Ethics Observations On President-Elect Trump’s First News Conference

presser

1. I watched the introductions and about half of Trump’s opening remarks, and had to bail. I just had to. Not that Trump’s manner and speaking style were any worse than before; it’s just that the thought that young people will see this as acceptable public presentation and speaking clarity was too horrible to bear. Even with the verbalization-challenged Bushes, the level of basic language skills and vocabulary wasn’t nearly this bad.

I had to watch an old video of JFK wittily fencing with reporters to get the thought out of my head:

2. Thus this discussion is based on the transcript. I had to search a bit to find an online transcript that wasn’t constantly interrupted by editorial comments and “fact-checks.” These contained a lot of nit-picking and suggestions of deception (and some useful clarifications).  It seems to me that the “fact-checks” of Trump feel adversarial, while the recent fact-check of President Obama’s final speech were consistently friendly, and voluntarily refused to take issue with genuinely misleading statements. For example, Obama said, “If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.”  NPR’s annotation:

“Via The New Republic: “From 2000 to 2010, a decade during which the white population as a whole grew by just 1.2 percent, the number of white children in the United States declined by 4.3 million. Meanwhile the child populations of Hispanics, Asians, and people of two or more races were increasing.”

But that’s not the fact to check. Who says that anyone is “unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us“? That’s a straw man, and should have been called out (I threw a pillow at the TV screen) as one. Clear-thinking citizens are unwilling to invest in the children of illegal immigrants because they shouldn’t be here, and the more we “invest” in them, the more encouragement we give to foreign citizens to break our laws.

But NPR likes illegal immigration, so this wouldn’t occur to them, I guess.

3. I think it’s fair to say that no previous POTUS or PEOTUS press conference began with a frontal assault on the press for publishing fake news. That’s how this one began, with Sean Spicer attacking the already infamous Buzzfeed story. He also attacked CNN for reporting on Buzzfeed’s report. Here was NPR’s annotation, in part:

“BuzzFeed and CNN both reported on Tuesday about documents alleging that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” as CNN reported, though the two news organizations presented the information in vastly different ways. CNN mostly focused on who had seen the documents and when, citing unnamed sources and U.S. officials in different places. However, CNN said that while it had reviewed the “35-page compilation of the memos” alleging that link, it was “not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations.”

NPR’s distinction doesn’t excuse CNN. The news media does this kind of thing all the time, it’s true: it reports the fact that an irresponsible news source has reported a rumor, unsourced claim, ora lie, and thus further circulates an account that never should have been published in the first place. Later, Trump was asked about his tweet asking if we were now living in Nazi Germany. (It’s cute to see my Facebook friends fuming about that tweet, when they have been absurdly calling Trump a Nazi for months. Has anyone contacted Harry Belafonte for his comments?) Trump’s response:

“I think it was disgraceful — disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that — and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it’s a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences. They already are.”

Crude, but fair. It would be been nice if Trump had the wit and historical perspective to remind the assembled, and perhaps teach his audience,  what the Big Lie technique championed by Josef Goebbels was and how the Buzzfeed-CNN handoff would have pleased him. I’ve got to learned to lower my expectations. Nevertheless, the Nazi reference in that context was well-earned. It is disgraceful that the dossier was leaked by U.S. intelligence personnel. “Failing pile of garbage”  is not Presidential rhetoric (sigh) but the sentiment is correct. CNN capped a week of neon-bright biased and inaccurate reporting across the news spectrum by giving this slimy story greater visibility, thus advancing a Big Lie. CNN deserved its comeuppance, which was soon to come.

4. The comeuppance arrived when Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Accosta, and had this exchange:

ACCOSTA

Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization…

DONALD TRUMP

Not you.

ACCOSTA

Can you give us a chance?

DONALD TRUMP

Your organization is terrible.

ACCOSTA

You are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir, can you…

DONALD TRUMP

Quiet, quiet. [ Points to another reporter ]

ANOTHER REPORTER

Mr. President-elect, can you say…

DONALD TRUMP

She’s asking a question, don’t be rude. Don’t be rude.

ACCOSTA

Can you give us a question since you’re attacking us? Can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP

Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. I’m not going to give you a question.

ACCOSTA

Can you state…

DONALD TRUMP

You are fake news. Go ahead (to another reporter.)

5. Not surprisingly, the news media and its supporters are apoplectic. It is certainly a break with tradition, as all Presidents  previously declined to limit questions from reporters or organizations that they may have felt had abused their position. I believe that in the past some Presidents should have punished unethical reporters. Dan Rather was unprofessional and rude to Richard Nixon; Nixon should have told CBS that either Rather needed to behave professionally, or CBS better send another corespondent. Sam Donaldson was unprofessional in his questions to President Reagan; Helen Thomas was embarrassingly so with President Bush. The news media itself no longer deserves the unlimited respect and deference Presidents and the public previously accorded it. The 2016 campaign  showed many reporters to be secretly collaborating with the Clinton camp. The New York Times announced in an editorial that it intended to use its reporting to defeat Donald Trump, and since his election, astoundingly, the bias and incompetence has gotten worse, and not only by the Times.

The President should support the news media when it does its job, which is honest, fair journalism. I didn’t always feel this way, but I didn’t always believe that the decline of the integrity and competence of journalism posed an existential threat to our democracy, When the news media does not do its job, refuses to do its job, and worse still, is arrogant about the fact that it isn’t doing its job, there should be consequences.

6. In one of the recent Ethics Alarms posts documenting the unethical journalism we have been slimed with during the 2016 Post Election Train Wreck, it was noted that one of the few substantive arguments made for voting for Donald Trump was that his election would result in the news media being appropriately critical of a President again, after eight years of fearful toadying and passive reporting on the Obama Administration. I also noted that the news media was showing that it is so biased and untrustworthy that even this was a false hope. Last night, Prof. Reynolds, on his blog Instapundit, wrote…

I’m rethinking my position that a good argument for having Trump as President is that if he gets out of line, the press and the Deep State will go after him and bring him under control. There are two reasons for that. First, the press and the Deep State are already going after him, before he’s even had a chance to get out of line. And second, I mean, holy crap, could they be any sorrier at doing so? I mean, “Peegate?” Really? What the hell?

This is good news for Trump, sort of, but overall it’s really bad news, since it means that both journalism and the intelligence community are both more politicized, and less competent, than even I thought. Sweet Jesus, these people are terrible.

7. The news conference was supposed to be about the measures Trump would take to address his unprecedented conflicts of interest issues. On that, Trump said he will not divest himself of his business holdings, and will turn over the operations and control of those holdings to a trust controlled by his adult sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. Sheri A. Dillon, a big firm lawyer, took the podium to describe how this would occur, explaining that Trump “wants there to be no doubt in the minds of the American public that he is completely isolating himself from his business interests,” and that Trump’s sons will make all decisions for the company without any involvement from President Dad. She said Trump will resign from all positions he holds with the Trump Organization, as will Ivanka. Dillon also said that the Trump Organization would  make no new foreign deals during the Trump term,  and that any new domestic deals would be subject to strict restrictions.

“He will only know of a deal if he reads about it in the paper or sees it on TV,” she said, adding that an ethics adviser would be appointed to the management team of the Trump Organization. The lawyer’s, which is to say Trump’s, interpretation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits government officials from taking payments or gifts from a foreign government. “No one would have thought when the Constitution was written, that paying your hotel bill was an emolument,” she said. Trump, we learned, pledgesto donate to the United States  all profits made by his hotels from business from foreign governments.

“President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built,” she said.

This is not enough to ensure that President Trump’s decisions will not be affected by their effects on his children’s welfare or “the company he built,” of course. There is no way to ensure that now. There are no conflicts laws or restrictions on the President because the Founders assumed that no one would be come President who was not motivated by duty to country rather than personal enrichment. Trump’s foes refuse to accord him that presumption of honor and trustworthiness that every other President has received, and not without some justification.Nonetheless, Trump’s conflicts are unprecedented, and his choice should have been to “destroy the company he built” or not be permitted to run. The Republican Party could have insisted on that choice, and should have. The Democrats and the news media also should have made the argument, relentlessly throughout the campaign, that Trump’s conflicts disqualified him.  To their eternal regret, they didn’t think it was necessary (Since Hillary was a lock), so they neglected the issue. (They also neglected it because it would draw more attention to Clinton’s lucrative conflicts through the Clinton Foundation.)

8. It’s too late now. This issue will give Trump opponents reason to question the legitimacy of dozens, hundreds of Administration policies over the next four years. Dillon’s dismissal of the Emoluments Clause, however, is probably correct. That was just the latest of progressive/Democratic Hail Mary passes to try to derail the trump Presidency…not as far-fetched as some, but still futile.

107 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

107 responses to “Ethics Observations On President-Elect Trump’s First News Conference

  1. Zanshin

    You quoted Prof. Reynolds, on his blog Instapundit, who wrote,

    “I’m rethinking my position that a good argument for having Trump as President is that if he gets out of line, the press and the Deep State will go after him and bring him under control.”

    But it turns out that a good argument for having Trump as President is that if the press and the Deep State gets out of line, President Trump will go after them and bring them under control.

  2. Chris

    I don’t agree that it was wrong for CNN to report this story. As far as I’m aware, it is a fact that Trump was presented with the memos provided by Buzzfeed in a security briefing, as was President Obama. That makes this news, whether or not the allegations in the memos are true or not. Apparently they were provided by a reliable British intelligence source, and

    I suspect they are, or at the very least, Russia has some kind of compromising information on Trump. It would explain why Trump had the GOP platform on Ukraine changed, why his campaign and cabinet picks are infested with pro-Russia individuals, and why he has offered nothing but praise for Russia and Putin even after he was accused of cooperating with their hack of the DNC. It would explain why Trump continues to falsely claim he has no business dealings with Russia, when it is well documented that such ties are extensive.

    Of course, all of this could also be explained by Trump simply bowing to any world leader who bats his eyes at him. But I’ve smelled piss on this guy from Day 1. No one can argue with a straight face that “Trump would never do that,” so I see no reason to assume that the allegations are part of a “Big Lie,” other than they have not yet been proven,

    On a more vindictive note, if the guy who spent years falsely claiming that he had evidence Obama’s birth certificate was fake, and constantly names anonymous “very reliable sources” to spread ridiculous allegations against others (including that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination) ends up getting brought down by “fake news,” that may not be good for our country, but it will be poetic justice.

    • “As far as I’m aware, it is a fact that Trump was presented with the memos provided by Buzzfeed ..
      We are told that he was not. He was just orally briefed on their existance.

      Why does the fact that someone was told that unsubstantiated information exists make the content of such information news?

      With this…On a more vindictive note, if the guy who spent years falsely claiming that he had evidence Obama’s birth certificate was fake, and constantly names anonymous “very reliable sources” to spread ridiculous allegations against others (including that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination) ends up getting brought down by “fake news,” that may not be good for our country, but it will be poetic justice.

      You have just defined the entire rationalization for the news media’s unethical conduct since November 8. Professionals are not permitted to act out such wishes, nor should they be.

      • Chris

        It’s not a rationalization, since I did not say those wishes should be acted out. “Poetic justice” does not mean an action is ethical or that I think it should happen. My suspicion is that the allegations are true, because they make sense to me and I find them believable. If they are not, I genuinely hope the media does their job to debunk them. All of this will, of course, require an investigation. If the allegations are proven false and the media still runs with them, then you have a point about a “Big Lie.” As of now, it’s nothing of the sort.

        The Nazi Germany comparison was ludicrous and hypocritical, given that Hitler himself went after journalists that were critical of him. I can’t believe you’re defending it.

        Why does the fact that someone was told that unsubstantiated information exists make the content of such information news?

        Lots of the claims made against Hillary Clinton about her use of a private e-mail server were unsubstantiated, until they weren’t. The incident was news long before any specific fact had been confirmed.

        CNN did not report on the more salacious contents of the unsubstantiated information. They did report on the unverified allegation that Trump is being blackmailed by Russia and is acting against our country’s interests and in favor of Russia’s. Good. Such an explosive allegation should of course be reported if there is any credibility to it at all–and the fact that Trump was briefed on these allegations, and that our intelligence agencies believe they are from a credible source and will be investigating them, lends them a degree of credibility.

        • “The Nazi Germany comparison was ludicrous and hypocritical, given that Hitler himself went after journalists that were critical of him. I can’t believe you’re defending it.”

          Yeah… only if you lump calling someone trash and having someone shot into the ridiculously broad category of “going after”. I sometimes yell at the TV when someone’s said something particularly stupid, how Hitler-esque of me.

        • “My suspicion is that the allegations are true, because they make sense to me and I find them believable. If they are not,”

          Because you want them to be true. Pure confirmation bias.

          “If the allegations are proven false and the media still runs with them, then you have a point about a “Big Lie.” As of now, it’s nothing of the sort.”

          No, they are a Big Lie now. “My suspicion is that the allegations about the Jews are true, because they make sense to me and I find them believable.”

          “The Nazi Germany comparison was ludicrous and hypocritical, given that Hitler himself went after journalists that were critical of him.” Hitlet also had a mustache. Trump was not alluding to the Nazi traetement of journalists—check your argument on the fallacies list; I don’t have the time.

          To be clear, and I think I was, Presidents shouldn’t attack journalists or news media organizations—you know, like Obama specifically attacked Fox News, more than once. However, if an administration fairly excludes a news organization that misstates the news or is unethical in reporting, that’s a legitimate response. Dan Rather should not be welcome at press briefings. Neither should Breitbart. Journalists think they should have no accountability.

          “CNN did not report on the more salacious contents of the unsubstantiated information. They did report on the unverified allegation that Trump is being blackmailed by Russia and is acting against our country’s interests and in favor of Russia’s. Good. Such an explosive allegation should of course be reported if there is any credibility to it at all”

          And there IS no credibility to it at all. “I hate Trump and believe he is capable of anything” is not a basis for credibility.

          • Chris

            No, they are a Big Lie now. “My suspicion is that the allegations about the Jews are true, because they make sense to me and I find them believable.”

            Jesus Christ, Jack. Targeting a president elect is in no way comparable to persecuting a minority group. Birtherism wasn’t Hitler-like either. This is nuts, especially from someone who has cautioned against Hitler comparisons in the past. When people compared Trump to Hitler for his “Big Lie” that thousands of Muslims cheered 9/11 in New Jersey, you mocked them. Now Trump’s invocation of Nazi Germany for being mistreated by the press is fair and valid? How does this work?

            And there IS no credibility to it at all.

            The intelligence community thinks there’s enough credibility to it to investigate and include the allegations in their briefings. I know you think you know more than the intelligence community, but you have not yet persuaded me that you know more than the intelligence community.

            • “Targeting a president elect is in no way comparable to persecuting a minority group”

              Stop playing these diversion games.

              Jack’s analogy is an attack on your own confirmation bias.

    • Greg

      “Russia has some kind of compromising information on Trump. It would explain why Trump had the GOP platform on Ukraine changed, why his campaign and cabinet picks are infested with pro-Russia individuals, and why he has offered nothing but praise for Russia and Putin even after he was accused of cooperating with their hack of the DNC.”

      These positions could also be explained by an honest conviction, shared with many, many, other people, that those who are calling for a more hostile attitude towards Russia are wrong.

      It may be worth quoting the Republican platform that Trump did approve:

      “The results of the Administration’s unilateral approach to
      disarmament are already clear: An emboldened
      China in the South China Sea, a resurgent Russia
      occupying parts of Ukraine and threatening
      neighbors from the Baltic to the Caucasus, and an
      aggressive Islamist terror network in the Middle
      East. We support maintaining and, if warranted,
      increasing sanctions, together with our allies,
      against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty
      and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also
      support providing appropriate assistance to the
      armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination
      with NATO defense planning.”

      To most people, I don’t think that language would sound especially pro-Russian. The change by Trump to which I think you refer was amending the phrase, “providing lethal defensive weapons,” to read, “providing appropriate assistance.” If that’s the best the Russians could squeeze out of Trump, then their alleged file of compromising information doesn’t seem to have given them a whole lot of leverage.

    • “I suspect they are, or at the very least, Russia has some kind of compromising information on Trump.”

      To the former, that makes you uninformed, or idiotically biased. When it broke, I had a chuckle too, but now that it has been dug into we know that the dossier is formatted incorrectly, riddled with typos, and contains descriptions of instances that we can confirm are inaccurate. All of this information was available a day before you posted this.

      To the latter… Maybe? I’m not sure what the assertion is here. That Russia might have something that Trump might find embarrassing that might effect his behaviour? Russia has whole buildings full of people conducting espionage, just like America does, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they in fact had something. But if there was ever a person who might give fewer shits and less leverage over someone having information about hookers pissing on mattresses in a hotel room, I haven’t heard of them.

      • Chris

        I’m aware of the errors and inaccuracies in the dossier, HT. That doesn’t make the entire thing false. The dossier was still compiled by a British intelligence source that our IC finds reliable–that much is not disputed at this point. He doesn’t seem to have done this for personal gain, as he now seems to be in hiding.

        I’m not treating this as fact. But I am amused by the tut-tutting over my willingness to consider the allegations from people who have believed nearly every single unfounded accusation against the Clintons over the years. The Vince Foster assassination conspiracy theory reared its ugly head here last week without a peep from you, and tex was more concerned with examining the finer points of my argument against it than in questioning the biases of the person who was spreading the conspiracy theory in the first place.

        • “The Vince Foster assassination conspiracy theory reared its ugly head here last week without a peep from you”

          Google….. CNN…. Vince Foster. Nope. Not there. Weird. Huh. It’s almost like it was confined to hoax-posts and memes where bullshit like that belongs. Who’dathunk? I should have commented on this? Maybe I also should have commented on the story about the poor six-year-old girl in Scotland with a breast on her forehead might be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her to a travelling freak show if only you support her Patreon?

          “I’m aware of the errors and inaccuracies in the dossier, HT. That doesn’t make the entire thing false. The dossier was still compiled by a British intelligence source that our IC finds reliable–that much is not disputed at this point.”

          That “The IC” (Which is a nebulous and almost meaningless term) finds the source of an unverifiable mess of a dossier that is chalk full of inaccuracies ‘reliable’ says more about them than it does the dossier, and that’s if that abomination of an assertion is even true. Cite that for me.

          And “not disputed” must mean something drastically different for you than it does me. Even “compiled” stretches uncomfortably, as the 30 pages was produced with similar formatting, reminiscent of the way KGB documents were compiled (They capitalise weird things, for instance) And written with all the grace and aplomb of an ESL 9th grader armed with only a passing familiarity with English and Google Translate. “Compiled” must mean, “Was a bag man for.” in Chris-inese.

          • Isaac

            I don’t believe in the Vince Foster conspiracy…but that man’s suicide note is still the most accidentally suspicious-looking suicide note ever crafted.

  3. Steve-O-in-NJ

    When he landed in Mexico Cortez destroyed his ships behind him, so that his men had to conquer or die, there was no way back. The media burned their ships here, and I don’t think there’s one master tactician a la the great conquistador in the bunch.

  4. Wayne

    This is the very reason that Trump was elected president. The media elite play tough and dirty with Republicans meanwhile fawning over Obama’s and Hillary’s so called achievements. I see no reason why Trump should play nice guy with these media jerks. Any president has the prerogative to take questions from who ever he pleases.

  5. Chris

    If the allegations turn out to be true–and Trump really is working on behalf of Russia due to a kompromat they have on him–will this ethics analysis change, Jack? Or would that be merely moral luck?

    • Well, if you ever escaped your bubble you might know that previous to your comment, the dossier’s authenticity has already been swiss cheesed with holes. BUT! Sure. I’ll go there.

      It would be moral luck. The fact pattern at work here is that someone passed up through the chain a series of documents that had no more weight than the urban legends and memes constantly circulated through Facebook. And just like the leper in Botswana with no teeth who has been tied to the arse of a dead elephant for 27 years and whose only salvation is the 5 cents per letter he’ll receive if you forward this post, most of the media ignored it. For months. Perhaps while snickering at the absurdity a little bit.

      But for some godforsaken reason, and I have some ideas on what those might have been, Buzzfeed thought them worthy of print, CNN thought Buzzfeeds “reporting” was worthy of reporting, and you’re BUYING it. How many Nigerian Princes have you reconnected with their fortunes, Chris?

      Fucking hell. It’s too early for this.

  6. Inquiring Mind

    1. It was a very different dynamic then. Most of those press folks were probably hoping Kennedy won, and Kennedy probably figured they at least didn’t like Nixon.

    2. This is one of the reasons why Trump won. The press doesn’t fact check the right stuff, and slimes those who disagree with leftists as racists.

    3. They had it coming.

    4. CNN really had it coming.

    5. They should have been standing up for Fox News and similar outlets when Obama was president… now, turnabout is fair play.

    6. Before they can hold a Republican to account, they need to rebuild trust. The problem is we have two sets of media, one for each side in a cold civil war. Neither trusts the other.

    7. I disagree about the conflicts – especially telling people they have to destroy the business they built in order to run. When we need talent, that sort of thing will make them ask, “Is this worth it?” Furthermore, the conflicts Hillary operated under between the Clinton Foundation and her duties as Secretary of State are far greater – doubly so since it became a form of pay-to-play at Foggy Bottom.

    8. Yeah, it is too late. Me, I for one, welcome my orange-tinted overlord. Given that the alternative was to lose our republic, I have no regrets.

    • Chris

      IQ, if it’s revealed that the allegations against Trump are true and he is working on behalf of a foreign power due to blackmail, will you revise your opinion on #8?

      • Wayne

        Yeah Chris, he’s probably a mole for the KGB.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          A regular Robert Hanssen, I’m sure.

        • Chris

          That’s not the allegation. Do you know what the allegation is?

          • Eternal optometrist

            Even if the allegations are true, it’s cute that you think anyone would care. That’s why I don’t believe the blackmail story.

            • Chris

              Wait, which part are you saying people wouldn’t care about?

              • Eternal optometrist

                About the actual allegations – the water bed, to coin a phrase. No trump supporter I know would care. I doubt trump would care. That to me is what casts aspersions on the blackmail story.

                Now if he is being blackmailed, I’m right there with you. But I didn’t vote for him either, so what I think probably doesn’t matter.

                • Given that the Hillary supporters don’t care how much she and her foundation were funded by foreign powers, I’m not sure why they are so terribly concerned about this purely speculative development….

                  • Chris

                    You can’t be serious. According to you, people who aren’t angry that a candidate’s charity accepted funds from other countries can’t reasonably be mad that the president elect is being blackmailed into doing the bidding of a foreign country?

                    Is this real life?

                    • Of course you can, but you do know what we call it when a person is livid when individual X (that they hate) is compromised by foreign powers but totally non-plussed when individual Y (whom they worship like a lord and savior) is ALSO compromised by foreign powers…

                      you do know what we call that right?

                      It’s starts with D and ends with OUBLE STANDARD…

                      IN some circles, it’s call hypocrisy. Though hypocrisy is usually reserved for personally engaging in behavior you condemn in others.

                      Of course, adding on to the not “real life” (your words, not mine) nature of this is that your ilk is livid over someone they hate only being accused of abhorrent conduct, based on a completely unsubstantiated report, pushed by an un-apologetically Left-wing propaganda site….

                      It’s like when your wife wakes up and had a bad dream about you and she’s mad at you like you really did something…

                      Never mind the REALITY that the one former candidate who your ilk loves and adores HAS received funds from foreign powers….

                      Move on, nothing to see there.

                    • Chris

                      Holy shit, you really are embarrassing yourself. You really think that having a charity that has taken foreign donations is on the same level of bad as being blackmailed by a foreign power. Why do you believe this?

                    • You do realize that having compromising info that could be used in attempted blackmail is not the same as successfully blackmailing, right? It isn’t even attempted blackmail. That someone has photons of me having sex with a goat doesn’t compromise me at all, until I yield to the extortion.

                    • Chris

                      I mean, you actually just typed that someone with a charity that has taken foreign donations is “compromised by a foreign power” in the same way that someone being blackmailed by a foreign power is.

                      Seriously, why do you hold such an obviously stupid belief? You are smarter than this.

                    • Backed into a corner, Leftists always play to abject stupidity.

                      This was predictable.

                      It’s not a good sign though.

                      Keep avoiding the REAL topic of favor purchasing by foreign powers of your lord and savior while focusing on a unsubstantiated report pushed by an unabashed left-wing propaganda site.

                      Pathetic.

                    • Chris

                      You are so infected by bias that you are equating things that are several orders of magnitude apart.

                      I don’t know whether the accusations against Trump are true.

                      IF the allegations against Trump are true, they are obviously worse than the existence of Clinton’s charity.

                      A politician responding to being blackmailed by a foreign government by actively working on behalf of that government is worse than a politician having a charity that takes foreign donations. This is obvious, but you seem to disagree with it. Do you? If so, please explain why.

                    • As long as you insist on framing the discussion dishonestly, as you have several times now, there’s no point continuing.

                      Stick to your fantasy bubble. I bet it feels safe in there.

                    • Fellow Ethics Students,

                      Just so we’re clear:

                      Chris is completely cool with the *actual* episodes of foreign entities “donating” to then candidate and previously-then Secretary of State Clinton’s foundation, never mind the obvious appearance of purchasing favors (leaning towards actually purchasing favors).

                      Chris is, simultaneously, not cool with the **supposed** episode of Donald Trump being blackmailed by Russia. “Supposed” is used in this instance as it is based on an unsubstantiated report pushed by a Left wing propaganda shill.

                      Chris then also, accuses someone of obvious bias when that someone doesn’t jump into the attack based on unsubstantiated reports pushed by a website that makes no effort hiding its partisan propaganda intentions.

                    • WHHHHOOOAAAA there, Scout! What in the world are you saying? The “blackmail” is, as far as we can tell now, fictional. Blackmail is also negative persuasion and a threat, and one that does not in any way impugn the target of the influence. An easy response to blackmail threats is to respond: “Eat me.” Bribery and influence peddling is far, far worse and systemmicaly destructive. It’s quid pro quo, not quid pro non quo.

                      The foreign contributions while Clinton was SOS violated her pledge to Congress, and the foreign and corporate contributions once it was known Hillary was running for POTUS, AND the absurd speaking fees and other emuluments offered and accepted by her and Bill were putative, if not provable, bribes, and so clearly a breach of the “appearance of impropriety” prohibition that it makes my teeth hurt. And any foreign government that had hard evidence of quid pro quo dealings with Clinton had ammunition to blackmail her with something Democrats haven’t argued (as with sex: “Here, my adoring intern for whom I am supposed to be a role model and guiding presence for, debase your self for my titillation with this stogie…”) is just a personal peccadillo, was also in a position to try extortion.

                      What would ever possess you to make such an argument?

                    • Now you are making up your own scandal. Fun! But not helpful. NOBODY has alleged that Trump has been or is being blackmailed!

                  • Chris

                    No, Tex, your initial framing was bullshit.

                    You said:

                    “Given that the Hillary supporters don’t care how much she and her foundation were funded by foreign powers, I’m not sure why they are so terribly concerned about this purely speculative development….”

                    You then accused Hillary supporters concerned about the blackmail accusations of being hypocrites with a double standard.

                    It is not a double standard if one finds the allegations of bribery against Clinton doubtful while finding the allegations against Trump believable.

                    • “It is not a double standard if one finds the allegations of bribery against Clinton doubtful while finding the allegations against Trump believable.”

                      And this is precisely why it’s laughable when you accuse someone of their “biases showing”.

      • Inquiring Mind

        IF that is the case, I will consider revising it.

        That said, the “dossier” appears to be, in part, a 4chan prank. It is extremely unsubstantiated. There is MORE evidence that Godzilla exists somewhere in the Pacific Ocean than there is for the allegations in that dossier.

        • charlesgreen

          A 4chan prank? You can’t be serious.

          Just because it’s unsubstantiated (which it is), quite possibly wrong in many respects (it appears to be), and hard to confirm (clearly), that dossier doesn’t come NEAR to being a prank by punks.

          If it’s prank, it’s an incredibly competent one, including highly credible background sourcing to a well-known ex-MI6 agent, powerful enough to fool months’ of investigation by MSM and the IC.

          People have got to stop believing this crap. Use your head. 4Chan prank is just ridiculous.

          Maybe you weren’t being serious? It’s hard to tell, which is even more troubling.

          • Well, less than 24 hours after the dossier was released, it was learned that Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer who was mentioned in the dossier as having met someone at the Kremlin in 2016 had in fact been in America at the time the meeting was to have taken place.

            If this fooled the MSM and the IC for months, they should hide their head in a sack. Nothing is verifiable except for what has been verified to be false.

          • Inquiring Mind

            http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/01/fake-news-buzzfeed-cnn-fall-trump-piss-story-4chan-prank/

            Read above.

            And yes… I trust Gateway Pundit more than I trust media outlts outside Breitbart, the Daily Caller, The Blaze, and Fox News.

            • And I’d rather drink hemlock than Drano. The Gateway Pundit is a joke. I won’t use him, ever. Not after this…

              Hoft is a liar, and not very bright either. You shouldn’t dignify him with your time.

              • Chris

                Another more recent example: The Gateway Pundit recently fell for an Internet hoax, created by Nazis, that accused CNN of “lightening” a picture of the Fort Lauderdale shooter to make him appear white. The compare/contrast picture circulated was never shown by CNN and was of a completely different person. The Gateway Pundit published the image anyway.

            • Chris

              The Gateway Pundit is even worse than Breitbart and the Daily Caller, and waaaay worse than the Blaze, which at least occasionally features interesting and fact-based examinations of issues that break with conservative dogma.

              • I think when you cross the lines Breitbart and the Gateway Pundit cross, further comparisons are superfluous. They both are beneath contempt. The Blaze has been surprisingly fair, given that it’s progenitor is nuts. The DC is a problem. It actually does some excellent investigative reporting, and at other times, is like the Enquirer. I regard it as the Right’s version of The Daily Beast.

  7. charlesgreen

    Racism is a problem. No, racism is not a problem. In fact, it’s the only the left that complains about it. In fact, the left is the cause of racism. Reverse racism is a problem. In fact, Obama is the head racist.

    Fake news is a problem. No, fake news is not a problem. In fact, it’s only the left that complains about fake news. Actually, media bias is the same as fake news. In fact, the NYTimes is the head fake news entity.

    This is the same twisted logic that I see employed by Trump, and increasingly among the echo chamber on this blog. Up is down, black is white, and CNN is indistinguishable from BrightFart.

    Are you kidding? Have you gone nuts? In today’s crazy Trump world, the president publicly accuses CNN of “being” “fake news,” then calling on Breitbart in a press conference. Are you kidding me?

    Note that the mainstream press held on to the Russia dossier literally for months, while it was in wide private distribution, before Buzzfeed (dishonorably) gave it up. (Completely different from what CNN did, which was simply report on what by then had become a news story). And then Trump intentionally conflates the two.

    That shows considerable restraint in pursuit of traditional fact-based journalism – but of course that doesn’t fit the story line of Trump et al, who insist that the MSM indiscriminately publishes all manner of gossip with no signs of professionalism.

    No. You’re losing the forest for the trees. The MSM is far from perfect, and Jack in particular does a good job of keeping them honest.

    But come on, people, the crap I hear here about 10,000-reader indy blogs and doing better than CBS/NBC/NYT/WaPo/Morning Joe? Get real. You’re carrying Trump’s water in this faux fake business, and there’s not much honorable in that.

    • Chris

      Note that the mainstream press held on to the Russia dossier literally for months, while it was in wide private distribution, before Buzzfeed (dishonorably) gave it up.

      This is an important point. Several journalists were given this story weeks and even months ago, and passed on it due to lack of substantiation.

      At best one could argue that Buzzfeed acted unethically by publishing the story (and the memos). But once that was done, the notion that other news agencies should not have reported the fact that Trump was briefed on memos indicating he is being blackmailed by a foreign power is too stupid to take seriously. Of course that’s real news. My god.

      • charlesgreen

        Exactly

        • carcarwhite

          Good points. I’m sure there are a lot of fake stories not being told… i hear them from “friends” on facebook and laugh. Truly. One said he has “inner connections to the CIA” and this peegate will be THE biggest story in our nation’s history when it all comes out… yes, really.

      • Thus spreading a false rumor and giving it credibility. Do you read Facebook? Do you have any idea how many happy Trump haters are citing this story as true, based on the way CNN reported it? How is fake news news, unless the intent is to have people believe it? Intelligence personel leaked this to hurt Trump, and CNN was complicit. That’s not news. That’s keeping a Big Lie alive. Tell me, did CNN report, “Allegations have been made that John Podesta is involved in a sex ring working out of a DC pizza place. CNN cannot verify the claim. We will be following this story.” What’s the difference?

        • Chris

          Has the intelligence community investigated Pizzagate? Were they tipped off by a reliable source who also happens to be an intelligence agent? If not, can you see why your comparison is ridiculous?

          • Fake is fake, Chris. This is also the delusion the news media wants us to follow: that there a gradations of misinformation. Both stories were contrived to smear a candidate, and publicizing either aids that cause. Who makes the claiam, and how it is investigated, doesn’t change the ethical mandate not to spread lies and rumors, or to give them weight by doing so. Have you read the BuzzFeed piece? It isn’t credible on its face; it would matter if the Pope submitted it.

            • Chris

              You have no idea if it’s fake. And you’re actually saying if the Pope submitted these allegations, the press shouldn’t report it?

              Should the press have refused to report Trump’s birther allegations in 2011?

              • Chris, if an account or claim hasn’t been verified and can’t be verified, then from a news perspective, it’s preemptively fake. That’s what the Big Lie is all about. That’s what Harry Reid was exploiting when he said Romney hadn’t paid any taxes. You might as well say nobody knows if the claim that Obama isn’t a citizen is fake. Come on.

                • Chris

                  Reid stated that as fact before the evidence was in. That was wrong. Obama revealed a legal birth certificate in 2008, before he even became president, and there was a plethora of other overwhelming evidence showing us that he was born in Hawaii.

                  No media outlet has reported the allegations against Trump as fact. They did report on both Harry Reid’s allegations against Romney and Trump’s allegations against Obama, because those allegations were news even if the allegations themselves were wrong. So I’m not sure what your point is; the media has done exactly what they did in both those previous incidences, so where is the double standard?

                  • “So I’m not sure what your point is; the media has done exactly what they did in both those previous incidences, so where is the double standard?”

                    Don’t shift this to the media. I accused *you* of a double standard.

                  • The point is that this is how the Big Lie works. In Reid’s case, the news media reported it as a credible allegation from an elected official presumed to be telling the truth. If it reports such slander at all, it must frame it as a likely lie—which is how Trump’s birther nonsense was framed. This is a standard trick for getting hearsay into trials, and lawyers have been sanctioned for it: you put on a witness who says, “I heard X say Y,” where Y is inadmissible. It’s an unethical tactic, and the ethical practice, when there is no proof of the allegations at all, is to call them “unsubstantiated allegations,” period.

                    • Chris

                      It’s an unethical tactic, and the ethical practice, when there is no proof of the allegations at all, is to call them “unsubstantiated allegations,” period.

                      That’s exactly what CNN, and every other MSM source that has reported on the allegations, have done.

                    • Not true. CNN has explicated the allegations. I said they should allude to allegations, not repeat lies and note that they are allegations.

                    • Chris

                      Not true. CNN has explicated the allegations. I said they should allude to allegations, not repeat lies and note that they are allegations.

                      I misunderstood. So you’re saying that CNN should have reported that unsubstantiated allegations against Donald Trump exist, but should not have mentioned the most important allegation: that he is actively collaborating with a foreign government under blackmail.

                      I can’t agree. Such an allegation–made by someone that the intelligence community says is a reliable source–is too serious to not be made public knowledge.

                      CNN has stressed multiple times that the allegations have no real evidence, other than the memos themselves. That is responsible.

                    • Chris, I can’t comprehend your logic here.

  8. I do hope the Apprentice will tidy-up his future meetings with the hack-storm-troopers. But, I suspect he won’t. He has become a billionaire, and then, “The President of the United States,” by being just who he is, doing just as he has always done. So, I’ll be most surprised if he does change, in even the smallest way, his manner of interaction with the Gallery of Gotcha-Goons, the self-appointed ayatollahs of assholery in the great wasteland of the American propcastmosphere.

    It’s exasperating enough that Trump is woefully inarticulate, even if he does occasionally show a hint of jujitsu skill in his all-offensive, all-the-time style. But so far, he is a disappointment. He hasn’t shown a sense of humor about these propcaster hate-ins – at least, not a sense of humor that might entertain, and retain the loyalty of, his 2016 voters who gave him a victory. (Note, I did not say “base;” to say that Trump has a base of voters is wildly speculative, maybe even wishful.) He can’t survive forever on public pity for being a partisan hack-ee. He can’t expect the public that cast a massive “fuck you” vote in his favor to continue voting against his detractors without some new reasons to sustain that “fuck you” mass attitude.

    If he could at least be a bit playful now and then…if only he would treat his dependable attackers like tantrum-throwing grandchildren, who’ve just been dumped-off for a time-out (for their parents’ sanity’s sake) at “Grandpa Ogre’s” cramped, Wifi- and TV-bereft, foul-smelling, not-housecleaned-in-decades Craftsman bungalow, while knowing (and knowing that the American public knows) that there is absolutely no way to satisfy or settle-down or console them, let alone win their most grudging respect – the hate-ins might be fun to catch live. His future counter-performances against the punditocracy’s hive mind must sustain at least some of the Barnum-and-Bailey self-promotion that got him elected. Otherwise, the professional haters with keyboards and national broadcast platforms will boycott him, and the public will be stuck with nothing on the air but constant re-runs of Michelle and Barack Obama speeches and NPR interviews of the Obamas.

    Trump could do what even Bl Cnton’s oral sex escapades, Stewart’s, Colbert’s, and Oliver’s commiecomic bleepathonic blather, and the courts’ redefinition of marriage have not done: bust taboos. I picture this: his smoking-hot, cleavage-containment-challenged blonde deputy press secretary – spouting a vocabulary of profanity that makes Howard Beale sound like a mere 1930s radio news reader – or maybe, just Kelly Conway, or Ivanka, or some babe we haven’t seen yet, who looks at least as good as Amy Schumer, sharing the sting-taking in the “press room” with Donald, while the killer bees of the bullshit brigades attempt to swarm them. This would have to be one smart girl…Ann Coulter!

    The “counter-press” partner babe can act as translator for Donald; after one of the haters’ queries finally is completed (at the culmination of at least 8 minutes of lead-in whining about Russian hackers and administration foot-dragging about the latest unsubstantiated allegations from the CIA, plus preaching about how the lack of affordable masters degrees for undocumented immigrants will heat global oceans to boiling by 2021), she can turn to Donald and say, live and on the air, “What the partisan asshole REALLY is asking is: [‘give translation of query’].” Then, Donald can do his usual riff of babble. (Again, I wish he would at least sprinkle that babble with a little jest.)

    But seriously, “asshole” needs to become completely and henceforth forever un-bleeped on ALL live broadcasts – along with a glorious shitpile of additional “profanity” and “hate speech.” Let’s get this fucking shit-show of the 45th was-U.S. presidency off the damned Puritan pot!

  9. zoebrain

    Predictable. Predicted, on 18 Dec last year.

  10. Pennagain

    That’s why they’re called throw pillows, Jack.

  11. It seems to me that someone here, someone close to the Beltway and close to the power-center, should be able to offer an analysis of ‘what really is going on’ within government now. That is a question: what really is going on?

    It is based on the assumption that 1) what I am given to see might very well be just various forms of ‘propcast’: broadcast propaganda I take this to be (a word that Lucky used, above, and a Google search of it led back to Ethics Alarms). 2) that a behind-the-scenes power struggle is on-going but it is not really democratic. That means power struggles within the halls of power. This assumes that there are power blocks that function at a governmental level, or stand behind or beside in some way, and yet exert influence that by-passes democratic process. Why is it that there are always references to PACs and also to specific people who seem to have inordinate influence? Like Soros or those two conservative brothers who donate to right-leaning causes? But since this is by its nature an indication that America is or may be less ‘democratic’ than it says, how can this be talked about openly?

    Is there military interests involved here? Is this a question of the ‘military industrial complex’ and who, except the Leftists (I mean, the real Leftists and not so much the Liberals: God only knows what a ‘liberal’ really wants or advocates for) can offer a rational critique of the military industrial complex in the US? Is it that *they* want to continue in a Cold War stance against Russia so to be able to remain at the center? To be able to continue to influence? To get contracts? To keep the US on a military footing? Looking for battles? Finding them?

    Why does so much of this have to do with ‘the intelligence community’? What is going on there? If we accept that ‘intelligence community’ is a spin-off of War Department, then the term ‘propaganda department’ and ‘propaganda operations’ cannot be considered mere paranoid references. What is the link between ‘intelligence operations’ (what ‘intelligence agencies’ do) and the political climate which is developing now? That is to say, walls of confusing stories, narrative/counter-narratives, accusations and defenses. The impression of all sorts of different manouvres and backroom goings-on and dealings?

    Why is it that I have the impression that what I am seeing (the surface) is not really what is important here? This loops back to the main question: What really is going on here?

    If Trump really is, as he seems to be, a sort og God-send to the ‘Republican Establishment’ and now they will be able to unravel and reverse a great deal of the program that was initiated by Pres. Obama through a) some level of ‘popular mandate’ and b) through executive action, this means, doesn’t it? that the wheels of industry will begin to turn faster and that ‘Greatness’ will be achieved through economic expansion. That is a ‘good’ isn’t it? Is my impression right that the ‘business community’ welcomes Trump et al? That is, on one hand the NYTs has become Hysterical Opposition and amazing in its slant; but the WSJ and its industrial readership seem to be exulting in the gains that will be made.

    What then is the opposition? Who is so opposed to Trump and the policies he will favor?

    Are these good questions, or are they bad questions?

    • If Trump really is, as he seems to be, a sort og God-send to the ‘Republican Establishment’ and now they will be able to unravel and reverse a great deal of the program that was initiated by Pres. Obama through a) some level of ‘popular mandate’ and b) through executive action, this means, doesn’t it? that the wheels of industry will begin to turn faster and that ‘Greatness’ will be achieved through economic expansion. That is a ‘good’ isn’t it? Is my impression right that the ‘business community’ welcomes Trump et al? That is, on one hand the NYTs has become Hysterical Opposition and amazing in its slant; but the WSJ and its industrial readership seem to be exulting in the gains that will be made.

      What then is the opposition? Who is so opposed to Trump and the policies he will favor?

      Are these good questions, or are they bad questions?

      They are good questions. (I love Og-God!) Objections to Trump by people like me have nothing to do with policy but with character, values, ability and manner (my objections to Obama were mostly on the same basis.) Both Trump and Obama were elected as symbolic abstractions.

      If he’s capable of doing what he says he wants to do with alienating more than half the nation with his manner and corrupting the other half with his lack of ethics, yes, he could be a very good thing for the economy, for rule of law, for basic American values like speech and self-sufficiency. Democrats don’t care about any of that: he’s an impediment to their power, so they are willing to take any number of unethical, dangerous and destructive measures to undermine him and his ability to govern.

      • It seems to hit the mark: both Obama and Trump were elected as ‘symbolic abstractions’. That a Republic would come to that juncture seems dangerous.

        I have a couple of questions. One is do you see the evolution of the office of the presidency as moving in a good direction? I mean from the perspective of the Constitution? I have gotten the impression that if the Founding generation were to see what has become of the office (too powerful, too important) they would not be pleased. It was not what they had in mind, at least from what I have read.

        It is quite difficult to imagine the diminishment of the power of the presidency and the Federal government at this point. Does it worry you that it is increasing in importance and focus? And what would have to happen for the office itself to be diminished in power? And are you in support of that?

        My other question is not so much a question as a comment. It seems to me that the greater strength of the US is in all the other levels of government, that is, states and municipalities. It seems to me that the government of the US at these levels is overall sound. Would you agree?

        • Let’s see: other Presidents elected as abstractions: Carter, Kennedy, Ike, Grant, W.H. Harrison. Hillary ran as an abstraction. Except for Ike, they haven’t been very good at actual governing, but its a small pool.

          • What about this, if you don’t mind me insisting:

            “It is quite difficult to imagine the diminishment of the power of the presidency and the Federal government at this point. Does it worry you that it is increasing in importance and focus? And what would have to happen for the office itself to be diminished in power? And are you in support of that?”

            I have further annoying questions. Like what sort of a man (I guess I must say *person*) do you feel is needed to fulfil the role of president? I mean, if anyone can find a historical parallel within American history it would have to be you.

            Can America be ‘united’? But if it can’t, what then?

            What previous epoch do you think our present epoch is most reflected in? I mean, what epoch do you most think of?

            • “It is quite difficult to imagine the diminishment of the power of the presidency and the Federal government at this point. Does it worry you that it is increasing in importance and focus? And what would have to happen for the office itself to be diminished in power? And are you in support of that?”

              Sorry: meant to get back to you on this yesterday.
              Strong Presidents are good if they are good. Weak Presidents are bad for the country, period. A strong President does not have to mean an intrusive government. I do not advocate a weakened Presidency. A diminished and less intrusive government, however, is a no-brainer. All evidence supports that. The only ones who don’t are 1) the ones who are afraid of losing sinecures and power; 2) statists/socialists, and those who want to live off the government as much as they can.

    • Alizia, I think your questions are good ones. I appreciate your commenting, and hope you will continue. I don’t know enough about what is going on with Trump and his friends (nor do I know as much as I would like to know about what is going on with his enemies) to be at peace. But, it has been plentifully and painfully clear enough, for a long enough time, about what has been going on with the Cntons and their friends that I could not be more delighted that that particular clique of assholes has, for now, some uphill battles to regain control of the levers of power in the was-U.S.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        Alizia, you are correct in understanding my use of “propcast(er)(s):” propaganda broadcast(ers)(ing). I was inspired by the old term, “agitprop:” agitation propaganda (like “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”). The sum of the spectrum and content of audio and video broadcasting (propcasting) that surrounds is (or, has become, due to partyism) the “propcastmosphere.”

      • Thank you, Lucky. I must say it really seems to be a strange moment in the history of the nation. Every day goes by I understand less and less.

    • What does that mean to you? I wrote already that the two individuals involved needed to cooperate to avoid the Two Presidents problem. Obama obviously decided to intentionally not do so, and Prisoner’s Dilemma-like, so did Trump. Not at all surprised. I might even argue that it’s responsible, if Obama is intent on undermining his successor’s foreign relations on the way out the door. Do you recall that it was Obama, in 2008, who insisted on opening dialogue with US “enemies”?

      • Chris

        It’s another piece of evidence indicating Trump and his people are unusually close with the Russian government.

        One would think that, while being investigated for possibly being involved with the Russian government’s hack on the DNC, and having been accused of being blackmailed by the Russian government, Trump would want to distance himself from Russia as much as possible.

        Unless, of course, he can’t.

        • He has not been accused of being blackmailed! And what does “unusually close” mean? how often has Trump been to Russia? Once. (So have I.) He has never met Putin. He has no property in Russia.

          • Chris

            Either Trump was lying when he said he met Putin, or he was lying when he said he’s never met Putin. I’m not sure we have confirmation either way.

            Trump himself has said, on camera, that he talked to Putin in 2014, when he hosted the Miss Universe pageant in Russia. He said in a speech at the National Press Club that year: “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”
            More recently, during a Republican primary debate last November, Trump claimed he met Putin a second time when they were both guests on 60 Minutes. “I got to know him very well,” he bragged.

            https://thinkprogress.org/donald-trump-claims-he-has-never-met-vladimir-putin-he-has-b337623ea8e0#.138yw5137

            There is evidence Trump has been to Russia more than once:

            http://www.gq.com/story/howard-stern-donald-trump-russia-brag?mbid=social_twitter

            Donald Trump, Jr. said a lot of their money comes from Russia:

            At a 2008 real estate conference in New York, Donald Trump Jr., the president-elect’s eldest son and Trump Organization’s vice president of operations, highlighted the large influx of investment from the country, the online trade publication eTurboNews reported.

            “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” he said, according to the site. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.

            https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-denial-business-ties-russia-203546849.html

            The close ties to Russia among many of Trump’s campaign staff and cabinet picks has been well documented.

            • “Close ties” is such a slimy term. Obama’s administration has “close ties” to Al Sharpton by the same standards. I fault Obama for having any “ties,” but I don’t suspect Obama of taking marching orders from Al. Obama had “close ties” to Rev. Wright.

              Trump’s a blow-hard. He’s set himself up for this suspicion in many ways, but saying he has close ties because he met with someone once OR twice defies personal experience. There are judges that I have breakfast with every few months, one on one, talk ethics, legal cases for almost an hour, they call me “Jack,” I call them “Judge.” They know me well enough to say, Hi! when we meet. I’ve even asked them for advice or their opinions. A local police chief, a local celebrity of sorts, has known me for years. I introduced him to his wife. I have had dinner with him. I’ve directed him is a show. If I call him up, he’ll return my call.

              Do I have “close ties” to the judges or the police chief? No. But I bet they are closer ties than what Trump has with Putin.

              • Chris

                Jack, are you forgetting all of the scandals involving Russia that plagued Trump over the summer? That’s understandable; there were a lot of them. Are you forgetting Manafort? I can’t even find an article that lists every single one of the red flags; every single one leaves something out.

                http://time.com/4433880/donald-trump-ties-to-russia/

                • This was the assessment of CNN four days ago. There is no scandal. Anywhere. Having dealings with Russian business and the rest are not “ties.” That’s a deliberately misleading term.

                  We adopted my son from Russia; we dealt with a Russian agency; we met officials; and we have a Russian son. By CNN’s standards, Jack Marshall has “ties to Russia.”

  12. charlesgreen

    Jack, I think you and Mr Trump are doing the world a disservice by intentionally trying to render meaningless the term “fake news.”

    You are fond of suggesting that “obviously false” statements should be obvious as such, and showing disdain for people who traditionally believe such crap as “alien baby born to woman in Cleveland.” But in recent years, the Enquirer-style hyperbole has metastasized. Zuckerberg shares as much blame as Trump for ignoring the levels of crap that got put into Facebook, and believing, as you, that nobody reasonable would believe it.

    Wrong. Here’s a recent Stanford study decrying the inability of American students to tell fact from fiction.
    https://ed.stanford.edu/news/stanford-researchers-find-students-have-trouble-judging-credibility-information-online

    More anecdotally, those alien babies are increasingly not “born to woman in Cleveland,” but to Hillary, or Michelle. People with guns believe Hillary ran a child pornography ring out of a pizza parlor. This phenomenon is serious, corrosive, and a real problem that deserves real attention.

    This phenomenon needs a name. “Fake news” seemed to do pretty well, IMHO, though a rose by any other name.

    The problem comes when you and Trump intentionally conflate that phenomenon with at least four other distinct (and distinguishable) phenomena – specifically:
    – flawed reporting
    – biased reporting
    – disinformation, and
    – the Big Lie.

    You, Jack, do a great job of pointing out 1) flawed reporting; IMHO, you are quick to attribute flawed reporting to 2) biased reporting, but you are doubtless quite often right.

    3) Disinformation is very different. It is typically 95% accurate, so as to disguise the 5% lie, and often created by very smart people to get past over very smart people. Think of all the cryptography cover-up disinformation from WWII to cover Enigma and Normandy.

    Now look at the “Russia dossier.” You’ve got people babbling on this blog that it’s “fake news.” Bull.
    –It is quite possibly disinformation, because it has a lot of trappings of real information – a clearly identified source with a credible bio, lots of “genuine” appearance.
    –It is also quite possibly flawed reporting, given that a few obvious points are already provably wrong (Cohen in Prague, for example; and Trump’s germophobia is somewhat probative).
    –In this case, it’s almost certainly biased, those whose bias is not clear, as it was supposedly originally contracted for by Republicans.
    –And of course you’ve got Trump calling it “Fake News.” Worse yet, you’ve got Trump calling CNN “fake news” itself, morphing even grammatically from adjective to noun. And this is the worst of all, because it’s The Big Lie. It is Trump’s version of “bullshit” or “asshole” wrapped in the cover of something everyone already knows to be true on a trivial level.

    Whatever the “russia dossier: is, it shouldn’t be called Fake News. It is one of the other categories, and we should be having serious discussions about which it is.

    And by the way, it is absolutely worth noting that the MSM, whom Trump now calls purveyors of “fake news,” stuck to traditional standards of journalism in holding off for months on publication, BECAUSE it was non-verifiable, despite efforts to verity it. Even David Corn, a pretty left-wing news guy, said, “Even Donald Trump is entitled to journalistic integrity.”

    Stop contributing to the fake idea that mainstream journalism has no standards. It’s got great standards, which they deserve to be held to, rather than obliterated in an obfuscatory linguistic assault on meaning.

    There IS a difference.

    • Uh…. the Left wing Media has rendered the term “fake news” meaningless by consistently pushing dishonest reporting, biased reporting, fact-avoidance, and other *anti-journalistic* methods in its own presentations.

      Having it pointed out by others doesn’t make those others complicit in the undermining of the term.

      Can we find one single Left winger who will own the problems of the Left???

      I’m really desperate here. Are there any honest Left wingers still in existence?

      • charlesgreen

        Texagg, you couldn’t possibly have provided a better object example of my point. You are using the Big Lie to obfuscate reasonable distinctions.

        It’s not you, it’s “the left wing media” who have rendered the term meaningless (Big Lie); you list all manner of distinctions and say it is all the left’s fault for using them to confuse the term “fake news,” when your very sentence is guilty of that act itself.

        Big Lie, Texagg, Big Lie.

        • You’re either hopeless or dishonest. Which is it?

          • charlesgreen

            I’ll go with hopeless Texagg; you just keep on digging a hole for yourself.

            I am astonished that, after I wrote about the distinction between various types of “news” and the inability of the Right to make those distinctions, your response is simply to list basically the same distinctions and say it’s the left’s fault.

            Really? This is nothing more than childish “no I’m not but you are.” Maybe we could call it “fake argumentation.”

            • I’ll not take a side, but we may need a new Fallacy category: Argumentum Ante Bovinum!

              We have all Aristotelian minds yet we cannot agree on interpretation of the facts. I am baffled as a cow myself. Oh well, I’ll just keep chewing through things.

    • There is no difference, except that fake news published by news organizations has the undeserved presumption of legitimacy, so its more damaging. The media’s “fake news” obsession is a diversion to take focus away from its own incompetence, bias, and incompetence.

      I agree with Glenn Greenwald, whom I quoted here

      “Whether the Post’s false stories here can be distinguished from what is commonly called “Fake News” is, at this point, a semantic dispute, particularly since “Fake News” has no cogent definition. Defenders of Fake News as a distinct category typically emphasize intent in order to differentiate it from bad journalism. That’s really just a way of defining Fake News so as to make it definitionally impossible for mainstream media outlets like the Post ever to be guilty of it”

      …except that many of the examples I’m seen of late, like the CBS radio report on the Chicago attack, IS intentional. You seem to think that refusing to accept that journalism is as untrustworthy as it is must be a better approach than admitting the horrible truth. I don’t see why. It’s denial, and allows the profession to continue to avoid reform.

      • charlesgreen

        “There is no difference, except that fake news published by news organizations has the undeserved presumption of legitimacy, so its more damaging.”

        I call bullshit. Albanian teenagers hitchhiking on Google adwords and Facebook advertising ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT from NYT, CBS et al. It sounds ridiculous to even have to write that sentence.

        And when you flatly insist that “there is no difference,” you are doing a huge disservice, because there are a lot of gullible, sullen, down-on-their-luck, prone-to-believe-bullshit people out there who actually think you are saying something meaningful and accurate. Which you are not.

        That is just flat-out ridiculous and deserves to be called so.

        • Who does more damage-

          Melvin Shlubknuckles saying: “The Dalai Lama endorses killing children to control population.”

          OR

          Anderson Cooper saying: “The Dalai Lama endorses killing children to control population.”

          ?

        • Unpack your argument, Charles. You are saying that obviously silly fake stories planted to get clicks–including those from people like me, who are curious about just how dumb the story is, are more harmful than biased misframing, distortions or outright falsehood by the mainstream media, that far, far more people believe because of the source.

          I don’t see how you can possibly make that case. Both are counter-factual news stories presented as fact.

          • charlesgreen

            Unpacking is exactly what we all need to do, I agree.

            I suggest that you’re underestimating the impact of what you or I might think of as “obviously silly fake stories planted to get clicks.” Remember, we live in a world where people with guns read that crap and drive to a pizza parlor to save children from sex abuse at the hands of Hillary.

            More broadly, a third of Americans believe in UFOs; as many Americans believe in Bigfoot as in the Big Bang; 58% of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax (vs. <1% of scientists); and 43% of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim. (All these from a quick google search – full disclosure).

            In that context, I think a piece of bad reporting by well intentioned (if biased) professional journalists on, say, CNN, is actually less harmful than a dozen fake headlines aimed at Muslim-izing Obama, knowing that Google and Facebook are far far stronger distribution networks than is CNN.

            The media power in this world is not you or I watching Wolf Blitzer; it's unemployed stoners and opioid addicts click-feasting on Facebook. CNN has half a million viewers; Facebook has 1.8 billion, or 3600 times as many, by my count.

            That means whatever Anderson Cooper says is immediately vetted by a bunch of people relatively educated people, attuned to the ways of media; while click-bait appealing to the worst instincts in (almost always right-wing, read the interviews with the Albanians who put it out and who knows what pays) disaffected people, and yeah, I think when you unpack it, the original meaning of "fake news" is a lot more harmful than MSM slips.

            Take a look at the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer: for the first time in its 15 years, the level of trust globally has declined in every single category.
            http://www.edelman.com/trust2017/
            This is not solely a function of MSM (or solely of fake news, for that matter), but a much broader phenomenon. IMHO, the fake news epidemic is both cause and effect in this trust implosion, and the MSM is, albeit flawed, one of the few repositories of reason.

    • Your error stems from trying to define a plethora of categories, two of which are “real news” and “fake news”. The problem is, the term “real” and “fake” are dichotomous. There aren’t other options, there may be other things going on that *are completely ethical actions*, such as “news commentary and analysis” or “entertainment” that you hope to capture as some form of news, but in reality it too is “fake news” only insomuch as efforts like that never sought to be news at all.

      The MSM, which has thoroughly embarrassed itself this past 8 years, is doing its level best to smear alternates to the MSM. But it has to do that in such a way that it can group it’s legitimate “opponents” into the same category as honest-to-goodness “fake news”. This lends itself to an ever nebulous definition of “fake news” in which the MSM will inevitably find itself and compel it to forever redefine “fake news”.

      No, you need to stop trying to define a dozen categories so you can have an isolated cluster of items than can be called “fake news” and an isolated cluster of items that can be called “propaganda” and an isolated cluster of items that can be called “hoaxes” and an isolated cluster of items that can be called “disinformation”. You need to start by defining “real news” or “real journalism”, and in so defining, establish clear descriptors of what “real news” actually is, so that when you come across any particular item you can compare it to those descriptors and decide “real news” or “not real news” (aka “fake news”). You see, “fake news” is an overarching category, into which much will fall.

      Let’s take a stab at an easy definition of “real news” or “real journalism”. I’d submit, at a bare minimum, News is the effort to distribute all and only the known facts of current events in a timely manner as well as identify gaps in known facts of those events remaining to be filled while avoiding speculation about those gaps.

      This definition has several implications:
      1) In it’s effort to distribute all the known facts, “real news” can err by leaving out pertinent information that IS known. It can also err by failing to caveat when gaps in information exist, in order to quash inaccurate or potentially false speculation that could do real damage.

      2) In it’s effort to distribute only the known facts, “real news” can err by adding speculation as though it were fact, misleading the reader or viewer.

      3) In it’s effort to distribute in a timely manner the known facts, “real news” can err by failing to verify its information in pursuit of points 1 & 2. It often rushes to beat the competition and fails to do it’s homework. I think “real news” does this far to often and have gotten so used to this error they no longer see how damaging this can be. It also errs by bringing out known facts WAY TO LATE to do any good – such as a half-hearted correction buried in the back pages or just outright late reporting.

      Anytime “real news” fails in any of these efforts, one must ask themselves, is this just a forgiveable error, or was it an intentional obfuscation? If intentional obfuscation, what is the intent? Propaganda? Misinformation? Hoaxing? Entertainment?

      So, you have a beef related to Hanlon’s razor: never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity. You’re real issue is a failure to recognize that when the MSM makes this many “errors”, either they are colossally inept or maybe there is something sinister afoot…

      Which, when the MSM and it’s loyalist enablers spin for it and try to isolate behavior IT ENGAGES IN only to other news / intentional fake news sources, it runs into serious trouble. Again, it is it’s own fault that the term “fake news” is now watered down to meaninglessness.

      • charlesgreen

        “Again, it is it’s own fault that the term “fake news” is now watered down to meaninglessness.”

        Again and again, you make my point for me. You start out with a phenomenon (fake news a la Albanian teens and National Enquirer), conflate it with faulty real news, and end up blaming the victim for the conflation.

        When someone keeps doing this, you have to ask, are they colossally inept or sinister? Your choice.

        • Charles, I’ll repeat the painfully obvious part of this yet again-

          If the MSM does these “errors” *this often* *this predictably* *this consistently* and *for this long*, they are either colossally incompetent as news reporters….COLOSSALLY

          Or, they are doing this on purpose.

          You keep dodging this realization. I’m even giving you an option that parallels the excuses you are making for them, that these are errors. If they are errors, it isn’t fake news, just really really really stupid people being elevated to stations they ought not be trusted with.

          If they aren’t errors, then sorry charles, we can only label it what it is- fake news.

          I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, being one of their most loyal acolytes, to recognize when one of your most beloved institutions is revealed to be corrupt for generations.

          • Especially when you’ve staked so much of your own self worth in that institutions’ endorsement of your worldview.

          • charlesgreen

            OMG TexAgg, now that you’ve added bold font and asterisks, I finally got it through my thick head. I’ve been such a fool! Now I see the TRUTH. Thank you!

            Sulzberger and Paley were well-known Albanian Mafia families. Breitbart has been right all along. Walter Cronkite was an early plant. Obama was born in Area 51. Hillary had an alien baby’ we know this because they NYT said she didn’t. (And of course, Obama – Muslim Kenyan).

            Probably the NYT set up the Albanian teens as a cover, to draw attention away from their own nefarious commy evil-doings. BUT, thanks to good patriots doing true blog-commenting-I-mean journalism, their true intentions are revealed.

            Unless of course the NYT itself is the cover, and it’s the Albanian teens who are really the brains behind it all…

            Who can tell? There’s really no difference between any of them. Thank you TexAgg for removing the blinders from my eyes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s