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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Final campaign madness mixes real, unreal, surreal

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump in undated photos. Photo Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images; AP

The final rush to Election Day always heightens the craziness. Appeals, dire warnings, information and misinformation flood social media, television, emails and radio.

This year has a fever all its own. Fallout from FBI Director James Comey’s eleventh-hour announcement of a new review of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s shared emails — stemming from the probe of her spouse, Anthony Weiner — is only the biggest example.

Last week, Carl Paladino, who is Western New York’s foremost Donald Trump supporter, distributed to those on his email list a seven-page “report” allegedly created by Hillary Clinton’s strategist.

The strategist, Joel Benenson, promptly called it a complete fake on which an old letterhead was superimposed.

Some of its contents sounded hilarious. The memo lists as an option launching a fake extraterrestrial event to “salvage” the Clinton campaign, for which support is “collapsing.”

But it was not sent as a joke. The mailing’s subject line tells the recipient that Clinton pollster Benenson Strategy Group “says she is tanking” and Trump supporters are “unstoppable.”

And if you make it to the bottom of the long email, you find a disclaimer of sorts:

“Is the BSG report genuine or a very skillfully put-together and professional-looking fake?

“You be the judge.”

Given that invitation, we can conclude the “report” is fake and the email misleading. Case closed.

Forgeries aside, nobody has a monopoly on the hyperbolic in the late stages of the campaign season.

The Chicago rapper Common, a Clinton supporter whose 2011 invitation to the White House drew criticism from cultural conservatives, said in August that electing Trump “would be returning to some of the mentality of racism we’ve seen in the mid-sixties, in the civil-rights era.

“It would be returning to some of the actual racism that existed in slave days.”

Of course, this is a special campaign, one in which Trump says: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.”

Tracking the flow of the real versus the unreal gets extra tough when private emails are hacked and posted, when public emails are turned private and then deleted, and when government statements are, as always, guarded and vague.

On Friday, the FBI’s Comey said in a letter to congressional members that the bureau would review additional emails from Clinton’s private server “to determine whether they contain classified information.” Comey wrote that “the FBI cannot yet assess” if the information is “significant.”

Clinton partisans call the letter improper. Trump crowed that the revelation was a step toward “locking up” his former friend “Crooked Hillary.” Is it possible Comey got word of these other emails, went ballistic and — rightly or wrongly — felt he’d been “had” in taking the GOP hit for not charging her?

Just over a week left, and the craziness intensifies.


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