‘Obama Might’ve Wiretapped Romney’ Is A Thing Now

Thanks to anti-NSA hysteric Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, another wild conspiracy theory has been crow-barred into the surveillance debate. In his column today, Friedersdorf praised the work of economics blogger Alex Tabarrok who raised the question, “Did the Obama Administration ever spy on Mitt Romney during the recent presidential contest?”

Granted, neither Friedersdorf or Tabarrok fully agree that the president used NSA eavesdropping to spy on Romney for political gain, but they both concur that the question is a very serious one, which any reasonable American should be asking. Friedersdorf notes that only “loonies” refuse to investigate whether the White House exploited NSA’s SIGINT operations to win the 2012 presidential election.

Via Little Green Footballs, here’s the centerpiece of Friedersdorf’s ridiculous post:

Did the Obama Administration ever spy on Mitt Romney during the recent presidential contest? Alex Tabarrok, who raised the question at the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, acknowledges that it is provocative. Until recently, he would’ve regarded it as a “loony” question, he writes, and he doesn’t think that President Obama ordered the NSA to spy on Romney for political gain.

Let’s be clear: I don’t think so either. In every way, I regard Obama as our legitimate head of state, full stop. But I agree with Tabarrok that today, “the only loonies are those who think the question unreasonable.” * Most Americans have a strong intuition that spying and electoral manipulation of that kind could never happen here. I share that intuition, but I know it’s nonsense: the Nixon Administration did spy on its opponents for political gain. Why do I worry that an unreformed surveillance state could put us in even greater jeopardy of such shenanigans?

Nixon did it, so it’s okay — it’s totally not Alex Jones or Jesse Ventura nutball territory to fire up the “Obama Spied on Romney” crazy machine. Because we really, really need another bogus, half-baked conspiracy/scandal to bat down instead of talking about actual issues. By not utterly dismissing with extreme prejudice the theory as the steaming pile of lunatic fringe horseshit that it is, Friedersdorf and The Atlantic are in effect fueling its momentum.

By the way, is Friedersdorf really one of the lizard-people responsible for hormonal juice-boxes and faking the moon landing? I don’t think he is, but it’s reasonable to ask, right?

Bob Cesca is the managing editor for The Daily Banter, the editor of BobCesca.com, the host of the Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show podcast and a Huffington Post contributor.

  • hellslittlestangel

    Listening to Mitt Romney’s telephone conversations — how badly do you have to fuck up to get stuck with that job?

  • http://s1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa333/dew130/ adapto1432

    Let’s
    ring in the Derp with this bit o’ conspiracy theorizin’: Mitt Romney
    mighta won the 2012 election if only that power-mad Obama dictator hadn’t wiretapped his phone.
    (Not that Obama actually did, but you know, NSA HAARP Chemtrails
    Benghazi IRS.) thing is, he COULD have! Nixon did stuff, after all, and
    everything Obama does is worse than Watergate, which means Romney never
    had a chance because spying. Oh, and also the problem of just
    being Mitt Goddamn Rich Asshole Romney, which we’re pretty sure was
    somehow Barry’s fault, too.

  • laserbabe

    way more likely that your company was stripped and flipped and your job offshored by Romney than that Obama spied on his pathetic campaign.

  • Steve S

    I used to read The Atlantic on my phone while on the METRO to and from work. They have some good articles. Best of all their app preloads all the articles so if I’m on part of the subway with shitty reception I can still read other ones.

    I don’t have their app on my phone anymore. Because Connor is nothing more than a libertarian concern troll and a hack. There is no point my bothering to root through for a few good articles when The Atlantic is dead set on giving space to a libertarian concern troll.

    I’m not the only one who’s stopped reading The Atlantic because of him. Which is a shame as I like some of their other authors. If they fired him I’d consider reading them again. They still have McMegan who is a libertarian idiot, but she’s not the sort of rank liar Connor is.

    For what it’s worth I removed Salon because of David Sirota and Joan Walsh.

  • condew

    This says more about the “conspiracy theorists” than about our government or our President. They think the President can use NSA as his personal spy service because, being inherently selfish and dishonest libertarians, if they were in office, they would; and if they worked in the government they would betray the trust placed in them by offering to do it for their guy, just as Snowden betrayed the trust placed in him. Since they don’t believe in regulation, they don’t believe in oversight. Like Sarah Palin, they believe the purpose of running for office is the personal power you can get from abusing your office.

    This “theory” is just the projection of thieves and scoundrels.

    • Nick L.

      And since all of the NSA programs at issue were initiated under Bush or earlier, it is only fair to ask if Bush wiretapped Kerry.

  • villemar

    Thankfully Connor Friedersdorf had the shibboleth “Surveillance State” in his Atlantic headline so I knew to automatically nullify anything he had to say. I appreciate when they include those, along with other perfect shibboleths like “Sheeple” and “Benghazi.” They really are time savers.

  • trgahan

    Their argument is so full of crappy, faulty logic that it could be held up as exactly what is wrong with America. There was a time when baseless accusation was called slander and/or liable.

    Sometimes I think stuff like this is just marginal journalist code for “Hey, conservative infotainment complex! I’ve got the readership. I’ve got the relationships. I’ve got the access. I’m ready for a paycheck now! Come on! At least a think tank fellowship, book deal, and a D.C. condo?! Maybe a speaking tour?”

  • JozefAL

    Yeah, Nixon did that. And Reagan’s team worked with the Iranians to ensure the hostages wouldn’t be released until after the election (amazing how secret talks between the Carter government and Iranian representatives were suddenly derailed less than a month before the election and how the Iranians suddenly released the hostages JUST AS REAGAN was being inaugurated–but no complicity there at all). And Reagan’s team just “happened” upon the debate playbooks of both the Carter and later, the Mondale teams. And allegations of Clinton’s infidelities just “happened” to surface (from GOP sources) after he became the front-runner in the Dem primaries and caucuses. And a majority-GOP Supreme Court just “happened” to intervene in a state’s electoral process, despite there being NO legitimate LEGAL precedent for the action (and that same Court just “happened” to find in favor of the GOP candidate).

    It’s interesting how none of these various GOP shenanigans seem to come up among these “conspiracy” theorists. I wonder why?

  • moelarryandjesus

    Do Alex Tabarrok and Conor Friedersdorf kidnap and murder teens as they travel around the country? I have no evidence that they do, but it’s possible.

    • feloniousgrammar

      It would be irresponsible not to speculate. Is it also true that they drink the blood of their victims?

      • moelarryandjesus

        No, I don’t think so. I think they prefer the bile. It’s the traditional right-wing beverage.

      • laserbabe

        it would be irresponsible not to speculate. hehehe

  • Chris Hendricks

    “…as reported on such news sites as The Daily Banter…”

  • Badgerite

    Is it too much to ask they if they want to make that kind of accusation ( speculation), they provide some kind of evidence or indication that it actually happened as opposed to ‘what if’?

    • Christopher Foxx

      According to the Chuck Todd school of journalistic excellence, that’s exactly not the job of journalists.

  • Vipsanius

    In today’s climate, no ‘news’ organization can ever look foolish by asking a silly question and coming up with nothing. No such thing as shame nowadays.

    • Christopher Foxx

      A responsible news organization would report on this with a focus on what basis they have for making these claims.

      Shame we don’t have those any more.

      • Vipsanius

        The key word is ‘responsible’. It is a shame that we do not have that anymore.

    • Badgerite

      Today’s climate must be the ‘new’ Greenwaldian journalism without ‘the old rules’. Like having some actual evidence to support what you say.

  • WhittakerWalt

    Hey, we’re just asking questions here. Just asking legitimate questions.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Almost, WhittakerWill. The correct phrasing is “Some people are asking questions here….” You want that additional vagueness to give it a false aura of authenticity and preempt accusations of lying.

    • Paul Keller

      Ok. I have a legitimate question. Is Ann Coulter a dude?

      • WhittakerWalt

        Some people are asking this question.

  • Rollo Tamasi

    This will show up on CNN as if it’s a valid topic of discussion.

    • Jack Carlton

      Yep. And it will permanently be regarded by the GOP base as a “fact” that Obama stole the election with the help of the NSA. This cat is out of the bag and it’s never going back in.

    • HilaryB

      I can hear it now. “Spying on presidential candidates. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?”

    • laserbabe

      The Coultergeist will base a book on it.

  • zizi2

    Romney’s 1%er-focused misanthropic campaign was so transparent in its intentions to fuckover the Middle Class and in its utter technological incompetence that there really was no need for ANYONE, certainly not PBO’s campaign, to spy on them

    • Rollo Tamasi

      Romney was a victim of the Republican/RW radio/Fox News bubble. He thought that most Americans hated Obama as much as his fellow bubble dwellers and that would be enough to win. He was wrong.

      • Vipsanius

        yes he was a victim of that bubble.
        The GOP was going to lose in 2008 and 2012. Romney was a sacrificial lamb, just as McCain was.