Does Roger Stone Read CounterPunch?

Yeah, that Roger Stone who might share your interest in CounterPunch by joining you right now in reading this article—see further below. Recall that during Trump’s regime, Stone was indicted and found guilty by a jury on seven felony counts. As summarized by ABC reporters, Stone’s crimes consisted of “five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a proceeding.” He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.[1]

However, a person described as a longtime friend, Trump, who, like others before him, could be viewed as an abuser of his constitutional powers, granted Stone a pardon that prevented the government from housing Stone in a federal prison and saving us taxpayers some money.[2]

Soon after being pardoned, as reported in Newsweek, Stone was possibly involved in the January 6 riots. Video “footage of Stone galvanizing Trump supporters prior to the incident” is available.  However, as one might expect, “Stone has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack.”

Stone’s Early Start at Using Disinformation

In the film Get Me Roger Stone, Stone claims that while an elementary school student in 1960 and as a Kennedy supporter, he manipulated a mock election for president by lying to kids as they went “through the cafeteria line” telling them that Nixon proposed “having school on Saturdays.” He goes on to say that “to the surprise of a local newspaper, Democrat Kennedy swept” the mock election that Tricky Dick was expected to win.

Stone then states that “For the first time ever, I understood the value of disinformation.” With what could be considered a smirk on his mug, he goes on, “Of course, I have never practiced it [using disinformation] since then.”[3]

Years after helping Kennedy, Stone, perhaps, “redeemed” himself in the eyes of his comrades by tattooing an image of Nixon on his back and becoming a Republican operative. On the cover of his 2017 book with the title “The Making of the President 2016” with the subtitle “How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution,” Stone is described as a “political consultant and strategist who played a key role in the election of Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump,” and “is credited with closing down the 2000 Florida recount, which made George W. Bush president.” How many of us could take credit for helping not one, but two losers of a popular vote in a “democratic” election gain the position sought?

Stone Reads CounterPunch?

One of my first articles published by CounterPunch in February, 2016 had the title “During Obama’s Presidency, Wealth Inequality has Increased and Poverty Levels are Higher.” It was featured as a top story resulting in it being on the homepage for about a month.

Some time later, I discovered that some information from my article was used by Stone in his book on Trump becoming president.[4]

Stone wrote on page XXXVIII in the preface:

“According to the Census Bureau, median family income is nearly $13,000 less than when Obama first took office, while the poverty rate under Obama has remained at or near 14.5 percent, and extreme poverty has grown more extreme—with the number of people living 125 percent below the official poverty rate higher every year under Obama than during the Bush presidency (growing over 19 percent every year from 2010 to 2014), and the percent of the population having an income at 50 percent or less of the poverty level following the same trend (up over 6 percent every year that Obama was president). The conclusion is undeniable that during Obama’s presidency, wealth inequality has increased and poverty levels are higher.”

That last phrase is the exact words of the title of my article which Stone cited in an endnote. However, not to shock you, but can you believe that one of Stone’s facts is grossly inaccurate—a fake fact?

Stone writes that “median family income [not covered in my article] is nearly $13,000 less than when Obama first took office.” According to the Census Bureau report with the title: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016, using 2016 dollars adjusted for inflation, 2008 median income, the year prior to Obama becoming president was $56,076. It was $55,683 in 2009, his first year as president. It fell to a low during his presidency of $53,331 in 2012 (a difference of less than $2,800 compared to the year before he took office.) Compare $2,800 with Stone’s claim of “nearly $13,000.”

Median income in 2016, Obama’s last year, was $59,039, almost $3,000 more than when Bush left office and higher than every year of Bush’s regime.

Stone writes that “under Obama, poverty has remained at or near 14.5 percent.” My article covered through 2014—his figures up until then are accurate. However, in 2015, according to the same Census Bureau report, the official poverty rate was 13.5 percent and, in 2016, it was 12.7%, lower than what Stone states. Extreme poverty fell slightly to 5.8% in 2016, not remaining “over 6 percent every year that Obama was president” as Stone asserts.

Additionally, Stone did not provide any details of how wealth has become more unequally distributed not just during Obama’s time in office, but during both Democratic and Republican presidencies, a major topic in my article. What should come as no surprise is that at the end of the Trump regime, after four years of making America great again, wealth inequality was even greater.[5]

In his book, Stone informs us that in 1989, he “convinced” Trump not to join his executives on a planned helicopter trip to Atlantic City. The helicopter crashed. Everyone on board was killed. Trump’s “life was spared.” Stone then “realized that Trump had been put on Earth for” a “larger purpose…he would be President.”[6] Really?

***

Upon discovering Stone including information in my article, I thought, oh my God, how could this be? How did Stone’s “scholarly” pursuits lead him to my article?

I also connected the dots. Counterpunch publishes my article. Roger Stone reads it and cites it in his book and may have discussed it when advising Trump. Did I help Trump get into the White House? Will Hillary include me in her list of people she blames for not becoming president? Please God, no.

Project Censored, which has a “mission” of “promoting critical media literacy and democracy,” and highlights important stories not adequately covered, provided me with some relief. Their book, Censored 2017, included an article with the title Wealth Inequality in 21st Century as one of the top censored stories in 2015-2016. My article is listed, along with others, as a source.

1. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/roger-stone-found-guilty-counts/story?id=67015102

2. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Stone and https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/us/politics/trump-roger-stone-clemency.html

3. See the film Get Me Roger Stone starting around 7:40.

4. Stone included information in my article in the preface on page XXXVIII and cited my article as an endnote on page 334.

5. See, for example, my recent Counterpunch article: The Wealth Inequality Virus Persists

6. Pages XV-XVI The Making of the President 2016 by Roger Stone. According to Stone, Trump’s “life was spared to save our Republic and restore economic vitality.” Is the moon made of cheese?

Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.

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