The News Media’s Total Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Us

The American news media trying to tell the story of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did and are still doing to America is a lot like the notion of a couple of blind guys who’ve no idea what an elephant is, trying to make sense of one for the very first time. In the blind guys’ defense, they’ve never encountered an elephant before; they’re entitled to their bafflement. America’s news media knows exactly what the Republican Party is and what Republicans are — they’ve been covering them differently than they cover Democrats for a long, long time apparently because they recognize how different they are, “both sides do it” be damned. America’s news media has it in their heads — because Republicans put it there — that Democrats are as cynical as Republicans (and Republicans are cynicism’s poster boys), that Democrats do things for the very same power-mad, greedy-to-their-toes, white hegemony defending reasons Republicans do. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the news media allowed itself to be lied to relentlessly — and accepted it as “just how President Trump is” as if Trumpism was some kind of “new normal” we’d all have to get used to. No actually — we don’t have to get used to it.

To this day, most of the news media scratches its head as it wonders aloud why pretty much every Republican remains loyal to Donald Trump despite the fact that he lost the White House for them and lost the Senate. There were some pickups in the house but — how about we stick a pin in Republican election results until AFTER we shine a bright light on electronic voting machine maker ES&S and the way some Republicans — Mitch McConnell comes to mind — keep winning elections with numbers that simply don’t add up. Republican loyalty to Trump stumps the American press. That’s weird considering they themselves have already answered their own question. They wonder why current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy flips and flops on Trump’s culpability in the January 6 insurrection like the answer was unknowable when the Washington Post (among other papers) reported in 2017 about a RECORDED conversation they heard about a meeting of the Republican leadership in 2016 a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their 2016 standard bearer.

The Post reported: McCarthy said upon entering the meeting, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That got a few laughs. But no one questioned it. No one said, “Whaaaaat? Kevin — are you kidding? If you’re not, WHY would you say or even THINK such a thing?” As a matter of fact, no one in the meeting seemed the least bit shocked or even surprised. No one picked up a phone to call the FBI, that’s for sure. If anything, calling the authorities and doing what was their PATRIOTIC DUTY would have been a good thing. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan committed everyone present to an omerta:  “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

To my knowledge, not a single journalist has stuck a mic in either Kevin McCarthy’s or Paul Ryan’s face and demanded what the flying eff that conversation was about — and WHY Kevin thought Putin paid Rohrbacher and Trump and WHY Paul Ryan insisted everyone present keep that problematic secret a secret. You’d think — considering what transpired DURING the Trump presidency — especially Trump’s odd relationship with Vlad Putin — that the question would occur in every journalists mind organically. And yet…

This is what journalistic failure of imagination looks like. There’s a “dot one” big as a house and a “dot two” that’s even bigger. Their connection seems more than obvious. Except to American journalists who apparently cannot imagine that dot one could possibly connect to dot two. To be fair, good journalists require receipts before making accusations in print. In “espionage world” however — the world where Russia launched a still ongoing cyber war against us — receipts don’t necessarily exist; if they do, no one’s going to see them. In the same way the existence of a distant exo-planet must be inferred from how its physical presence alters the light being emitted from its star, evidence of Trump’s relationship with Russia must be inferred from HIS behavior in and around Putin.

Unfortunately, even pictures speaking thousands of words can’t convince our news media of the obvious.

What makes this sad situation even worse is that journalists themselves can’t abide other journalists who DO show imagination. To this day, some “journalists” still think of Christopher Steele’s raw data output — “The Steele Dossier” — as unverified rubbish. Um, no actually… Not understanding that one must view raw intel data differently than, say, a deposition hearing where everyone’s sworn in, most journalists fell down the rabbit hole of “knowability”. Without a literal smoking gun to wrap their minds around, they couldn’t imagine how the Donald Trump dot connected to the Vladimir Putin dot. But, even that roadmap was laid out for America’s news media by former and respected members of their ranks!

On August 22, 2017, former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson was called before the Senate House Intelligence Committee (then being run by the Republican Senate). The Republicans were desperate to cast the Steele Dossier as rubbish because, in fact, it wasn’t and isn’t. Simpson explained how the Dossier came about. In the lead up to the 2016 election — during the primaries — the backers of conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon (Marco Rubio supporters) hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump — something political operatives and their money have done forever. As part of their normal due diligence, Simpson explained, his team got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could that had anything to do with Donald Trump. They found every book about Trump, every newspaper or magazine article. They tracked down every TV appearance, every radio interview. To get their hands on this material, Simpson testified, his team went to every bookstore they could, they combed Amazon. They even went to the public library.

What Fusion found in publicly available material shocked them — these professional journalists who had covered financial corruption their whole careers. And, while the dots themselves did not spell out “Trump Launders Russian Mob Money Via His Atlantic City Casinos”, they might as well have — that’s how loudly the alarm bells started ringing inside Glenn Simpson’s and Fusion’s head. To investigate further (the Free Beacon was now gone, Rubio having dropped from the race; the bills now went to a Democratic donor), Fusion subcontracted out the Russian side of the investigation to an English research outfit called Orbis which was run by the Chris Steele, the highly respected former head of the MI6’s Russia desk. No one had better, more reliable contacts inside Russia than Chris Steele. No one.

To see the value of Steele’s work product you have to remember 1) it’s raw intel and 2) there’s way, WAY more to what’s in the Dossier than just whether or not Donald Trump watched a bunch of Russian hookers piss on the Moscow hotel room bed where Barack Obama had recently slept. There are plenty of other uncomfortable details. Their ick factor may not be as high, but their treason factor far surpasses it. Steele’s work product confirmed what Kevin McCarthy thought about Trump: that Putin owned him outright. One plus one equals two.

Hey, look, American journalists — there’s one story proving another one’s veracity! Or, with Donald Trump and the GOP is that still just not good enough?

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