BREAKING: Who in the world is [Name Withheld]?

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2018

And how can The Times be so bad:
Matt Shuham is two years out of college (Harvard 2015).

Yesterday, his TPM report about Trump's latest tweets had us gnashing our teeth. This passage sent us over the edge:
SHUHAM (2/18/18): Trump is incorrect in saying “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” At times he has specified that his campaign did not collude with Russia. But he has also frequently tossed nuance aside and called the entire Mueller investigation a “witch hunt,” or declared that “Russia is fake news.”
According to Shuham, Trump was "incorrect in saying 'I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.' " Shuham's chesty words of assurance made TPM readers feel good.

That said, Shuham offered no examples in which Trump made the inaccurate statement in question. He simply said, or seemed to say, that Trump has "frequently" done so.

Stating the obvious, that was terrible work. On the brighter side, hiring extremely young reporters presumably lets Josh Marshall make more money. Like every tribe in prehuman history, we liberals want our tribal sachems to be very rich.

That said, Shuham's post left us wondering. Has Trump ever flatly said that Russia didn't meddle?

At this point, let's offer a word of warning. Trump's statements tend to be extremely fuzzy. He tends to work on insinuation, suggestion and association rather than explicit statement. It's often hard to articulate what he has actually said.

(Example: We don't think we've ever seen anyone offer an accurate paraphrase of Trump's famous remark about the Mexican rapists. In our view, it was an appalling remark. It's also hard to paraphrase.)

Shuham's example-free assurance had us gnashing outr teeth. This morning, though, Linda Qiu really took the cake in the New York Times.

Qiu is three years out of college (Chicago 2014). For unknown reasons, the New York Times has hired her to be the paper's official fact-checker.

Qiu's skills are virtually non-existent. This morning, in a full-length, hard-copy report, she attempts to fact-check that same assertion by Trump.

Her failure is astonishing. Headline included, here's how her report begins:
QIU (2/19/18): Trump Falsely Claims, ‘I Never Said Russia Did Not Meddle’

President Trump falsely claimed
in an early Sunday morning Twitter post that he had never rejected the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election,
I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,’” Mr. Trump wrote. “The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia—it never did!
According to Qiu, the tweeted statement by Donald J. Trump was "false." She proceeds to offer eight examples in support of her claim—but only one of her examples seems to support her claim in anything like an unambiguous fashion.

How absurd are the bulk of Qiu's examples? Good lord! The bulk of the examples she cites are as absurd as this, her second example:
September 2016: “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the D.N.C.”

As the presidential nominees of their political parties, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton began receiving government intelligence reports in August. On Sept. 22, top Democrats on congressional intelligence committees issued a public statement blaming Russia, “based on briefings we have received.”

Four days later, during the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump declined to agree:

“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the D.N.C. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t—maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, O.K.?”
Good lord! In that alleged example, Trump explicitly said it could be Russia who hacked the DNC.

In that statement, Trump didn't say it wasn't Russia. He said he didn't know.

In even a slightly rational world, it would be astounding to see the New York Times present that statement as Qiu does—as an example of Trump denying that Russia did it. In a slightly rational world, it would be astounding to think the New York Times' fact-checker, and her editor, possessed such limited analytical skill.

That's how it would be in a slightly rational world. But in this world, the New York Times is a hotbed of journalistic and intellectual dysfunction. As part of that routine dysfunction, the paper hired someone barely out of college to serve as its official fact-checker, despite her remarkable lack of basic skills.

Her unnamed editor lacks those skills too. Amazingly, this is the intellectual norm at our floundering nation's most famous daily newspaper.

On the brighter side, Times readers aren't likely to notice. According to today's page A3, yesterday's "most emailed article" was the one you'll find at this link.

"Why Yoga Pants Are Bad for Women." As the Times is happy to note, that's the report from the Sunday Times we brainiacs emailed most!

We claim to be appalled by Trump. Our utterly fatuous upper-class values just keep pointing the way toward our decline, perhaps toward our society's death.

Reviewing Qiu's examples, we find one example where Trump seemed to deny that Russia did it. Based upon Qiu's other examples, it looks like he quickly abandoned that stance.

38 comments:

  1. But I thought the latest burp from the Swamp actually does confirm that Russia (i.e. the RF government) did not "meddle in the election" (whatever the hell that means) or "break into the DNC".

    A dozen kids had fun and probably made a lot of money from online advertisers; and that all Colonel Klink… ugh… sorry - Captain Mueller was able to come up with...

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    1. Mao steps up to defend his co-workers !

      Delete
    2. "But I thought the latest burp from the Swamp actually does confirm that Russia (i.e. the RF government) did not "meddle in the election" (whatever the hell that means) or "break into the DNC". "

      Show of hands. Is there anybody anywhere who believes this is what Mao thought?
      C'mon, Mao, troll harder. Those dozen kids are going to steal your job if you don't put in more effort.

      Delete
  2. Trump:
    “I don’t believe they interfered"
    Trump:
    "“Every time he [Putin] sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe — I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’”

    And Somerby accuses *Qiu* of dysfunction?

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    1. I can't read the Times article because it's behind a paywall, but that's the example that I think of when Trump appeared to deny that Russia had meddled.

      But if you're going to defend Qiu, what do you say about her other examples?

      Delete
    2. What other examples did Qiu offer? The ones Somerby notes are not about "meddling" but about DNC hacking.

      I too cannot read the article. I won't pay the Times a dime after what they did to Hillary.

      Delete
    3. Jonny S-half those are two of Qui's examples.

      A third is that when the DNC first announced they had been hacked by
      Russians in June:

      “We believe it was the D.N.C. that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the D.N.C. doesn’t hack Crooked Hillary’s 33,000 missing emails,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on June 15, referring to Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

      Delete
  3. If yoga pants are bad for women, shouldn't women be told and why is it wrong that they would want to know?

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    1. I'd have them all in yoga pants.

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  4. Somerby shifts from "did not meddle in the election" to "did not hack the DNC" without notice.

    Trump has called the Russia investigation a witch hunt and fake news, repeatedly. These examples Somerby points to are about the DNC hacking, not other forms of meddling. The indictments were for other forms of meddling, not hacking the DNC.

    If Mao wants to know what meddling consisted of, he can read the indictments. They are online.

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    1. Actually, I have read it. It reads very much like a Monty Python sketch, where super-secret enemy agents are:
      - hiring someone to hold “happy 55th birthday to our dear boss” sign in front of the WH,
      - sending emails (!) to family members, saying ‘the FBI is on our tail!’, and
      - manipulating Texan rednecks into divulging the super-secret American knowledge of “purple states”.
      Hil-arious!

      As for the alleged motive ("to sow discord") of the alleged evildoers, I don’t see why their motives would be any different from those of good people of Veles, Macedonia: milking online advertisers for all they're worth. Money-making – the quintessential American virtue.

      In the end, a couple of all-important establishment ‘narratives’ suffered a major blow:
      - Evil Putin hacking the US election, and
      - Evil Trump ‘colluding’.

      That's it, pretty much.

      Delete
    2. Here's the link:
      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38168281

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    3. Over at 538, Nate Silver has analyzed the impact of these activities. While he doesn't think it swayed the election like the Comey announcement did, it did nudge people in the directions that resulted in Trump's electoral college victory, so the effect was not negligible.

      Pretending this was a bunch of kids having fun is ridiculous given the amount of money being spent each month on such efforts and the elaborate apparatus set up to accomplish the meddling.

      Delete
    4. "given the amount of money being spent each month on such efforts"

      Unfortunately he doesn't tell us how much money they made. See the link above.

      "...and the elaborate apparatus set up"

      The elaborate apparatus of a dozen people? Yeah, right.

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    5. False identities, bank accounts and social media accounts, US business entities.

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    6. False social media accounts need elaborate apparatus? You have gotta be kidding me.

      And please go ahead and google "fake drivers license".

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    7. Mao, they set things up to look like legit American organizations. That takes more work than buying a fake driver's license.

      Delete
    8. Nah. I checked: you can set up an LLC online. Takes a couple of days, ~200 bucks.

      It's fine if you disagree, but I just don't see how "elaborate" fits here.

      Think of organizing a 'color revolution' in, say, Ukraine: paying off journos and politicians, designing/producing emblems and flags, setting up tents, providing food and water, portable toilets, media coverage - now, that's what I would call 'elaborate'. And it would cost maybe a couple of billion dollars.

      What I see in Colonel Klink's indictments is kids having fun and getting clicks/likes paid by advertisers. Which also explains them switching to "Trump NOT my president" and "Charlotte Against Trump" immediately after the election.

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    9. The kids aren't being indicted. That suggests they didn't commit the illegal acts and/or what they did isn't as serious as what their employers did.

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  5. Has Trump ever flatly said there was no meddling?

    Somerby is being excessively literal again. The question is whether Trump has encouraged people to believe there was no meddling, whether he has led people to believe that. People don't use language in legalistic ways. They deal in meaning not specific wording. Trump has absolutely encouraged people to believe there was no Russian meddling and we don't have to parse the specifics of his wording to know that. Tweet after tweet has called the Russian investigation a hoax meant to save face for the Democrats disastrous defeat. Everyone knows that.

    It is a waste of time for the NY Times to send its young reporters to look for specific statements Trump has made. And a bigger waste of time for Somerby to claim they have failed to find any. What are we doing here?

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    1. “The question is whether Trump has encouraged people to believe there was no meddling, whether he has led people to believe that.”

      No, I don’t think that’s the question. The question is, “Did Russia meddle in the elections?” I am one who can’t believe (at this point) that they had any more effect than, say, Comey.

      Being literal is important in these matters.

      Leroy

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    2. Which is it? Did they meddle, or did they have some effect on the outcome?

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    3. Both, obviously.

      Delete

  6. We claim to be appalled by Trump. Our utterly fatuous upper-class values just keep pointing the way toward our decline, perhaps toward our society's death.


    Our society's been dead for several decades now. The jews wore it down with their disgusting filth, then finished it off by flooding our nation's with "diversity." Now it's a matter of awaiting the collapse and the reckoning to follow. A major feature of that reckoning will be hanging these traitor "journalists" who worked tirelessly to get us here.

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  7. "He tends to work on insinuation, suggestion and association rather than explicit statement."

    That's Limbaugh and Hannity's game. That's where he got it from.

    I would love to see an exegesis of that from The New York Times. Of how They perfected that so well and made it such an effective propaganda strategy. Instead, they write glowing puff pieces about Hannity kissing his ass. Despicable.

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  8. 'Trump's statements tend to be extremely fuzzy. He tends to work on insinuation, suggestion and association rather than explicit statement. It's often hard to articulate what he has actually said.'

    To me, the most important point made here. Trump hardly ever says *anything* definitive. It's a strategy that allows him to deny (or claim) any interpretation of what comes out of his mouth, and also makes it near-impossible to hold him accountable for any particular view or opinion. All we can say is 'it's pretty clear that Trump believes' X or Y, but, as this post points out, it's rarely possible to find anything he's said or tweeted that clearly and unambiguously supports that view.

    And this is the heart of what sickens me about both Trump and his party, now that they have learned & are refining his tactics: they can say anything, carefully couched in insinuation, double-speak and dog-whistle, then deny it the next day. Basically anything spoken or tweeted (or op-ed-ed) by this bunch means nothing. All we can do is focus on what they're doing, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find out what that actually is.

    I sure wish the media would stop headlining Trump's tweets (in particular) and start highlighting the things the administration is doing while we're all arguing about what those tweets mean, when in fact they mean absolutely nothing.

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    1. "they can say anything, carefully couched in insinuation, double-speak and dog-whistle, then deny it the next day"

      All politician all over the world do it (Duterte might be the single exception). But Trump - carefully couched, really? Certainly much less so than any random D-'party' politician...

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    2. Trump blatantly lies (no couching) way more than your average politician.

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    3. He doesn't lie, he's trolling you. Creates a media circus. And he does it well, too.

      Delete
    4. Mao, does Vladimir Vladimirovich "say anything, carefully couched in insinuation, double-speak and dog-whistle, then deny it the next day"?

      I love him so much, I'm going to stop calling him Vladimir Vladimirovich. From now on, he's Uncle Vova.

      Delete
    5. "He doesn't lie, he's trolling you. Creates a media circus. And he does it well, too."

      Mao says, "Maddow 2020!"

      Delete
  9. Bob is a liberal in the same way that Zell Miller was a Democrat. Bob's fundamental point is that Trump is right about "fake news." The problem is with the phony New York Times, Washington Post, and MSNBC--not Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Kellyanne Conway, Scott Pruitt, and Sarah Sanders. His occasional side long put downs of the Administration are merely cover for his often pedantic and over-the-top attacks on the left.

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    1. I thought the problem was Josh Marshall hiring people right out of college, kind of like the Baltimore school system did with Baby Boy Bob straight out of Harvard with no education studies or experience.
      Sad.

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  10. You call that a knife? THAT'S a knife! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWl8EbNN8NM

    You call that collusion?

    The collusion we were promised was major. Secretly transferring thousands of computerized votes to Trump! Russians meeting with Trump to agree on a quid pro quo for their ability to swing the election!

    Instead, we have a few anonymous internet posts. BFD! According to the New York Times, "Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-Made Discord" https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/world/europe/russia-us-election.html

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    1. So it goes from "no collusion" to "collusion--but really insignificant." Do you seriously think Mueller is through?

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    2. My guess is that if Mueller had evidence of real collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign we would have seen it by now. I think Mueller will broaden his investigation beyond collusion to find any kind of dirt on Trump people. CNN reported:

      "Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

      This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China."*

      In effect, Mueller has become a more or less permanent, independent body investigating the White House on an ongoing basis. Maybe that's a good idea. Of course, such an effort goes beyond his charter, but, as a practical matter, no one can stop him from expanding his investigation.

      * https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/19/politics/mueller-investigation-kushner-foreign-financing-efforts/index.html

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    3. "My guess is that if Mueller had evidence of real collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign we would have seen it by now. "

      Well, if Mr. "I've been wrong about everything else, why stop now?" doesn't think Mueller has the evidence, it's practically a lock he does.

      Delete
  11. https://www.factcheck.org/2018/02/words-trump-russian-meddling/

    ReplyDelete