TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022
Then again, consider this: It has become a standard claim: Russians are being disinformed by state-run Russian TV.
We know of no reason to doubt that. Then again, consider what we saw Peter Strzok say on yesterday's Deadline White House, as an old Bush hand looked on.
Nicole Wallace was discussing the way Russian TV is running clips of Tucker Carlson's statements. She played tape of an apparent groaning misstatement by Carlson last week, preceded by a groaning misstatement of her own.
At that point, along came Strzok, and Wallace asked him a question.
The invasion of Ukraine is widely unpopular, she correctly said. Why then, she wanted to know, is Fox letting Carlson continue to make the kinds of remarks which can be repurposed for use on Russian TV?
Strzok responded as shown below. We continue with this remarkable theme because we think the conduct in question is so freaking remarkable:
STRZOK (3/14/22): I can't explain it. Because I think what you do see, there's increasing, certainly within the Republican Party, resolve around the idea that the war that Putin is waging in the Ukraine, the invasion of Ukraine, the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children, you see broad bipartisan sort of coming together behind this idea that that is wrong. That as the United States, we need to oppose that.
And you have this one strange outlier—well, two, if you look at Donald Trump, who still can't bring himself to say that Putin is wrong for doing this. But you have this very odd outlier...
This strange man continued from there. But once again, the MSNBC audience was being disinformed on this basic point.
Is it true that Donald J. Trump "still can't bring himself to say that Putin is wrong for doing this?" The claim is repeated again and again, but the claim is baldly false.
We're forced to admit that it's certainly possible that Strzok and Wallace don't know what Trump has said. But as we've noted again and again, Trump has denounced the invasion on at least three occasions since February 26.
On that occasion, he offered this assessment at the CPAC convention, citing Putin by name:
TRUMP (2/26/22): The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. It is an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur...We are praying for the brave people of Ukraine, God bless them all.
Thank you. They are indeed brave. As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president.
The problem is not that Putin is smart—which, of course he's smart. But the real problem is that our leaders are dumb. Dumb. So dumb.
They so far allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity. That's what it is. This is an assault on humanity. So sad. Putin is playing Biden like a drum...
On that occasion, Trump made a wide array of remarks which we'd regard as spectacularly stupid. We include the claim that the invasion never would have happened if Trump had been in the White House—if our last election hadn't been rigged.
Those claims don't change the other things Trump said that night. Naming Putin by name, he said the invasion of Ukraine was an outrage and an atrocity and an assault on humanity.
The CPAC audience applauded his statements—and Trump has continued from there.
On a March 2 broadcast on Fox News, he told Maria Bartiromo that the invasion was "a holocaust." On March 10, he told Sean Hannity, again on Fox, that the war in Ukraine "truly is a crime upon humanity."
Are Russian citizens being disinformed by Russian TV? As far as we know, they are.
That said, we don't have to speculate about the peculiar behavior on programs like Wallace's. Trump has denounced the invasion on at least three separate occasions, and yet we liberals are still being told, by people like Strzok, that Trump "still can't bring himself to say that Putin is wrong for doing this."
This is very strange behavior. We liberals are being disinformed on this point. We're all Russkie citizens now!
For the record, let us add this:
When Trump appeared on Hannity's show, Hannity invited him to say that Putin is "evil." Trump didn't repeat the term. At the Washington Post, Aaron Blake bent himself into a pretzel, using that as a way to further the claim that Trump refuses to denounce the invasion.
This morning, we finally checked. Has President Biden ever said that Putin is "evil?"
That would be an unusual way for an American president to speak—but in a quick search, we could find no sign that Biden has ever launched such a verbal bomb. For example, he didn't use such language, or anything like it, in his State of the Union Address.
Trump didn't use Hannity's language either, even as he referred to the invasion as "a crime upon humanity."
Our public discourse lies in tatters; it's been a joke for decades. According to major anthropologists, we humans are the defiantly tribal animal, and that includes the jugglers and clowns widely found Over Here.
Trump can't bring himself to say it! Yesterday, Strzok became the latest observer to make this claim, with Wallace looking on.
Concerning what Carlson said: On yesterday's program, Wallace made specific reference to Carlson's remarks, last Wednesday night, about something Victoria Nuland said in testimony before a Senate committee.
Fox News transcribed the monologue in question. Here's part of what Carlson said about Nuland's statement:
CARLSON (3/9/22): Try not to use profanity on the air to describe our reaction [to what Nuland said]. Our jaws dropped, let's leave it there.
Under oath, in an open committee hearing, Toria Nuland just confirmed that the Russian "disinformation" they've been telling us for days is a lie and a conspiracy theory and crazy and immoral to believe is, in fact, totally and completely true.
Whoa! You don't hear things like that every day in Washington. Talk about a showstopper, and a dozen questions instantly jump to mind. What exactly are they doing in these secret Ukrainian bio labs?
Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe. It's hardly a hotbed of biomedical research. We're assuming these weren't pharmaceutical labs, probably not developing new leukemia drugs.
From your answer, Toria Nuland, we would assume, because you all but said it, that there's a military application to this research, that they were working on bioweapons. Again, your answer suggests that...
Nuland had given a bit of a non-answer answer to a highly specific question. Carlson took things from there.
Last night, Carlson was trying to walk last week's comments back. A few hours earlier, Wallace had gone on the air and misrepresented what Nuland had said. "Cable news" is frequently Storyline now—Storyline in service to pure tribal pleasure.
American "cable news" is stuffed with jugglers and clowns, not excluding smooth operator Wallace. Concerning Carlson's analytical methods, we expect to do a future set of reports on this tortuous topic:
Who the heck is Tucker Carlson? And how did he get this way?
Warning! This is a horrible rabbit hole, with misstatements running all sorts of ways.