Tag Archives: New York Times

When Corporate Power Is Your Real Government, Corporate Media Is State Media, by Caitlin Johnstone

And when corporate media is state media, what passes for news is mostly propaganda. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

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The New York Times published an astonishingly horrible article the other day titled “Latin America Is Facing a ‘Decline of Democracy’ Under the Pandemic” accusing governments like Venezuela and Nicaragua of exploiting Covid-19 to quash opposition and oppress democracy.

The article sources its jarringly propagandistic claims in multiple US government-funded narrative management operations like the Wilson Center and the National Endowment for Democracy-sponsored Freedom House, the extensively plutocrat-funded Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the United States Naval Academy.

The crown jewel of this piece of State Department stenography reads as follows:

“Adding to these challenges, democracy in Latin America has also lost a champion in the United States, which had played an important role in promoting democracy after the end of the Cold War by financing good governance programs and calling out authoritarian abuses.”

Whoa, nelly.

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Did Neocon ‘Cancel Queen’ Stage NYT Exit to Fuel Her Next Move? by Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton

SLL posted Bari Weiss’ resignation letter to the NY Times, but as with most stories there are at least two sides to this one. From Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton at consortiumnews.com:

A closer look at Bari Weiss’ resignation suggests she omitted critical details about her toxic presence at the paper, and may have staged her resignation to publicize her next move, write Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton.

The New York Times Building in Manhattan. (Adam Jones on Flickr)

The New York Times Building in Manhattan. (Adam Jones on Flickr)

Neoconservative New York Times columnist Bari Weiss quit the newspaper on July 14. In a resignation letter published on her personal website, the pundit lamented a supposed “illiberal environment” at the publication in which Weiss’ colleagues mocked her right-wing views, supposedly called her “a Nazi and a racist,” and branded her a “liar and a bigot.”

Weiss’ unexpected departure came days after the hawkish columnist signed a letter in Harper’s Magazine lamenting an “intolerance of opposing views” and demanding an “open debate” in the U.S. media.

The signatories complaining of a “censoriousness” environment included architects of disastrous U.S. military interventions, anti-Palestinian fanatics, and some of the most powerful people in the media, including many who have spent decades censoring anyone to the left of them – and even attempting to cancel entire countries.

But there may have been more to Weiss’ dramatic resignation than her revulsion with the “illiberal” culture of a paper that had recruited her and several neocon allies. A closer look at the events surrounding her departure suggests she likely omitted some critical details about her toxic presence inside the paper, and may have staged her resignation to drum up publicity for her next move.

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Bari Weiss Resignation Letter

Bari Weiss, a writer and editor at the New York Times, calls it quits, tired of the paper’s straight-jacket political correctness and cancel culture. From Bari Weiss at bariweiss.com:

Dear A.G.,

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

I was honored to be part of that effort, led by James Bennet. I am proud of my work as a writer and as an editor. Among those I helped bring to our pages: the Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Arteaga; the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani; and the Hong Kong Christian democrat Derek Lam. Also: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, Zaina Arafat, Elna Baker, Rachael Denhollander, Matti Friedman, Nick Gillespie, Heather Heying, Randall Kennedy, Julius Krein, Monica Lewinsky, Glenn Loury, Jesse Singal, Ali Soufan, Chloe Valdary, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Wesley Yang, and many others.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

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How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies, by Gareth Porter

US intelligence agencies didn’t buy the Bountygate story, but the New York Times did. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

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Russiagate’s Last Gasp, by Ray McGovern

Just think, for three years Washington obsessed about Russiagate while the rest of the country couldn’t have cared less. It’s time to give Russiagate a quick burial and move on to other fake news. From Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

One can read this most recent flurry of Russia, Russia, Russia paid the Taliban to kill GIs as an attempt to pre-empt the findings into Russiagate’s origins.

U.S. Army helicopter pilots fly near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 5, 2017. (U.S. Army, Brian Harris, Wikimedia Commons)

On Friday The New York Times featured a report based on anonymous intelligence officials that the Russians were paying bounties to have U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan with President Donald Trump refusing to do anything about it.  The flurry of Establishment media reporting that ensued provides further proof, if such were needed, that the erstwhile “paper of record” has earned a new moniker — Gray Lady of easy virtue.

Over the weekend, the Times’ dubious allegations grabbed headlines across all media that are likely to remain indelible in the minds of credulous Americans — which seems to have been the main objective. To keep the pot boiling this morning, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt’s daily web piece, “The Morning” calls prominent attention to a banal article by a Heather Cox Richardson, described as a historian at Boston College, adding specific charges to the general indictment of Trump by showing “how the Trump administration has continued to treat Russia favorably.” The following is from Richardson’s newsletter on Friday:

— “On April 1 a Russian plane brought ventilators and other medical supplies to the United States … a propaganda coup for Russia;

— “On April 25 Trump raised eyebrows by issuing a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops on the bridge of the Elbe River in Germany that signaled the final defeat of the Nazis;

— “On May 3, Trump called Putin and talked for an hour and a half, a discussion Trump called ‘very positive’;

— “On May 21, the U.S. sent a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to Moscow to help fight coronavirus there.  The shipment included 50 ventilators, with another 150 promised for the next week; …

— “On June 15, news broke that Trump has ordered the removal of 9,500 troops from Germany, where they support NATO against Russian aggression. …”

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This Russia-Afghanistan Story Is Western Propaganda At Its Most Vile, by Caitlin Johnstone

The news organs that have found Russians in every closet and under every bed found a few more. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

All western mass media outlets are now shrieking about the story The New York Times first reported, citing zero evidence and naming zero sources, claiming intelligence says Russia paid out bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for attacking the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan. As of this writing, and probably forevermore, there have still been zero intelligence sources named and zero evidence provided for this claim.

As we discussed yesterday, the only correct response to unsubstantiated claims by anonymous spooks in a post-Iraq invasion world is to assume that they are lying until you’ve been provided with a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The fact that The New York Times instead chose to uncritically parrot these evidence-free claims made by operatives within intelligence agencies with a known track record of lying about exactly these things is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. The fact that western media outlets are now unanimously regurgitating these still 100 percent baseless assertions is nothing short of state propaganda.

The consensus-manufacturing, Overton window-shrinking western propaganda apparatus has been in full swing with mass media outlets claiming on literally no basis whatsoever that they have confirmed one another’s “great reporting” on this completely unsubstantiated story.

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The Media Suppresses Anyone Who Thinks Like You, by Kurt Schlichter

What you might call the voices of the silent majority get no platform at all from the mainstream media. From Kurt Schlichter at theburningplatform.com:

The Media Suppresses Anyone Who Thinks Like You

We keep hearing about how various institutions should “be like America,” which apparently does not include you. This is especially true of the garbage media. Where are the traditional, conservative, commonsense voices of people who don’t look like they staggered out of a Goucher College gender studies seminar/struggle session with blue hair and a bolt through their lip babbling about, privilege, patriarchy, and pinkoism?

You don’t count, at least not to them. In fact, people like you and what you monsters think must be made invisible.

Tom Cotton was invited to write a New York Times op-ed that expressed the sensible position that if local governments could not (or, as seems plausible) would not prevent mass leftist violence, the president should consider the use of active-duty military forces under the Insurrection Act. Polls said that 58 percent of folks agreed with this position, and it is hardly unprecedented in American history.

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Why Does the New York Times Deny the Obvious? by Jeffrey A. Tucker

A once great newspaper has become a propaganda rag. From Jeffrey A. Tucker at aier.org:

Don’t laugh derisively, as people do these days, but I’ve always admired the New York Times. First draft of history. Talent everywhere. Best production values. Even with its ideological spin, it can be scrupulous about facts. You can usually extract the truth with a decoder ring. Its outsized influence over the rest of the press makes it essential. I’ve relied on it for years. Even given everything, and I mean everything.

Until now. It’s just too much. Too much unreality, manipulation, propaganda, and flat out untruths that are immediately recognizable to anyone. I can’t believe they think they can get away with this with credibility intact. I’m not speaking of the many great reporters, technicians, editors, production specialists, and the tens of thousands who make it all possible. I’m speaking of a very small coterie of people who stand guard over the paper’s editorial mission of the moment and enforce it on the whole company, with no dissent allowed.

Let’s get right to the offending passage. It’s not from the news or opinion section but the official editorial section and hence the official voice of the paper. The paragraph from June 2, 2020, reads as follows.

Healing the wounds ripped open in recent days and months will not be easy. The pandemic has made Americans fearful of their neighbors, cut them off from their communities of faith, shut their outlets for exercise and recreation and culture and learning. Worst of all, it has separated Americans from their own livelihoods.

Can you imagine? The pandemic is the cause!

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How the Deep State ‘Justifies’ Itself in America, by Eric Zuesse

The Deep State is just a group of dedicated public servants. It’s primary cocnern is always the safety and welfare of the American people. From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

On October 30th, there was a panel discussion broadcast live on C-Span from the National Press Club and the Michael V. Hayden Center. The discussants were John Brennan, Michael McCabe, John McGlaughlin, and Michael Morrell. They all agreed with the statement by McLaughlin (former Deputy CIA Director) “Thank God for the ‘Deep State’”, and the large audience there also applauded it — nobody booed it. John Brennan amplified upon the thought, and there was yet more applause. However, that thought hadn’t been invented by McLaughlin; it instead had evolved recently in the pages of the New York Times. Perhaps the discussants had read it there. Instead of America’s ‘news’-media uncritically trumpeting what government officials assert to be facts (as they traditionally do), we now have former spooks uncritically trumpeting what a mainstream ‘news’-medium has recently concocted to be the case — about themselves. They’ve come out of the closet, about being the Deep State. However, even in that, they are lying, because they aren’t it; they are only agents for it.

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Latest Russian spy story looks like another elaborate media deception, by Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi punctures yet another mainstream media fabrication. From Taibbi at substack.com:

The tale of Oleg Smolenkov is just the latest load of high-level BS dumped on us by intelligence agencies

When I was 20, I studied at the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, in the waning days of the Soviet empire. Most of the Russians I met were amusingly free of stress caused by following news. Why would they bother? Bull-factories like Rossiskaya Gazeta and Leningradsaya Pravda were basically collections of dreary government news releases rewritten to sound like news reports.

I saw newspapers in Leningrad shredded into slivers of toilet paper, used in place of curtains in dorm rooms, even stuffed into overcoat linings as insulation. But I can’t recall a Russian person actually reading a Soviet newspaper for the content. That’s how useless its “news” was.

We’re headed to a similar place. The cable networks, along with the New York Times and Washington Post increasingly act like house organs of the government, and in particular the intelligence agencies.

An episode this week involving a tale of a would-be American spy “exfiltrated” from Russia solidifies this impression. Seldom has a news story been more transparently fraudulent.

The story was broken by CNN Monday, September 9th, under the headline, “Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017”:

In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

CNN’s lede relayed multiple key pieces of information, not one of which was really emphasized in the main of its unconfirmable story:

  • America not only had a spy inside Russia’s government, it had multiple spies, with the subject of this particular piece being merely one of America’s “highest level” sources
  • The “extraction” was completed “successfully”
  • The sources are “multiple Trump administration officials”

The story told us our spy agencies successfully penetrated Russian government at the highest levels (although apparently not well enough to foresee or forestall the election interference campaign the same agencies spent the last three years howling about).

We were also told the agencies saved an invaluable human source back in 2017, and that the story came from inside the Trump administration. But the big sell came in the second and third paragraphs (emphasis mine):

The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spyspecifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure…

So great was this spy of ours, we were told, that he had “access to Putin” and “could even provide images of documents on the Russian leader’s desk.” This was “according to CNN’s sources,” an interesting attribution given passages like this:

The source was considered the highest-level source for the US inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.

It’s a characteristic of third world countries to have the intelligence world and the media be intertwined enough that it’s not always clear whether the reporters and the reported-about are the same people. When you turn on the TV in Banana Republics, you’re never sure which group is talking to you.

We’re now in that same paradigm in America. CNN has hired nearly a dozen former intelligence or counterintelligence officials as analysts in the last few years. Their big get was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, but they also now have former deputy FBI chief Andrew McCabe, former FBI counsel James Baker, and multiple former CIA, NSA, and NSC officials.

Meanwhile, former CIA director John Brennan has an MSNBC/NBC gig, as does former CIA and DOD chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and several other ex-spooks. The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who doubles as the CEO of one of America’s largest intelligence contractors.

This odious situation is similar to 2003-2004, when cable networks were tossing contributor deals to every ex-general and ex-spook they could find while they were reporting on the Iraq invasion. At one point, FAIR.org found that 52 percent of the sources in network newscasts were current or former government officials.

The numbers now aren’t quite that skewed, but CNN and MSNBC both employ former senior intelligence officials who comment upon stories in which they had direct involvement, especially the Russia investigation.

The CNN piece about the exfiltrated spy quotes a “former senior intelligence official,” a ubiquitous character that has become modern America’s version of the Guy Fawkes mask. I asked the network what their position was on whether or not they felt obligated to make a disclosure when (or if) a source was one of their own employees. They haven’t responded.

Within hours after the CNN report broke, the New York Times had a triple-bylined piece out entitled, “C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades.” Written by three of their top national security writers, Adam Goldman, Julian Barnes and David Sanger, the story repeated the CNN information, but with a crucial difference:

C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns…

CNN reported (and continues to report) that the “decision” to remove the spy came “soon after a May 2017 meeting.” The Times, based on interviews with its own batch of “current and former officials,” insisted the “arduous decision” came in “late 2016.” The Times noted the source “at first refused” to be extracted, explaining the delay in his removal.

How to understand all of this? A Washington Post story by Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima released at 6:06 the next morning, “U.S. got key asset out of Russia following election hacking,” came up with the final formula. To see the complex, absurd rhetorical construction in full, one unfortunately has to quote at length:

In 2017, the United States extracted from Russia an important CIA source…

The exfiltration took place sometime after an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, when President Trump revealed highly classified counterterrorism information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador…

That disclosure alarmed U.S. national security officials, but it was not the reasonfor the decision to remove the CIA asset, who had provided information to the United States for more than a decade, according to the current and former officials.

The old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials used the tagline, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” This Post story is, “You got your 2016 decision in my 2017 exfiltration!”

The paper brazenly fuses two unconnected narratives, telling us that a spy who had provided valuable information in 2016 was extracted in early 2017, after the Trump-Lavrov meeting. While that sequence may be chronologically correct, the story’s own authors say the Trump-Lavrov meeting was “not the reason” for the exfiltration. So why mention it? Moreover, who was this person, and what was the real reason his removal from Russia was necessary?

On Tuesday, September 10th, the Russian newspaper Kommersant* disclosed the name of the spy. They identified him as a mid-level Foreign Ministry official named Oleg Smolenkov.

Was Smolenkov a “very valuable agent”? Maybe, but Kommersant – amusingly, playing the same role as transparent mouthpiece for security organs – said no. They quoted a Russian foreign ministry official saying, “Let the CIA prove this.” As to Trump disclosing secrets to Lavrov in that meeting, the official told the Russian paper, “CNN never before thought up such nonsense,” adding that it was “pure paranoia.”

Kommersant further related that Russians instituted a murder case over the disappearance of Smolenkov and his family in 2017.

Disappear, however, Smolenkov did not. He went from Russia to Montenegro in 2017, then ended up in Virginia, where he and his family bought a house in Stafford, Virginia in January of 2019, in his own name! This is the same person about whom the Times this past Monday wrote:

The person’s life remains in danger, current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange in 2010…

Smolenkov was so afraid for his safety, he put his family in a house the FSB could see by clicking on Realtor.com! That’s “tradecraft” for you.

To recap: U.S. officials decided to exfiltrate a spy capable of transmitting pictures from Vladimir Putin’s desk (why are we telling audiences this, by the way?) because… why? Although all three of the initial major American news stories about this referenced Trump’s May 2017 meeting with Sergei Lavrov, the actual reason was buried in the text of all three pieces:

In the Times:

But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.

The Post:

In January 2017, the Obama administration published a detailed assessment that unambiguously laid the blame on the Kremlin…

“It’s quite likely,” the official continued, “that the U.S. intelligence community would already be taking a hard look at extracting any U.S. assets who would have been subject to increased levels of scrutiny” after the assessment’s publication.

CNN:

A US official said before the secret operation there was media speculation about the existence of such a covert source, and such coverage or public speculation poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved. This official did not identify any public reporting to that effect at the time of this decision and CNN could not find any related reference in media reports.

That last passage by CNN, in which the network claimed it could not find “any related reference” to a secret source in media reports, is laughable.

Unnamed “senior intelligence officials” spent much of the early months of the Trump administration bragging their faces off about their supposed penetration of the Kremlin. Many of their leaks were designed to throw shade on the new pompadour-in-chief, casting him as a Putin puppet. A January 5, 2017 piece in the Washington Post is a classic example:

Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.

We’re constantly told the intelligence agencies can’t reveal classified details out of fear of disclosing “sources and methods,” but this story revealed a very specific capability. If that “Russians celebrating Trump’s win” tale came from a person, it wouldn’t be long before the source’s head would be found in Park Sokolniki.

A more revealing Washington Post piece came in June, 2017. It was called “Obama’s Secret Struggle to Punish Russia for Putin’s Election Assault.” In that article, we’re told at length about how Brennan secured a “feat of espionage,” obtaining sourcing “deep within the Russian government” that provided him, Brennan, with insights into Russian’s electoral interference campaign.

Brennan, the Post said, considered the source’s intel so valuable that he reportedly hand-delivered its “eyes only” bombshell contents directly to Barack Obama in summer of 2016. This was before the story was told to the whole world less than a year later.

In that Post article, it was revealed that the October 2016 assessment of Russia’s role in an electoral interference campaign initially was directly tied to Putin, but Putin’s name was removed because it might “endanger intelligence sources and methods.”

Taken in sum, all of these facts suggest it wasn’t at all Donald Trump’s meeting with Sergei Lavrov that necessitated the “exfiltration.

(Side note: many of these spy stories are larded with Tom Clancy-style verbiage to make the reader feel sexier and more in the know. The CNN story, for instance, ludicrously told us that a covert source was also “known as an asset.” Derp – thanks!).

What is this all really about? We have an idea only because Brennan and Clapper aren’t the only ex-spooks pipelining info to friendlies in the media.

As noted by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and others, Attorney General William Barr earlier this year directed the Justice Department and former Connecticut Attorney General John Durham to investigate the intelligence agencies. In June, the New York Times wrote:

Mr. Barr has been interested in how the C.I.A. drew its conclusions about Russia’s election sabotage, particularly the judgment that Mr. Putin ordered that operatives help Mr. Trump by discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to current and former American officials.

The Times quoted former CIA officials who expressed “anxiety” about this inquiry:

While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny.

We know, because it was bragged about at length in hagiographic portrayals in papers like the Washington Post, that John Brennan was the source of the conclusion that Putin directed the interference. We were even told that the determination of Putin’s involvement was too dangerous to publish in late 2016, because it would compromise Brennan’s magical Kremlin mole.

Now, suddenly, we’re treated to a series of stories that try to assert that the mole was removed either completely or in part because of Trump.

Maybe there’s an element of truth there. But it’s astonishing that none of the major news outlets bothered, even as an insincere gesture to convention, to address this story’s obvious counter-narrative.

If the mole was even that important, which I’m not convinced of – as McGovern told me this week, “They make stuff up all the time” – it seems more than possible we lost this “asset” because our intelligence chiefs felt it necessary to spend late 2016 and early 2017 spilling details about our capabilities in the news media.

This story wasn’t leaked to tell the public an important story about a lost source in the Kremlin, but more likely as damage control, to work the refs as investigators examine the origins of the election interference tale.

In 2017-2018, the likes of Brennan and Clapper were regularly feeding bombshell news stories to major papers and TV stations, usually as unnamed sources. The ostensible subject of these tales was usually Russian interference or collusion, but the subtext was a squalid power struggle between the enforcement bureaucracy and its loathed new executive, Trump.

After this “exfiltration story” broke, Esquire columnist Charlie Pierce, a colleague with whom I’ve sadly disagreed about this Russia business, wrote a poignant piece called “The Spies Are Acting as a Check on Our Elected Leaders. This Is Neither Healthy Nor Sustainable.”

In it, Charlie said something out loud that few have been willing to say out loud:

My guess is that the leak of this remarkable story came from somewhere in the bowels of the intelligence community…

The intelligence community is engaged in a cold war of information against the elected political leadership of the country, and a lot of us are finding ourselves on its side. This is neither healthy nor sustainable.

I personally don’t see myself as being on either side of this Cold War, but his point is true. He’s thinking about the country, but there’s the more immediate question of our business. A situation where the newspapers and airwaves are not for relaying facts but for firing sorties in an internecine power struggle really is unsustainable.

It won’t be long before audiences realize they’re not reading true news stories but what the Russians call versii, or “versions.” Whether it’s the pro-Trump wasteland of Fox or the Brennan-Clapper government-in-exile we see on MSNBC and CNN and in the Washington Post, the news has become two different nations, both intensely self-interested, neither honest. If this continues, it won’t be long before we’re filling overcoats and bird cages with things we used to read.


* Full disclosure: I wrote for Kommersant a few times in 2003-2004, in an unsuccessful effort to try to write humorously about American politics for Russians.