Conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza has friends in high places — see, for example, his receipt of a presidential pardon Thursday with the enthusiastic support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — and he was once a credible, if controversial, author with prestigious academic credentials.
In recent years, however, D'Souza, in addition to pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, has built a long record of shady journalism, cheap shots at political opponents, and outright racism that has won him many critics on left and right alike. Here are seven of D'Souza's most, uh, memorable moments.
1. "How Obama Thinks"
In 2010, D'Souza penned an infamous Forbes cover story purporting to offer insight, as its title put it, into "How Obama Thinks." D'Souza argued that Barack Obama was governing the U.S. according to the agenda of his father, a "philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions." The piece was broadly panned, with Columbia Journalism Review dubbing it "a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia" and The American Conservative calling it "painful," "inexcusably moronic," and "simply stupid."
2. Minimizing Rosa Parks' legacy
Twitter is a great unveiler of souls, and D'Souza's feed is no exception. Where once he would have had to book a speech or publish an article to diminish Civil Rights icons, now he can simply tweet it out:
3. Mocking school shooting survivors
When the Florida state legislature voted down a gun control measure supported by many of the student activists who survived the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, D'Souza mocked their disappointment on Twitter. After swift and furious backlash from across the political spectrum, he said he was "truly sorry" for his "insensitive" tweet, claiming it was actually a critique of the media.
4. Using Trayvon Martin's death for a political joke
A year and a half after Martin's death, D'Souza posted this tweet. It has since been deleted.
5. Musing about Obama and "THE GHETTO"
In 2015, D'Souza sought to whip up controversy over the president's decision to try out a selfie stick, then a national fad.
6. "I was never a birther but ..."
D'Souza kept questioning Obama's place of birth even after birther-in-chief Donald Trump dropped the issue.
7. Arguing slaves were treated "pretty well"
In his 1995 book, The End of Racism, D'Souza offered conflicting takes on the living standards of slaves in America in the span of a single page. He began by conceding they "did live miserably," but soon argued that some combination of "religious and ethical sensibilities of masters" plus slave owners' self-interest meant "the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well."