But her basic skill levels stay down: This past Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray testified at a Senate budget hearing.
Along the way, he made a statement we found to be somewhat striking. Devlin Barrettt even quoted the statement in his news report in the Washington Post.
Let's start at he beginning. Did Wray believe that the FBI engaged in spying on the Trump campaign? "That’s not the term I would use,” Wray had already said.
One senator pushed Wray a bit further. We were perhaps a tiny bit struck by the highlighted statement below:
BARRETT (5/8/19): Asked whether he believed FBI agents spied on the Trump 2016 campaign, Wray replied: “I want to be careful in how I answer that question here, because there is an ongoing inspector general investigation. I have my own thoughts based on the limited information I have seen so far.”We were struck by Wray's highlighted statement. In other circumstances, we liberals might have called that a bit of a non-denial denial. We might have said that Wray's statement was festooned with several trap doors.
Shaheen pressed him further, asking whether he had any evidence that illegal surveillance was conducted on individuals associated with the campaign.
“I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort,” Wray said.
Director Wray could have answered Shaheen with a simple "no." Instead, he said he doesn't think he has any evidence of illegal surveillance.
No, wait! Wray said he doesn't think that he personally has any such evidence! Trust us! If tribal interests had been served, we liberals would have said that Wray had left several doors ajar.
Wray's statement struck us as slightly odd—but tribal interests were served this week by taking a different approach. Those interests were served in a manner displayed—where else?—in the New York Times.
Adam Goldman wrote the New York Times news report about Wray's appearance. He didn't quote that slightly odd statement, but he opened his report with this claim:
GOLDMAN (5/8/19): The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, defended the bureau on Tuesday amid another round of accusations that agents abused their powers in investigating the Trump campaign, saying he was unaware of any illegal surveillance and refusing to call their work “spying.”Readers of the New York Times were handed a pleasing framework. According to Goldman, Wray's testimony had put him in "direct conflict" with his boss, William Barr.
Mr. Wray’s defense of his agency put him in direct conflict with Attorney General William P. Barr, who told lawmakers last month that he believed the F.B.I. engaged in spying on the Trump campaign.
It's true that Barr once used the term "spying" while Wray said that wasn't the term he would use. But all in all, based upon full testimonies by the two men, we'd say that Goldman overstated the amount of conflict between them—overstated in a way which made our own team's tribal hearts glad.
Full disclosure! These insights came to us from Future Logicians of Lake, Field and Stream (QED), a self-reproachful group which works in consort with Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the better-known group of future scholars who report from the aftermath of Mister Trump's Non-rational War.
In consort with future anthropologists, these future logicians have now suggested to us that "tribal narration" was almost always present in so-called "news reporting" of the pre-conflagration era.
"If only we'd listened more closely to the later Wittgenstein," these penitential future logicians have peculiarly said.
To what extent does the desire for tribal "fiction" currently rule our conceptual world? The logicians urged us to look at Aahley Parker's "news report" in yesterday's Washington Post, insisting it would advance our studies of the phenomenon they describe as Basic Skill Levels Down.
Parker wrote the latest essay about Donald J. Trump's statements concerning Charlottesville—a lengthy essay which almost seemed to pose as a "news report."
In her essay, Parker abjured the use of selective quotation concerning What Mister Trump Said. Or so the future scholars were claiming—and by Jove, sure enough!
As part of her 2100-word essay, Parker included statements by Donald J. Trump which are normally disappeared wherever our tribe's scripts are sold. In paragraph 18 (of 45), the Pulitzer-winning cable news star quoted Trump saying this:
PARKER (5/9/19): Back at the White House two days later—urged on by worried aides—the president delivered a more forceful, scripted statement in a hastily arranged news conference.The "he" in that passage is Donald J. Trump. Breaking every rule in the book, Parker quoted his statement!
"Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups," he said.
A few paragraphs later, Parker did it again! She quoted something else Trump said—a statement he made during the very press conference where he talked about "very fine people on both sides:"
PARKER: The next day, during a news conference ostensibly about infrastructure at Trump Tower in New York, the president unleashed a freewheeling riff on the violence at the rally.Parker even quoted that second highlighted statement, the future logicians noted. At the same time, they noted the ways Parker worked to signal that we shouldn't really "credit" these things that he said.
In one breath, he said, "I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally"—a statement his allies have latched on to in defense of his handling of the issue to claim the president was always clear in his denunciations of bigotry and hate-fueled violence.
Yet, in the next breath, Trump asserted, "there's blame on both sides . . . very fine people on both sides."
At any rate, Parker actually quoted two different statements by Trump! Why do we call attention to this development? We do so for the obvious reason.
In recent weeks, there have been several bursts of cable news coverage of Trump's remarks about Charlottesville. But trust us:
During these bursts of coverage, you could watch CNN and MSNBC for hours on end without ever seeing those highlighted statements quoted or presented on videotape. On cable, the children happily propagandized, latching onto the statements by Trump which best served their tribal story line.
Those statements (and others) were left behind! Night after night, all over cable, it was a classic display of selective quotation—and of Basic Skill Levels Down.
Did Donald J. Trump make adequate statements about the events in Charlottesville? That, of course, is a matter of judgment—but this site was started to assess the journalists, not to assess the pols.
We watched the children discuss this matter on cable TV in recent weeks. We're not sure we've ever seen a more pitiful case of selective quotation.
Trump's famous "very fine people on both sides" remark was endlessly played on videotape. There was little attempt to discuss the question of what two "sides" he may have been talking about.
Routinely, it was said that he meant there were "very fine people" among the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists. Viewers weren't told that he had expressly condemned those very same groups during the very same press event where he made his "both sides" remark.
Full disclosure! Joining forces with Future Historians of the High Chaparral, Future Psychologists of the Savannas have warned us to let this whole episode go.
"By April and May of 2019, the die had been cast," these psychologists and historians have sadly said. "By this time, Silly Children of the Pseudo-Left were determined to march off to war. The time for warnings about Professor Harari's gossip and fiction had long since come and gone."
We suspect these future scholars are right—and much of Parker's essay helps establish this point.
Parker did include two of the quotations which have been almost completely disappeared by children with names like Cooper and Lemon. But much of her work remained heavy-handed. Just check that last blockquote!
Parker did include two disappeared quotations. But despite the advances she made, we'd have to say that her basic skill levels were still remarkably down.
Several future historians have told us this week that the conduct of the Coopers and the Lemons helped march us to perdition during the Trump "end-year." And alas:
"We 'humans' were always wired this way," several future anthropologists have disconsolately said. "Just watch the scene from Gone With the Wind where the silly Southern boys, eagerly trying to woo Miss Scarlett, yelp with joy at the onset of the war which was going to get them all killed."
We suspect those future scholars are right. They report to us in nocturnal submissions which the haters refer to as dreams.
Persistently, they express regret at their own past failures to act. They say their silence helped produce Mister Trump's Unavoidable War.
This war reduced these scholars to lives of hunting and (mainly) gathering. The war occurred after three or four decades characterized by the condition they describe as Basic Skill Levels Down.
Later today: Sheryl Gay Stolberg in chains!