BREAKING: We're being played from both sides now!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2018

The New York Times refuses to repeat its own report:
Yesterday morning, the featured report on the New York Times' front page concerned "Confidentialinformantgate."

The "News Analysis" piece was written by Davis and Haberman. In hard copy, it appeared beneath a triple headline. The headline which appears online captures the drift of the piece:
With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust
According to the two reporters, Trump has been using another conspiracy theory to erode trust in the institutions which are probing his conduct. In their actual text, the scribes tried to define their complaint:
DAVIS AND HABERMAN (5/29/18): Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win—a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.

Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.
According to the reporters, Trump has pimped "unconfirmed accusations" to push his "political narrative." Overall, this narrative about the "spy" seems to be his latest "baseless story."

Later, the scribes refer to "Trump’s willingness to peddle suspicion as fact." Since they ;later seem to say that Trump's story isn't completely baseless, we'd say that's their best account of what Trump is doing.

Alas! From the very day Trump announced his campaign, reporters have had a hard time paraphrasing his fuzzy claims and explaining what's wrong with his sweeping, unfounded accusations.

In this case, Trump is making a fuzzy, inflammatory charge which seems to go well beyond anything which is actually known to be true. That doesn't mean that his claim is wrong; it's virtually impossible to prove that something didn't happen. It means that he's gone beyond the known facts again, by his usual country mile.

Trump has made a sweeping accusation which he isn't prepared to define, let alone defend. This is gruesome conduct from a person in his position. It's also bad citizenship when voters let themselves get swept up in believing such unfounded claims, even from a politician they are inclined to support.

Trump is behaving badly, as always. But so, it seems to us, is the New York Times, along with the massive bulk of the mainstream press and pundit corps.

What's wrong with Davis and Haberman's analysis piece? Even as they assail Trump for going beyond the known facts, they refuse to report the known facts—or at least such facts as have been reported on the front page of their own newspaper. This strange journalistic behavior has been going on for eleven days.

Trump is embellishing the known and reported facts; in not quite equal-but-opposite fashion, Davis and Haberman seem to be hiding such facts as might help his political case. A bit later on in their piece, they offer this absurd attempt to recount what their own newspaper has reported:
DAVIS AND HABERMAN: Like most conspiracy theories, Mr. Trump’s latest has a kernel of truth many Republicans have latched on to. Several news organizations, including The New York Times, have reported that an F.B.I. informant contacted Trump campaign aides who evidence suggested had had suspicious contacts with Russians in 2016 as part of a counterintelligence investigation into possible efforts by Moscow to meddle in the election.

In Mr. Trump’s telling, however, the informant was a spy sent by Mr. Obama and a cabal inside his Justice Department and the intelligence community who were bent on stopping his candidacy.
Remarkably, the reporters say there's "a kernel of truth" to Trump's sweeping accusation. They then make sure that you won't hear what that kernel is.

Let's be fair! The highlighted statement is accurate as far as it goes—but it omits the less attractive parts of what the Times has reported about the FBI's conduct. It's hard to avoid an obvious thought:

By eliminating basic details, Davis and Haberman are presenting the most innocuous version of what their own newspaper has reported, on page one, concerning what the FBI did. Trump, meanwhile, is embellishing the known and/or reported facts.

Davis and Haberman are cleaning things up. As they proceed, they quote three different Republican figures who say they have concerns about what the FBI did—but their concerns are never explained. Consider this example:
DAVIS AND HABERMAN: During the 2016 campaign, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, denounced Mr. Trump’s talk of the government hiding the real story about Sept. 11. “That’s something that really only comes from the kook part of America,” Mr. Graham said at the time.

Mr. Graham said he had also been highly skeptical when Mr. Trump insisted last year that Mr. Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower, a stunning assertion for which he offered no proof.

“I thought, ‘Well, that doesn’t seem right to me,’” Mr. Graham said last week. But, he noted, it was later revealed that one of Mr. Trump’s former campaign associates, Carter Page, had in fact been under surveillance. And on “Spygate,” the senator added, “There seems to be something to this one. I want to find out: Did it happen? Is there a good reason?”
Graham says he wants to find out if "it" really happened. He also says he wants to know if there was a good reason for "it."

That said, what's the "it" to which he refers? There's no sign that he was asked; if he said, his statement was disappeared. We'll guess that Graham is referring, among other things, to the reported conduct in which one Trump aide was paid $3000 to fly across the Atlantic Ocean on a totally bogus premise so he could have his brain picked for several days by an undercover agent.

Within the context of a presidential campaign, does that behavior have Graham concerned? There is no sign that he was asked. If he said what has him concerned, the reporters didn't report it.

That possibly unattractive conduct was reported on the front page of the New York Times, and also by the Washington Post. But that report has been disappeared for eleven days by the entire mainstream press corps. It can't be found in the sanitized version of these events the two Times scribes presented in the passage we posted above.

For the last week and a half, the mainstream press has been sanitizing the FBI's reported conduct. As Trump embellishes the reported facts, the nation's pseudo-reporters have been hiding behind extremely fuzzy language of their own.

One of the principals talks about "spies;" the others talk about "informants." No one, not even the New York Times, is willing to repeat what the New York Times has reported for all the world to see!

Trump is embellishing what's been reported. Our "journalists" have their Windex out.

Trump is behaving like a Putin. The press is behaving like Pravda. Each part of this grisly pas de deux suggests the culture of an authoritarian state, in which the public hears nothing but massaged accounts of reality.

We're being played from both sides now! Is Judy Collins available for the soundtrack?

33 comments:

  1. Discrediting the Times example of Trump's use of conspiracy doesn't make his motive or his actions any less true. But why wouldn't a newspaper want to repeat a story about the President?

    As I mentioned, I am reading Shirer's Berlin Diary, about Hitler's run up to WWII. I've reached the part in 1934 where Shirer submitted a story about the Winter Olympics in which he mentioned that signs saying Jews Not Allowed were removed in advance of the games. That caused the German press to blast him for writing fake news (yes, he used that term), spreading his name across print media and radio and calling him many names. His friends told him to do nothing and ride it out. He also describes the daily briefings of correspondents about what they should and shouldn't say about each day's activities.

    That was the year Hitler repudiated several treaties, including Lucarno, Nuremberg, and Versailles. He gave speeches claiming to want peace in Europe and suggesting that both sides of the border between France, Belgium and Germany disarm. He said Nuremburg should ban all bombing. He announced universal conscription, incorporated the police into the military and expanded the military, and began negotiations for naval parity with Britain. What did other countries do? They hoped he meant it when he talked about peace and otherwise did nothing. Sound like anyone we know? Where might Trump have gotten the idea that all treaties are optional? Why might the rest of the world not trust his words until they've seen his intent expressed in actions?

    Then there is the banning of access to all foreign press in Germany. The Germany people then had only the Hitler-controlled German news as their source of information. Nothing written elsewhere reached them. With Fox news, the exclusion of other sources is voluntary, but the effect is the same. There is no way to know whether anything is true or false, without comparison with other sources. So the continued existence of left viewpoints, noisy newspapers saying critical things, examination of actions and beliefs not found on Fox remains critically important to our democracy, even if they do things imperfectly occasionally. Not sure why Somerby has chosen to attack the left instead of the isolation on the right. Historically, he is on the wrong side.

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  2. "Trump is embellishing the known and reported facts; in not quite equal-but-opposite fashion, Davis and Haberman seem to be hiding such facts as might help his political case."

    Bullshit, Bob. If you bothered to analyze the current state of affairs in context, you know perfectly well that it was your hate-mongering 'tribe' that started "fuzzy, inflammatory charges"; the psycho-witch and her lib-zombie minions actively smearing Donald The Splendid, trying to overturn the election.

    And now you're complaining that the man is responding in kind? How pathetic.

    "Trump is behaving like a Putin"

    That would be great, but not quite, I'm afraid. Let's talk when he has 85% popularity.

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    1. If any of that were true, Mao, then Donny the Chickenshit Coward Traitor would be jumping at the chance to talk to Mueller's team. But you will notice that the lying sack of shit COWARD is pissing in his pants at the very thought of ever answering any questions by an FBI investigator. Why doesn't Donny the Chickenshit Coward Traitor jump at the chance to explain to Mueller how Secretary Clinton tricked his idiot son into meeting a bunch of Russian spies and Kremlin agents in his own building.

      Is she really a witch or is little Donny the Coward Jr. a fucking treasonous bastard and an idiot? America demands answers to these and more questions.

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    2. Mueller's team is not operating in good faith, IMHO. If all they wanted was Trump's input, they'd have accepted his lawyer's offer for Trump to answer a written list of questions. If they were operating in good faith, they would have announced that they found no evidence of illegal collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

      Since Mueller's real function now is to get something on Trump, fairly or unfairly, it would be foolish for Trump to help them.

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    3. @ 4:52 - you are the very last person to know anything about good faith.

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    4. Wow, David, you really need to go stick that bullshit back up your sorry lying ass from whence you just extracted it.

      Donny the Chickenshit has been lying about and smearing Mueller and the FBI investigation every time he opens his disgusting lying sack of shit pie hole, whereas Mueller hasn't said a word.

      Except:

      "The Special Counsel's investigation is not a closed matter, but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry," the filing says, indicating that there are many facets of the probe that are not well-understood by the public. "Many aspects of the investigation are factually and legally interconnected: they involve overlapping courses of conduct, relationships, and events and rely on similar sources, methods, and techniques."

      Your conclusion. Mueller is acting in bad faith.

      And now you would like Mueller to submit written questions to the lying sack of shit - sort of like an open book take home exam where he can enlist a team of lawyers to write the responses. Maybe we should just cut out the middle man and like little Donny the Chickenshit Coward write out the questions he would like to respond to first.

      And then to top it off, you would like Mueller to exonerate him first before he even answers any questions. how do you look at yourself in the mirror?

      This is a fucking criminal investigation. A serious criminal investigation in which numerous high level people in his campaign including huis fucking campaign manager and his own son and son in law have been caught hiding numerous interactions with Russian Kremlin agents and Russian hoodlums.

      The American people deserve to have a president who isn't so much of a fucking lying coward to forthrightly address the questions the SP might have for him.

      But it's obvious all you care about is saving his sorry treasonous corrupt ass, the country be damned.

      That is why you're a fucking treasonous bastard.

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    5. NONE of David's replies here (including his "IMHO"s) are written in good faith.

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    6. How was Donald smeared?

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    7. "Mueller's real function now is to get something on Trump, fairly or unfairly..."

      Do you say "unfairly", just because Mueller is a Republican? Because "illegal" is way more a Republican trait than just "unfair".

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    8. @7:00 PM, Ilya.
      If you don't know, what are you doing here?

      By itself, attacking your political opponent as a 'Russian agent' is, obviously, an extremely trashy move, but hey, what would you expect from the liberal establishment and their zombie followers.

      But then, starting a nation-wide russophobic witch-hunt, rolling out the socio-political crisis not seen since the 1950s, the new-mccarthyism, new cold war, pushing for a termonuclear disaster -- now, that's quite an achievement, I must say.

      And so, like I said, Bob's claim yesterday that 'both sides do it' sounds awfully pathetic...

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    9. Oh no, what is poor poor widdle whiney ass titty baby Mao crying about now. Did that mean woman Hillary say something mean to widdle Donny the Chickenshit Coward? Waawaawaa!!!! Waawaawaa!!! Go tell teacher, whiney ass titty baby Mao.

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    10. David, Mao is floundering. Can you help him?

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    11. Mao flounders on the day David's "Osama bin Laden Was Framed" t-shirt is in the laundry. Tough break for Mao.

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  3. What's so disappointing about Somerby is perfectly illustrated by this post. When he began his blog in 1998, his goal was to expose "narratives" that were being pushed by the media. (He even watched and critiqued Fox a bit back then.)

    Nowadays, it is Trump and his enablers that are pushing narratives; they are frankly engaging in a flat-out disinformation campaign. "Spygate" is just one example of that. The media is pushing back, trying to report facts and to debunk the mountain of untruths coming from the administration and its flaks in Congress and in that portion of the media that Somerby never bothers with anymore. And in so doing, the much-maligned "mainstream media" is doing its job in a media landscape increasingly dominated by propaganda and under siege from powerful forces.

    In my view, Somerby seems to be stuck in the year 2000, equating the media's behavior now with its behavior then. Press reports correcting Trump's frenzied accusations against our law enforcement agencies as he attempts to obstruct a serious investigation are a far cry from mocking Gore for his inelegant comment about the Internet or deriding him for his clothing.

    To take "spygate" as an example: There is little reason to give any credence to Trump's arguments. Even Gowdy, who attended the "briefing" about the "spy" last week, says the FBI was justified in its actions. And it isn't necessary as a liberal to indiscriminately distrust the FBI. It's all a smokescreen from Trump. He makes shit up. And whether there was $3000 dollars involved or not just doesn't materially affect the issue.

    Finally, calling the msm "Pravda"-like is frankly off target. The moniker of "Pravda" in today's world much more closely describes Fox, for rather obvious reasons: Pravda was the official news agency of the State in Russia, a role played rather convincingly today by Fox. Pravda did not criticize the State, and the State did not criticize Pravda. Pravda pushed the narratives concocted by the State.

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    1. "Pravda was the official news agency of the State in Russia"

      Nice. Don't remember ever seeing so much idiotic drivel squeezed into ten short words. This has to be some kind of record. My compliments.

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    2. Are you an expert on Pravda, which in Soviet Times was "formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union" and "was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991."?

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    3. Mao is an expert in chickenshit.

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    4. Why, here, amidst zombies, dembots, and dem-spammers (don't get wrong, I'm enjoying the company), any ordinary human being is an expert.

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    5. Please enlighten us, Mao, on the inner workings of the state and party apparatus in the former Soviet Union, and the role of Pravda.

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    6. Have you tried reading The Daily Howler?

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    7. I am not aware of Somerby ever doing a treatise on the history of the Soviet Union and the role of Pravda there.

      Unless you are suggesting that TDH is itself Pravda-like.

      Otherwise, you claimed that the original description of Pravda was drivel, you were asked to justify your remarks, but have failed. Congratulations.

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    8. If even after copy-pasting wikipedia (or whatever it was) you still can't see idiotic drivel above for what it is, then you're far, far gone, I'm afraid.

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    9. Ok. You're unable to state any facts. Didn't think so. Your comments proceed out of pure ignorance apparently.

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    10. "Are you an expert on Pravda, ...?"

      Maybe yes, maybe no , but it is widely known that Comrade Mao is an expert in "idiotic drivel". That's how Comrade has been promoted to a corner cubicle and use of a CRT with a color monitor. Idiotic drivel is how Comrade is making the big kopeks and making plans to move to a nicer panelka.

      Ypa!

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  4. It seems odd to criticize the press for "disappearing" facts (the $3000) that were reported on by that very press. If the msm were Pravda, Somerby would likely never have learned about the $3000 and other details that he now uses to beat up on the media and lend credence to Trump's allegations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "We're being played from both sides now!"

    Both sides? There's right-wing media, left-wing media, the "mainstream" media, Trump.

    That's at least 4 sides by my count.

    ReplyDelete
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