Donald Trump is a narcissistic boor who tells lies with a casual indifference that might be regarded with amusement (“My father is German, was German, born in a very wonderful place in Germany”) were he not a malevolent poseur with all the style and attraction of a sock full of wet spaghetti. He is a spiteful mendacious buffoon whose views and actions on international and domestic affairs are confused, erratic and dangerous.
BUT — for once he has been proved to have been right, because he told the truth when he stoutly denied he had colluded with sinister Russians to ensure he would win the presidential election in 2016. A two-year inquiry was conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller at a cost of 25 million dollars for the first eighteen months and on 24 March the New York Times reported that “Mr Mueller and his team were unable to establish that anyone connected to the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” in the course of the 2016 elections.
The Times noted that Mr Mueller “is as careful and thorough an investigator as there is. His investigation lasted almost two years, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas and roughly 500 search warrants and heard from a similar number of witnesses. If he couldn’t find any links, it’s doubtful anyone could.”
But the paper couldn’t avoid highlighting the totally unproved allegation that Russia had “interfered to help Mr. Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign” although the grudging admission that there was no collusion was a step in the right direction.
What was expected by those of us ingenuous to imagine there might be honor in the mainstream media and Congress was that those responsible for feeding the fires of hatred over the years, and those who stated explicitly, for example, that there was “plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight” should stand up and say, quite clearly, “Sorry. We were wrong.”
I also believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny.
This “plain sight” allegation was by Congressman Adam Schiff, reported in August 2018. He is Chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and repeatedly said that his committee had uncovered “plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy.” He told ‘Meet the Press’ two years ago that “I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now” and in an ABC interview declared that the collusion conspiracy was of “a size and scope probably beyond Watergate.” He was retailing deceptive garbage, but there are plenty more like him, and their rabble-rousing declarations were devotedly recorded without question by most of the media.
The Washington Post now greatly regrets “the toxic tribalism that’s been tearing apart the country’s civic culture” but it was the Post and all the rest of the mainstream media that encouraged tribalism, factionalism, distrust and hatred — exactly as so many of the extremist promoters of Brexit have done in the now totally disUnited Kingdom, which is about to plunge to economic and social disaster. But the Post, a major Russia-baiter, must be given credit for publishing an article on 28 March by Marc Thiessen, saying among other things that there are “a lot of people in Washington with a lot of explaining to do.” That said, it is unlikely that many of us will hold any breath waiting for explanation of their campaign of vindictive malice.
Freddy Gray of the US Spectator noted that on 25 March, just before release of the Mueller findings, 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said “You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government.” But he won’t be held to account. It is highly unlikely that one single intending voter for O’Rourke will have a opinion-alteration simply because the candidate made an utter fool of himself and deliberately misled the American people.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, a media favorite during the happy collusion years, declared Trump to be “wholly in the pocket of Putin” and wrote that “Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.”
It’s reminiscent of the horrible days of the unlamented alcoholic Senator Joseph McCarthy who in the 1950s destroyed the lives of so many innocent people because he wanted to achieve political prominence. In a speech he announced categorically that “I have here in my hand a list of 205 [members of the State Department] that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.” In later pronouncements he gave different numbers and generally contradicted himself — but it didn’t matter. As with the Trump-Russia “collusion” allegations, those who wanted to believe there were thousands of sinister conspiring communists in the State Department, and Hollywood and Voice of America Radio, as stated clearly by McCarthy, simply carried on believing everything McCarthy said, even to this day.
They are in similar company, because there are millions of people out there who refuse to be convinced that there was no collusion, no matter what evidence is produced to refute their mistaken conviction.
Not only this, but the Cold War campaign against Russia is heating up, with the media trying very hard to deflect attention from their embarrassment about being totally wrong. The New York Times, for example, came up with the devious tactic of attack by means of an anti-Russia major article on 31 March. This piece announced with horror that “Russia’s Military Mission Creep Advances to a New Front: Africa.” In shocked tones it revealed that “Russia, entrenched in Africa during the Cold War’s violent East-West rivalry, largely retreated from the continent after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in the past two years, Moscow has rekindled relations with Soviet-era clients like Mozambique and Angola, and forged new ties with other countries. President Vladimir Putin of Russia will host a summit meeting between Moscow and African countries later this year.” They’re obviously going to collude about something.
The Times had the effrontery to claim that the Pentagon “has a relatively light footprint across Africa” — with 6000 troops and a thousand military mercenaries (‘contractors’ in Newspeak) in the continent — but failed to state, as Nick Turse notes, that “a recent investigation by the Intercept, based on documents obtained from US Africa Command (AFRICOM) via the Freedom of Information Act, revealed a network of 34 bases heavily clustered in the north and west of that continent as well as in the Horn of Africa. AFRICOM’s ‘strategic posture’ consists of larger ‘enduring’ outposts, including two forward operating sites, 12 cooperative security locations, and 20 more austere sites known as contingency locations.”
In other words, Washington’s Defence-Industrial Complex has spread its military tentacles well and truly (and potentially disastrously) over Africa, but the mainstream media, and especially the New York Times, prefer to highlight the Russia’s modest but effective cooperation with African countries in an effort to further demonize Moscow, while drawing readers away from the important but increasingly downplayed revelation that THERE WAS NO COLLUSION.
One of the more fatuous reactions to the Mueller findings was that of the Post’s media columnist, Martha Sullivan, who made an attempt to help reporters and commentators out of the disgusting mess they helped to create by writing a piece titled “Serious journalists should be proud of — not bullied over — their Russia reporting.” Once readers of that ludicrous headline stopped laughing they were regaled with the argument that the hacks “drove forward a national conversation that needed to happen. As Americans saw with their own eyes Trump’s bizarre efforts to ingratiate himself with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that reporting mattered and provided context.” Sure. Even if the reporting was total baloney.
The defenses are up, while the excuses are being trotted out and counter-attacks are gaining momentum. It’s just like old times, when the Cold War was thriving. And Washington’s powerful anti-Russia lobby is delighted that Cold War Two is heating up.
A version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on April 2.