Posted tagged ‘Media and Trump’

Fusion GPS and How the News Gets Made

July 23, 2017

Fusion GPS and How the News Gets Made, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, July 23, 2017

(Please see also, FBI relies on discredited dossier in Russia investigation. A co-founder of Fusion Fusion GPS, which wrote the “Trump dossier,” has refused to testify before the Congress.– DM)

The Fusion GPS scandal is a shocking example of how the media sausage really gets made

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Lee Smith has an extensive hardhitting piece at the Tablet on Fusion GPS and what the media has become. I’m going to excerpt a few relevant sections. Not necessarily in order.

On Wednesday, three major news organization published variations of the same story—about the line of succession to the Saudi throne. It seems that in June the son of King Salman, Mohammed Bin Salman, muscled his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef out of the way to become the Crown Prince and next in line.

It’s a juicy narrative with lots of insider-y details about Saudi power politics, drug addiction, and the ambitions of a large and very wealthy family, but the most salient fact is that the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters published what was essentially the same story, with minor variations, on the same day—not a breaking news story, but an investigative feature.

In other words, these media organizations were used as part of an information campaign targeting Riyadh, for as yet unknown reasons. Who’s behind it? Maybe an opposition research shop like Fusion GPS, or a less formal gathering of interests, like Saudi opponents foreign and domestic, as well as American intelligence officials.

The same likely goes for the flurry of media pieces claiming that the crisis with Qatar was caused by UAE hacking. That nonsense piece of Qatari propoaganda is seemingly even being promoted in paid Google ads.

Smith’s larger point is that the news is increasingly a series of hit pieces. While that’s obvious to most conservatives and independents, he discusses how organizations like Fusion GPS create them.

Fusion GPS was founded in 2009—before the social media wave destroyed most of the remaining structures of 20th-century American journalism—by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They picked up former colleagues from the Journal, Tom Catan, and Neil King, Jr., who were also well-respected by their peers. When the social media wave hit two years later, print media’s last hopes for profitability vanished, and Facebook became the actual publisher of most of the news that Americans consumed. Opposition research and comms shops like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford….

Fusion GPS, according to the company’s website, offers “a cross-disciplinary approach with expertise in media, politics, regulation, national security, and global markets.” What does that mean, exactly? “They were hired by a sheikh in the UAE after he was toppled in a coup and waged an information war against his brother,” one well-respected reporter who has had dealings with the company told me. “I believe they seeded the New Yorker story about the Trump Hotel in Azerbaijan with alleged connections to the IRGC. They may have been hired to look into Carlos Slim. It’s amazing how much copy they generate. They’re really effective.”

Yet it is rare to read stories about comms shops like Fusion GPS because traditional news organizations are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them. But they are the news behind the news—well known to every D.C. beat reporter as the sources who set the table and provide the sources for their big “scoops.”

The garbage media story you’re reading wasn’t even created by the reporters whose byline is on it. It was quite possibly created and hand fed by outside experts. Obviously this isn’t a new phenomenon. But the scale and the scope of it is. None other than Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Goebbels, bragged how little reporters [k]now and how easy it’s become to feed them material.

Something like Fusion GPS takes the White House operation that Ben Rhodes ran and makes it acceptable to countries and various interests.

Essentially we have what amounts to PR firms writing major media stories. And driving the narrative.

There is no accurate accounting of how many of the stories you read in the news are the fruit of opposition research, because no journalist wants to admit how many of their top “sources” are just information packagers—which is why the blinding success of Fusion GPS is the least-covered media story in America right now.

This is something to remember as the media throws another fit about how any criticism of it is a threat to the First Amendment. What the media increasingly is, is a space for assorted activists, for profit and non-profit, to run their narratives.

Much of the media’s new blood know nothing except how to tweet sarcastic animated GIFs and to have the right left-wing politics. The media isn’t a free press. It’s a monopoly run for the benefit of special interests.

The Fusion GPS scandal is a shocking example of how the media sausage really gets made.

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser

July 22, 2017

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, July 21, 2017

Watergate ended with a whimper, not a bang. After months of sturm und drang, Richard Nixon finally mounted that helicopter, gave that famous farewell peace sign and flew away. Most Americans were relieved to see him go. Our long national nightmare was over.

If something similar happens to Donald Trump, it will be entirely different. A significant portion of the American public — myself admittedly among them — will be convinced he has been railroaded in a partisan hatchet job. The voters who elected the president are going to feel, at the very least, undermined, more likely betrayed,  by their own government and public officials. Many are going to feel this has nothing to do whatsoever with justice and will act accordingly.

The exact results of this mammoth national split are not easy to predict but they could range from massive civil disobedience to outright civil war.

The behavior of special prosecutor Robert Mueller has exacerbated the situation. Even CNN admits he has staffed his investigation almost exclusively with Democratic Party supporters and donors. It’s hard to say whether this is brazen or stupid or both, but it certainly doesn’t lend credibility to his eventual decisions. At the very least it’s extremely unsophisticated for a former director of the FBI — but perhaps that’s really the way it is. Nothing (and no one) can stand in the way of prosecution.

And then there are the leaks that emerge from his supposedly confidential investigation at seemingly a mile a minute pace. The (always) anonymous creeps who do this are sleazy individuals who — under the mega-narcissistic pretense that they are informing the public of something of importance — undercut everything everyone has ever known about the rule of law. They are, effectively, enemies of the state and even more, of the American people — and pompous ones into the bargain.  It would be poetic justice to send them all to Gitmo.

The most recent of these leaks — published as is so frequently the case by that junk scandal sheet formerly known as The Washington Post — tells us that AG Sessions was supposedly talking about the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. What Sessions said exactly, which could have been something completely innocuous and no more than a sentence or two, if indeed he did say anything at all, was of course not mentioned. If it was something serious, most likely it would have been specified, but then who knows. We don’t know if this leak is first, second or fifth hand. We don’t know anything about the source. We don’t know anything about the content. We just have the smear. Not surprisingly too, this leak — a character assassination really — was again anonymous (what else?). When Joe McCarthy made his famous character assassinations, at least he had the guts to do it under his own name. (Yes, I know McCarthy turned out to be right in some instances.)

Mr. Mueller runs a tight ship, no? (Maybe he doesn’t even want to. Comey certainly didn’t care. He leaked himself.)

The situation is grim all around. Trump, lawyering up, is obviously preparing for war against Mueller who, in his turn, is apparently digging into information regarding the president’s ten-year-old Russian business dealings. Again, this is a fraught decision because everyone in the informed public is aware of the myriad Clinton-Russia connections (including Uranium One) detailed in Clinton Cash that were, as far as we know, never investigated by the FBI, not to mention the well-documented Russian business connections of John Podesta and his brother.

If Trump and his family are singled out for this when the Democrats have skated, this will be regarded by a vast proportion of the public as selective prosecution further exacerbating the ominous possible results I referred to above.

To take any of this seriously as a search for truth is absurd. It’s more like a blood sport, the modern equivalent of a gladiatorial. Trump baiting. And Trump, as the bear, lashes out.

He has reason to. As everyone knows, cooks cook, plumbers fix the plumbing, and prosecutors prosecute. It’s what they do, part of their personality structure. Especially if the prey is big, and they don’t bring in at least one or two significant players, they feel as if they haven’t done their job. So they work and work until they do — nab someone for something. Trump knows this. The media know this. We all know it.

And bad as it may be for Trump, it’s going to be even worse for We the People.

En garde!

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions

July 22, 2017

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, July 21, 2017

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

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The Washington Post claims that Attorney General Sessions’ statements about what he discussed with the Russian ambassador are at odds with reports by the ambassador to his government about what he and Sessions discussed. The Post relies on, you guessed it, “current and former U.S. officials.”

But the Post fails to describe a contradiction between what Sessions has said and what the Russian ambassador supposedly reported. Here are the only statements by Sessions cited by the Post and its sources as problematic:

I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.

I don’t recall any discussion of the campaign in any significant way.

I never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.

Here is the Post’s description of what the Russian ambassador told the government:

A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Maybe. But even someone with average skill in reading and logic would understand that this description is not inconsistent with Sessions’ denial that he did not discuss the campaign with the ambassador.

It stands to reason that Sessions might discuss Russia-related issues with the Russian ambassador. And Russia-related issues are also campaign-related issues in the sense that Russia was an issue in the campaign.

But what Sessions denied was that he discussed the campaign and any interference by Russia with it. The denial was important because, at the time Sessions made it, the issue Washington fixated on was whether Team Trump sought or knew about Russian help for the candidate, or coordinated with Russia regarding the campaign.

The Post’s piece, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, is dishonest. It finds a contradiction where none exists by glossing over the distinction between discussing a “campaign-related issue” — which is any substantive issue raised by any candidate during the campaign season — and discussing the campaign.

Discussing hacking or “opposition research” research with the Russian ambassador would constitute discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador how the campaign is going or what its strategy is would constituted discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador — as President Obama told the Russian president — that the candidate would be more flexible with Russia after the campaign would probably be a borderline case.

Simply discussing Russia policy — past, present, or future — is not discussing the campaign.

There is also the question of whether the Russian ambassador was telling his government the truth. The Post admits that “the Russian ambassador could have mischaracterized or exaggerated the nature of his interactions” with Sessions. It notes: “Russian and other foreign diplomats in Washington and elsewhere have been known, at times, to report false or misleading information to bolster their standing with their superiors or to confuse U.S. intelligence agencies.”

The Post adds, however, that the Russian ambassador “has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.” Maybe. But I’m not inclined to take the word of the “deep state” on this. I suspect there are “current and former officials” who would grant the Russian ambassador sainthood if it meant embarrassing the Trump administration.

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

Right Angle – Are There Any Honest Reporters Left?

July 22, 2017

Right Angle – Are There Any Honest Reporters Left? Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, July 21, 2017

 

According to the blurb beneath the video,

Buzzfeed claims Trump’s was on the media is viewed by his Republican Confederate, as a fake war, and they refuse to join the fight. In fact, some think they are caught in the middle and are being harmed as collateral damage.

Are President Trump’s broad attacks against the media helpful?

Bill Whittle, Scott Ott, and Stephen Green ask: Is there any honest reporters left?

Roper’s Resolve: Critics Seek Dangerous Extensions Of Treason and Other Crimes To Prosecute The Trumps

July 21, 2017

Roper’s Resolve: Critics Seek Dangerous Extensions Of Treason and Other Crimes To Prosecute The Trumps, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, July 21, 2017

Trump has certainly become a diabolic figure for many (though his popularity among Republicans remains above 80 percent). This hatred has blinded many to the implications of pulling up the roots of our criminal laws “to get after the Donald.” In particular, they should consider the cost to free speech and the political process if they hand the government the power to criminalize some of this conduct.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip President Erdogan this week pledged to “chop off the heads” of some of the thousands of Turks arrested as supporting the failed coup last year, including political opponents. That is precisely why the Framers, and later courts, have narrowly defined this crime and why relatively few treason cases have been brought and even fewer have succeeded in this country.

As satisfying as it may be to “get after the Donald” or his progeny, the engorged criminal code that would be left would then be handed to the next president. That president would then have a less obstructed range for the investigation of opponents and critics. If that day should come, we must ask ourselves how we will “stand upright in the wind that would blow.” As More noted, it is a question worth asking not for Trump’s sake, but for our own.

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Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on how critics of Donald Trump have been calling for radical extensions or interpretations of criminal provisions against core figures. The implications for such interpretations of crimes like treason need to be considered by critics.

“So now you’d give the devil benefit of the law!” Those were the words of William Roper in one of the most riveting scenes from “A Man For All Seasons.

He was chastising his father-in-law, Sir Thomas More, for elevating the law above morality. Roper, who was himself a lawyer and member of Parliament, was the face of resolve — and relativism — in the law. When More asked if Roper would “cut a great road through the law to get after the devil,” Roper proudly declared that he would “cut down every law in England to do that.”

After the 50th anniversary of the classic movie, we seem to be living in the “Age of Roper” — and rage. There is a constant drumbeat in the news as experts declare prima facie cases for indictment and impeachment against President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner. Trump has been denounced as threatening free speech, the free press, and even the democratic process.

However, the push for criminal charges could well create the very dangers that critics associate with Trump. Few have considered the implications of broadening the scope of the criminal code and handing the government wider discretion in criminalizing speech and associations. Once you declare someone to be the devil, there is no cost too great to combat him or his spawn.

Trump has certainly become a diabolic figure for many (though his popularity among Republicans remains above 80 percent). This hatred has blinded many to the implications of pulling up the roots of our criminal laws “to get after the Donald.” In particular, they should consider the cost to free speech and the political process if they hand the government the power to criminalize some of this conduct.

Treason

In the chorus of criminal charges following the disclosure of the Russia meeting, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was not to be outdone. Where others were arguing election fraud, Kaine declared that the case has moved to a potential treason charge. Likewise, Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, has said that, while rarely charged without a declaration of war, “the dictionary definition” of treason and the “common understanding” is “a betrayal of one’s country, and in particular, the helping of a foreign adversary against one’s own country.”

Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman declared the emails to be “almost a smoking cannon” and added that “there’s almost no question this is treason.” Even if there is a reluctance to bring a direct treason charge, Painter insists that “we just use other statutes because most of what is treason would have violated another statute anyway.”

Article III of the Constitution defines this crime as consisting “only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” With neither a declaration of war nor an act of levying of war, such a charge is both absurd and dangerous. Many countries like China routinely charge communications with foreign organizations to be treason.

Indeed, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip President Erdogan this week pledged to “chop off the heads” of some of the thousands of Turks arrested as supporting the failed coup last year, including political opponents. That is precisely why the Framers, and later courts, have narrowly defined this crime and why relatively few treason cases have been brought and even fewer have succeeded in this country.

Espionage

Some lawmakers, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have suggested that if the Russians were hacking or spying on the Democrats, Trump Jr. and others participated in the crime of espionage. Like treason, the effort to construe this meeting as espionage would rip the crime from its statutory roots. There is no evidence that Trump Jr. gave any sensitive information to Russian officials or sought to hurt U.S. national security. If this were espionage, a host of campaigns and citizens could be investigated as traitors or spies for using information from a foreign source.

Conspiracy

Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin has declared the Trump Jr. emails to be “a shocking admission of a criminal conspiracy.” However, the crime itself requires a showing that Trump Jr. sought to “conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States.”

MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler identified the crime as “conspiring with the U.S.’ sworn enemy to take over and subvert our democracy,” and declared it is now clear that “what Donald Trump Jr. is alleged to have done is a federal crime.” The suggestion that acquiring opposition research is an effort to “defraud” an election would, again, criminalize a host of political speech and associations.

It would allow the government to call campaigns into grand juries to answer for discussions of how they obtained information or who they consulted. We live in a global marketplace of ideas and exchanges. The line between information given as part of political speech and information given to defraud could vanish… with a great deal of our political discourse.

Obstruction

I have previously discussed how the firing of former FBI Director James Comey has prompted many to declare a prima facie case of obstruction. Like many others, Akerman declared the matter resolved, saying, “Our president is guilty of obstruction of justice for endeavoring to obstruct an FBI investigation.”

However, an obstruction charge is based on obstructing a grand jury or other pending proceeding. FBI investigations are not generally considered a pending proceeding and case law has rejected such claims. Moreover, it would allow the government to broaden the element of trying to “corruptly” influence to an extent never reached in any prior case.

Under such an ambiguous standard, prosecutors could charge people willy nilly for a host of interactions with witnesses or documents in the earliest stages of an investigation. Prosecutors could force pleas or testimony under constant threats of obstruction charges. That is why courts have narrowed the language of obstruction.

Election fraud

The same chilling results would occur if, as a host of experts have declared, the receiving information from any foreigner would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act. The law makes it illegal to “solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation… of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national in connection with a federal election. Experts have declared the law as all but satisfied as a basis to charge Trump’s son.

Nick Akerman, a former Watergate assistant special prosecutor, declared, “It’s illegal campaign contributions. It would be conspiring to commit campaign violations.”   Likewise, Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel, has declared, “There is now a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements of the law.”

Of course, no court has ever reached such a conclusion and hopefully would never do so. If the receipt of opposition research from a foreigner is now equivalent to receiving illegal campaign funds, the law would extend to foreign academics, public interest groups, nongovernment organizations, and journalists supplying information to a campaign.

An environmental group might have given Hillary Clinton’s campaign a dossier on Trump’s business practices. All of those interactions could be investigated and prosecuted — sweeping a wide array of political speech into the criminal code. If successful, these experts and advocates would hand the next administration the ability to harass and pursue political opponents and groups.

During the Obama administration, Democrats tossed aside the principles of separation of powers and supported President Obama’s use of unilateral authority to circumvent Congress. The Democrats acted as if Obama would be our last president in abandoning core constitutional principles. Trump is now enjoying the very unilateral powers that the Democrats so unwisely embraced.

Trump will not be our last president — just as Obama was not. These laws will be left to the next president to use in the same broad fashion against others. Democrats have simply replaced blind loyalty under Obama with blind rage under Trump.

In the movie scene with Roper, More cautions those who too willingly discard or twist laws to achieve desired ends, saying, “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

More shows the recklessness of Roper’s resolve — the dangerous tendency to make the law bend to your will in the name of a higher cause like Roper’s desire “to get after the devil.”

As satisfying as it may be to “get after the Donald” or his progeny, the engorged criminal code that would be left would then be handed to the next president. That president would then have a less obstructed range for the investigation of opponents and critics. If that day should come, we must ask ourselves how we will “stand upright in the wind that would blow.” As More noted, it is a question worth asking not for Trump’s sake, but for our own.

Assess This

July 15, 2017

Assess This, Power LineScott Johnson, July 15, 2017

Even this “eyes only” document must have left ambiguity about Putin’s “audacious objectives.” There is a rather big difference between the objective of damaging Hillary Clinton and the objective of defeating her. Given the unidentified sources of the leaks behind this revelation, however, one would have to be a fool to take the contents of the report or the validity of its assessments on faith.

One should think that the credibility of former government officials who betray their oaths to leak such information would be in question. Color me cynical. For whatever reason, however, the Post expresses no reservations regarding the credibility of these officials.

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Did Putin prefer Trump in the presidential election of 2016? According to the intelligence report dated January 6, 2017, Putin not only preferred Trump to Clinton. He mounted a so-called influence campaign to put him over. The report is posted online here.

Issued under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the report is based on the intelligence and assessments of the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The report as released constitutes the “declassified version of a highly classified assessment that has been provided to the President and to recipients approved by the President.”

The authors of the declassified version of the report state that their conclusions “are all reflected in the classified assessment,” although “the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.” Our own ability to evaluate the report is necessarily limited by what has been disclosed to the public.

The report conforms to the line put out by Hillary Clinton’s communications team in the immediate aftermath of Clinton’s shocking loss. Perhaps that is a coincidence, or perhaps the Clintonistas were on to something.

The report also comports with the line peddled by former Obama administration officials who frequently retailed politicized “narratives” manufactured to support counterintuitive administration policies. See, for example, the long Washington Post article “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.”

The former Obama administration officials feeding the Post feel free to blow such highly classified information as the administration’s putative cyber efforts against Russia. Trump administration officials decried the leaks to Adam Kredo for his Washington Free Beacon article on the subject.

The Washington Post article contains hints of the “highly classified” information that was omitted from the declassified version of the report. According to the Post, in August 2016 the CIA hand delivered an “eyes only” report “drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.”

The Post continued: “The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump” (emphasis added).

Even this “eyes only” document must have left ambiguity about Putin’s “audacious objectives.” There is a rather big difference between the objective of damaging Hillary Clinton and the objective of defeating her. Given the unidentified sources of the leaks behind this revelation, however, one would have to be a fool to take the contents of the report or the validity of its assessments on faith.

One should think that the credibility of former government officials who betray their oaths to leak such information would be in question. Color me cynical. For whatever reason, however, the Post expresses no reservations regarding the credibility of these officials.

The Post’s long article reminded me of the dialogue Woody Allen wrote for his voiceover spy parody What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? at the point where one character shows spy hero Phil Moscowitz a printed floor plan and explains: “This is Shepherd Wong’s home.” Moscowitz asks: “He lives in that piece of paper?” In the Post story, the lowdown on Putin lives in the piece of paper stuffed into the envelope transmitted by courier from the CIA to President Obama under extraordinary handling restrictions.

If we turn back to the declassified report to arrive at our own conclusions, we are underwhelmed by the presentation. It is, shall we say, thin.

Referring to the agencies’ finding that Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to help Trump win the election — a finding the agencies say they hold “with high confidence” — the Russian American journalist Masha Gessen (no friend of Trump) put it this way in her hilariously derisive account posted on January 9 at the site of the New York Review of Books:

A close reading of the report shows that it barely supports such a conclusion. Indeed, it barely supports any conclusion. There is not much to read: the declassified version is twenty-five pages, of which two are blank, four are decorative, one contains an explanation of terms, one a table of contents, and seven are a previously published unclassified report by the CIA’s Open Source division. There is even less to process: the report adds hardly anything to what we already knew. The strongest allegations—including about the nature of the DNC hacking—had already been spelled out in much greater detail in earlier media reports.

But the real problems come with the findings themselves….

The report is so poorly written that it makes for painful reading. Gessen makes this point and advances her analysis as well:

Despite its brevity, the report makes many repetitive statements remarkable for their misplaced modifiers, mangled assertions, and missing words. This is not just bad English: this is muddled thinking and vague or entirely absent argument. Take, for example, this phrase: “Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity.” I think, though I cannot be sure, that the authors of the report are speculating that Moscow gave the products of its hacking operation to WikiLeaks because WikiLeaks is known as a reliable source. The next line, however, makes this speculation unnecessary: “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.”

Or consider this: “Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.” Did Putin’s desire to discredit Clinton stem from his own public statements, or are the intelligence agencies basing their appraisal of Putin’s motives on his public statements? Logic suggests the latter, but grammar indicates the former. The fog is not coincidental: if the report’s vague assertions were clarified and its circular logic straightened out, nothing would be left.

Gessen observes at one point: “That is the entirety of the evidence the report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents—and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements.”

Along with disparaging comments on Trump, Gessen concludes that the report “suggests that the US intelligence agencies’ Russia expertise is weak and throws into question their ability to process and present information[.]” I won’t try to summarize Gessen’s devastating assessment of the report. You really have to read the whole thing.

Power Line readers are probably already familiar with Andy McCarthy’s invaluable assessment of the report in his NRO column “Missing from the intelligence report: The word ‘Podesta.’” It too is necessary reading.

The Left Media’s Extraordinary Popular Delusion

July 13, 2017

The Left Media’s Extraordinary Popular Delusion, American ThinkerPatricia McCarthy, July 13, 2017

…and the madness of their crowd. “Collective obsessional behavior” is defined as a “condition in which a large group of people exhibit similar physical or emotional symptoms, such as anxiety or extreme excitement. Also called epidemic hysteria.”

There is no longer any doubt that the American left, especially those who dominate our media and academia, are indeed suffering from the above disorder.  Since their candidate lost the election that they were so terribly confident she would win in a landslide, they have descended deeper and deeper into psychosis.  The Clinton campaign came up with their Trump-colluded-with-Russia meme about twenty-four hours after the election results were verified. It was nonsense then as it is today, but the left’s mental distress has become so grievous that they no longer can be called rational or even sane. After eight months of wild speculation and various investigations, absolutely nothing has been unearthed that indicates in any way that the Trump campaign, least of all Trump himself, colluded with Russia to affect the outcome of the election. The media’s obsession with somehow proving such collusion has rendered them disordered and incoherent.  The media spend their days and nights ignoring the many news stories the public should be learning about: North Korea’s nuclear program, compliments of Bill Clinton, ISIS, Iran’s nuclear program compliments of Obama, the determination of some states and cities to protect illegal immigrant criminals rather than their own citizens, the domestic terrorism of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, etc. Eight years of Obama gave rise to much of these plagues upon our nation and now Trump must deal with the consequences of Obama’s radicalism, economic destruction and importation of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and the systemic meltdown of the national media, both print and electronic.

Most, if not all, of the media hysteria about a Trump/Russia collusion is the result of countless illegal leaks to said media in which unnamed sources are the order of the day. No longer do the NYT or the WaPo fact-check their sources or adhere to even minimal journalistic ethics. Like too many airhead celebrities who think people care what they think about anything, mainstream journalists are of one mind:  get rid of Trump by any means, the ends will be justifiable. So what if good people are maligned, their careers ruined, their jobs lost? So what if the stories they print are mere speculation meant to fuel a few days of scandal. One day, they hope. something will stick. They are counting on Robert Mueller to make their day. Why else would he hire a host of far-left attorneys, known Hillary supporters, to “investigate”?  No one yet knows if Mueller is a decent man who reveres the Constitution or if he’s a partisan political hatchetman sent to do the left’s bidding. He was chosen because he’s Comey’s best pal, which does not bode well for a fair outcome. It would be enormously reassuring if he was actually investigating the many known crimes of the Clintons, their foundation, the DNC, and the Clinton campaign’s dirty tricks, but that is, as every conservative knows, highly unlikely.  It is more probable that he and his pals are the fix the left hopes will lead to Trump’s removal from office.

That the left is suffering from a psychic break is clearer than ever these past few days. Three unnamed sources leaked to the NYT that Donald Trump Jr. had a twenty-minute meeting with a Russian woman who wanted to talk about adoptions and the Magnitsky Act. Trump had agreed to the meeting because he was told the person had incriminating evidence of Hillary’s dealings with Russia. She did not. The meeting was over. Sounds like a setup, perhaps by part of the deep state determined to destroy Trump or maybe by an Obama/Clinton team of subversives. There is abundant evidence that Natalia Veselnitskaya is anti-Trump.

The media has responded as though proof of Trump committing an ISIS-like murder just fell into their laps. The leftist media and their willing guests are falling all over themselves to be on camera calling for prosecution and, of course, impeachment. They are now exhibiting signs of a full-fledged psychosis, a “severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with reality.” Tim Kaine, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, called the meeting “treason.” Adam Schiff, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, embarrasses himself on an almost daily basis droning on and on as though Trump is some sort of Benedict Arnold or Aldrich Ames. A paragon of intelligence he is not. Does anyone believe that if Kaine or Schiff were offered incriminating evidence of Trump wrongdoing, they would not trample over their own children to take that meeting? The same is true of every anchor on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, NYT, WaPo, LAT, and every other leftist outlet in the country. Fox News has fallen hard for the story as well. Epidemic hysteria and psychosis is what they spew day after day. Now these organizations have just become thoroughly and consistently boring. We are tuning them out and turning them off. Check CNN’s ratings: #13 in prime time!

The Clintons were the most corrupt people to ever reach the White House and managed to remain there for eight years.  Hillary was the most incompetent and corrupt person to ever be Secretary of State (John Kerry being a close second). Obama was the most anti-American, anti-Constitution president to ever hold the office.  While in power, these people intervened in the elections of other nations, illegally took millions of dollars from nefarious people and countries, lied and cheated.  “No one colluded with Russia more than Obama.” Had the mainstream media for one moment reported on these people’s many, many crimes against this nation,  perhaps they would have some credibility.  But they did not, so they have none. To this day, they purposefully refuse to report news unfavorable to the left, like Comey leaking classified memos. To this day, Susan Rice has not testified about her unmasking of private citizens for political purposes. Nor has Ben Rhodes, Obama’s master of sleaze and trickery. HRC was never put under oath when interviewed by the FBI about her illegal server. The last eight and a half years have proven to the American people that the Democrat left and the media are two parts of the same criminal enterprise that feed each other’s addiction to power. While their mass hysteria is infuriating, it proves their absolute lust for political dominance over any concern for people. They have become self-important, hate-filled snobs deluded by illusions of their own grandeur.

“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.”  — Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 1841.