TRIBES AND TRUE: People believe the darnedest things!


Ted Koppel dares to ask: People believe the darnedest things—and they frequently do so in groups.

In a recent essay in the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani recalled the work of the late Joan Didion. When she did, she cited an especially strange group belief—a belief which was recently put on display by members of an offshoot faction of a pre-existing fringe group:

KAKUTANI (12/30/21): For Didion, who died on Thursday at 87, the late ’60s and early ’70s were a time of social and political tumult...She was uncannily attuned to the dark undercurrents of the day—the social fractures and divides that fueled carelessness and alienation. 

This is one reason Didion’s work resonates so deeply with us today. Once again, we are living in times defined by chaos and uncertainty, and what Didion called “the jitters” are settling in again, as we worry about Covid and climate change and police brutality and mass shootings at schools.

Congress cannot seem to pass legislation wanted by large majorities of people. Democracy itself is under threat with an all-out assault on voting rights by former President Donald Trump and his allies. QAnon followers—some wearing superhero costumes, horns and animal pelts and camo and sporting lots of tattoos—participated in the insurrection at the Capitol last January and more recently gathered near Dealey Plaza in Dallas to await the return of John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in 1999. 

Along with Covid and climate change, we seem to be living with epidemics of false belief. Indeed, some of those beliefs seem to be so false that they seem to qualify as "crackpot."

In fairness, it was only a few hundred QAnon types who showed up in Dealey Plaza last November, apparently expecting to see JFK Jr. again. In fairness, the belief in question was so absurd that it had apparently been rejected by "mainstream QAnon," a pre-existing crackpot group.

That said, how could anyone believe something like that—let alone some group? Whatever the answer to such questions might be, we live in an era of bogus belief—a phenomenon Kakutani aptly describes as "the fracturing of truth:"

KAKUTANI: It turns out that Didion was also remarkably prescient in writing about the fracturing of truth as people increasingly filtered reality through the prism of their own prejudices. And decades ago, she was already pointing to the startling disconnect between much of the American public and the political and media elites who “invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life”—a disconnect that today is fueling populist politics and partisan divides. 

Set aside the apparent lunacy of that (relatively small) Dealey Plaza contingent. In Kakutani's perfectly reasonable construction, we're currently experiencing "the fracturing of truth" as people increasingly filter reality through the prism of their own prejudices. 

Kakutani's construction is perfectly reasonable; it's also quite familiar. As presented in the passage, it leaves out an obvious reason for the "fracturing of truth" to which she refers.

By now, everyone and her brother Kevin have noticed the "startling disconnect" to which Kakutani refers—the disconnect between "much of the American public" and the political and media elites who have traditionally “invent[ed], year in and year out, the narrative of public life."

Today, the power of our traditional political and media elites has been widely superseded. In many American homes, the Bushes were joined, then overtaken, by the Trumps. CNN (and the New York Times) were joined, then overtaken, by Rush Limbaugh and then by Fox.

As recently as 1999, the narratives of public life were still being created by traditional media elites—by people like Kakutani herself. This didn't always lead to perfectly flawless understanding and belief on the part of the public.

Kakutani, a good, decent person, was the long-time leading book critic at the New York Times. In December 1999, she penned a stunningly selective review of Candidate Gore's widely-praised 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

The review was designed to spread such acceptable truths as the truth that Candidate Gore had a problem with the truth and a possible psychiatric problem. Of all the very strange treatments of Gore which emerged in Campaign 2000, Kakutani's treatment of his widely-praised book may have qualified as the absolute strangest.

(In the liberal world, nobody noticed or cared.)

Today, in many American homes, newer elites are now driving the discussion. They offer their own sets of narratives, their own sets of alleged facts. 

Fox News is one of these newer elites, but there are many others. Many people—people less crazy than those in the Plaza—accept their factual claims as the truth.

In recent years, the fracturing of truth which has resulted has been widely discussed. In this morning's Washington Post, Aaron Blake discusses one path of false belief, starting with the birther claims about Barack Obama and moving on to the so-called Big Lie.

As newer elites have joined the fray, a wider array of assertions and claims have entered American homes. This has produced the "fracturing of truth"—more accurately, this had led to widespread differences in basic beliefs—among our American tribes.

Last August, Ted Koppel, who's now 81, journeyed to Mount Airy, North Carolina in search of this divide. Or it may be that he simply encountered this great divide once he reached that small city in Trump-friendly Surry County.

Mount Airy was the birthplace of the late Andy Griffith, the creator and star of the hugely popular 1960s TV sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. Today, Mount Airy markets itself as a tourist destination for fans of the show, which continues to air widely in syndication.

Who are the people who come to Mount Airy in search of the mythical Mayberry? Holding court on a tourist trolly, Koppel asked a group of visitors to state their views about the 2020 election, and about the events of January 6.

This led to a 13-minute segment on the CBS Sunday Morning program. Last week, in the Washington Post, Emily Yahr said that Koppel's trip to Mount Airy "wound up evolving into one of the most striking TV segments of the year."

We're inclined to agree with Yahr's assessment, though we wish the segment had been longer. We'd like to see many more such discussions on American "cable news" shows.

Koppel spoke to a trolley full of tourists, and he listened to what they said. Never failing to be polite, they voiced the views of our nation's red tribe. At one point, Koppel even dared to say this:

KOPPEL: I won't be offended. I've been a journalist all my life. When President Trump talked about the press being the enemy of the people

At that point, the tourists broke in to state their views. No one was rude in any way, but their basic beliefs—and the basic claims they believe to be true—differ from the basic beliefs of our nation's blue tribe.

They stated no views about JFK Jr.  The segment was taped in June, broadcast in September.

Tomorrow, we'll show you what they said to Koppel that day. For today, we'll tell you this:

There are few important facts on which our tribes now seem to agree. The red tribe blames the blue for this, while the blue tribe blames the red.

Tomorrow: "We don't even watch news on TV anymore. We don't feel like we're being told the truth."


  1. No, the split isn't between the media and the people. It is between those who maintain some contact with reality and those who do not.

    From Charlie Sykes:

    "Eugene Robinson asks: “How dumb can a nation get and still survive?” From his piece:

    T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends "not with a bang but a whimper,” but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.

    How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?

    It’s exhausting."

    Somerby wants to blame the media, but I blame the right wing, and no, I will not call them the red tribe. They are cynical political opportunists who are manipulating their undereducated constituents for their own gain, at the cost of our national good. That may have been tolerable before covid, but during this pandemic, it is the lowest form of evil.

    It is exhausting because people who have been indoctrinated by the right wing will not listen to anything. People like Somerby have told them they cannot even trust the news, so they cling to whatever beliefs make them feel safer, even when those beliefs are causing them to die of covid and looting their bank accounts. Melania is selling a white hat for 250,000 payable in cryptocurrancy only. Someone will no doubt buy that hat. Because those on the right will buy anything except the truth.

    1. For three years, the media reported breathlessly about a supposed Russia scandal based on a so-called "Steele dossier", which was entirely bogus. Any reasonable person should have seen how unlikely its accusations were. The media should haver checked and reported that there was no basis for believing it.

      People who believed this fable don't seem embarrassed. @11:51 seems to have totally forgotten about it, when he claims that only conservative news sources are unreliable.

    2. No, the Steele dossier was largely substantiated by the intelligence community. The only part that wasn't verified was the pee tape. The media doesn't have the resources to do that kind of investigation, but the FBI and CIA do, and they found support for it.

      That the right still calls this a fable shows that David has HIS on set of private facts and that he believes what the right tells him about it. I do trust our government intelligence services over the self-serving claims of Donald Trump and his buddies.

      This is part of the big lie that Trump keeps telling -- that there was no collusion with Russia. Even Mueller proved that wrong but that lie is still being told around here and is part of the alternative belief system of right-wingers, David included.

    3. The meeting in Prague was also not substantiated. However, most of the rest of the info, although thinly sourced, was consistent with info found using other methods and sources.

      There has been a great deal of effort to demonstrate that Mueller and others did not use the Steele dossier to develop its information, but that doesn't mean the dossier was wrong. It suggests instead that its contents were true and ultimately verified in other ways, including through the Mueller report.

      There is no question that Trump colluded with Russia in various ways. Steele is irrelevant to that determination. When right wingers bring this up, they hope that by discrediting the Steele dossier, they can claim that Trump is clean and that Russia didn't help him win in 2016. That isn't true and it is part of the misinformation used to reassure Trump supporters that they are not following a traitor to our country. But one only has to look at the relationship between Trump and Putin to know that this is false. Even so, David prides himself on his "common sense". Does common sense suggest that it is normal for a president to have a lengthy meeting with Putin without any staff present, after which the translator burns all records? If that makes sense to you, you will accept anything the right tells you, and that makes you gullible.

    4. You've got some fucking balls, David. Get back to us when Trump agrees to answer questions under oath about the contents of that dossier. And you're so fucking full of shit, the media reported the existence of the dossier but never vouched for the specifics. "reported breathlessly" my ass. Drama Queen much?

      Still, the dossier did not create this atmosphere of suspicion. Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia had been a topic of significant discussion dating back to the campaign, including before the first report that Russia had hacked Democrats and before Mr. Steele drafted his reports and gave some to reporters.

      Among the reasons: Mr. Trump had said flattering things about Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, kept bringing on advisers with ties to Russia, had financial ties to Russia, publicly encouraged Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton, and at his nominating convention, the party dropped a plank that called for arming Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels. In March 2017, the F.B.I. publicly acknowledged that it was investigating links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.

    5. Mueller never proved 'no collusion with Russia' was untrue or a lie.

    6. There was no need for Russia to get involved in the Trump 2016 election, because Republicans were already jacked-up to vote for Trump's bigotry without Russian involvement.
      Besides the bigotry/ white grievance, what else does the Republican Party offer you?

    7. Mueller presented evidence and drew no conclusions. He was a Republican working for a Republican president and he made a compromise between his findings and his politics. Then Barr took the report and further obscured its findings. There is plenty of evidence that Russia helped elect Trump and that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of what happened. Mueller doesn't have to state a conclusion -- just look at what the report says for yourself.

      "No collusion" is obvious a lie. It is a lie because of the many favors Trump did for Putin after he was sworn in. It is a lie because of the things his staff confessed to and were shown to have done. It was a lie because of the later investigation of how Facebook and hacking helped increase Trump's support and the narrow margins in the states where such efforts were focused. It is obvious from the fact that Trump himself didn't expect to have won.

      When you repeat that there was no collusion, over and over, you are engaging in the same tactic as when right-wingers repeat over and over, that Trump won in 2020, despite a total lack of evidence from any state. And stupid Republican voters believe the lies instead of looking at the preponderance of evidence.

      When you repeat this particular lie here, all you are telling anyone is that you are a conservative operative who is attempting to sway opinion by repeating a big lie. You don't convince any liberals here, so who are you saying this stuff to? Republicans who think that if you hear something often enough, it must be true.

    8. I'm saying to you that you are wrong.

    9. And I will believe the evidence, not you, no matter how many times you repeat yourself.

    10. What evidence?

    11. Don't get mad at me because you don't have any evidence and always lose arguments. (And are a weird drag of a person.)

    12. I'm not the argument losing weirdo with no evidence.

    13. When people present evidence, you ignore it and just keep repeating your favorite lie. You can fuck off.

    14. You haven't presented any evidence though. There isn't any. That's why Mueller never proved 'no collusion with Russia' was untrue or a lie. You're wrong about it. Completely wrong. And you have no evidence. There isn't any evidence. Everything you present is refuted or just a childish innuendo based on a loose, unproven connection. You're 100% totally and completely wrong. You look like a total fool. You are a total fool. You're 100%, completely wrong about almost everything you say.

    15. If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.

  2. Why does Somerby hint at content and then link to something that is behind a paywall?

  3. "Last August, Ted Koppel, who's now 81, journeyed to Mount Airy, North Carolina in search of this divide. Or it may be that he simply encountered this great divide once he reached that small city in Trump-friendly Surry County."

    You do not have to go to exotic locations to find Trump supporters (aka idiots).

    Notice how Somerby tries to portray Mt. Airy as the heartland -- birthplace of Andy Griffith, as if he were really Sheriff Andy and not an actor. Notice how Somerby thinks these people are OK because they didn't talk about JFK Jr., as if that made them automatically reasonable. That is too low a bar to pass.

    Koppel's interview is not "news." It is in the category of people discussing controversies that shouldn't even be controversial, such as who won the 2020 presidential election. This is stupidity put on display by Koppel. What can we do about it? For one, stop pretending that misguided opinions have merit and stop giving them pride of place on news shows. The more you listen to such garbage, the more it encourages people in their mistaken beliefs. It is time to call out bullshit, wherever and whenever you find it, not send Koppel to pretend bullshit has merit worth listening to.

    And the same applies to Somerby's daily burbles and gurgles. He hasn't said anything worth reading in a long time. It is time to stop pretending he has anything to say about our nation's problems. He hasn't discussed an actual issue in years. It is non-stop liberal bashing and blue blaming 24/7 at Somerby's blog, while he pretends that he is not part of the problem, one of the reasonable ones instead of one of the go-for-broke idiots, like those in Dealey Plaza. There is no virtue in not waiting for a dead man to appear. Somerby has been trying to get Al Gore elected since long after Gore himself lost interest and took up a different cause.

    But Somerby has his devotees, Cecelia, AC/MA, waiting and waiting for him to demolish the blue tribe with his name-dropping and repetition. Doesn't the pavement in Dealey Plaza get cold this time of year?

  4. “We don't even watch news on TV anymore. We don't feel like we're being told the truth."

    How should their feelings be catered to?

    And where do they get the information to make their political decisions? In other words, what is their “truth?”

    1. mh - answering your question for myself, there is no source that I trust to tell me the truth. I follow some conservative outlets and some liberal outlets. I try to check original sources when possible. I use my common sense and the evidence of my own eyes when possible. But, I'm never sure of reality.

    2. It is a waste of time, not a badge of honor, to continue to dispute things that are obviously true, such as that the Earth is round and that the sun rises each morning in the East. Being "never sure" of reality makes you sound foolish.

      For example, Trump has told more lies than any president in our nation's history. Does that make him a good source of information? You would be foolish to believe anything he says. However, if Neil DeGrasse Tyson says something about astronomy, I tend to believe him because he is an authority on that topic and has no vested interest in conning me. When Trump denies the Steele dossier, he has every reason to do so, but he has been working with Russian oligarchs for decades and is slippery with money, so that lends credence to the contens of the dossier. Why would you trust Trump's version over that of the intelligence services who verified the dossier? And why would you trust Trump over the guy who compiled the dossier, who himself was a trusted member of MI-6 (British intelligence)? Why didn't your faith in the dossier increase as the numerous ties between Trump's staff and Russia were revealed over the course of his campaign? It doesn't sound to me like you use any common sense at all.

    3. @3:43 I agree that Trump tells many lies. But, Trump's word is not why I disbelieve that Steele Dossier. Amazingly, nobody vouches for Dossier's accuracy. It's just some words written on a piece of paper.

    4. David, this was opposition research conducted by Republicans on Trump, that was taken over by the DNC after Trump was nominated. Steele was a member of MI-6 which is a British Intelligence Service. It isn't a police investigation or anything that requires evidence or vouching for. It is private, secret info to be used by campaigns of the type collected by almost every campaign, including Trump's. Campaigns even collect such info about their own candidates in order to anticipate what might emerge during the campaign. No one has to vouch for anything. And it is far from just words on paper. For example, the meeting between Trump and Russians in Las Vegas did occur. So did the various financing deals and his visit to Moscow to try to get the beauty contest there, where Trump thought he would meet Putin. That stuff is all documented from other sources in the government, after the Steele dossier was leaked to the press.

    5. Corby - Steele never said that his "dossier" was true. His source said it was just a bunch of rumors. NOBODY ever said that it was accurate.

      If Steele had vouched for it, then reputation would matter. But,. Steele never did vouch for it.

    6. As I said, the standard for proof is different on such a report. As I also said, much of the info was confirmed by other sources during investigations by the US intelligence agencies. It isn't untrue, just because it wasn't sourced as it would be in a criminal investigation.


    8. This truth will eventually be known about this stuff, but perhaps not while it is still instrumentally useful to conservatives to keep repeating propaganda. Historians will figure it all out, just as they untangled watergate and other scandals. Durham's job is to attach conservative meanings to events that originated on the left.

      Pretending that Hillary had a plan or a plot to smear Trump with being allied with Russia is laughable in view of Trump's own actions.

    9. It's been proven Hillary had a plan and a plot to smear Trump with being allied with Russia. It's a fact.

    10. Clinton smeared Trump with false allegations of being allied with Russia in quite a deceitful and deceptive way.

    11. Russia, if you're listening, make David honest.

    12. I don't think it was technically illegal for Clinton to have instructed her lawyers to go to the FBI with information tying Trump to Russia that she knew was completely and totally false. Or when she instructed the same lawyers to leak the information that she knew was false to the press. She was simply trying to Swift boat Trump with false accusations. It's just political dirty tricks. Not illegal. And you can see the effectiveness of those dirty tricks and spreading of lies in that many Democrats still believe there was some sort of conspiracy between Russia and Trump.

    13. Pretty shrewd of Old Hils to get so, so many Trump allies to lie to the FBI about meeting Russians.

    14. 7:02,
      That's nothing.
      There are actually people who think Republicans care about something other than bigotry. Now THAT"S Crazy.

    15. Clinton's lawyer, the one that she instructed to lie to the FBI and the press about 100% false accusations of a connection between Trump and Russia, has been indicted for lying to the FBI about their scheme. Which wasn't exactly illegal, well the lying to the FBI was.

  5. Andy Griffith described himself as a “strong Democrat”, and that was decades after his show ceased production.

  6. “ They stated no views about JFK Jr”

    But did they state views about qanon, a widely held view amongst the “others?”

    Somerby acts as if the JFK folks are just a bridge too far into crazy town, unlike, what, the “mainstream” qanon believers?

  7. “We don't feel like we're being told the truth."

    This is reminiscent of Somerby’s attitude towards Einstein. Somerby doesn’t feel as though Einstein makes actual sense.

    Perhaps the theory of relativity is all just a delusion.

    1. You've forgotten to change to your other "distinct" writing style.

    2. You would think that the words someone writes would matter more than the nym of the person posting.

      No one considers you more rational because you use the handle "rationalist", especially since rationalization is not the same as being rational. It is self-serving motivated argument, much like what we hear on the right in lieu of truth.

      But picking on people is so much easier than thinking.

    3. Rationalist, you seem the opposite of rational. Emotional…If you notice, my nym is in green, which means I sign in with my google account to post comments, unlike yourself. Any asshole can sign in the way you do. What is the point of your asshole comment? Anonymous commenters were frequently derided here and told to get nyms. I weighed it, and decided to do it. Why would I post any other way?

  8. This is the bullshit coming from the right that we are supposed to respect and let Republicans believe as their own private truth:

    "Peter Navarro, the Trump White House’s Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and a conspiracy theorist who has called Dr. Anthony Fauci the “father” of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is falsely stating that inoculating children against the deadly disease is “child abuse” or “murder,” while also serving up fear-mongering medical claims."

    What is the consequence of thinking that those vaccinating children are committing murder? In other news, a teacher was arrested for giving a teen a covid vaccine shot in one of the Southern states.

    Some on the right believe that doing something that helps to save a teenager's life is akin to murder, so those trying to help children can be prosecuted. Meanwhile the pandemic rages on while the right clings to its idiotic views.

    And Somerby says nothing about such situations. Instead he talks about things with no consequence, such as squatters in Dealey Plaza, who are at nost endangering only themselves while looking foolish. Other beliefs held by the crazies on the right (which includes everyone except the grifters) are actively hurting people. No sane and caring person stands by and lets the happen. Because the left DOES care about people, even ignorant foolish ones, we do try to do something about the state the right has descended into. But that just feels like opposition to the right, not help.

    Somerby is making this situation worse every day that he writes his stupid essays. I can see Cecelia with her flaccid mask hanging beneath her stupid nose, believing that she is doing something noble to help Dear Leader, but instead just exposing her granny to a fatal disease. Will her quips still amuse AC/MA when granny dies? I hope so, since Trump and his buddies will be little comfort to anyone.

  9. This is why there is no point talking to right wingers:

    "CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan was left stunned by Trump supporters who seriously believe that the FBI organized the January 6th riots at the United States Capitol building.

    In footage that aired Monday night, O'Sullivan talked with Trump supporters about the Capitol riots and found that many of them believed everything reported about the riots was a "hoax."

    "We are very peaceful people," Trump supporter Anita Germano explained. "So it was totally set up. To me, it was the FBI had set it up."


    Despite all the reporting about who the insurrectionists were, where they came from and what they thought they were doing! You have to be a special kind of stupid to believe this.

  10. Mao,
    Why are you such a big fan of the Establishment elites?



    By Bret Stephens
    Opinion Columnist

    This month’s bombshell indictment of Igor Danchenko, the Russian national who is charged with lying to the F.B.I. and whose work turns out to have been the main source for Christopher Steele’s notorious dossier, is being treated as a major embarrassment for much of the news media — and, if the charges stick, that’s exactly what it is.

    Put media criticism aside for a bit. What this indictment further exposes is that James Comey’s F.B.I. became a Bureau of Dirty Tricks, mitigated only by its own incompetence — like a mash-up of Inspector Javert and Inspector Clouseau. Donald Trump’s best move as president (about which I was dead wrong at the time) may have been to fire him.

    If you haven’t followed the drip-drip-drip of revelations, late in 2019 Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, published a damning report detailing “many basic and fundamental errors” by the F.B.I. in seeking Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants to surveil Carter Page, the American businessman fingered in the dossier as a potential link between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

    Shortly afterward, Rosemary Collyer, the court’s presiding judge, issued her own stinging rebuke of the bureau: “The frequency with which representations made by F.B.I. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other F.B.I. applications is reliable,” she wrote.

    Here a question emerged: Were the F.B.I.’s errors a matter of general incompetence or of bias? There appears to be a broad pattern of F.B.I. agents overstating evidence that corroborates their suspicions. That led to travesties such as the bureau hounding the wrong man in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

    But it turns out the bureau can be both incompetent and biased. When the F.B.I. applied for warrants to continue wiretapping Page, it already knew Page was helping the C.I.A., not the Russians. We know this because in August 2020 a former F.B.I. lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty to rewriting an email to hide Page’s C.I.A. ties.

    And why would Clinesmith do that? It certainly helped the bureau renew its wiretap warrants on Page, and, as Clinesmith once put it in a text message to a colleague, “viva la resistance.” When the purpose of government service is to stop “the crazies” (one of Clinesmith’s descriptions of the elected administration) then the ends soon find a way of justifying the means.

    Which brings us to the grand jury indictment of Danchenko in the investigation being conducted by the special counsel John Durham. Danchenko was Steele’s main source for the most attention-grabbing claims in the dossier, including the existence of a likely mythical “pee tape.” Steele, in turn, wrote his report for Fusion GPS, an opposition-research outfit that had been hired by a Washington law firm close to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    Translation: The Steele dossier was Democratic Party-funded opposition research that had been sub-sub-sub-subcontracted to Danchenko, who now stands accused of repeatedly lying to the F.B.I. about his own sources while also having been investigated a decade ago for possible ties to Russian intelligence. Danchenko has pleaded not guilty and adamantly denies Russian intelligence ties, and he deserves his day in court. He describes the raw intelligence he collected for Steele as little more than a
    collection of rumors and innuendo and alleges that Steele dressed them up for Fusion GPS.

  12. cont:

    Of such dross was spun years of high-level federal investigations, ponderous congressional hearings, pompous Adam Schiff soliloquies, and nonstop public furor. But none of that would likely have happened if the F.B.I. had treated the dossier as the garbage that it was, while stressing the ways in which Russia had sought to influence the election on Trump’s behalf, or the ways in which the Trump campaign (particularly through its onetime manager, Paul Manafort) was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

    Instead, Comey used it as a political weapon by privately briefing President-elect Trump about it, despite ample warnings about the dossier’s credibility. In doing so, Comey made the existence of the “salacious and unverified” dossier news in its own right. And, as the University of Chicago’s Charles Lipson astutely notes, Comey’s briefing “could be seen as a kind of blackmail threat, the kind that marked J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure.”

    If you are a certain kind of reader — probably conservative — who has closely followed the Durham investigation, none of the above will come as news. But I’m writing this column for those who haven’t followed it closely, or who may have taken a keener interest in tales about Trump being Russia’s puppet than in evidence that, for all of his many and grave sins, he was the victim of a gigantic slander abetted by the F.B.I.

    Democrats who don’t want the vast power wielded by the bureau ever used against one of their own — as, after all, it was against Hillary Clinton — ought to use the Durham investigation as an opportunity to clean up, or clean out, the F.B.I. once and for all.

    1. You have to be a special kind of stupid to believe Stephens conclusions about Durham's politically motivated waste of government resources.

      "The Steele dossier was Democratic Party-funded opposition research that had been sub-sub-sub-subcontracted to Danchenko, who now stands accused of repeatedly lying to the F.B.I. about his own sources while also having been investigated a decade ago for possible ties to Russian intelligence."

      Being a source doesn't make you a subcontractor, much less a sub-subcontractor etc. This is an attempted smear of the Steele dossier again.

      Hillary didn't commission the Steele dossier. Durham's targeting of an attorney that worked for both her and the DNC notwithstanding. Hillary was taken down by Comey's October surprise, not aided by anything Comey did. There may be corruption in the FBI, but it isn't pro-Democrat or pro-Hillary or anti-Trump. Durham is mostly muddying the waters and not accomplishing anything that adds to anyone's knowledge via his wasteful "investigation."

      It doesn't surprise me that the conservatives are not only excited by his efforts but attempting to pass them off as meaningful when Durham's results are a big nothingburger.

      Portraying Hillary Clinton's complaint about Russian interference as a plot to smear Trump is just spin. Of course she reported the intelligence she had received about Russian interference to Obama and the FBI, but it wasn't a plot or a plan to distract from her emails (which was an empty investigation) but a warning that the election process was being corrupted by Russian meddling. Any citizen would and should report such information, as Clinton did and has never denied doing. Obama didn't act on her complaint, most likely for political reasons -- the desire not to appear to be smearing Trump on Clinton's behalf during an election Clinton was expected to win without difficulty.

      This is, however, an example of how conservatives warp information to fit narratives that suit their own agenda. (Bret Stephens is, of course, a conservative and his column is labeled "Opinion" not fact.)

      Conservatives are ready to accuse Clinton of doing things they would do in a heartbeat, but Clinton would never do because it isn't consistent with her character or her lifelong pattern of behavior. Because Republicans are corrupt, it is not hard for them to believe accusations of corruption against Democrats.

      Durham is playing a game with his pseudo-investigation. No one is taking him seriously except conservatives.

    2. Kudos to Cecelia for showing that she knows how to cut and paste without comment.

    3. Anonymouse 8:54pm, if you look at the link I posted at 8:02pm, that ain’t what John Brennen said.


    5. More whining from the Church of the Perpetually Aggrieved.

      Hey, Cecelia, what do you think about Operation Green Bay Sweep? Pretty cool, huh.

      It is fascinating to see how you fascists are able to simultaneously abuse power and claim victimhood from the deep state. Durham's investigation has now dragged on longer than the actual Mueller probe.

  13. Bob seems to think if he piles enough Parsley on the plate we will not notice we are not getting any meat. During the Clinton “scandals” many would say to Bob well, many people believe these things about Clinton and his response was “yeah, how did that happen?” That was when Bob was concerned with the truth. Maybe before he had a right wing sugar daddy?
    Whatever. As we learn more today about Hannity’s grotesque relation to Trump’s rape of the Capitol, what Bob doesn’t write about speaks volumes. That’s about the best we can get from him now.


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