Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump Jr. "Probably Met With Other Russians"

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   The media feeding frenzy is disgusting, but there's no doubt about it--this is huge. It's huge even thought Trump Jr.'s story doesn't seem that unlikely to me. It might have been a dumb mistake made out of political inexperience. But, of course, it might not have been. And: it might constitute a major transgression even if it was a mistake. And then there's the little matter of not revealing it. Which could also be explained: the Trump campaign faced an extremely hostile media that was gunning for them at every turn. It's easy to imagine erring on the side of secrecy under those conditions...even if you're not trying to collude. 
   I can be sanguine about all this because we've got a gaggle of investigations addressing it, and I have faith that the truth will out. But also, honestly, as much as I dislike Trump, I'm (a) starting to feel a little sorry for those guys, and (b) I am, more and more, coming to think that the news media is a very dangerous thing. That in no way is meant to indicate any doubt about the necessity of a free press, as goes without saying. But damn...when they hate you and there's blood in the water, you are screwed. You just better hope you never get tangled up in something that turns the weapons of mass media destruction in your direction...

6 Comments:

Blogger The Mystic said...

We should think about what degree of criminality may be present in the incompetence which permits this sort of thing.

I think it unlikely that the trump campaign operatives actually thought "I know, let's use Russia's hostility to the United States and their capacities exercised in that direction to undermine our democracy so that we can win the election."

They probably instead thought "Hey, cool, the Russians like use and we can use their assistance to win the election."

If that is actually what happened, is that impeachable? Is that a sort of criminal negligence (of the same sort, even, that Clinton demonstrated in her willful refusal to follow standard operation procedures and host her own email server)?

I would say yes, but then what do we do if it turns out that basically no one succeeds in avoiding such negligence? To be fair, there is a ginormous shitload of considerations to be had when acting as political leadership over the country, and mistakes, even willful negligence, is bound to occur.

If we strain to hold trump et. al. accountable for this failure, and we wind up setting a precedent whose application in the future will render any standard-issue American politician subject to removal, we run the risk of completely incapacitating ourselves.

The smart way to solve that issue, of course, would be to elect people who are actually capable of running the country properly, but shit, you and I and everyone else knows that we can't even get that right in smaller-scale organizations. Everywhere I've worked has invariably featured downright overtly incompetent people scattered throughout the organization.

I don't know how to remediate that without focusing on increasing the virtue of our citizens, and I certainly don't know how to accomplish the latter in any surefire way.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

when they hate you and there's blood in the water, you are screwed.

I don't get it Winston. Are these events evidence that this sort of thing will happen if they hate you? Or that it will happen if you assume the most powerful office in the world and then act like a deranged, thuggish mob boss? And are you 'screwed' if they hate you even if you're innocent? Or only if you're guilty as hell? So far as I can see, these events at most completely underdetermine these issues.

I have serious concerns about the out-of-control use of anonymous sources, one-note choruses of op-eds in ideological unison, grotesque obliviousness to the dangers of talking down to half the population... and on and on. But if the investigative media is like a terrier with a rat when it comes to this kind of wrongdoing, how can that be more 'dangerous' than... this kind of wrongdoing?

Are you saying that the gloves were off any less when it came to the other half of the media investigating Whitewater, or Benghazi? (I say 'other half', but what I really mean is: the media most people get their news and opinion from.) Are you saying that there's any other explanation for why those rabid packs of journalists didn't bring down an administration, than that, in the end, there just wasn't anything there? And why are your concerns about the media coming to a head just at the moment they actually uncover something?

11:22 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, some of that I don't disagree with, DJ...but why do you keep trying to push comparisons onto me that I didn't make nor suggest?

I'm not saying that the media is *worse* than Trump, nor that their treatment of Trump is *worse* than their treatment of Clinton.

Nor am I even saying that their hatred of Trump is unjustified. Well...it's *partially* justified...

And, as for conservative media's attacks on Clinton: I *did* ridicule them...but honestly, I don't take them seriously enough to get that pissed about. You're right, they're a powerful force in terms of numbers...but not in, as it were, my world. What's only just occurred to me is that I have to be a lot more suspicious of the Washington Post and the NYT than I used to think I did. That's an alarming revelation to me.

I'm just saying what I said: that you don't want to be on the receiving end of it.

Maybe this is all coming to a head because I've never seen it this bad before.

Look, it's not the Trump Jr. story that's bothering me. That is straight-up good journalism as far as I'm concerned. It's the fact that the straight-up good journalism is embedded in a huge penumbra of Trump Derangement Syndrome, both inside and outside of the media. And the prevalence of TDS is perfectly consistent with Trump being awful--which he is, as you seem to keep forgetting I believe.

I am skeptical of the hatred of the mob, and I worry a lot about getting caught in echo chambers. Trump's terrible, but we have investigations ongoing. This frees up my fretting resources.

And the left--which includes most of the media--seems like a gigantic circle jerk / echo-chamber to me right now. Sometimes I think the left is probably right--e.g. that Trump's bad. But they're wrong about a lot of other things. And, worse, they've become intellectually vicious--in both senses of 'vicious.' I think intellectual virtue goes a long way...and its absence is very dangerous. Especially when it emerges in spades on the winning side of a culture war.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

I'm not saying that the media is *worse* than Trump...

Am I reading too much into this if it bothers me that you didn't say 'I'm not saying that the media is *as bad* as Trump...'?

...nor that their treatment of Trump is *worse* than their treatment of Clinton.

This is sort of my point. If (one segment of) the media's treatment of Trump is no worse than (another segment of) the media's treatment of Clinton, then it follows that the badness of Trump is of a completely different order from the current antics of the media. I don't keep forgetting that you believe that Trump is awful. It's just that, since you more or less acknowledge that the current awfulness of the media is just about within the range of 'business as usual', the whole 'on the one hand... on the other...' structure of many of your posts on Trump and the media gives me the impression that you're still refusing to acknowledge something really important about Trump.

Maybe it sounds like TDS to say that it's not enough to say he's awful. But it's not enough. George W Bush was awful. Trump is something way, way beyond that -- which is why there's a lot of unqualified denunciation coming from former W administration officials. They're not denouncing the 'liberal media', for all that they doubtless did when they were in power, because they know that this kind of media partiality is in the end what one has to expect. Lindsey Graham isn't spending a lot of time denouncing the media, because even the current level of media hostility to Trump is still kind of 'dog bites man'. The only people spending lot of time denouncing the media are diehard Trump supporters like Hannity and Limbaugh.

Much of the hostility toward Trump, including some that tends toward irrationality, has a really, really good, largely exculpating explanation: the unprecedented, constant stream of blatant lies, smears, misogyny, bullying (it wasn't that long ago that you thought it hyperbolic to call Trump a bully) coming from the White House, and the very strong implication that there's just nothing these people won't stoop to if they think it will serve their narrow interests and they think they can get away with it. It never occurred to me that that might be true of W: that he might hold, for example, the survival of the republic, or the meaning of the presidency, as of just no account by comparison with his own power and self-aggrandisement.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

I also think it's dangerous to think of 'the left' as a monolith that includes eg both the NYT/WaPo and the campus crazies. There's not much overlap there. Kipnis's book was reviewed very favorably in most high-profile liberal media outlets. You don't see Maureen O'Dowd or E. J. Dionne wittering on about intersectionality. George Will, Ross Douthat and Jennifer Rubin are conservatives, and they're as horrified by Trump as anyone is (partly because they're conservatives). The Post regularly runs op-eds by Ed Rogers and Marc Thiessen that come as close to defending Trump as one can without lapsing into obvious incoherence. Krauthammer is still a regular columnist. These papers could be a lot more monochromatically liberal than they are. Look at the Guardian. And they're a lot less monochromatically liberal than Fox News or tha WSJ are monochromatically (pseudo-)conservative.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, agreed, and I usually wince when I type 'the left'...but I do think that a lot of "progressives" and liberals are half-PC, or at least *defending* the campus crazies. And I think that's crucial, and if they didn't, PC wouldn't be much of a threat.

But when you've got OCR and even Justice taking up PC themes...and also the "MSM" like the NYT and Post...not uniformly, but often...well... I think much of the left is at least complicit in all of it.

But, again, as usual, I largely agree with your ceaseless bitching about EVERY MOTHERF...ahem...your efforts to keep me between the political ditches.

11:29 AM  

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