Tag Archives: Russiagate

Fusion GPS Illuminates the Brave New World of Manufactured News for Hire, by Lee Smith

Journalism is no longer merely journalism, it is advocacy, agenda, and promotional journalism. From Lee Smith at tabletmag.com:

News of the News: How the new sausage gets made

Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

To continue reading: Fusion GPS Illuminates the Brave New World of Manufactured News for Hire

Advertisements

The Democratic Party Remains on the Verge of Collapse, by Michael Krieger

The title is too optimistic. Democrats are as hard to eradicate as cockroaches. However, Michael Krieger does a good job of running down some of their myriad weaknesses and failures. From Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

You don’t need to be a genius to see that the Democratic Party doesn’t really stand for anything when it comes to the issues that matter most to U.S. voters. This is a topic I’ve written about incessantly since last year’s embarrassing loss by status quo, corporate media, donor-favorite Hillary Clinton, and it was highlighted once again in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll with the response to the following question.


Despite the dire implications of the above, the brain-surgeons leading the party remain committed to running on “Trump works for Putin, let’s start a war with Russia” while ignoring the multitude of very important issues people really care about — you know, like oligarchy and increasing economic insecurity.

To give you a sense of the degree of cluelessness, read the following excerpts from a CBS News article titled, Democrats Split Over Core Message to Voters as 2018 Midterms Loom:

NEW YORK — House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley hesitated when asked about his party’s core message to voters.

“That message is being worked on,” the New York congressman said in an interview this past week. “We’re doing everything we can to simplify it, but at the same time provide the meat behind it as well. So that’s coming together now.”

The admission from the No. 4 House Democrat – that his party lacks a clear, core message even amid Republican disarray – highlights the Democrats’ dilemma eight months after President Donald Trump and the GOP dominated last fall’s elections, in part, because Democrats lacked a consistent message.

That’s not exactly true. Democrats have consistently been yelling about Russia, and it’s not doing them any favors.

To continue reading: The Democratic Party Remains on the Verge of Collapse

Boomerangski, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler asks a good question: how can contacts with Russia be “treason” when we are not at war with Russia, and therefore Russia is not, technically, our enemy? From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The strenuous effort of “Resistance” passengers in the Limousine-of-State to shove Donald Trump out of the driver’s seat continues into what would normally be the news-wasteland of midsummer. Last week it was the smoking popgun of Trump Junior’s meeting with a Russian lawyer purported (by British music promoter Rob Goldstein) to be associated with the “Russian Crown Prosecutor” (no such office in a country without a monarch).

The news caused the usual commotion among the very media mouthpieces who publish anti-Trump allegations as a staple for their “Resistance” readerships. By the way, this blog might be described as anti-Trump, too, in the sense that I did not vote for him and regularly inveigh against his antics as President — but neither is Clusterfuck Nation a friend of the Hillary-haunted Dem-Prog “Resistance,” in case there’s any confusion about where we stand. If anything, we oppose the entirety of the current political regime in our nation’s capital, the matrix of rackets that is driving the aforementioned Limousine-of-State off the cliff of economic collapse. Just sayin’.

“Resistance” law professors, such as Lawrence Tribe at Harvard, were quick to holler “treason” over Junior’s meet-up with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. Well, first of all, and not to put too fine a point on it, don’t you have to be at war with another nation to regard any kind of consort as “treason?” Last time I checked, we were not at war with Russia — though it sure seems like persons and parties inside the Beltway would dearly like to make that happen. You can’t call it espionage either, of course, because that would purport the giving of secret information, not the receiving of political gossip.

To continue reading: Boomerangski

 

 

Oust Trump, War With Russia, by Finian Cunningham

The Trump Jr. “revelation” is number 62 of molehills the president’s opposition is trying to turn into a mountain, and it will suffer the same fate as 1-61. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

Behind the sensational Western media coverage now linking the US president’s son to alleged Russian collusion in the American election, the real euphoria stems from relief that, at last, some «evidence» has been found.

For more than seven months now, the US corporate media have been running unrelenting claims that somehow Donald J Trump colluded with Russian state-sponsored hackers to get elected over his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

The media campaign has been dismissed as a witch hunt by Trump. Perhaps more sinisterly, US-Russia relations have also become deeply toxic due to the allegations. Not even a friendly meeting between Trump and Putin at last weekend’s G20 summit in Germany seems able to lift the poisonous cloud over bilateral relations.

However, the never-ending «Russia-gate» story was, to be frank, at risk of boring people to death from the sheer lack of evidence to shore up the conjecture of Trump being a Russian stooge. Despite the fact that three separate government probes have been working on the issue, they have nothing to show for it.

Then this week the «Russia-gate» story-tellers got a lifeline with reports that the president’s eldest son, Donald Jr, held a meeting with a Russian lawyer over a year ago at Trump Tower in New York City. The disclosure came from emails sent by Trump’s son to a mediator who promised «dirt on Clinton» that would damage her election campaign.

Democrats, Republicans, supporters of Clinton and the anti-Trump media are now cock-a-hoop that they have a «smoking gun» to prove the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Trump Jr is being accused of betraying his country by consorting with a foreign enemy, Russia.

A Washington Post comment noted: «Donald Trump Jr’s emails are the clearest indication yet that Trump campaign officials and family members were willing to deal with a foreign adversary in their mutual goal of taking down Hillary Clinton, and their revelation is dramatic proof that the Russia investigation is alive with no end in sight».

To continue reading: Oust Trump, War With Russia

The media’s mass hysteria over ‘collusion’ is out of control, by Ed Rogers

Even a Washington Post editorialist thinks the media has gone batshit crazy over the Russian-Trump alleged collusion story. From Ed Rogers at washingtonpost.com:

Hysteria among the media and Trump opponents over the prospect of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin may have hit its crescendo this week. That’s right: The wailing from the media and their allies about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with some “Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer” (whatever that means) may be the last gasp of this faux scandal. Good riddance.

 

Predictably, the New York Times started the ball rolling with front-page coverage, going so far as to argue, “The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.” As if this were some breakthrough moment. The Times followed up with a headline yesterday that the meeting request and subject matter discussed in the prior story were transmitted to Trump Jr. via an email. Holy cow. The Times is so desperate to move the story that the meeting’s arrangement over email is being made into Page 1 news. You would have thought it had come through a dead drop under a bridge somewhere.

And, of course, CNN has been apoplectic in its breathless coverage, running one story after another about this “development” on the air and online. But Politico takes the prize for the most over-the-top, made-up news, claiming that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting could amount to a crime.

As I have written before, there are always people hovering around campaigns trying to peddle information and traffic in supposed silver bullets. There should be nothing to report on when a private citizen who works at a campaign takes a meeting with a friend of a friend offering information about an opponent. And yet, the media wants to make it a smoking gun.

To continue reading: The media’s mass hysteria over ‘collusion’ is out of control

Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession, by Rick Sterling

The main problem with the Russian Obsession is that when at first you practice to deceive, a tangled web is what you weave. All of the problems Rick Sterling cites stem from the fundamental flaw of the Russian allegations: they’ve been invented out of whole cloth. From Sterling at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. mainstream media and Democratic Party politicians have built a major “scandal” out of accusing Russia of “meddling” in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win the presidency and possibly even colluding with his campaign to do so. The charges began as “allegations” but now are routinely asserted as facts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Is this effort to indict Russia and condemn Trump based on facts or political opportunism? Does it help or hurt the progressive cause of peace with justice? Following are major problems with the “anti-Russia” theme, starting with the lack of clear evidence.

1) Evidence from CrowdStrike is dubious.

Accusations that Russia stole and released the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails are based on the findings of the private company CrowdStrike. The DNC did not allow the FBI to scan the computers but relied on a hired private company which claims to have found telltale Russian alphabet characters (Cyrrilic) in the computer memory. However, CrowdStrike is known to be political biased, to be connected to the Clintons and to make false accusations such as this one documented by Voice of America. Recently, the Wikileaks “Vault7” disclosures revealed that the CIA has developed software which purposely leaves foreign language characters in memory, casting further doubt on the CrowdStrike evidence.

2) The Steele Dossier looks fictitious.

The accusations of Trump-Russia collusion and Putin’s personal involvement are significantly based on the so-called “Steele Dossier,” a 35-page compilation of “opposition research” on Trump by a former MI6 officer Christopher Steele. The research and reports by Steele first were contracted by anti-Trump Republicans in the primary race and then by Clinton supporters in the presidential race.

There is no supporting evidence or verification of the dossier’s claims; the reports are essentially that a Kremlin source says such-and-such. It has since been revealed that Steele was not in direct contact but collected the information via Russians in the U.K. who in turn received it from supposed Kremlin insiders.

To continue reading: Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession

Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket, by Robert Parry

Perhaps things would be working out better for the Democrats if there was some objective proof that the Russians actually colluded with the Trump campaign. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: The national Democrats saw Russia-gate and the drive to impeach President Trump as their golden ticket back to power, but so far the ticket seems to be made of fool’s gold, writes Robert Parry.

The national Democratic Party and many liberals have bet heavily on the Russia-gate investigation as a way to oust President Trump from office and to catapult Democrats to victories this year and in 2018, but the gamble appears not to be paying off.

The Democrats’ disappointing loss in a special election to fill a congressional seat in an affluent Atlanta suburb is just the latest indication that the strategy of demonizing Trump and blaming Russia for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat may not be the golden ticket that some Democrats had hoped.

Though it’s still early to draw conclusive lessons from Karen Handel’s victory over Jon Ossoff – despite his raising $25 million – one lesson may be that a Middle America backlash is forming against the over-the-top quality of the Trump-accusations and the Russia-bashing, with Republicans rallying against the image of Official Washington’s “deep state” collaborating with Democrats and the mainstream news media to reverse a presidential election.

Indeed, the Democrats may be digging a deeper hole for themselves in terms of reaching out to white working-class voters who abandoned the party in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to put Trump over the top in the Electoral College even though Clinton’s landslide win in California gave her almost three million more votes nationwide.

Clinton’s popular-vote plurality and the #Resistance, which manifested itself in massive protests against Trump’s presidency, gave hope to the Democrats that they didn’t need to undertake a serious self-examination into why the party is in decline across the nation’s heartland. Instead, they decided to stoke the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in the election as the short-cut to bring down Trump and his populist movement.

To continue reading: Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket