How do we think Trump got there? As far as we know, the New York Times' Megan Twohey is the world's finest person.
We thought her front-page report in October 2016 involved a boatload of bad judgment, on Twohey's part and on the part of her editors. In our view, it seemed to be the final act in a 25-year propaganda war against Clinton and Clinton, with a side trip added on to defeat Candidate Gore.
In the end, this mainstream propaganda war put You Know Who where he is. In that sense, we'd have to say that this endless mainstream press corps war worked out very badly.
We liberals sat and twiddled our thumbs while this war was carried out. In 1999 and 2000, we twiddled our thumbs for twenty straight months while the War Against Gore was conducted.
Given this basic history, we liberals may be the most inept political tribe ever seen on the face of the earth. That doesn't mean that Megan Twohey hasn't done other good work.
That said, we were struck by something Twohey said on MSNBC last night. Ali Velshi was guest hosting for Ari Melber. At one point, Michael Cohen's guilty pleas prompted this exchange:
VELSHI (8/21/18): You know, Rudy Giuliani said truth isn't really the truth the other day, so I'm curious, Megan, as to what this does. What happens next, right? Because there are a whole lot of Americans thinking that's got to be it. This has to be the end of the legitimacy of the Trump presidency, if you believed there was any shred of legitimacy left. But the fact is, what happens next?That was the end of Twohey's statement. Here's what we saw in that overall exchange:
TWOHEY: Yeah, I think one of the big questions is—and I don't know if this is happening while we're on the air right now. But what are Republicans in Congress saying?
VELSHI: I haven't seen anything yet.
TWOHEY: What is the political reaction going to be if this is not something that's going to be handled in criminal court against Trump—you know, honoring the not indicting a sitting president? What are the political implications, what are those going to be?
And then I think that there's also just this. I think there's also this:
You know, I was involved in the coverage of the Harvey Weinstein story and the whole Me Too movement. And I just think culturally it's important—campaign finance violations and the technicalities of these aside—it's really important to note that this was really a conspiracy to silence women who had stories to tell.
These women didn't say they were victims of sexual misconduct. In both cases, they said they had been involved in consensual affairs with Trump. But I do think it's important to step back and recognize that culturally, this was—these were powerful men who were making payoffs to silence women.
First, Velshi started with a reference to the new, all-purpose "truth isn't truth" bromide. Already, this is Instant Pundit Gold, ranking with any reference to "what the meaning of is is," or with any pathetic joking claim about what Candidate Gore allegedly said he invented.
This bromide gives pundits a bit of filler which will gain universal approval in any conceivable circumstance. They'll be killing time for years to come with the all-purpose "truth isn't truth."
We thought Velshi's throw-away was sad—but we thought Twohey's presentation was more striking. According to Twohey, the payments to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal should be viewed this way:
"It's really important to note that this was really a conspiracy to silence women who had stories to tell...These were powerful men who were making payoffs to silence women."
Did Clifford and McDougal "have stories to tell?" To the extent that they did, their stories involved their decision to engage in consensual sex with a married person back in 2006.
Full stop! As Twohey noted, neither woman was claiming that she had been the victim of sexual misconduct. They'd simply had sex with a married person a rather long time in the past. So thrilling! So exciting!
We can't imagine why anyone would want our White House elections to turn on the "telling" of such utterly pointless "stories." That said, let's try to get clear on one basic point:
No one stopped either woman from simply "telling her story!" Either woman could have "told her story" whenever she chose to do so.
Karen McDougal could have "told her story" any time she pleased. But the fact is, these upright citizens didn't want to tell their stories. Instead, they wanted to sell their stories. The women wanted to sell their stories for big, fat bags of cash.
Eventually, Clifford came up with a story about being threatened in 2011. By now, that once-exciting "true crime" tale seems to have gone the way of all flesh. It no longer seems to be a story her lawyer wants to tell.
At any rate, Clifford could have "told her story" any time she pleased in the summer of 2016. But she wasn't trying to tell her story. She was trying to sell her story, for example to Slate. (Jacob Weisberg finally told her that Homey don't play that game.)
Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal wanted to score big piles of cash for "telling their stories" about having consensually [BLEEP]ed someone ten years in the past. At this juncture, our liberal/progressive tribe is so lost that we're treating these women as cultural heroes—and we're peddling the childish version of this affair, in which each woman had "a story she wanted to tell."
Correction! Each had a story she wanted to sell. A bit like Vladimir Putin, they wanted to interfere in a White House election for financial gain.
We liberals today are so lost—so morally and intellectually inept—that we can't see the problem with conduct like that. Beyond that, we keep changing "sell" to "tell," playing a tired old game.
Our team is lost and deeply inept. How do you think Trump got there?