You aren't allowed to know: What did Stefan Halper do?
At this point, we the people have no ultimate way to know. We do know what the Washington Post and the New York Times have reported that Halper did—unless we're liberals, that is.
We liberals aren't allowed to know what Halper apparently did! This has been going on for a week. The deception is just getting deeper.
We liberals are now engaged in a great semantic war. Their team says that Halper "spied," and ours says "not so." But we aren't allowed to hear what Halper actually did, as reported by the two newspapers we normally treat as gospel.
(He or someone else may have done more, of course.)
How do we know that we liberals can't know? Last night, one of our tribe's most trusted corporate minders thought we should hear only this:
MADDOW (5/24/18): Today, there was an absolutely unprecedented meeting in Washington...Amazing, isn't it? You aren't allowed to know!
I mean, there was the president's chief of staff and the president's lead lawyer in the Russia scandal convening what ended up being two meetings today, because the White House and Republicans demanded to see information from a confidential source who'd been used by the FBI to gather evidence in the early days of their still ongoing investigation. Specifically, that source was sent by the FBI to talk to three people in the Trump campaign that the FBI believed were in contact with Russian agents who were in the process of interfering in the election.
"Specifically," Maddow said, "that source was sent by the FBI to talk to three people in the Trump campaign." It all sounds so conventional, so innocent, unremarkable, normal and pure!
Unfortunately, this brings us to the specific actions Maddow didn't mention.
"Specifically," the Post and the Times have both reported that the FBI's source didn't simply "talk to three people." Each paper has reported that he spoke to three people in a surreptitious manner, even going so far as to pay Papadopoulos $3000 to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to discuss a research paper in which the source was feigning interest.
(According to the two newspapers, Papadopoulos was even sent to have drinks a "young woman assistant." Did anyone ever interact with this guy without this familiar old story element floating around?)
This surreptitious behavior helps explain why the source's conduct will strike some people as being a kissin' cousin to "spying." For that reason, you aren't allowed to know what the source's apparently did.
You're allowed to hear that he "talked to" three people. You aren't allowed to know that he deceived them when he did.
(As to what else he might have done, we of course can't know about that.)
Maddow blew right past the basic facts in the Post and Times news reports. More typically, she now stages extended public readings of the Times' latest explosive report—but only if the explosive report is favorable to our glorious "resistance."
In this case, she didn't think you needed to know what the source apparently did. And in this morning's Washington Post, Gene Robinson carried this rank deception to a point of pure Pravdaism.
Maddow pretended to explain what Halper "specifically" did. Robinson pretends to tell us what "really happened." Please say hello to Big Brother:
ROBINSON (5/25/18): Witness how Trump is trying to use the word “spy” as a weapon against the FBI, the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the election. The president’s performance this week has been totally dishonest—and, let’s be honest, quite effective.Halper "touched base" with three advisers! After scolding Trump for being "totally dishonest," Robinson takes his turn at the ancient game.
Here is what really happened, as far as we know: In 2016, the FBI saw what it believed were Russian attempts to interfere with the U.S. election, including contacts with three Trump campaign advisers. Alarmed and needing to know more—but not wanting to publicly investigate the campaign, which could be prejudicial against Trump—agents asked a retired college professor named Stefan A. Halper to touch base with those advisers to see what he could find out. Halper did so. Two of the advisers, Carter Page and Sam Clovis, have spoken publicly about the encounters and described them as innocuous.
"Here is what really happened, as far as we know," Robinson says. He goes on to tell us much less than his own newspaper, the Washington Post, says it knows.
Like Maddow and everyone else before him, Robinson omits the deceptions and the duplicitous conduct of the "retired college professor" who "touched base" with the three advisers, none of whom were approached in a forthright manner. In this way, Robinson is able to swear on a stack of Pravdas that no "spying" occurred:
ROBINSON (continuing directly): Here is what happened, according to Trump: “Spygate!”According to this second minder, Trump says Halper was a spy—but he really was just an informant!
Trump has consistently and cleverly referred to Halper as a “spy,” rather than an “informant,” which is what he really was.
That is a semantic claim—a claim about the most accurate way to describe what occurred. That said, Robinson pimps his claim by refusing to tell you what his own newspaper has reported about what really happened.
He tells you that Halper just "touched base." So aboveboard, innocent, pure!
This has now been going on for just under a week. Robinson was willing to use Halper's name today, but you simply aren't allowed to hear what Halper apparently did. (As far as we know, no one has denied the accuracy of the account in the Post and the Times.)
If the reports by the Post and the Times are correct, did Halper do something wrong? That is a matter of judgment.
By now, though, we are engaged in a great tribal war, and our tribe no longer has use for judgment. Instead, we want to insist that "spy" is just crazily wrong, and that "informant" is perfect.
As with Pravda, so too here. The party line must prevail, even if elementary facts must be disappeared.
Robinson's column should shock the senses. (Trump, of course, is disordered, ill, deranged.) Because we're engaged in a great tribal war, there's no real chance that it will.
That said, how about it? Did Halper "spy" on Papadopoulos? As far as we know, not exactly, but we'd say he came somewhat close.
He misled Papadopoulos, paid him money, lured him across the ocean and burned his time, all on false pretenses. Rather than explain why the FBI did that, Big Brothers like Gene are simply going to keep you from hearing what he did.
Rachel told you what the informant "specifically" did. Robinson told you what "really happened."
At that point, each of the corporate liberal stars proceeded to play you. This is where the discourse goes when one side knows it has lost a large chunk of the public's trust and can't win a debate straight up.
Robinson has done this sort of thing before. Absent full-court supervision, Maddow shouldn't be on the air.
Just like on The Americans: A third party is floating around during the trip to London. This is what Robinson's paper reported about the trip, which was arranged on false pretenses:
COSTA, LEONNIG, HAMBURGER AND BARRETT (5/19/18): The professor invited Papadopoulos to come to London later that month to discuss the paper, offering to pay the costs of his travel. "I understand that this is rather sudden but thought given your expertise, it might be of interest to you," he wrote.This is what the New York Times reported:
Papadopoulos accepted. While in London, he met for drinks with a woman who identified herself as the professor's assistant, before meeting on Sept. 15 with the professor at the Traveler's Club, a 200-year-old private club that is a favorite of foreign diplomats stationed in London, according to the emails described to The Post.
GOLDMAN, MAZZETTI AND ROSENBERG (5/19/18): Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.Just a question:
Over drinks and dinner one evening at a high-end London hotel, the F.B.I. informant raised the subject of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had spilled into public view earlier that summer, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The source noted how helpful they had been to the Trump campaign, and asked Mr. Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Papadopoulos replied that he had no insight into the Russian campaign—despite being told months earlier that the Russians had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails. His response clearly annoyed the informant, who tried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort, according to the person.
The assistant also raised the subject of Russia and the Clinton emails during a separate conversation over drinks with Mr. Papadopoulos, and again he denied he knew anything about Russian attempts to disrupt the election.
Do you feel sure you understand the role of that "young woman assistant" with whom Papadopoulos met for drinks even before meeting Halper? Just what makes you feel so sure? Because you believe in Rachel and the specificity she stands for?
Could this have been like on The Americans? What makes you feel so sure?