I confess: the moment Donald Trump said “Russia, if you’re listening…!” I concluded “That bloated orange bastard is a traitor!” To me, a presidential candidate reaching out to a hostile foreign government to help him get elected just seems treasonous. Ah, but feelings aren’t facts. “Seems” isn’t “is”. But, Trump hasn’t exactly been mysterious about his intentions and his friends. After a certain point, when you can’t see through the smoke anymore, it would be wise to conclude “there’s a fire!” How many lies did it take being told before America’s news media finally decided to call Trump’s lies “lies” and Trump himself a “liar”? If it was more than three, that’s pathetic. Three lies describe a pattern. What, I wonder, do thirty thousand lies describe? Oh, yeah – they absolutely describe a liar. But Trump is no ordinary fantasist. And his lies – taken together (as they should be) – describe something more than just a man with little regard for the truth. If our news media had connected the “why does Trump lie so much” dots, they would have drawn a very clear picture: “Trump lies so much because he’s a traitor”. Our news media is slowly heading in that direction, like the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born – the hour for its close up come round at last.
Here’s what sucks (well, a lot of things suck, but this sucks in context): our news media saw the Trump story happening; they reported on it endlessly. Take away the media and “Donald Trump” doesn’t exist. Take away Russia and Trump never becomes POTUS. Hell, take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation (as in they never money launder through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos) and those casinos go broke even faster. In fact, take Russia’s organized crime money out of Trump, Inc and Donald Trump goes broke eons ago, having blown through daddy’s entire real estate fortune. If our news media would just read what it’s already written about Trump, we’d be miles further down the road than we are!
We (lucky us!) are living inside one of the great epic stories of human history: an attempt by an angry, racist minority to try and end the greatest experiment ever in human self government because they refuse to share power in a democratic way. Now, that’s the “view from 30,000 feet”, as our news media might put it. Presumably, it’s the view from which one can see the whole picture and not just the cool geographic features that automatically stand out. This is the view many in our news media already see – that Republicans are doing multiple things that are and will negatively impact our democracy. But, when that news media bores in on a detail – as they should – they tend to become so focused on their deep dive that they completely forget that the subject of their dive isn’t the whole story itself, it’s just one tiny detail of a much larger story. All our news media would have had to do to see the much larger story in front of them was read their own stuff.
Former Wall Street Journal reporter and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson explained the Steele Dossier’s origin story to the Senate Judicial Committee in august 2017. The (then Republican-run) committee wanted to undermine the Dossier’s integrity (because it threatens them and their candidate). Simpson explained that what drew Fusion to even look at Russia was all the Russia-oriented corruption they found when doing their due diligence – surveying all publicly available material about Trump. In other words, Fusion became convinced that Trump had used his Atlantic City casinos to illegally launder Russian mob money based entirely on what they read in the press.
Ironically, the thing about Steele’s raw intelligence is that the detail our news media glommed onto – the salacious story of Trump watching Russian hookers piss all over the bed the Obamas slept in in Moscow – is the least important detail in the entire dossier. Far more important: all the evidence that Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, with Russian criminals and with Russia’s head criminal Vlad Putin demanded further investigation – especially when he chose to run for president.
But, there too, had our press simply read what it had itself reported, it might have had a clearer picture of HOW Trump pulled off his surprise win by taking Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by a combined 77,000 votes. Our news media might have pressed current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy about WHY he thought “Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” in the first place but, more importantly, why if Kevin thought Trump was a grave national security risk he and the rest of the GOP’s leadership agreed with then Speaker of the Houser Paul Ryan that there be “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
Think about that. The GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that he was deeply compromised by Russia. Think the GOP hadn’t connected the Trump dot to the Russia dot?
Our problem: the Russia dot also was and is connected to the Republican Party dot.
Are those just my feelings talking? No. I’m connecting dots. I see a relentless pattern of Republican obstruction of justice, much of it focused on denying Trump’s relationship with Russia – who the GOP knew was paying Trump. This isn’t complicated. At all. On June 25, 2016, the leadership of the Republican Party themselves committed an act of treason: keeping it secret that they knew or suspected their presidential nominee was a profound national security threat because he was financially compromised by Russia – whose head of state, a former spy, was a master at using just such tactics!
Why would the Republican Party do such a thing? Because they see Russia as an ally now. They see dictators and authoritarians as their mentors and equals. They see democracy as an impediment to permanent minority rule. And, so, they’re doing something about it.
It often feels like our news media sits with its pencil poised above a connect4-the-dots image, the entire picture in front of them. One last dot needs connecting. But, until that very last dot joins the picture? The picture isn’t complete enough for our news media to see it. How sad that will be if indeed the Republicans succeed in destroying our democracy for good. We would have been inches from saving ourself. All we would have had to do is connect two dots via one straight line.
That line could easily be the cross bar that turns a vertical line into a “T”. For “Treason”.