Culture

10 Ways Jesse Ventura Ruined His Reputation (Without Chris Kyle's Help)

The whole point of a defamation suit is to seek reparation for damage done to your reputation. Indeed, in the wake of his shockingly successful defamation suit against the estate (read: widow and children) of American Sniper author Chris Kyle, former Minnesota governor turned conspiracy peddler Jesse Ventura declared that his reputation was restored. But restored to what? This guy wasn’t exactly a pillar of the community before Kyle claimed to have punched him in a bar. Here’s ten ways Jesse Ventura ruined his reputation without Kyle’s help.

10. Wrote a Conspiracy Book on the JFK Assassination

Jesse’s status as a conspiracy peddler will make repeat appearances on this list. It’s quite a downshift from governor of a state, and yet the path Ventura chose upon returning to private life.

Confirmation bias marks the conspiratorial mindset. It’s easy to latch faithfully onto information which appears to verify your presumptions, and just as easy to flatly dismiss information which contradicts your biases. Jesse exhibits that well in this exchange with former CNN host Piers Morgan.

9. Said He’d Like to Be Our Benevolent Dictator

The brevity of this clip leaves open the possibility that Jesse had his tongue in check. However, even if this comment was offered as a joke, it resonates with Jesse’s approach to politics and his experience governing a state.

Jesse ran as a third-party candidate on a loosely articulated platform that rested primarily upon not being a Republican or a Democrat. He brought the kind of folksy policy proposals to the race that you might expect from a construction worker during happy hour, like legalizing prostitution.

He appeared to give no thought whatsoever to how he would accomplish anything if elected. As it turns out, being a governor from a third party with no legislative caucus neutered his pipe-dream agenda. So it’s no wonder why Jesse now fantasizes about being empowered to do what he wants without having to deal with any of that pesky deliberative process.


8. Compared United States Immigration Enforcement to Soviet-Held East Berlin

The silliness on display in this clip on immigration policy compounds as you watch. Jesse reacts to the news that 52,000 children have crossed illegally into the United States since October, wondering how so many could sneak past the “thousands” of Border Patrol agents he sees whenever crossing from his winter home in Mexico. Because – you know – the whole border must be exactly like the checkpoint he crosses.

Like a broken clock, Jesse’s right one minute when he suggests diverting military assets from foreign entanglements to the southern border here at home. Also like a broken clock, he’s wrong a minute later, claiming that sending the military to the border would turn the United States into East Berlin. Because – you know – the Soviets built that wall to keep people out of their economic nirvana.

7. Blamed George W. Bush for 9/11

Sean Hannity stands as the consummate cheerleader for Republicans, certain to defend his party and demonize the other with little pretense of objectivity. Nevertheless, he gets it right in this back-and-forth with Ventura on the topic of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The blame for that day lies with the evil ideology of Islamic totalitarianism. If America holds any blame, it is limited to a failure to react appropriately to that threat with retaliatory force, which Hannity evokes in reference to Bill Clinton’s refusal to kill Osama bin Laden when he had a chance.

Ventura holds a different view. According to him, George W. Bush bears the blame for 9/11 because “it happened on his watch.” That’s it. That’s the argument. Bush was president when the attack happened; therefore it was his fault. Thinly veiled is Ventura’s belief that Bush had more direct involvement in the attacks.

6. Jumped on the Koch Bros. Bashing Bandwagon

Channeling his inner Occupy, Ventura here takes time to join the Left in demonizing Charles and David Koch for having money and spending it in defense of their liberties. His lackey begins by demonstrating just how rich the Koch brothers are, a fact which he seems to think incriminating unto itself.

Jesse characterizes the Koch brothers’ activism as “injecting themselves into our government” and wonders why they don’t “just go on making their billions,” as if being rich somehow divests you from interest in the conduct of government. If anything, being disproportionately productive vests individuals heavily in the state. The more you make, the more government wants to take. Is Jesse’s political activism, such as it is, somehow more noble because he’s worth less than a Koch?

Jesse expresses opposition to the freedoms of speech and association, here advocating for draconian campaign finance restrictions.

5. Trumpets the “1%” Rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street

Again here, as with his criticism of the Koch brothers, Jesse condemns the rich for existing. Again, his lackey begins by highlighting just how much more money the 1% have than you. “Nobody should be that wealthy,” Jesse declares.

Really? Why? By what moral principle should individuals be kept from acquiring as much wealth as they can produce?

Jesse refers to the drive to produce wealth as a “sickness.” Gee, Jesse. You’ve got far more money than most of us. So why did you sue a widow and accept $1.8 million that you don’t need?

4. He’s Never Meet a Conspiracy Theory He Didn’t Believe

Barbara Walters has Jesse’s number early on in this appearance on The View, where he seeks to promote one of his books. She points out that virtually every tragedy or major event in American history lends itself to conspiratorial narratives. She asks why Jesse has “such little faith.” By faith, she seems to mean confidence in the most simple and obvious explanations for tragedy.

Indeed, to believe in the sort of labyrinthine coverups which Ventura and his cohort imagine, you require a faith of a different kind. You have to believe that hundreds or even thousands of people involved in the response, coverage, and investigation of a highly publicized incident somehow weaved the same coherent cover story, conscientiously hiding the truth about something monumental.

3. Retains a Longstanding Association with Conspiracy Peddler Alex Jones

Jesse describes him as “an old friend and faithful crusader for what’s right.” That’s his assessment of conspiracy guru Alex Jones.

Now I’m not big on branding people guilty by association. Maintaining a relationship with someone does not necessarily mean you share their views. However, in this case, Ventura and Jones clearly express their common worldview.

Jones has crafted a media empire around an expertly commercialized panic over a dystopian police state that’s been weeks away since 1994. Ventura has studied under Jones and attempted to forge his own brand in the same market of doomsday preppers.

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Click to watch video interview on YouTube

2. He’s a 9/11 Truther

Here Jesse wholly unveils his status as a full-blown 9/11 truther. In some contexts, like the other videos presented on this list, he confines his conspiratorial musings regarding 9/11 to suggestions of incompetence. Indeed, it’s one thing to criticize the government for not taking warning signs seriously enough. But here, Jesse goes beyond that to suggest that the government had intimate knowledge of the imminent attacks and did nothing to stop them.

Again, to believe that, you have to believe that every individual who had a role in responding, covering, or investigating the attacks is to some degree either woefully incompetent or willfully treasonous.

1. Suit Was Motivated by “the Truth” and Effort to “Restore Reputation”

Considering all of the above, we come to Jesse’s ludicrous assertion that his motivation in pursuing a defamation lawsuit against Chris Kyle was to restore his reputation. Restore it to what? The things which Kyle claimed Ventura said were no worse than many of the things Ventura has openly said. And if indeed his name has been cleared, as he here declares, why consider going after the publisher of Kyle’s book next? How much clearer can your name get, Jesse?

In the final analysis, the jury’s verdict must be respected, and emerging facts support Jesse’s defamation claim. That said, sometimes grace proves sweeter than justice. And if Jesse’s aim was truly fostering a good reputation, he would not have pursued this argument past Kyle’s untimely and violent death.