Jim Geraghty

On Saturday, the Washington Post’s Paul Fahri wrote about Alex Jones’s interview of Donald Trump:

The ranting radio host and the leading Republican candidate shared a microphone, and some common ground, last week in what may have been a dubious first — the first time a leading presidential candidate has been interviewed by a media figure from the far extremes.

Longtime readers know my negative views of Trump and Alex Jones. But Fahri’s observation/allegation that Trump had achieved a “dubious first” seemed like a good example of how selective the Beltway’s definition of “far extreme” is.

How much more controversial a figure is Alex Jones compared to, say . . . Jeremiah Wright? Or William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn? (I mean, Alex Jones is just a verbal bomb-thrower.) Rashid Khalidi?

If we don’t want presidential candidates associating with paranoid conspiracy theorists, I guess Hillary Clinton will have to stop e-mailing with Sid Blumenthal once and for all. Who should the public be more worried about, the guy who rants on the radio all day or the guy giving Hillary advice on Libyan policy?

Is Alex Jones a more repugnant figure to associate with, than, say, Jeffrey Epstein?

A federal judge in Florida has released new details about how high-powered lawyers for billionaire investment manager Jeffrey Epstein managed to delay and water down victim notifications that federal prosecutors sent to more than 30 underage girls with whom Epstein allegedly had sex . . .

Republicans and conservatives have also taken a keen interest in President Bill Clinton’s connections to Epstein, hoping to make trouble for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Press reports have noted that Bill Clinton, as well as actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, used Epstein’s private 727 to travel to Africa in 2002 for a Clinton Foundation tour of AIDS-fighting and development work. Flight logs filed in connection with another lawsuit show at least 10 journeys by Clinton on Epstein’s planes.

“I’d like to know what he was doing with Jeffrey Epstein, how many trips did he take, where was he going, what did he do when he was with this guy?’ Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told Bloomberg in March.

Who’s done more to harm innocent people: Alex Jones, or Tony Rezko?(Remember, Rezko went to prison for seven years after being convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud, soliciting bribes, and money laundering in connection to a federal investigation into political corruption in the state of Illinois.

As dumb as it seems for Trump to do the interview with Jones and gush enthusiasm for the host, is Trump’s doing the interview really far and away worse than President Obama’s doing an interview with GloZell Green, an alleged YouTube “star” best known for sitting in a bathtub full of milk and Froot Loops?

What, an interview with Jones is beneath the office of the presidency? In September 2012, President Obama did an interview with a Miami radio show host called “the Pimp with the Limp”; the pre-taped interview aired on the 9/11 anniversary.

Fahri’s larger point is that a significant chunk of the Republican party now gets its news and information from fringe sites, chain-e-mails, and other dubious sources, and embraces conspiracy theories and debunked claims. I’ve made a similar argument, but here’s my key difference with Fahri: I think the Democrats are no better and are probably worse. Most surveys suggest the parties are equally paranoid:

Another 2012 national poll asked about fraud in specific presidential elections. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats believed that “President Bush’s supporters committed significant voter fraud in order to win Ohio in 2004,” compared to 36 percent of Republicans who believe that “President Obama’s supporters committed significant voter fraud in the 2012 presidential election.” Again, not much difference. This dovetails with Brendan Nyhan’s findings about “birther” and “truther” conspiracy theories. He found that Republicans were just as likely to believe that President Obama was born abroad as Democrats were likely to believe that 9/11 was an inside job.

More than half of Democrats, according to a 2006 survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks. Bernie Sanders claimed CBS News canceled an interview with him at the behest of Monsanto. A group of Sanders’ supporters accused CNN of deleting a poll that showed him winning the first debate.

Do you want to know what the single-most dangerous false belief in the country is right now?

“ISIL is not going to pose an existential threat to us,” President Obama said. “They are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses. Our homeland has never been more protected by more effective intelligence and law enforcement professionals at every level than they are now.”

Obama made that statement the afternoon of Wednesday, December 4, as two Islamist terrorists who had pledged loyalty to ISIS were shooting up San Bernardino.