Saturday, May 27, 2017

Beat up the Media

The day before the election Montana congressional candidate Greg Pianoforte throws a reporter to the floor and starts hitting him--in front of witnesses.   He is charged with assault.


It isn't a disaster for him.


Sometimes the things that need explanation are what did not happen.    What did not happen was an outpouring of negative opinion on Gianforte.  The incident happened too late in the game to change the election--most voters had already voted by mail--but interviews with voters who planned to vote for him showed that the incident didn't change their opinion of the candidate.   They excused it.  The reporter had it coming.  They all have it coming.

Guest post writer Thad Guyer points to a warning expressed by Rachel Maddow that the mainstream press might be over-reaching on the Trump-Russia-Obstruction-of-Justice story.  It is possible, she said, that there simply isn't enough there to justify all the time and innuendo and the media will have been exposed as having done the "witch hunt" that Trump accused them of.

Click Here: one minute clip
There was an early indication that the Trump-Russia-Obstruction story would lack political power.   It was, again, what did not happen.   During the campaign Trump openly called on Russia to hack Hillary's server and find the 30,000 deleted emails--emails he called "missing."   His crowds cheered at that.  What was missing was shock.

It did not seem shocking or wrong that Russia would be asked to hack an opponent's campaign.   They would be doing a service, for the public good.

Do a thought experiment: imagine he had said, what we need is for Kim Jong-un and North Korea to hack Hillary.   That would have been shocking.  That would have been conspiring with the enemy.   But Russia, not so much.   The American neocon elite foreign policy people may still consider Russia an enemy and threat, but American voters have changed their view. The battle lines are not political or ideological, they are cultural.   Russia is a white, Christian, nation.   Our real enemies are people who are culturally or racially foreign.  North Korea and Middle East Muslims are foreign and frightening; Russians are not.

The mainstream press and the foreign policy establishment are losing credibility with the people because they are acting as if collusion with Russia is frightening.  It "should be" frightening, they say.  Russia is the enemy, they say.  They come across as legal nit-pickers, attempting to make a big deal out of Trump saying that of course he fired FBI director Comey to take pressure off the investigation. It was similar to the "smoking gun" obstruction of justice crime that cost Nixon the presidency but Trump said it proudly and Nixon tried to hide it.  Trump understands that cooperating with the Russians won't be considered treason and wont be considered politically wrong.  Cooperating with Muslims is politically dangerous, but not with Russians.  They really aren't the enemies, so why make a federal case out of it.

The media is losing credibility as they continue that case,  and it shows up in Montana on election day.   Gianforte assaults a reporter?  So what?

Here is Thad Guyer's analysis and warning:

Thad Guyer Guest Comment

Rachel Maddow Warns of Trump Russia Investigation Collapse and Media Black Eye”


On May 19th Rachel Maddow issued a sobering warning about the possible reckless use of anonymous sources on Trump Russiagate—“we better have this right”. What spooked Maddow was the sworn testimony by top DOJ and FBI officials that James Comey never requested more investigation resources.  She said a pillar of the “obstruction of justice” claims is that Trump fired Comey because he demanded more resources, and that if that pillar falls then a rash of embarrassing “retractions” must follow. 


The frenzy on Trump Russiagate seems to be dying out anyway, not for lack of effort by journalists, but for the public tuning it out. We’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of Trump’s infamous “Vladmir, if you’re listening” callout to Russia to find Hillary’s 30,000 deleted emails.  Yet, the almost daily “revelations” seem to go nowhere. Desperation is seen in the ever more tenuous media sources described only as “people familiar with the matter”, and CNN’s recent stooping to cite a source who “knows” Comey as a “person familiar with his thinking”. See, “First on CNN: Comey now believes Trump was trying to influence him, source says”, (May 20, 2017 https://t.co/Rk4BZfJGDg).  So low has regard for the media sunk that a Republican Congressional candidate just got voted in handily after choking a journalist with both hands. 

No media giant seems more unnerved now than the Washington Post. It’s newest unsourced claim is “Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation” (May 26, 2017 https://goo.gl/4nTvz9).  “Focus” is a strong term to use, and despite the sensational headline, the WaPo article itself basically explains Kushner is not a focus of any investigation.  Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Goerlick, who was Bill Clinton’s deputy Attorney General, has been dismantling WaPo’s claims. CNN repeated the “focus” term but only in saying that is what WaPo says.  I haven’t seen the NYT use the term, and the WSJ has forcefully rebutted it. See “Jared Kushner to Cooperate in Any Probe Into Meetings With Russians” (May 26, 2017 https://goo.gl/d0G82r). More telling about this desperation may be that while the NYT and most outlets led with headlines this week about terrorist murder of children in Manchester, both WaPo and CNN placed Trump leak stories first.   

The American Interest, a conservative never-Trump foreign policy magazine published a persuasive article the day before Maddow’s warning entitled “After Mueller, Trump Critics Worry Maybe There’s No Scandal” (May 18, 2017 https://goo.gl/7bveyC).  It portrays as a dangerous gambit the liberal media and Democrats putting so many eggs in the “criminal” prosecution and “impeachment” baskets, when after a 14 months investigation no evidence has yet surfaced about criminality anywhere close to Trump. So far, it’s looking less like a Watergate and more like the Iran Contra scandal that never ensnared Reagan legally or politically.  As I referenced in an earlier comment, Pew Research found trust in the media plunged over the unsubstantiated claims against Reagan, while belief in Reagan remained high with his supporters even after a few aids pleaded guilty.

The end game may be nearer than we think.  Despite the total collapse of anonymously sourced media claims that Steve Bannon was on his way out, he’s stronger than ever, close to Trump’s side in Saudi Arabia this week. Now Bannon is to lead a high-powered hit squad to deal a death blow to the liberal media and outspoken Democrats as the Russiagate narrative falters. See Chris Wallace, “Bannon to head Trump's Russia war room of legal A-Team” (May 26, 2017 FoxNews https://goo.gl/SeUNo3).


Let’s hope Rachel Maddow’s concerns don’t come to pass.  The damage to Democrats could be extreme.

1 comment:

  1. Right, the Gianforte attack came too late to affect the voting, and it's hard to tell if it motivated anyone in Montana..not a bastion of Progressivism. I wonder what might have been the result if he had punched a constituent for asking a question. I hope Walden doesn't get any ideas...

    The media furor over this has a couple of components. First, it is defending one of their own with justifiable concern for the safety of other reporters, and it's extremely important in the context of Trump's disparaging of the media to blunt opposition.

    What we see in the press is the result of the fast breaking 24/7 cycle. Outlets scramble to be first, and most sensational, and in the process are missing things or are led astray. It's important to focus on the ongoing narrative more than the individual ups and downs as entertaining as they are. This presidency will be plagued with controversy regardless of any provable wrongdoing. Congress will not act until after the mid terms in any case. The open question remains: Are Trump Regressives a bankable majority?





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