Excellent (Depressing) Read: “The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works”

Today, Dave Weigel published a story in the Washington Post on “The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory”:

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.

Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt…

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations…

Of course, this being the internet (and certain people & networks happy to be ghouls for profit) the morbid feasting on other peoples’ tragedy will never actually end.

Here’s Weigel’s original story, on May 20: Read more

Light Night B-Movie Horrorshow Open Thread: The Dunghill Ouroborous

FOX News ginns up conspiracy fantasy, demands answers about said conspiracy from nonplussed bystanders, proclaims their baffled silence further proof of THE CONSPIRACY!!! The giant dungworm swallows its own tail, announces that it is delicious!…

At least when the whole flimsy construction falls to pieces, George Will’s ideological bastard son has all that freshly-stirred manure, ripe for his sweaty flinging…

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Fascist Cosplay

Among the many news stories not getting the attention they deserve, because the man in the Oval Office is so godsdamned busy committing new crimes and misdemeanors all the time… The white-supremacy protestors in New Orleans are serious, and potentially dangerous. Richard Spencer, on the other hand?

Backstory: Some schmuck named Corey Stewart, the underdog GOP candidate for governor of Virginia, decided to carve out some special-interest votes by appealing to “Southern heritage”, aka hardcore racist, Virginians. He’s become a freak-show media draw, and a persistent embarrassment to Virginians in general as well as those Republicans who still have some vestigial sense of shame.

Now, Richard Spencer, self-proclaimed inventor of the term ‘alt right’, wasn’t about to show up in a city where he might get himself punched, again. But Charlottesville, within convenient commuting distance of the Beltway?

“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at an afternoon protest, the first of two rallies he led in the town where he once attended the University of Virginia.

At the second rally, dozens of torch-bearing protesters gathered in a city park Saturday evening and chanted “You will not replace us” and “Russia is our friend,” local television footage shows. Spencer was not shown addressing that gathering, but he tweeted a photo of himself standing in the crowd carrying what appeared to be a bamboo tiki torch.

The evening protest was short-lived. About 10 minutes in, an altercation between Spencer’s group and counterprotesters drew police to the scene, and the crowd quickly dispersed, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported…

Not soon enough to avoid the snarksters, though…


Time for a Media Reset

Someone sounds awfully worried about Sally Yates’ testimony before the senate today:

Yates will be questioned this afternoon about her warning to the Trump people regarding Flynn’s Russia problem. So Trump is preemptively intimidating her like a sub-literate mafia goon while simultaneously blaming the Obama administration for his own shitty personnel decisions.

President Obama FIRED Flynn before Trump picked him off the trash heap, wound him up and sent him on the “LOCK HER UP!” tour. And apparently Trump’s band of grifting idiots didn’t bother to vet the utterly compromised crackpot Flynn before sharing highly classified information with him as erstwhile NSA. But President “The Buck Stops Anywhere But Here” can’t be bothered with such details.

What are we to conclude from this, aside from the obvious, which is that the person who occupies the Oval Office is a lying, irresponsible, addled dolt — which we already knew? He’s worried about this Russia thing, which just won’t go away. Should he be?

I hope very much that the Russia investigation turns up a bombshell that removes Trump from office, but I have zero faith it will. Comey is a preening hack who seems convinced that hostility from Republicans and Democrats validates his “last honest man in D.C.” conceit. The GOP controls congress, and they’ve already sold out the country to a demented demagogue, so they’ll hamstring every investigation that could endanger their hold on power.

But 2018 hasn’t happened yet, and there’s still time to prevent the next round of interference. The Democrats have their role to play to stop a hostile foreign power from undermining democracy. The FBI and intelligence communities have theirs. And the media has a responsibility here too.

This might sound like a crazy suggestion, but maybe media outlets like the NYT, etc., could use recent developments abroad as well as upcoming events like the Yates testimony as an excuse to reset the way they approach the gigantic elephant in the room: a hostile foreign power’s ongoing meddling in U.S. elections. The way their colleagues in France dealt with a similar attempt by the same outfits to sleaze a fascist into power might be instructive.

Yates’ testimony is expected to directly contradict what Spicer and Priebus told the media about Team Trump’s handling of Flynn. Trump, knowing the testimony is likely to be damaging, implied that Yates committed a crime in the above tweet. We know Trump lied about President Obama’s “wire tapp” — the mainstream press was surprisingly forthright in saying so. I guess there’s a slim chance they’ll treat Trump’s slander of Yates in a similar manner.

I understand that ironic detachment and profitable horse race babbling are tough addictions to overcome, but it’s no exaggeration to say democracy is on the line. And while the Beltway hacks like to pretend they don’t want to be part of the story, the opposite is true: they glory in a scenario that allows them to be players rather than merely covering the game.

Well, here’s your chance, hacks. The Trump administration has lied to you and vilified you for months. You’ve refused to engage in serious introspection about your 2016 political coverage, but here’s a flashing red neon scandal that doesn’t even require that: a recognition that this meddling isn’t going away, and a chance to do something about it. Go be little Murrows. Your country needs you, God help us.

What this is really all about

Here’s a tweet from The Hill a couple of days ago and my response:

Here’s a link to the article. I think it’s spot on regarding Trump’s goal here, and I’m glad the writer used the word “brand,” even though it’s usually annoying to see life-or-death matters discussed in the language of an ad campaign.

It’s appropriate because Trump thinks in those terms. Fellow citizens, our country has empowered a malignant narcissist with a massive inferiority complex. And he is bent on unmaking President Obama’s legacy because it drives him insane(r) that Obama is more loved, accomplished and respected than Trump will ever be.

Does Trump have a fucking clue what’s in the AHCA? Nope. He might actually believe the lies he’s telling about the bill covering more people and costing less. More importantly, that’s not what matters to him. Probably the only thing that confers wood to the flaccid little appendage Trump’s wife dreads is the prospect of undoing something Obama achieved.

What’s worse, the Republicans have figured this out, so they’ll continue to manipulate Velveeta Voldemort to their nefarious ends with “wins,” like ripping away healthcare for millions, unleashing predatory bankers, getting rid of consumer protections, disenfranchising voters and persecuting women, gay people, black and brown people, Muslims, immigrants, etc.

They’ll stop at nothing, the GOP — both in Congress and their hate-filled base — including collusion with a hostile foreign power. So we have to stop them. We simply have no other choice. Suit up, Juicers. We’re in for the fight of our lives, and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going down, I’m going down swinging.

Late Night Open Thread: Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn…

… It’s all fun and games, until someone has to have the nuclear codes pried out of his stubby little fingers…

Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Whither Bannon?

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)


Now that Steve Bannon is (theoretically) in eclipse — Vanity Fair even found a handful of former loyalists willing to be quoted denying their dark lord before cockcrow — his true disciples are debating what he might’ve done differently in the civil war against the Kushner/Cohn/Mnuchin globalist oligarchs. Olivia Nuzzi, professional sharpshooter, reports for NYMag: “The Alt-Right Is Debating Whether Bannon Needs a Better Press Strategy“:

Now that Steve Bannon has been temporarily or permanently sidelined by President Donald Trump, his nationalist allies — people who formerly identified as “alt-right,” but now reject that label as it has become synonymous with white supremacy — are debating what their man in the White House did wrong and what he might do to salvage the situation. One of the key questions up for debate is whether Bannon should have made better use of ideologically sympathetic media outlets — when he ran Breitbart News, he described it as “the platform” for the alt-right — to get out his side of the story.

The chief strategist to the president might have done better job of holding onto power, the thinking goes, if he were talking to those who want what he wants and have the benefit of seeing things the way they appear outside of the bubble of his “war room,” the name Bannon’s given his West Wing office…

In some ways, the question of whether Bannon should be cultivating more allies in the press is part of a larger debate over his operating style in the White House — which is to operate in isolation. “I’m not doing this to have friends,” he told me. “I don’t socialize a lot, I don’t bring people into my life. This is like being in the Navy, this is like a duty. I don’t enjoy this every day. This is not living; this is a kind of existence.”

Though he brought into the White House some of his own staff — Julia Hahn from Breitbart; Andrew Surabian from the Tea Party Express and Alexandra Preate, his personal flack — he has spent little political capital fighting for high-level strategists with whom he could align in ideological disputes…

Perhaps coincidentally, questions are being raised about the oft-told tale that Bannon made $32 million on a canny Seinfeld deal. It wouldn’t really matter, at this point, whether he made his grubstake off the Hollywood version of a scratch ticket… except that the alternative would cast his political success as entirely the product of semi-legitimate Robert & Rebekah Mercer money. Not a good look for a self-styled swashbuckling free spirit, at the very least.

But then, Bannon’s expulsion from Mar-a-Lago Eden would be a loss to Media Village Idiots far more “respectable” than the Pepe kkkrew… even those at the Grey Lady…