Our pitiful tribe at its worst: On May 9 and May 11, Donald J. Trump made an accurate statement about something James Comey had done. He said Comey had told him, "on three separate occasions," that he was not the subject of an FBI investigation.
Yesterday, we showed you how our press corps reacted to this statement by Trump, which later turned out to be accurate. To review their behavior, click here.
In substantial numbers, we were told, by reporters and pundits, that Donald J. Trump was surely misstating. In some cases, we were told that he'd plainly lied.
More strikingly, we were told, again and again, that a great man like James B. Comey would never behave in the way Donald J. Trump had described. As with Superman, so too here:
Everyone knew the real Chuckles the Clown would never throw a man to his death!
Last week, Comey testified that he had done exactly what Trump described. From this incident, we can learn a valuable lesson about the practices of the ridiculous guild we still describe as a "press corps."
Briefly, let's be fair! As a general matter, it's understandable that Donald J. Trump was doubted.
First as a candidate, then as president, he has issued a steady stream of inaccurate statements. Many of his statements have been crazily inaccurate. Doubting the accuracy of his claims is second nature by now.
In our view, the press corps' sycophancy toward Comey was a great deal more instructive. Again and again, major pundits told the world that James B. Comey would never behave in the way Trump described.
When it turned out that Comey had done what Trump described, very few pundits revisited or explained their previous claims. Meanwhile, did you see anyone revise his view of the man called Comey the God?
One observer after another had said it would violate DOJ norms for Comey to do what Trump said. When it turned out that Comey had done just that, everyone averted their gaze. Comey remained a god!
We've described this general pattern for years. Over the years, the press corps has anointed a series of figures, mostly Republicans, as The World's Most Forthright Person. Once that designation is awarded, it's virtually never taken back, no matter how the anointed god may behave.
Mewling pundits continue to swear that Person X is impossibly honest, even after Person X has behaved in overt bad faith. And so it has been with Comey the God! Consider the string of pundits who compared him to a victim of sexual abuse in the wake of his admission that he behaved as Trump said he did.
One such piece appeared in last Sunday's Washington Post, written by Christine Emba. Under a truly embarrassing headline, Emba started like this:
EMBA (6/11/17): Mr. Comey, what were you wearing that night?Poor Comey! Was he disbelieved and mistreated, in the manner that's sometimes directed at victims of sexual assault?
Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was riveting in its own right. But at times, James B. Comey’s grilling on the stand recalled nothing so much as a sexual misconduct trial, with the former FBI director playing the role of barely believed plaintiff. The proceedings brought to mind the patronizing, painful back-and-forth that victims have been conditioned to expect should they dare lodge a complaint about harassment or assault. From the exhaustive rehashing of every encounter between the president and the former FBI director to the performative disbelief of many of the questioning senators, the uncomfortable parallels were hard to ignore.
Actually no, he wasn't. If it's proof you want, these are the examples Emba provided as she continued her piece:
EMBA (continuing directly): Asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), perhaps trying to be understanding: “You’re big. You’re strong...Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong?’ ”Poor Comey! He was forced to take those hurtful questions from Feinstein, Rubio and Blunt! He was being treated like a victim of harassment, or even assault.
Then Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “At the time, did you say anything to the president about—‘That is not an appropriate request,’ or did you tell the White House counsel, ‘That is not an appropriate request, someone needs to go tell the president that he can’t do these things’?”
There was Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): “You said...‘I don’t want to be in the room with him alone again,’ but you continued to talk to him on the phone...Why didn’t you say, ‘I’m not taking that call’?”
Has there ever been a dumber column in the Washington Post? Unlike many victims of harassment or assault, Comey is a 56-year-old, extremely powerful Washington insider who was the head of the FBI during the months in question.
When Trump and Comey had the exchange to which Feinstein referred, two powerful public officials sat face-to-face in a room. It's true that Comey could have been fired, and he eventually was. But it's appalling to see him compared to a victim of sexual assault who no one would believe.
Just look at the questions Comey was asked. In all the cases Emba lists, the senators were asking perfectly reasonable questions.
Indeed, Feinstein, Rubio and Blunt all asked obvious questions. Comey's been running a con for so long that people like Emba can't see this point, or possibly choose not to see.
Consider Blunt's question. It was an excellent question:
Comey, a long-standing self-promoter, bellyached about the way Sessions had left him alone with Trump. Except uh-oh! In the months which followed, Comey continued taking one-on-one phone calls from Trump!
Why in the world had he done that? This was an obvious question from Blunt.
Feinstein and Rubio asked obvious questions too. Ridiculously, Comey pretended to explain why he didn't tell Trump, on various occasions, that Trump shouldn't be working him in the way he seemingly was.
Below, you see the full answer Feinstein received from the god:
FEINSTEIN (6/8/17): Now, here's the question: You're big. You're strong. I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn't you stop and say, "Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you?"Comey wasn't strong enough? Shameless con man, please!
COMEY: It's a great question. Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. And the only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind, because I could remember every word he said— I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? And that's why I very carefully chose the words.
And, look, I—I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I—I remember saying, "I agree he's a good guy," as a way of saying, "I'm not agreeing with what you just asked me to do."
Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance but that, that was—that's how I conducted myself. I, I hope I'll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better.
In fairness to Emba, Comey was almost positioning himself, in that statement, as a stunned victim of an assault. But this leads us to the questions posed by Rubio and Blunt:
Why did Comey keep speaking to Trump on the phone after the initial assault? Why didn't he tell him, at any point, that his conversations with Comey were inappropriate? These are obvious questions too. Also obvious is the fact that Comey gave very shaky responses.
Comey's testimony to the Senate committee was simply larded with cons. He threw an array of other people under the bus, often in ways which were strikingly unfair.
(This includes Loretta Lynch. In our typical way, no one from the liberal world rose to speak in her defense after Comey slimed her before the committee and before the world.)
Should Comey be compared, in any way, to a sex assault victim? No. But that's the kind of treatment you get once the insider press corps has designated you as a god. It's especially true when you're being fictionalized as the cowboy in the white hat during a major chase, in this case the chase after Trump.
Emba's column appeared on-line near the end of last week. On last Friday night's Last Word, Ana Marie Cox picked the bones of the column clean in an utterly ludicrous session with Lawrence O'Donnell.
We can't show you the transcript of their discussion, which also included Joan Walsh. MSNBC has failed to provide one, even on Nexis.
We cant link you to the tape. MSNBC didn't post it.
Over the weekend, we did make notes on the segment, hedging against the possibility that no transcript would appear. (The full hour was still available at the Last Word site.) We'll only say this:
Along with the equally ludicrous Walsh, Cox made a joke of concern about sexual assault as she complained about the way poor Comey had been treated.
Below, you see some of the notes we took as we listened to the segment three or four times. These aren't precise quotations, but they come quite close:
SNIPPETS FROM COX (6/9/17): The treatment of Comey, he's being treated like the way a target of a sexual predator would be treated.If you want to know what we find obscene, we'd start with that segment by Cox.
In one of those ways, it's the character of the person that's attacked that's at question here.
It's like people are saying, "Yes he may have done something wrong, but did you see what he was wearing? Comey may have worn that blue suit and tried to blend into the drape, but he was wearing that white shirt like a hussy."
You have all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork saying Comey should have been the one to tell Trump he was wrong, which is what you hear about sexual predators.
You also hear them saying, "If he was so worried about it, why did he stay? Maybe he had a drink or two."
I don't want to make light of this. It's kind of amusing in its own way because Comey's 6 foot 8 and a guy and it's "Ha ha."
But this is abuse of power. And abuse of power is always obscene.
It doesn't matter that Comey is 6 foot 8, a point Emba also noted. It he were the 5 foot 8 head of the FBI, the following points would obtain:
At the time of his interactions with Trump (and with Sessions), Comey was a full-grown adult. He was also a very important and very powerful federal official.
He had major obligations to the public. If he couldn't handle himself in those settings, we'd have to say that Obama erred in naming him to his post.
James B. Comey as sex assault victim? If it's obscenity you seek, we'd suggest that you start right there.
Comey was slippery and slick all through last week's testimony. That said, he's played this game for many years, as when he savaged Clinton last summer while all our corporate liberal stars ran off and hid in the woods, refusing to speak or complain.
Because he's a powerful insider god, liberal figures, from Rachel on down, have persistently refused to challenge his conduct. Now that he stands in opposition to Trump, he's being reinventing as a godlike figure. We're shedding tears and comparing him to a sex assault victim.
This is the way your liberal team has played the game for many years. People are dead all over the world because we liberals accept this.
"Mr. Comey, what were you wearing?" In a word, obscene.