OUTRAGE: Washington Post Takes Advantage of Mentally Ill Woman to Smear Trump

This has got to be one of the most disgusting pieces of journalism from the 2016 campaign. The Washington Post spent several months following a seriously mentally ill woman around Pennsylvania to wrote a magazine-length October hit piece to smear Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his supporters as bat-bleep-crazy.


“Melanie Austin sits at her kitchen table at her home near Brownsville, Pa., on Aug. 6. She is an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter and is certain that he will win the election in November. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)” Image via Twitter.

The Post article about the seriously mentally ill Trump supporter was published October 1 with the crazed-by-association title, “‘Finally. Someone who thinks like me.’


The Post identifies the woman as Melanie Austin and reports she was involuntarily committed for several weeks in February and is taking prescription anti-anxiety medications without which she gets highly agitated.

The Post also reports Austin is on disability as a result of persistent sexual harassment and resultant anxiety from being one of the few women railroad engineers, in addition to a cascade of personal difficulties.

The Post quotes Austin as saying she has PTSD, anxiety and depression.

And the Post decided to wrote about Austin’s support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an article that prints without photos to twelve pages. Twelve pages of journo-porn for the Post’s liberal readers to confirm their media created stereotypes of Trump and his supporters.

The Post took advantage of a seriously mentally ill sexual harassment victim to help the Hillary Clinton campaign, accompanying Austin to a Trump rally in June, a July court hearing for her boyfriend, staying at her home as she and her boyfriend watched the GOP convention also in July and visited her home again in August for a photo session.

The article carries the byline of Stephanie McCrummen. He Post bio at the end of the article describes an experienced reporter who has (literally) been around the world:

“Stephanie McCrummen is a national enterprise reporter for The Washington Post. Previously, she was the paper’s East Africa bureau chief. She has also reported from Egypt, Iraq and Mexico, among other places.”

Excerpts of McCrummen’s article published by the Post:

In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient.

“Who’s that guy?” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. “Prosperity and tolerance? Forget that sh–.”

She lit a cigarette. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lisovich, was next to her on the couch, drifting to sleep, a pillow over his head. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!!” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain.

She was a 52-year-old woman who had worked 20 years for the railroad, had once been a Democrat and was now a Republican, and counted herself among the growing swath of people who occupied the fringes of American politics but were increasingly becoming part of the mainstream. Like millions of others, she believed that President Obama was a Muslim. And like so many she had gotten to know online through social media, she also believed that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them…

…The first time she had seen him, at a rally in June, she was just beginning to realize how many people saw the world the way she did, that she was one among millions. At the time, her hips were still sore from a series of injections intended to calm her. She had gotten them in February, during a difficult time in her life, when she had been involuntarily hospitalized for several weeks after what she called a “rant,” a series of online postings that included one saying that Obama should be hanged and the White House fumigated and burned to the ground. On her discharge papers, in a box labeled “medical problem,” a doctor had typed “homicidal ideation.”

Melanie thought the whole thing was outrageous. She wasn’t a person with homicidal ideation. She was anxious, sure. Enraged, definitely. But certainly not homicidal, and certainly not in need of a hospital stay.

“It never crossed my mind that I’m losing it,” she said several months after her release, and a big reason for this conviction was the rise of Donald Trump, who had talked about so many of the things she had come to believe — from Obama being a founder of the terrorist group ISIS, to Hillary Clinton being a co-founder, to the idea that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered in a White House plot involving a prostitute and a pillow…

…And so when she was released from the hospital with instructions to “maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she did what seemed to her not only healthy but also patriotic. She began campaigning for Trump…

…Someone honked.

“Oh, be quiet!” she yelled out the window.

She was late taking her afternoon anti-anxiety pill.

“My anxiety’s through the roof,” she said, and then explained what came after the lawsuit. Her sister became ill with cancer. There were fights with doctors and insurance companies over bills. Her sister died. There was the housing collapse and the banking collapse, and her hours got cut back, and her colleagues were treating her as bad as ever.

“Every day was a different scumbum,” she said. “I couldn’t handle one more d—head.”

Her anxiety was getting worse and worse, and then one day in 2011, Melanie went to work, and in a moment she cannot recall clearly, ran her train through a red signal. No one was hurt, but she lost her job.

“I did cartwheels,” she said. “I didn’t have to endure this s— one more day. Not one more creep crawling up on my engine. Still, it’s a hell of a transition from working woman, and then now to have to confront PTSD, anxiety and depression.”

She went on disability. After a while, she tried to get a job at the local firehouse but came to believe officials were stealing money. She tried to stay on top of her anxiety medication but thought her doctor was committing Medicare fraud. She joined a motorcycle club called Bikers for Christ but found the members to be just “filthy old men.” And every day there was Brownsville.

“When I was a kid, at Christmas time, you’d have lights and a big ‘Season’s Greetings’ banner hung up here,” she said. “There is none of that now. I don’t see much pride in this town. I don’t see much pride at all.”

What she did see more and more was not only a collapsing town, but also a collapsing country and world, and when she looked at President Obama, the person presiding over it all, what she saw was someone who seemed “to come out of nowhere.”

“Nobody knew him! I mean, ‘Dreams from My Father’ from Kenya?” Melanie said, referring to Obama’s memoir.

To her, the president seemed so far away, so oblivious to the decay she saw around her that when Donald Trump began suggesting that Obama was not American, it made sense. When Trump and others suggested that Obama was Muslim, to Melanie it seemed plausible. And when Obama started talking about, of all things, gay marriage and letting transgender people into bathrooms, it all came together: The president of the United States was a gay Muslim from Kenya working to undermine America…

…It was afternoon now, and Melanie got herself a glass of iced tea. She thought about the two legislators who had said Hillary Clinton should be executed, and all the memes, and all the stories on all the websites. The more she read, she said, the more certain she was becoming that she was not out of the ordinary, and that her hospitalization, for instance, was just one more example of an increasingly unjust world. She went over it again: the police cruiser, the injections, the medical bills after. Her hips still hurt. Her gait was off. She was almost out of cigarettes.

After a while, her next-door neighbor John stopped by.

“John,” Melanie said. “Do you remember when I was in the police car handcuffed and you came to talk to me?”

“Yeah,” said John, a laid-off coal miner. “I didn’t know what was going on, to tell you the truth. I said, ‘Well, something’s up. She’s pissed somebody off.’ ”

Melanie asked him, “Did you feel I needed to be committed?”

John looked at her.

“That’s what Randy thought,” he said, referring to a neighbor. “He’s the one that said being where you’re at is the best thing for you.”

“John,” Melanie said. “I’m on the same meds today that I was on the day they took me out of my house.”

“Well,” John said. “Maybe they thought they had to settle your ass down.”

“There are a lot of people like me,” Melanie said. “What’s so special about Melanie Austin that she had to be hauled away to the nuthouse?”

John didn’t answer, and after he left, in the early evening, Melanie put on a CD of Chuck Smith, a 1970s preacher she’d long admired who was best known for converting hippies to Christianity.

“This is one of the last CDs he made, and it’s beautiful,” she said, turning up the volume on the classic gospel hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

“That’s the moment I’m living for right there, ‘When Christ takes me home,’ ” she said, referencing the lyrics. “I will say, ‘Thanks for remembering me.’ ”

She kept scrolling. Hillary Clinton murderer. ISIS chops off heads with dull knife.

“I do feel happy and blessed,” Melanie said, singing, reading on her phone…

Much more of this journo-porn at the article link. This is just a lengthy excerpt of the Post’s twelve page article about Austin. Twelve pages profiling a seriously mentally ill woman whom the Post took advantage of and invested months in covering.

It was too much for a reporter for the Guardian, Chris Arnade, who wrote about his outrage at the Post via Twitter.


“1. Sorry to keep ranting, but this piece by Washington post is just so offensive in so many ways. Awful journalism”

2. Intentional 1 dimensional marginalized figure dealing with mental health served to upper middle class readers to self-affirm views… And only will further isolate the already marginalized; turning her into a political pinball.

3. The article says more about the ethics of the publication (and some readers) than it does about the instability of the subject.”

4. When a publication puts pageviews over the health of a subject. to give its readers a moral salve, what is it saying about its ethics?

The Post posted it would not allow comments on the article by readers, piously claiming:

“Comments are now closed. We turn off the comments on stories dealing with personal loss, tragedies or other sensitive topics. For more details, please see our our discussion guidelines”

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