Cable pundits try to discuss Trump's claims: We've just watched the usual suspects on CNN and MSNBC as they attempt to discuss Donald J. Trump's wiretapping claims.
In a word, sad! Their skills are virtually non-existent. Donald J. Trump is playing a game they can barely name.
Let's start with the key word "legally." They keep going over the ways Obama could have wiretapped Trump in a legal manner.
Who said anything about legal? Donald J. Trump has never said that Obama wiretapped him legally. It's sad to see the way the straights all blow past this basic point. For one example, here is E. J. Dionne in this morning's Post:
DIONNE (3/6/17): It appears that Trump issued his wild tweet storm Saturday morning largely on the basis of reports in conspiracy-minded right-wing media."Trump has a problem either way," Dionne says, working from DNC script of the past few days. He imagines two possibilities:
He signaled his lack of evidence first by reportedly pushing his White House staff to ransack sensitive intelligence information to find support for his claim. Then on Sunday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wanted Congress to look into the matter and that the administration would offer no further comment.
Trump has a problem either way. If he was not wiretapped, he invented a spectacularly false charge. And if a court ordered some sort of surveillance of him, on what grounds did it do so?
1) Trump didn't get wiretapped at all.E. J. Dionne graduated summa cum laude from Harvard. But because he was working from script, he didn't consider the obvious third possibility. It's hard to believe that we won't hear it bruited around in the end, if only on right-wing talk shows:
2) Trump got wiretapped legally, with "a court order[ing] some sort of surveillance of him."
3) Trump was wiretapped illegally, by a gang of "plumbers."Earth to six- and seven-figure journalists: Donald J. Trump is playing a game it's fairly easy for him to win, at least within his own tribe. As a general matter, neither Barack Obama, nor anyone else, can prove that he didn't engage in a certain action. If Trump wants to claim that Obama sent in a gang of plumbers, no one will ever be able to prove that it didn't happen.
For this reason, there's only one approach to take to claims of this type. You have to note that the accuser—in this case, Donald J. Trump—has offered zero evidence in support of his claim.
Zero evidence; none at all. Pretty much full freaking stop!
You need to draw attention to that fact, and to very few others. But alas! In the hands of our under-skilled cable talkers, we've already seen Trump's wiretap claim end up seeming more credible than it is a very large number of times. By the time they finish will all their talk, they've made it sound like Trump just may be right!
Our pundit corps has peddled bullshit for many, many years. Much of the bullshit has been their own. They've also carried water, for decades, for very shaky accusers. They're much more practiced at selling bullshit than at knocking it down.
They have little experience at trying to ferret the truth. They're mainly skilled at reciting script, not at challenging demagoguery, on which their own engine runs.
Several days later, they still seem to have few skills for dealing with this new unfounded charge. They're so dumb they don't even know that, just as no one "ordered tax" in the famous old joke, Donald J. Trump, the accuser-in-chief, hasn't said squat about "legal."
They've recited for decades now. They're good on Q-ratings, makeup and clothes, unskilled at everything else.
While we're at it: While we're at it, check this guy's idea of a "Muslim ban:"
UNNAMED LIBERAL PUNDIT (3/6/17: The big difference here is that the [new] Muslim ban applies only to new visa applicants, not to folks who already have a visa. In addition, Iraq has been removed from the list and green card holders are exempt. The temporary refugee suspension, which applies to every country, appears unchanged."Iraq has been removed from the list," joining dozens of other Muslim countries around the world. But so what? To promote your endless tribal pleasure, it's still a "Muslim ban."
On cable, they have few skills. On line, our brightest players know how to adjust their game to serve our needs when we start to stampede.