The right’s favorite criminal: Inside the hopeless obsession with Dinesh D’Souza

D'Souza is a hack and a criminal, but he's also an Obama critic, and that's good enough for Fox News

Topics: Dinesh Dsouza, Fox News, Campaign Finance, campaign donation, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Hannity, Conservatives, Media Criticism, Media, conservative media, right-wing movies, Editor's Picks, ,

The right's favorite criminal: Inside the hopeless obsession with Dinesh D'SouzaDinesh D'Souza (Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Dinesh D’Souza might be going to jail. Yesterday, the conservative provocateur and pseudo-academic entered a guilty plea to charges that he made $20,000 in illegal donations to Wendy Long’s phenomenally unsuccessful 2012 campaign to unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. As recompense for his extralegal contributions to a campaign that lost by 45 points, D’Souza could end up spending 10 to 16 months in stir.

Accepting responsibility for one’s actions usually has a redemptive effect, but for D’Souza it only makes him look like more of an ass. When the indictment against him was announced in January, D’Souza immediately began pushing the idea that he, a has-been Obama critic with no discernible influence, was being targeted by the White House for retribution. In the days following the indictment, D’Souza tweeted out stories about government harassment of conservatives.

This led, inevitably, to an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who said D’Souza was “the latest victim to be targeted by the Obama White House.” Hannity asked D’Souza if he felt the indictment was Obama’s payback for the documentary D’Souza released in 2012 called “2016: Obama’s America.” D’Souza, without saying “yes,” said absolutely, yes. “We know the film rattled him,” D’Souza told Hannity. “We know the film upset him. And whether this is a kind of payback remains to be seen.”

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So after setting himself up as the victim of an out-of-control government seeking to punish him for his Obama-hating ways, D’Souza admitted to the crime, thus implicating himself as a co-conspirator against himself.

The idea that the administration would be in any way “rattled” by D’Souza’s documentary is highly unlikely. “2016” spins a cockamamie theory that President Obama is using his power to diminish America’s standing in the world in order to fulfill the aspirations of the father he never knew. It’s a derp-fest for the high-brow anti-Obama zealot who believes the president is a “Third World anti-colonial” and also demands slick production values.

The real story of l’affaire D’Souza is the degree to which conservatives rallied around this disreputable criminal. Long before he became a defendant, D’Souza had done everything in his power to dismantle his own credibility, writing books that downplayed racism in American society and blamed the left for 9/11. Along the way he dribbled down from the Reagan White House to the think tank circuit to the presidency of a small Christian college, a position he was forced out of after he was caught in an extramarital affair.

There’s nothing to be gained by rallying to Dinesh D’Souza’s cause and lots to be lost by associating with him, but the tribalism of the conservative movement overrides the typical cost-benefit analysis. He’s an Obama critic, and that’s good enough for Fox News to give him some airtime to harp on his political martyrdom.

And, sure enough, where did D’Souza go immediately after pleading guilty to his special crime? He sat down for an EXCLUSIVE interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. This was her first question to D’Souza: “So now, this case is resolved, for today, and the Obama administration gets to call one of its top critics a convicted felon. Is this what they wanted all along?”

“I don’t know,” D’Souza responded.

Simon Maloy
Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

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