Except that's not what he said: Question! Did Ukraine meddle (or perhaps "interfere") in our 2016 election?
As a general matter, we'd be inclined to say no. But rather plainly, it all depends on what the meaning of "meddle in" is! It even depends on what we mean by "Ukraine."
(Are we talking about the Ukrainian government? Are we talking about a certain number of Ukrainian officials? For people who seek clarity, these are easy distinctions to make. For people who want to promulgate tribal narratives, such niceties will disappear.)
At any rate, how about it? Did Ukraine meddle in our election? Tribal minds have been debating the point over the past week or so, producing such triumphalist headlines as this one at New York magazine:
Trump Ally John Kennedy Walks Back Conspiracy That Ukraine Meddled in 2016 ElectionIn fact, Kennedy didn't walk back the claim that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. He walked back a different claim—the claim that it was Ukraine who hacked the DNC emails.
For people with two IQ points to bang together, those are two different claims. But at times of tribal warfare, we humans seek the pleasing stories that our high tribal priests will provide.
In the article bearing that headline, New York's Matt Stieb actually gets something right. In his actual text (as opposed to that headline), Stieb correctly reports that Kennedy, this past Monday night, rejected his previous claim "that Ukraine hacked DNC emails."
Stieb got that point right! But at times of heavy tribal war, fictional narrative never sleeps. Instantly, Stieb proceeded to a bungled presentation:
STIEB (11/26/19): Speaking with Chris Cuomo on Monday, Kennedy admitted that he “was wrong” about the conspiracy that Ukraine hacked DNC emails and pinned the job on Russia.Is the one tiny word "fully" supposed to bail that turkey out?
Though Kennedy stepped away from the claim, it’s unlikely that Republicans will fully abandon the idea just because it isn’t true. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Senator Roger Wicker told Chuck Todd that “Ukrainians themselves tried to interfere.”
From that presentation, a reader would naturally think that Wicker had asserted that it actually was Ukraine which hacked the DNC emails.
In fact, Wicker said no such thing on Meet the Press. But within our own hapless, floundering tribe, "fictional narrative" is leading many of our tribal sachems to pleasure liberal readers and viewers with pleasing fictional claims.
Brian Williams was especially fictitious last night—remarkably so, in our view. But this is the way tribal fiction works, given the unhelpful wiring of our flawed human brains.
Did Ukraine meddle in our 2016 election? In a related but different question, did Roger Wicker actually say that Ukraine hacked (stole) the DNC emails?
Plainly, the answer to the second question is no. But at times of tribal warfare, the highly limited human mind will start creating and spreading tribal fictions.
These tribal fictions are now being spread wherever the "liberal"/Democratic viewpoint is sold. In our view, this is the latest manifestation of a decades-old phenomenon, in which spectacular liberal and mainstream incompetence helped bring George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump to power.
Did Wicker say that Ukraine hacked the DNC emails? Anyone who watches the tape should be able to see that he didn't. But at tribalized times like these, our sad human minds start to fail.
(To watch the Meet the Press tape, just click here. Stieb links to that slippery Vox report to support his own bungled claim.)
Does it matter if people like Stieb peddle such tribalized fictions? Actually, yes, it does.
Journalists aren't playing with dolls when they sit before their screens and pimp their pleasing claims. And when members of warring tribes are handed competing false and/or misleading stories, the problem we're all living with moves us in the direction of civil war.
It's fairly easy to state the various facts which are involved in this matter. One such list would look like this:
According to the U.S. intelligence community: According to the U.S. intelligence community, the Russian government stole emails from the DNC and turned them loose on the world. Fiona's Hill statement to this effect has made her a liberal hero.Within our liberal and mainstream hive, Hill's remarks about the Russians are being reverentially quoted. In ancient tribal fashion, her remarks about the Ukrainian officials were instantly disappeared.
According to Fiona Hill: According to the widely-quoted Hill, various Ukrainian officials behaved in "ill-advised" ways during the 2016 election. They did this because they "bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election. And so they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign."
Personally, we're not all that concerned about what the Ukrainian officials did. That said, Hill said that Trump had every reason to be upset by their ill-advised conduct. ("I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved...I would also personally take offense at some of the things that were said if I were the president.")
Thus spake Fiona Hill, though you'll only hear this here.
At any rate, those who regard the Ukrainian conduct as "meddling" aren't saying that the Ukrainians hacked the DNC emails! This is a stunningly simple distinction, except when hapless tribal sachems start sanding facts and engineering silly conflations to tell us things we'll enjoy.
On Friday, we'll show you what Williams did last night. His presentation was fairly amazing—but then, he worked very hard, in 1999 and 2000, to send George W. Bush to power. (At the time, his oligarch was GE's Jack Welch, then the bossman of NBC Hews.)
Later, Williams invented so many weird stories about himself that he lost his network job. He's been exiled to the realm of cable, where he tells us the things we'll enjoy.
When it comes to journalists like Stieb, they and their predecessors have been failing you for decades. The haplessness of our liberal and mainstream elites is one of the biggest stories of the past thirty-plus years. You're seeing its latest manifestations as you're pleasured by claims that people like Wicker said things they didn't say.
It feels good to be treated this way. We turn to cable each night to be pleasured.
It's also the problem we're all living with. Can you really see a good way out of this ongoing, low-IQ mess?
Coming Friday: Brian feeds the herd