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Given his reputation as a corrupt master of manipulation, disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been given a surprisingly credulous welcome by the media following the Nov. 1 release of his book Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth about Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.
Described by its publisher as “an engrossing, informative work” that will “serve as a corrective” to Abraham’s “wildly misunderstood” story, the book and its author have in the past week been portrayed with relative sympathy by at least two important mainstream outlets, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and The New York Times. Neither lets him off the hook entirely; the Times, for example, notes that his book tour is “classic Abramoff” and “reflects his latest and most personal lobbying effort yet: the one on which he lobbies for himself.” But (ironically, given the subject matter) neither do the two reports look at who is behind this effort to redeem “Casino Jack,” and who stands to benefit from it.
They should – for Capitol Punishment is not being published by a mainstream imprint. Its publisher is none other than WND Books, an arm of the obsessively conspiracist online magazine WorldNetDaily, which earlier this year released right-wing attack dog Jerome Corsi’s latest birther screed, Where’s the Birth Certificate?.
Though it is best known for its dogged birtherism, WND trucks in all manner of far-right lunacy, as is amply demonstrated by the top 10 bestsellers promoted in its online store. Among these is Scott Lively’s The Pink Swastika, which makes the thoroughly debunked claim that the Holocaust was masterminded by gay men; Cleon Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap, which outlines a plan for turning the United States into 50 little theocracies, each dictating morality according to its own religious ethics; and a bizarre tome called Marx and Satan, which argues that “the destruction of mankind” was “Marx’s ultimate Satanic goal.”
WND’s paranoid universe includes more that just books and articles. In a recent “urgent” letter to subscribers interested in “Carefully Selected Offers from Third Parties,” for instance, it shilled for a bizarre publication titled “The Antichrist Identity,” whose thesis is that Freemasons and “apostate” Jews (as opposed to “Bible-believing” ones) are behind an ancient plot to depopulate the planet, enslave the human race, and bring about a One World Government headed by European royalty. And just last Friday, WND was among the sponsors of a hysterical Nashville-area conference on the “threat” that Islamic Shariah law supposedly poses to the United States.
WND isn’t the only one to lend Abramoff a helping hand. The bankrupt ex-lobbyist’s lavish book party in October was hosted by right-wing pundit Tucker Carlson, who helms the online Daily Caller, an online publication that among other things has featured the ravings of rabid Islamophobe Pamela Geller.
Abramoff’s past behavior has proven him to be not only a criminal but a master manipulator, and the personal benefits of recasting himself as a whistleblower of the influence-peddling system that he himself used to enrich himself are only too obvious. That doesn’t mean he can’t have useful insight on how to reform the system – but there are obvious reasons to pay careful attention to the company he keeps. From corrupt politicians and self-serving lobbyists, he has moved on to birthers, theocrats, conspiracists and Muslim-bashers. Not much of an improvement – and not the kind of comrades that should be overlooked by media seeking to promote a good old-fashioned American comeback tale.