[Some] senators briefed about hacking: How dumb does American discourse get at this highly partisan, tribal time?
Consider a very familiar reference from yesterday's Meet the Press. Chuck Todd was conducting an exceptionally dumb discussion with Senator Kennedy. At one point, our old friend Chuck said this:
TODD (12/1/19): Were you briefed by the intelligence—"According to the New York Times a couple of weeks ago." This has become a very familiar reference.
According to the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, U.S. senators were briefed after Fiona Hill's testimony that actually this entire effort to frame Ukraine for the Russian meddling of 2016, of which you, you just made this case that they've done it, that actually this is an effort of Russia propaganda, that this is a Russian intelligence propaganda campaign in order to get people like you to say these things about Ukraine.
TODD: They're trying to frame Ukraine. You apparently were briefed about this in the United States Senate by intelligence officials. Are you at all concerned you're doing Russian intelligence work here?
Let's start by noting some basic mistakes. The Times report to which Todd refers doesn't say that senators were briefed on the matter at hand "after Hill's testimony" with all that may imply. It doesn't necessarily matter, but that was a basic mistake.
Beyond that, the Times report doesn't say how many senators were briefed. Kennedy denied that he had been briefed, an assumption Todd had pulled out of thin air.
As of yesterday, Kennedy was still saying that, while it was Russia who hacked the DNC emails, some Ukrainian officials had intervened or meddled in other ways in the 2016 election. According to Todd's rather clumsy presentation, the Times had reported that senators had been briefed to the contrary.
This is the New York Times report to which Todd, and many others, have referred. The report was murkily written, but it only says that Russia was falsely trying to blame Ukraine for the way Russia hacked the DNC emails, not for anything else.
Nothing in that Times report contradicts the two-part claim Kennedy (and others) made made—the claim that Russia hacked the DNC emails while Ukrainian officials may have "meddled" or "intervened" in other ways. And despite Todd's statements, insinuations and assumptions, the report doesn't say that these other claims are being invented or pushed by the Russkies.
As everyone in this country knows, reading can be quite hard. But go ahead! Read the New York Times report! It says that "American intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks" about Russian attempts to blame Ukraine for the hacking of the emails, not for anything else.
It doesn't say what Todd suggested and what quite a few others have said—that senators were told that Ukraine and/or its officials didn't "meddle" or "intervene" in the election at all.
Did Ukraine intervene or meddle? The conduct which has been criticized doesn't seem all that shocking to us. And as everyone seems to agree once they're given a chance to respond, to the extent that such a claim can be made, the alleged "meddling" by Ukraine is dwarfed by the extensive illegal conduct which the intelligence community, and Kennedy himself, have attributed to the Russkies.
That said, nothing in the Times report takes us where the current tribal stampede wants us to go. With respect to the claims and accusations made by people like Morning Joe and Todd, we liberals are being propagandized when we watch our cable channels and when we read our liberal journals.
Go ahead—read the Times report. According to the report, (some) senators were told that the Russkies were trying to frame Ukraine for Russia's hacking of the DNC emails. The report doesn't say a single word about the various Ukrainian actions which were criticized by Fiona Hill in her impeachment testimony, actions which have also been criticized by the down-home, homespun Kennedy.
Hill's remarks were instantly disappeared, helping the tribal narrative thrive. Meanwhile, people like Todd are grossly misstating what that Times report actually said. But this is the way our discourse has worked for at least three or four decades now. This seems to be the best our journalistic elites can do as we all sit "on the beach" waiting for the end.
Go ahead—read the Times report! As you do, consider the possibility of giving your lizard a couple of hours off.