Convicting Donald J. Trump concerning the five Russian women: Franz Kafka was nodding and smiling last night as he watched cable TV.
Consider the way our liberal stars treated the news about Moscow. Donald J. Trump's security man said the Russkies had offered to send five women to the oligarch's hotel room during his 2013 visit!
Keith Schiller says he rejected the offer, but so what? All over liberal cable, this denial was skillfully treated as a type of confession.
"Now that's what I'm talking about!" Franz Kafka said. The craziest analysis of them all was offered to Ari Melber:
MELBER (11/9/17): Let me bring in NBC national security reporter Julia Ainsley, who has also been following the Russia probe, and a former Watergate special prosecutor, Nick Ackerman.Say what? Schiller's denial that something occurred confirms that something did happen?
Nick, prosecutors sometimes look at things more aggressively than others. But how do you view this development?
ACKERMAN: I mean, I view this as an absolutely dynamite development. To me, this confirms the Steele report and the dossier that this did happen.
Somewhere, Kafka felt vindicated in all the weird things he had written. For his part, Melber seemed to need more:
MELBER (continuing directly): How does it do? How does it do that when you have a bodyguard saying no?Might we jump in here?
ACKERMAN: Because you've got a bodyguard who is a longtime loyalist, who actually admitted that Trump was offered five women up to his hotel room. You have to ask yourself, "Why did he make that admission?"
Why did Schiller "make that admission?" Could it be because he was testifying under oath and someone had asked him a question?
Not to Ackerman, it couldn't! Or at least, it couldn't be that simple.
Let's provide some background. Over the past few months, Ackerman has played the role of the partisan hangin' judge on MSNBC. He's the guy who can interpret every event in the way the herd prefers.
Ackerman has been like this for months. After asking his puzzling question, he continued as follows:
ACKERMAN (continuing directly): From a prosecutor's standpoint, my guess would be, he had to do it because other people who are honest, who are third parties, overheard that admission. Overheard that statement. And so Keith Schiller had no choice but to admit to that, unless he wanted to put himself into a perjury box.Finally, a point of agreement! We think this is extremely disturbing too.
What he did is, he pulled the old selective memory trick. "Yes, I remember what everybody else remembered about the offer. But I do know that when we went back to the hotel room, no one is ever going to be able to testify to that. Because it was just me, Donald Trump and some Russians who are never going to testify to that.
ACKERMAN: To me, this is extremely disturbing.
To us, though, the disturbing behavior is Ackerman's. Stating the obvious, MSNBC should take this ludicrous old hack and toss him headfirst down the stairs, across the sidewalk and out into the street.
In that passage, Ackerman engages in the rankest form of speculation. More accurately, his presentation is pure novelization. He imagines a reason for Schiller's statement, then imagines that Schiller is lying in the rest of what he said.
Did Schiller "pull the old selective memory trick" when he explained what happened? Ackerman has zero evidentiary basis for this claim, in which he accuses Schiller of committing a felony. He's simply dreaming it up. What in the world is this crazy old man doing on national television?
Surely, we all know the answer! All over partisan cable last night, liberal and mainstream pundits displayed an amazing array of ways to turn Schiller's denial into a confession, thus pleasing the stampeding herd.
We saw no one else as ludicrous as Ackerman. But everyone seemed to be equipped with an instant group talking-point, which was handed to poor Melber by NBC's on Ken Dilanian.
Dilanian had written a report to which everyone was reacting. Somehow, he also had a talking point which everyone would ape:
MELBER: There's a lot of different reactions to your piece. And Nick Ackerman here is giving a view, but The Daily Caller today, a conservative site, says no, this helps Trump.Say what? "You really can't imagine that offer being made to Barack Obama or George W. Bush?"
Do you want to get into that scorecard?
DILANIAN: I wouldn't go so far as Nick went. But I think it's interesting and notable, certainly, that the idea of Russian women to Donald Trump's hotel room was raised. You really can't imagine that offer being made to Barack Obama or George W. Bush. I think that`s why people are reacting to this.
And as Julia said, there is a history of Russian kompromat, particularly at this hotel. The Ritz Carlton in Moscow is reputed to be wired for sound and video as a honey trap by the Russian intelligence services.
People, of course you can! As Dilanian notes, this is regarded as a common practice of Russkie intelligence services. Had Obama or Bush hit the Ritz before they were president, why wouldn't the Russkies have tried the very same thing?
Through the reach of whatever group dynamic, Dilanian's ridiculous talking point was repeated far and wide last night, all over CNN and MSNBC. Everyone agreed to agree:
Pundits simply couldn't imagine the Russkies trying this with Obama of Bush. They couldn't imagine this offer being made to anyone but Donald J. Trump!
As for Melber, he returned to Ackerman after Dilanian floated his point. The crazy old coot said this:
MELBER (continuing directly): Nick, I mean, you'd need more, though, right?"You don`t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt?" Go ahead! Laugh out loud!
ACKERMAN: Well, you don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt or even by a preponderance of the evidence. But if you look at the character of the individual involved. You look at the witness that's involved and his closeness to Trump, the fact that he even mentions that there is an offer of five women to go to his hotel room, and you compare that to the Steele dossier, it corroborates half of the story. I mean, it`s not like there was nothing that was ever said about prostitutes or women.
During the rest of Ackerman's spiel, even Kafka might have hung his head, depressed by what he had seen. Try to believe that the crazy old coot was actually willing to say this:
"The fact that he even mentions that there is an offer of five women to go to his hotel room, and you compare that to the Steele dossier, it corroborates half of the story."
It corroborates half the story! More precisely, it corroborates the half of the story where an offer is made. It only contradicts the half of the story where the offer is accepted!
At this point, Melber ended the segment, with a bit of a jibe thrown Ackerman's way. But will your lizard let you see the general drift of this ludicrous presentation, in which our own tribe is coming to be so very much like the ship of fools over at Fox?
Our prisons are full of innocent people because of prosecutors who are willing to "reason" like Ackerman did in that segment. That said, he's been offering bullshit like that on MSNBC for the past quite a few months.
Meanwhile, all over cable, people recited the Dilanian talking point. They couldn't imagine the Russkies making an offer like that to Obama or Bush! Somehow, this seemed to mean that the Steele dossier's remarkable claims in this area are maybe perhaps and very possibly just very likely correct.
(Editor's note: Even for Trump, the claims made in that dossier seem almost impossibly crazy. Or has anyone actually read it?)
Last night, all over cable, malfunctioning minds were turning denial into confession. Meanwhile, hallelujah! In the first ten minutes of Anderson Cooper, a former CIA senior officer managed to offer this:
COOPER (11/9/17): Joining us tonight is former FBI and CIA senior official Phil Mudd, former CIA senior officer and Russia expert Steve Hall, and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.Ken Dilanian couldn't imagine! At CNN, it was clear that Steve Hall pretty much could.
Steve, this offer of—alleged offer of the women to then-citizen Trump, would you be more surprised if the Russians hadn't tried to do something like this?
HALL: Yes. Frankly, Anderson, I definitely would have been more surprised. This is standard operating procedure for the Russians. You have to remember, in 2013, this is before obviously Trump was a candidate. But nevertheless, he was what the Russians I think would have considered an American oligarch. So somebody from their own world view, somebody with money, somebody with power and somebody who you just never know one day what they're going to end up being.
That normally triggers the very low threshold for the FSB, which is the internal service of the internal Russian intelligence service for the beginning of collecting all sorts of information, anything they can get their hands on or set up that could be used in a compromising situation in the future kompromat.
So this would have been done—if it hadn't been Donald Trump, I don't know how many senior American millionaires, billionaires came through Moscow at that time, but they all would have had this type of collection. And it's very aggressive and it's very assertive. And the FSB has been doing it for, you know, since Lenin's time. And so, they're just very good at it and they would have done it as a routine thing.
Somewhere, Kafka was exulting last night. He was also asking an obvious question:
Where in the world does corporate cable come up with these pitiful guys?
Tomorrow: Rachel Maddow's exciting claim about "aggressive sexual advances"