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If you want a sense of what a Mitt Romney presidency would look like, have a look at his top fundraisers. Today's fundraiser of the week is Romney 2012 finance co-chair Frank VanderSloot, CEO of pyramid selling company Melaleuca, public education wrecker, Idaho mogul, Romney campaign finance co-chair, and professional victim.
Via Glenn Greenwald:
But it is VanderSloot’s chronic bullying threats to bring patently frivolous lawsuits against his political critics — magazines, journalists, and bloggers — that makes him particularly pernicious and worthy of more attention. In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices (Mother Jones subsequently re-posted the article with revisions a week after first removing it). He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire.
Well, one media outlet isn't silent, nor is it worried about this particular litigious billionaire. Nay, nay. Fox News is more than happy to act as conduit and surrogate for Mr. Melaleuca so he can whine away about how the Obama campaign is "terrorizing" him. And as Rachel points out in the rather long but informative segment above, VanderSloot is whining about being treated like a public figure because he is, well... a public figure. When one serves as the finance co-chair of a national presidential campaign, one is a public figure, like it or not. By the way, that little tidbit about his role in the campaign is one you won't find on Fox News.
Via Media Matters, an anatomy of manufactured outrage (aka fauxtrage), courtesy of Fox News:
In a May 10 column, The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel complained about the scrutiny VanderSloot has come under since the Obama campaign questioned VanderSloot's background. On May 11, Fox jumped on the story, airing five separate segments that denounced attacks on a "private citizen."
But a crucial detail was missing from Strassel's column and the half-hour of airtime that Fox devoted to the story: VanderSloot is a national co-chair for Romney's finance committee. So VanderSloot is not merely a "private citizen," but actually a high-ranking member of Romney's campaign.
Fox's Neil Cavuto even let VanderSloot carry out his responsibilities as national finance co-chair on the air. Toward the end of an interview with Cavuto, VanderSloot said that he plans to "stand up and get more involved in this campaign, and we hope that other people will join us in that. Everybody should get out their checkbooks":
See, there's no terrorist acts taking place on the part of the Obama campaign. It's just that Mitt Romney's grassroots fundraising is so pathetic that they had to manufacture something so that VanderSloot could go on Fox News and tell all the eager, head-nodding, faithful viewers to get out their checkbooks and make that donation to Romney 2012 because that damned Obama raised $1 million in the 90 minutes after he announced his support for same-sex marriage. Romney saw no similar bump to his fundraising from opponents.
Nevertheless, this little fauxtrage will cause Uncle Crazy to get right on the email and send a blast about "Obama the Terrorist" to his AOL list of like-minded people, who will forward it on to their list of like-minded people and pretty soon I'll find it in my inbox after my mother receives a copy and sends it to me with a note letting me know that there's yet another stupid email meme to debunk.
Hey Mom, I figured I'd do it before you actually forwarded it to me. Frank VanderSloot is pretty shameless about the lows he'll stoop to for sucking a few hard-earned dollars out of the grassroots, with the helpful in-kind contribution by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
I remember when companies like Amway and Melaleuca were considered cultish. Now their CEOs run Republicans' campaigns. How far we've come. Not.