. 
To repeat, the point is not that these stories have never been covered, because they have. The point is that they get covered briefly, then everyone in the media moves on. If any of these kinds of stories involved Clinton, news organizations would rush to assign multiple reporters to them, those reporters would start asking questions, and we’d learn more about all of them.
[I]t means that to a great extent, for all the controversy he has caused and all the unflattering stories in the press about him, Trump is still being let off the hook.

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