Category Archive 'Mainstream Media'
25 Apr 2019

Even Matt Taibbi Says It Was All Bunk

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When Progressive Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone says the Mainstream Media screwed up royally and Trump was in the right, that is really something remarkable!

You know what was fake news? Most of the Russiagate story. There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy, that thing we just spent three years chasing. The Mueller Report is crystal clear on this.

He didn’t just “fail to establish” evidence of crime. His report is full of incredibly damning passages, like one about Russian officialdom’s efforts to reach the Trump campaign after the election: “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

Not only was there no “collusion,” the two camps didn’t even have each others’ phone numbers!

In March of 2017, in one of the first of what would become a mountain of mafia-hierarchy-style “Trump-Russia contacts” graphics in major newspapers, the Washington Post described an email Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sent to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. They called it “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government.”

The report shows the whole episode was a joke. In order to further the Trump Tower project-that-never-was, Cohen literally cold-emailed the Kremlin. More than that, he entered the email incorrectly, so the letter initially didn’t even arrive. When he finally fixed the mistake, Peskov didn’t answer back.

That was “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government”!

As outlined in his initial mandate, Mueller explored “any links” between the Russian government and the campaign of Donald Trump. His conclusion spoke directly to the question of whether there was any kind of quid pro quo between the two sides:

“The investigation examined whether these contacts involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future.”

In other words, all those fancy org charts were meaningless. Because there was no conspiracy, all those “walls are closing in” reports — and there were a ton of them — were wrong. We were told we’d hit “turning point” after “turning point” leading to the “the beginning of the end,” with Trump certain, soon, to either resign in shame, Nixon-style, or be impeached.

The “RNC platform” change story was a canard, according to Mueller. The exchanges Trump figures had with ambassador Sergei Kislyak were “brief, public, and non-substantive.” The conversations Jeff Sessions had with Kislyak at the convention didn’t “include any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.” Mueller added “investigators did not establish that [Carter] Page conspired with the Russian government.”

There was no blackmail, no secret bribe from Rosneft, no five-year cultivation plan, no evidence of any kind of any relationship that ever existed between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Michael Cohen “never traveled to Prague.”

The whole Steele dossier appears to have been bunk, with even Bob Woodward now saying the “highly questionable” document “needs to be investigated.” The Times similarly is reporting, two-plus years late, that “people familiar” with Steele’s work began to have “misgivings about [the report’s] reliability arose not long after the document became public.”

Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation. They didn’t imply vast criminality that wasn’t there, or hoodwink audiences into thinking a Watergate-style ending was just around the corner, or routinely blow meaningless episodes like the Sessions-Kislyak meeting out of proportion, or regularly smear people who not only weren’t part of a conspiracy but had no connection to anything (see here for an example).

They’ll also claim they didn’t spend years openly rooting for indictment and impeachment via wish-casted predictions disguised as reporting and commentary, or denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists, or clearing their broadcast panels and op-ed pages of skeptics while giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding.

That’s fine. In the short term, a significant portion of the country will probably agree coverage was appropriate, probably the same sizable plurality of poll respondents who say they disagree on some level with Mueller’s findings. A lot of people out there despise Trump, and at least right now will be inclined to sympathy for broadcasters and editorialists who gave full quarter to the most damning theories of conspiracy and criminality in the Russia case.

… [N]ews audiences over time lose trust in news organizations that tell them what they want to hear politically, but get the substance of things wrong.

The Mueller report makes clear reporters were sold wolf whistles over and over, led by reams of unnamed official sources who urged them to see meaning in meaningless things and assume connections that weren’t there.

Reporters should be furious about being fed these red herrings. They should be outraged at all those people who urged them to publish the Steele report, which might have led to career-imperiling mistakes in print. They should be mad as hell at CIA chief Gina Haspel and the other unnamed officials who told them disclosing the name of already long-ago exposed government informant Stefan Halper would “risk lives.”

More than anything, reporters should be furious at the many sources close to the various investigations who (it now seems clear) must have known pretty early there were serious holes in many areas of this story, and that a lot of these “dots” were dead ends, but didn’t warn their press counterparts. For instance, the papers should be mad those who supposedly had misgivings about the Steele report didn’t warn them earlier.

But they’re not mad, which makes it look like a case of intentional blindness, in which eyes and ears were shut among other things because the Trump-Russia conspiracy tale made a ton of money. Media companies earned boffo ratings while the Mueller probe still carried the drama of a potential spectacular ending, with blue-state audiences eating up all those “walls are closing in” hot takes.

This fiasco will surely end up being a net plus for Trump. The obstruction parts of the report make him look like a brainless goon and thug, but the absence of what Mueller repeatedly calls “underlying crime” make his ravings about an elitist mob out to get him look justified. This is not an easy thing to achieve, but we’re there, and the press is a big part of that picture.

RTWT

I cannot help comparing the way this one came out with the Anti-Bush Intelligence Operations, the PlameGame (in which the Bush Administration was blamed for supposedly leaking the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, and Scooter Libby convicted of lying to prosecutors, when Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew all along that it was the disloyal-to-Bush Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who revealed Plame’s identity to Robert Novak), and the “Bush-Lied-People-Died” Missing Iraqi WMDs view of the war, which successfully discredited both the Iraq War and the Bush Administration with the presently concluding “Stolen Election/Russian Collusion” attempted coup against Trump.

The difference is that Trump fought back, while George W. Bush stood there like a punching bag, taking every hit, and treating the hostile media and his Deep State opponents as if they were the legitimate authorities.

Trump may not be the ideal President in every respect, but at least he is a fighter.

18 Feb 2019

Explaining Democrats’ (and the Media’s) Passion for AOC

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Robert Tracinski identifies AOC as a Hollywood archetype.

She’s the Democratic Party’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. AOC is an MPDG, and if we had political satirists worthy of the name, NBC would already have brought in Zooey Deschanel to play her on Saturday Night Live.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a stock character first classified by Nathan Rabin in a 2007 review of Elizabethtown, a film he described as “The Bataan Death March of Whimsy.” “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” he wrote, “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

In my youth, this sort of character was usually played by Julia Roberts, often opposite Richard Gere. More recently, the trope has been associated with the kind of chirpingly quirky free spirit, chock full of precious hipster mannerisms, often played by Zooey Deschanel (and widely parodied). You get the idea: strumming a ukulele, dancing in the rain, riding an old-fashioned bicycle in a sundress. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the vibrant, attractive young woman who, by the sheer force of her joie de vivre and childlike enthusiasm, rescues the brooding male lead from his cynicism or malaise.

The Democratic party certainly needs this sort of thing right now as it struggles to break free from the funk of defeat and the grey, hopeless compromises of Clintonism. So of course they were eager to idolize a slender, attractive young champion, with her flowing dark hair, improbably big eyes, and wide, toothy smile—many of the qualities, come to think of it, that qualified Julia Roberts for this role on the big screen.

RTWT

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Lisa Schiffren, on the other hand, offers a simpler explanation.

The real reason that neither cameras nor citizens can look away is, of course: sex. The woman exudes a wild kind of sex appeal. She is hugely mediagenic. Her thin, lanky body, with the attention grabbing, er… rack; the expressive face; the crazy eyes and large, invariably red lipsticked mouth—any casting director could have predicted her ability to grab attention.

To use the Hollywood term of art, young Alexandria is, “fuckable.” That is a rare quality among political women, possibly never previously seen in any elected female Congresswoman or Senator. (Though Harry Reid thought that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, N.Y.) had it early on, when he called her “the hottest Senator.”) Remember how the extremely hot Sarah Palin disrupted the political landscape, and we learned the acronym MILF? This attribute explains why there are so many politically conservative men telling the world that they would “do” her, while complaining about her “stupidity,” and irritating voice. Men are obsessed, despite the fact (or because of it?) that she is a clear candidate for the top right corner of the Hot-Crazy matrix.

Meryl Streep first publicized this Hollywood casting criterion in a now scrubbed NPR interview. Asked how it was that she had been given all of the serious female roles in her generation, Streep responded, and I paraphrase, “In Hollywood they decided early on that I wasn’t ‘fuckable.’ So I got to be interesting instead.” Amy Schumer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus elaborated on the concept in a sketch known to all millenials.

Lest you think I am insulting the looks of all women previously elected to Congress, please note that the opposite of “fuckable” is not unattractive. It is “serious.” Serious in the manner of women who wish to be taken seriously in the serious endeavor of making the nation’s laws and policies. Serious so that citizens trust them, as we must. It’s not an accident that the women who have held the most power—Margaret Thatcher, Patricia May, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir…. everyone except Benazir Bhutto and Evita, were post-menopausal. Even Hillary Clinton, no sexpot, had to be “a certain age,” to be plausible as president. No one trusts a woman—or man—who radiates sexuality as a primary calling card, and excites it in others. This is true in real life, though not on TV, where the implausibly attractive imitate the serious.

For the record, this attribute of AOC’s is the major reason anyone—anyone—takes her “ideas” seriously. There’s no there, there. To be sure, the Socialism she spouts is a threat. But all those old people running for the Democratic nomination apparently believe that she is the ticket to eternal life, or at least to the millennial vote, because of her vibe, not her thinking.

Fascinating as it has been to watch, this AOC dumpster fire of sexuality in Congress is terrible precedent—for our political culture, and for women in politics. Charisma—the ability to charm—is tough enough for the admirably substantive to beat.

RTWT

12 Jan 2019

Trump Derangement Syndrome

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24 Sep 2018

They Never Give Up

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Steven Hayward saw it coming.

I Told You So

I’ve been saying all week that you could expect another late hit on Brett Kavanaugh over the weekend, and right on schedule, we have the New Yorker story, which, as Paul and Scott have already noted, is pretty thin gruel. But it was absolutely necessary for the left to come up with a story like this, for several reasons. …

[O]ne thing that is true in virtually all cases of sexual predation (think Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein) is that there is a pattern of behavior, and usually several other women stepping forward. This trait was conspicuously absent until now. We know that the media—and no doubt large portions of the Democratic establishment—have been trolling feverishly to find another woman with a story. This is the best they can do—a hazy, indirect, recovered memory?

I think this entire late gambit has been one huge bluff by the Democrats, intending to intimidate Republicans into dropping Kavanaugh. I don’t think Dr. Ford has any intention of testifying before the Judiciary Committee this week, and I expect come Wednesday we’ll get a self-serving announcement attacking Chairman Grassley and the Senate Republicans for “bullying” and creating a “hostile environment” in which Dr. Ford cannot “safely” tell her story. At that point, Grassley should call for an immediate committee vote to proceed with the nomination. This latest story in just another attempt to keep the intimidation fires alive. Fine: I say let’s call the bluff and request that Deborah Ramirez, the source of the new allegation, present herself for sworn testimony before the committee.

RTWT

25 Aug 2018

“White House Press Briefing” — A Bad Lip Reading

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HT: Vanderleun.

30 May 2018

Tweet of the Week

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23 Feb 2018

Trump Against Fake News

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HT: Dave Roth.

16 Dec 2017

How Donald Trump Plays the Media

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28 Oct 2017

Double Standards

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15 Sep 2017

Eat ‘Em All

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Fox News reports that a reporter for a prestigious newspaper was eaten by a crocodile.

A Financial Times journalist was killed by a crocodile while washing his hands at a lagoon in Sri Lanka during a holiday with pals.

Paul McClean, 25, an Oxford University graduate, is understood to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet when he was attacked.

The British victim is believed to have been dragged under water at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock near a popular surf spot after being ambushed by the reptile.

McClean graduated from Oxford with a First class honors degree in French in 2015 before joining the Financial Times later that year.

He had covered Brexit and the European Union for the newspaper and had recently returned to London after living in Brussels for a couple of months.

The lagoon, known to be crawling with crocodiles, is yards away from popular surf spot Elephant Rock near Arugam Bay on the southeast coast.

Sri Lankan police and the army are said to be searching the shore surrounding the area.

Locals claimed the victim had been staying at the East Beach Surf Resort – located just minutes away from the surfing area he went missing from.

Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located up the coast from where the incident happened, said: “A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location.”

RTWT

30 Jun 2017

Iowahawk Tweets

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27 Jun 2017

CNN Producer Says Russia Story is BS

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