Cable excitement at its best!

SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2017

Though we'll add what the New York Times said:
Last evening's cable news excitement was excitement at its best.

At the appointed hour, the Washington Post had posted its latest blockbuster/bombshell. On CNN and MSNBC, everyone knew what to do.

Needless to say, this latest bombshell had come from unnamed sources behind a screen—from the unnamed people who now dole out our nightly dollops of "news."

In this morning's Washington Post, these unnamed people are described as "U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports." Increasingly, these unnamed people decide what tiny blips of alleged information we proles are allowed to hear.

On CNN and MSNBC, everyone knew what to do. A chase is on, and these highly unreliable cable savants stood in line to say the things we liberals were longing to hear.

More specifically, they spent the evening suggesting that Jared Kushner may be on his way to jail. They avoided all discussion of the the substance which lay behind the latest cable thrill.

Is Jared Kushner in legal trouble? Like all the hacks you saw last night, we have no idea.

We do know this. The Washington Post's exciting report was amazingly short on information, amazingly long on filler. This is the way it began:
NAKASHIMA, ENTOUS AND MILLER (5/27/17): Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.
That's pretty much all the Post had. The rest of the report is filler.

All last night, teams of pundits went to town on this blockbuster/bombshell report. Unfortunately, last night's excited discussions were about as fuzzy as any we've ever seen on cable. It was often quite hard to know what was being discussed.

In part, that was because the Post's report was so thin on content. Kushner wanted to set up a "secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin," the report alleged. The content ended there.

Did Kushner really propose such a thing? We have no idea. We're all relying on the good faith of the faceless people behind that screen—the unnamed people who now dole out our daily dollops of "news" in this peculiar fashion.

That said, we saw few attempts to discuss the possible reasons why Kushner (and Flynn) might have wanted to do some such thing. This brings us to the wonderfully ridiculous way Brian Williams ended last evening's Eleventh Hour program.

In his closing segment, Williams spoke with historian Jon Meacham about "backchannel" diplomacy of the past. Meacham praised a few such enterprises, then said, rather vaguely, that this effort was nothing like those.

It was what we all wanted to hear! Williams responded with this:

"No one is accusing this of having anything to do with diplomacy, at least at this early hour."

In fairness, Brian was almost right. As he spoke, it was a few minutes short of midnight. We'd seen no one discussing any possible "diplomatic" reasons for this apparent attempt at backchannel work, except to the extent that speculations could be launched about Kushner going to jail.

Then, this morning, we read the New York Times. Its opening paragraphs put Brian's snark in context.

As with the Post, this topic topped the Times front page. But the Times' report started like this:
HABERMAN, MAZZETTI AND APUZZO (5/27/17): Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.

The conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who would become Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, the three people said.

It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.
As with the Post, so too with the Times. There was no way to identify the nameless people doling out these claims.

That said, these nameless, faceless people presented a motive for Kushner's alleged request. Williams' scripted snark notwithstanding, this effort did have something to do with diplomacy, these nameless people had said.

According to these nameless people, Kushner had been seeking a way to discuss "Syria and other security issues" with the Russkies. Last night, we heard no one advancing such speculations. Williams closed the evening haughtily saying that no one had.

Sad! Even as Brian spoke, there was the Times on-line report, saying something quite different. But this is the way corporate "newsmen" like Brian perform when a chase is on.

(In 1999 and 2000, no one was more upset by Candidate Gore's troubling clothes. At the time, Brian's owner was Jack Welch. It made that owner proud.)

Why might Kushner, Flynn and them have wanted to do something like this? Let's return to the topic of Michael Flynn's geopolitical views.

Remember the bromide we recently coined? "Crazy people get to be overpaid lobbyists too?"

Wellsir, crazy people also get to pursue diplomacy! That's especially true after thirty years of press corps misconduct have helped put Trump where he is.

The ineffectual people who helped place him there were prattling hard last night. They were pursuing an insider war they've already manged to lose through their relentless past misconduct.

They discussed little except the possibility that Kushner might end up in jail. That's the only way they know how to play. Their haplessness helps explain why Donald J. Trump's where he is.

By way of background, we thought you might want to understand the worldview behind this affair. Two days ago, the New York Times provided a bit of that background in a front-page news report.

For better or worse, crazy people get to have geopolitical views! Flynn strikes us as semi-crazy, but this is a taste of the worldview which was banging around in the Trump transition effort:
ROSENBERG, GOLDMAN AND APUZZO (5/25/17): Mr. Flynn's ties to Russian officials stretch back to his time at the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he led from 2012 to 2014. There, he began pressing for the United States to cultivate Russia as an ally in the fight against Islamist militants, and even spent a day in Moscow at the headquarters of the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence service, in 2013.

He continued to insist that Russia could be an ally even after Moscow's seizure of Crimea the following year, and Obama administration officials have said that contributed to their decision to push him out of the D.I.A.
By all accounts, Flynn favored a global realignment in which the United States and Russia became allies in a north-versus-south battle against various parts of the Islamic world.

You may think that worldview is crazy. We liberals should have thought of that before we did three hundred things in the past few years to help get Trump elected.

At any rate, the Times expounded further on Flynn's outlook and behavior. In our view, this passage suggests that The Semi-Crazy isn't just found Over There:
ROSENBERG, GOLDMAN AND APUZZO: American officials have also said there were multiple telephone calls between Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on Dec. 29, beginning shortly after Mr. Kislyak was summoned to the State Department and informed that, in retaliation for Russian election meddling, the United States was expelling 35 people suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives and imposing other sanctions.

American intelligence agencies routinely tap the phones of Russian diplomats, and transcripts of the calls showed that Mr. Flynn urged the Russians not to respond, saying relations would improve once Mr. Trump was in office, officials have said.
That's what officials have said! At any rate, let's try to understand the strangeness of that passage.

We liberals have spent the past several months complaining about the fact that Flynn allegedly urged the Russians not to retaliate against the U.S. after those sanctions were imposed! We haven't quite been able to see how strange it may sound to register such a complaint.

Instead, we've pleasured ourselves with dreams of the Logan Act. Flynn might have to go to jail for urging the Russkies not to respond!

At any rate, we liberals have spent the past thirty years paving the way for Trump. The gentleman is now in the White House. He and his associates have certain irregular views.

By all accounts, Flynn and Bannon were strongly inclined to the view that future diplomacy should ally the United States with Russia against the Islamic world. In a report it first posted last evening, the New York Times suggested that Kushner wanted to discuss such possibilities through the backchannel he allegedly sought.

Last night, we saw no one discuss or raise any such possibility. Instead, a gang of hacks swarmed two cable channels, making the statement we long to hear: The Others are going to jail!

Inevitably, it fell to Williams to make the perfect gong-show summation. No one is talking about diplomacy, he said, sending us happily off to bed at an hour when the New York Times was doing that very thing right in its opening paragraphs.

Crazy people get to pursue backchannel diplomacy too! In a related fact, Williams worked quite hard, down through the years, paving the way for Trump.

Our team still sits dumbly around refusing to discuss the real world. On cable last night, they skillfully restricted the things we were allowed to hear.

They were dumbing it way way down. Do we actually like such dumbed-down cable porridge?

Concerning that gong show from Maddow: Rachel Maddow's latest gong show was delivered on Thursday night. For background, see yesterday's post.

The sheer pomposity of her performance was a thing to behold. As usual, MSNBC is ten days behind on posting transcripts, so we can't link you to a printed record of her endless report.

You can watch the interminable segment here. You'll be watching a classic high-pomposity effort from Our Own Cable News Clown.

24 comments:

  1. There's other things to consider about Maddow beyond the lies and the fears and the crumbling melted pieces of brain, intellect what have you, there is like blood, tendons, urine, mucus and all the other assorted elements that could be blended or masticated in some way and added to a smoothie. I have done it.

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    1. I guess if you are going to have a stalker, the comments section of the Daily Howler is the way to go. Unless it is, indeed, Bob.

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  2. At his inconsistent best, Somerby now complains about too much explaining, calling it "filler."

    He says: "A chase is on, and these highly unreliable cable savants stood in line to say the things we liberals were longing to hear."

    There is reportedly an old-fashioned newspaper war going on between the NY Times and the Washington Post. Each is trying to scoop the other with respect to this unfolding story about the Trump administration. Their motives are to gain readership, not "chase" anyone. So presumably, we liberals are the ones doing the chasing because we love to hear bad stuff about our enemies.

    These people are our enemies because of the bad stuff they do, not vice versa. This isn't a manufactured vendetta. It is an attempt to bring to light the illegal activities of a corrupt government. In doing so, the press is fulfilling its function. At no time in the history of journalism has the press ever waited for conviction before reporting upon a possible crime, especially one committed by public officials. The press is not like a court reporter who transcribes proceedings. They engage in investigations and report on ongoing developments. These unfold in bits and pieces, some are shown later to be incorrect or misguided, but they make their best effort at informing the public and uncovering that which some people might prefer to leave hidden.

    My question is why Somerby seems to prefer leaving Trump's escapades hidden, giving cover to his cronies, instead of supporting the press as it does its job daily, admittedly imperfectly, overturning rocks and watching what crawls out.

    I dislike Somerby's attempts to assign blame on liberals for wishing Trump out of office. We are the rational ones here. Somerby is being an idiot about this. If he were important enough to bribe, I would wonder what the Russians were paying him.

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    1. Your apparent high regard for the press is misplaced. You would do well to read "Manufacturing Consent", by Herman and Chomsky.

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    2. I told you last time, I don't like Chomsky.

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    3. I didn't take this to mean somerby wants "trump's escapades hidden", I thought he was just urging caution against using unnamed sources to run with the preferred version of the story to the exclusion of other possible motives...seems reasonable to me.

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  3. "Instead, we've pleasured ourselves with dreams of the Logan Act. Flynn might have to go to jail for urging the Russkies not to respond!"

    The reason why Flynn urged the Russians not to respond was because Trump would shortly be in office and would fulfill his promise to roll back the sanctions, and otherwise help Russia out. Flynn wasn't saying this to keep Russia calm, as an act of diplomacy beneficial to the American people. He was reassuring Russia that despite Obama's actions, he and Trump would take care of the Russians, as previously agreed.

    This interpretation is consistent with all the facts previously stated and it does not assume facts not in evidence, such as that Flynn is a patriotic American with the best interests of the American people at heart. The latter is inconsistent with his work on behalf of Turkey, for example, or his support for Trump (who is manifestly more interest in his own monetary interests than those of the people who elected him). Somerby can hypothesize that Flynn may have benign motives for everything he has done, but that only works locally and isn't the best theory to cover the entire body of facts known about Flynn's actions since before Obama fired him.

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  4. ISTM that more and more, the law and the Constitution don't matter. We're moving toward mob rule.
    1. Although Trump is President according to the law and the Constitution, the mob says he's not President.
    2. The mob produces an legally preposterous appellate decision that Trump's order on migrants is not allowed, but the exact same order from Hillary or Obama would be OK.
    3. All the illegal leaking by people who have sworn to keep material secret.
    4. The law says illegal immigrants should be deported, but the mob says, "Let them stay." In fact, the mob says it's immoral to simply enforce the law.
    5. The investigation of Trump and his people based on no known crime. (unlike Watergate, which began with a despicable burglary.)
    6. As Bob keeps pointing out, our top media throw ethics out the window in order to damage Trump.
    7. The Constitution requires free speech on Government universities, but the mob uses violence to prevent free speech.

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    1. The constitution does not allow foreign countries to meddle in elections and it does not allow candidates to collude with foreign hackers to steal votes.

      It is a FACT that Russia meddled in this election in favor of Trump. It MUST be investigated whether Trump colluded with Russia. Quite a few laws have already been broken by Trump staff related to reporting their Russian contacts. This requires investigation. It is illegal for the president to obstruct the course of such an investigation, as Trump has done. Leaking to let the people know this has happened is called whistleblowing and is protected by law.

      The people deserve a fair election, free to tampering by foreign governments and hackers. They didn't get that. All the rest emerges from that problem.

      If Trump wanted to be treated like a legitimate president, he shouldn't have behaved like a crook (or traitor -- remains to be seen).

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    2. Too many people will claim some principle is in the Constitution just because they believe it, or claim something is un-Constitutiuonal because they oppose it. AnonymousMay 27, 2017 at 4:19 PM - the Constitution is an actual document that ordinary citizens can read. It says nothing about foreign countries meddling in elections or about candidates colluding with foreign hackers.

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    3. This is covered by Article III of the Constitution, where treason is defined as giving aide and comfort to enemies and adhering to them. That's why the issue of collusion is crucial.

      If it is found that Trump attained the presidency through foreign meddling, I believe congress will bring articles of impeachment against him. There are laws permitting that to happen.

      If the Constitution does not explicitly ban foreign meddling, the curb must be that voters and electors not give their votes to those who benefit from the activity of such enemy states. The Republicans were so eager to elect Trump that they DIDN'T CARE that the hacking and other actions which hurt Hillary originated with Russian hacking. Any patriotic American should oppose such a thing. But the Republicans are so partisan that they ignore the intrusion as long as it benefits their candidate.

      I hope Trump refuses to resign so that he can be ridden out of town on a rail. What he did is beyond excuse.

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    4. treason is defined as giving aide and comfort to enemies and adhering to them.

      Nobody has accused Trump of being loyal to Russia. Nor is Russia our enemy, BTW. We're not at war or anywhere close to being at war with Russia. The US and Russia cooperate in numerous ways.

      Obama's deal probably gave some aid and comfort to Iran. Iran is closer to being our enemy than Russia is. Iranians chant, "Death to American:, which the Russians don't do. Nevertheless, Obama did NOT commit treason, because he's loyal to the US, not to Iran. So, he doesn't "adhere" to Iran.

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    5. 5. The investigation of Trump and his people based on no known crime.

      So now according to Comrade DinC, the FBI, CIA and both houses of Congress are a mob. You really are one giant shitstain Comrade.

      Don't you fucking dare invoke the Constitution, Comrade. You voted for a monstrosity who never read it and couldn't even spell it.

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    6. "The US and Russia cooperate in numerous ways."

      You're catching on.

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    7. David in Cal,
      Thanks for the reminder that Dick Cheney was doing business with Iraq when they were under sanctions.
      Same for Ronald Reagan undermining Jimmy Carter's attempts to get US hostages released by Iran.
      As someone "in Cal', how often do you piss on Ronald Reagan's grave? It should be daily.

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  5. Even David in Cal is starting to realize Hillary Clinton wasn't corrupt.

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  6. Of note, for those who still choose to defend Maddow...

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/05/roger-rachel-friendship-made-heaven.html

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  7. DinC said: 2. The mob produces an legally preposterous appellate decision that Trump's order on migrants is not allowed, but the exact same order from Hillary or Obama would be OK.
    Well, conversely, the Repubs in Congress (many of them at least) have decided that the exact things that they deemed corrupt if Hillary did them ("pay to play",anyone?) are of no interest when Trump or his family do them, ( or possibly do them...we don't know for sure..will they investigate?), but it sure looks as if Trump's business is benefitting. Does Trump use an unsecured phone? Did Pence use a private email server? Did Trump/Tillerson cause the unintended deaths in Yemen back in January? Has Trump ever been involved in a corrupt business deal, a la Whitewater? You see, the right's outrage only extends to Democratic foibles. Smacks of hypocrisy and a lack of principle to me...

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    1. Comrade DinC is nothing if not a hypocrite.

      Remember when he was oh so very concerned about the improbable occurrence that Secretary Clinton's emails might have been hacked and top secret classified information could have gotten into the hands of our enemies? A complete fantasy for which there was never a shred of evidence.

      *****************
      David in Cal September 28, 2015 at 8:18 PM

      Falsehoods are not all equal. Carly Fiorina's falsehood is smaller than Hillary Clinton's.

      Carly accurately said that PP was harvesting and selling fetus parts (BTW I approve of that practice.) Carly falsely said that t such a fetus was shown on the video. In fact, the fetus she referred to had nothing to do with PP. Carly violated no laws or regulations. And, her accusation about what PP does was accurate.

      Hillary's falsehoods involve actions she took that may be felonious and apparently violated regulations. Her actions may have helped our enemies and harmed American security, although there's no way to ever measure the impact. It's not inconceivable that Hillary's actions may even have contributed some amount to deaths or to victories by our enemies.
      ******************

      Now, when the abomination ignorant conman fraud pervert he voted for invites the Russkies along with TASS - while denying American media access - into the Oval Office and casually blabs top secret classified information, you hear not a word of concern from Comrade DinC.

      Comrade DinC is nothing if not a world class hypocrite.

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    2. DinC is the Paul Ryan of "The Daily Howler".

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  10. Circumstances had me catch a solid chunk of the MSNBC stuff Bob is writing about here, and he is no more than half wrong. One night, especially, was taken up by revelations that were not even worthy of Fox Hype.
    But the other night was not as silly and as usual, Bob argues his point beyond any usefulness. Indeed, Bob has become a Trump apologist, and you would have to go back to his claims that Mel Gibson was no jew baiter for Daily Howler as evil.
    As to Maddow, he doesn't even phone it in anymore. If pomposity is a sin, Bob better get ready to hunker down for some serious purgatory.......

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