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?

The Press Insists They Don’t Know WHY The Republican Party STILL Follows Donald Trump — That’s A Lie! We ALL Know Why…

I’m old enough to remember when saying things like “Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia is mighty suspicious!” would get eye rolls because I was desperate to make a mountain from something less than a molehill. Alas, Trump’s relationship with Russia was never a molehill. It’s not a mountain either — it’s the whole freakin’ mountain RANGE. For the life of me, I cannot get why storytellers (that’s what journalists are — they’re storytellers in real time) can’t for the life of THEM figure out how to aggregate a goddamned story! The American Press can’t say that they had no idea Donald Trump “might be” a traitor when they themselves reported that possibility themselves a year into Trump’s presidency! For real! The Washington Post (and most other papers) published reporting about a conversation that took place between the GOP leadership a month before the Republican Party made Trump their presidential nominee (in other words — the convo they were reporting on took place A YEAR BEFORE; the Post became privy to a RECORDING of the meeting, giving it solid, evidentiary support. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into the meeting and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”. No one present disputed McCarthy. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — like everyone else in the room — seemed both unsurprised and unfazed. No one demanded to know why McCarthy thought this or what put such an insane idea into his head. Ryan led them to decide they wouldn’t talk about such things outside rooms like that. “That’s how we know we’re family”, Paul Ryan said, sounding for all the world like a mafioso — and not the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.

In a civil case — compared to a criminal case — the standard required for conviction is 51%. The preponderance of the evidence and not some “smoking gun” suffices. Our news media has gotten it into their heads that their job is to be an absolutely neutral arbiter of events. Just the facts, ma’am. That’s swell. But, as the facts add up, they paint a picture — and either we accept the picture being painted or we don’t. If we accept the picture, we need to incorporate what we’ve just learned into the larger picture of what we know. And what we know should be the evolving story basis for all reporting. Instead, our news media heard “Mexicans are rapists!” — and squawked about it for a few minutes — then moved on when “Pussy grabbing” became the next topic. In short order, our news media move move on from “pussy grabbing” to “But, her emails!” Strangely, “But, her emails” aggregated — we heard about it constantly; it WAS the starting point for the press’s stories about Hillary Clinton.. “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy grabbing” did not aggregate. Our press still wondered aloud “Is Trump a racist?” and “Is Trump a rapist?”

Yes and yes — hell, Trump even confirmed it for them! And, STILL — to this day — many “journalists” will shift uncomfortably in their seats like the hemorrhoid they’ve been nursing just flared to life if they have to ask “Is Trump a racist?” As if it’s a question! For the record, it’s NEVER up to a racist to decide if he’s a racist. How the hell would HE know — he’s a racist FFS! The only people with the perspective to tell you whether or not someone’s a racist is the racist’s victim. And if they claim racism — do NOT dismiss it out of hand. That would be racist of you.

The press could have established the truth about who Donald Trump is and even the likelihood of his criminality — and even his treachery — if they’d bothered to do the same due diligence Fusion GPS did when hired back in 2016 by the publishers of the Washington Free Beacon. They were Marco Rubio backers and wanted to get some dirt on Trump so they hired Fusion GPS, the research company started by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch. When called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 — then under Republican control bent on undermining the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Glenn Simpson testified that before formally beginning their deep dive into Trump, they did their “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could — newspaper articles, magazine pieces, radio interviews, TV shows. They got them from Amazon and other online merchants and used bookstores and even the Public Library. What Fusion found — hiding in plain sight — was the kind of info ANY JOURNALIST could find easily if they’d just get off their asses.

Fusion got the distinct impression that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT’S why they sub-contracted the Russian part of the inquiry to someone who might could answer those questions about Trump and his relationships with Russian mob money. Christopher Steele had run the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6. He had perhaps the best Russian contacts of any Westerner outside Russia. Steele’s work product, by the way, has passed most every smell test it’s been subjected to. This is raw intel data — never intended for uninformed eyes because uninformed eyes won’t contextualize so as to extract the value. Steele — a better American patriot than any Republican — was so concerned by what he learned that he became obsessed with getting his work and its assessments under the noses of someone willing to do something. Chris Steele had no personal ax to grind. And yet, some people in our press, to this day, will frame the Steele Dossier from Trump’s criminal point of view.

During the entire 2020 presidential campaign, our news media seemed to completely forget the fact that Trump was the first person EVER to run for office after BEING IMPEACHED for attempting to cheat in the very election he was now running in. Think about that — both because it happened and because our news media forgot about it — even as Trump continued to cheat his way to victory. Talk about your “patterns of behavior” and “preponderance of the evidence”. There should not be a question as to WHY Trump acted the way he did. This picture alone — coming when it did after the meeting where Trump sperm burped Putin’s whole name in real time (that’s what it sounded like to me) — should have been the end of Trump’s presidency.

Donald Trump is a racist because he has victims who’ll call out his racism. The same goes for Trump’s other crimes. We don’t need to end up getting shot by Trump on Fifth Avenue to know he’s standing there — on Fifth Avenue — and he’s got a gun. If we go to Fifth Avenue — or anywhere near Trump — we might could get shot. Trump’s a traitor, too. We need to stop waiting for Vlad Putin to put up a YouTube video where he spills it all like we really were living in the worst reality show ever and it needs to wrap up cos the season is over.

Trump epitomizes “White Man’s Bamboozlement” — white guys getting away with crap non-white people could never get away with. Republicans used to be better at hiding that fact from everyone else. Trump liberated them from caring whether the rest of us know or not. The Republican Party, by its own admission, is now the Trump Party. The Trump Party is a treasonous criminal enterprise. Therefore, the GOP is now a treasonous criminal enterprise.

Want to know WHY almost the entire Republican Party is still in bed with Trump, still perfectly happy to let him brutalize and abuse them? Because they’re all co-conspirators in a massive crime bent on destroying our democracy. Throw in treason — still a capital offense here in America — and you can see why this is “all or nothing” for the GOP. There’s no going back anymore. There’s only the hopelessness of the mission: permanent minority rule. That dangerous idea is about to get crushed. The wave Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are riding today as the first cash begins to flow through the Covid-19 Relief Plan into the pockets of 85% of Americans won’t crest for a long, long while. It certainly won’t crest before 2022 so, please, put all concerns about the GOP taking the House in the mid-terms completely out of your head. These are not normal times, stop thinking normal things will happen.

Our news media definitely wasn’t up to covering Donald Trump. They’re even less qualified and capable of covering the aftermath of Trump and Trumpism.

Of Sharks And Perspective — We’re Gonna Need A MUCH Bigger Boat, America

Quick — what’s the worst way to die imaginable? Not a nice question, I agree, but surely we’ve all contemplated the possibilities and one always comes up “worst”: being eaten, right? Being “consumed” by something isn’t just “dying”, it’s being reduced to another creature’s “food”! Everything you think you are — a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a son or a daughter, a rogue or a scholar — no, fool — you’re roughage, hopefully without too much cholesterol or sodium. From a shark’s point of view, you’re shark shit pre-shark. You just don’t know it. Yet.

Our news media thinks perspective is what happens AFTER the shark eats you. “Hey, don’t jump in that water,” they think journalism is, “We know there are sharks in it!” Yes, the news is important — but we all saw what happened. News of a shark might have been MORE helpful BEFOREHAND.

Was there evidence of a shark swimming around before the story even started? “Well,” the news media says, “We didn’t see any dorsal fins, so we assumed the coast was clear!” Ah, but “didn’t see any” and “so therefore they weren’t there” don’t necessarily hook up. Hey, news media — didja look? Did you LOOK for sharks in water known to be infested with them? The truth is — where Donald Trump is concerned, for instance, you didn’t!

The news media didn’t report Trump as a “shark in the water” because they didn’t realize that that’s what he was — despite the fact that they’d reported him behaving that way forever! The Steele Dossier exists because such reporting existed — that Trump was a shark who’d used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. That’s what Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm hired by Republicans backing Marco Rubio (the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon) testified to before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. Before engaging in the actual assignment, Fusion did its “due diligence” first. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material they could on Trump — every newspaper story, magazine article, TV or radio appearance, every book, every video, every everything if it happened in a way that anyone could look at it or hear it.

What Fusion found there — in publicly available material — Simpson testified, convinced them that Donald Trump was likely an international criminal. They approached Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis) because Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia desk, had the very best contacts inside Russia. And Steele was reliable. When the FBI wanted to go after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption, they hired Steele. Fusion hired Steele because he offered unparalleled PERSPECTIVE.

What Chris Steele found — and put into his collection of raw intel — the Dossier — convinced HIM that Trump wasn’t just an international criminal, he was an out-and-out TRAITOR.

The further one pulls back the camera on Trump, on the Republicans, on what they’ve done here, on how clearly they’re owned by a hostile foreign power engaged in a literal cyber war against us, the clearer one sees treason. Treason, treason and nothing but treason.

Yeah, America — we’re gonna need a much bigger boat here. If only our news media had done what Glenn Simpson did — THEIR DUE DILIGENCE. If only they would have screamed and shouted “SHARK!” when they reported (a year after it happened but, still — they reported it!) how the Republican leadership KNEW for a fact that Trump was owned by Russia but deliberately kept that fact a secret. This really happened: current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leadership a month before their convention and said — out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one said “Say, what? Are you sure, Kevin? Hey, someone — get the FBI on the phone — WE have a problem — our candidate is probably compromised by Russia!” No, instead, the Republican leadership — then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — insisted that everyone there “keep it in the family”.

The GOP chose omerta over patriotism.

If our press could aggregate a story the way stories are supposed to be aggregated — where you keep adding information and then building upon what you know (instead of tossing it as if it never happened and returning to a kind of “Square One of Ignorance” every damned day) — we would already equate Donald Trump and Republicans with extreme corruption. We’d already have connected the Donald Trump dot and the Russia dot — and connected them to the Republican Party dot and the Elections 2016 and 2020 dots.

If our news media didn’t accept as gospel truth everything that tumbles from a Republican’s mouth — Bill Barr, say — they might have READ the Mueller Report rather than ACCEPTING what Bill Barr said it said. Jesus, even AFTER they’d read the report, the majority of American journalists STILL go along with Barr’s take that it says “Trump didn’t do anything”. No — that’s NOT what it says. And, we now know, even what it says was squeezed and compromised and limited to a very small question — concerning Trump’s direct communications with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. We know that then acting AG Rod Rosenstein deliberately lied to both Team Mueller and the FBI — ending the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and Russia while allowing Team Mueller and the FBI to think the other was doing that work.

Hey — how often did anyone in our news media point out the cool historical fact that Donald Trump was the first president ever to run for re-election in the very election he’d been impeached for cheating in? Not many. And yet — Trump continued to cheat every single day — in front of everyone — as if he’d never been impeached for doing the very same thing! Imagine if our press had aggregated even a fraction of what they themselves had reported!

I’m a fan of the journalist, lawyer, professor Seth Abrahams. Abrahams’ method is to aggregate what the press has reported so as to present the fullest possible picture of what we KNOW (because it’s been sourced by the press) with the widest possible perspective. In essence, he’s doing what Fusion GPS did — using what we know to paint a picture of what we should be using as the BASIS for our thinking. By simply reporting what’s been reported — a kind of massive due diligence — Seth Abrahams isn’t just a canary in a coal mine, he’s the closest thing to “Absolute Truth” we have.

What is v what is not. The more perspective we have, the better! And even the perspective we have — now that we’re using it to see the world — tells us the boat we chose won’t be good enough. The shark’s already chewing on it.

This shark won’t go quietly. There’s no point negotiating with it. It’s going to come down to a simple question of Him or Us.

While we decide however, can we do ourselves one kindness — yeah: a bigger boat.

If You Want To Know What Donald Trump Will Do Next, You Have To Think Like A Criminal

Here’s a basic storytelling rule of thumb: good people behave like good people and criminals behave like criminals. That’s how storytellers signal to their audience that the story they’re telling takes place in a world we all recognize. Now — if it’s a good story, the good people may turn out to be criminals and one or two of the criminals may turn out to be good people. But, we’ll see all that in the context of the story. Actions and thoughts will tell us who the real good people and criminals are just before the final fade out. Regardless of who turns out to be what, when the full picture is revealed, good people will have behaved like good people and criminals will have behaved like criminals.

Donald Trump is a criminal. Being a rich, white guy, we shrugged off Trump’s pre-POTUS criminality in real time, letting him repeatedly piss all over us. When the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump back in the early days of the 2016 campaign, Fusion started its work by first getting its hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump. Books, magazine and newspaper pieces, TV and radio appearances — everything. Their due diligence — the work they did BEFORE actually starting the work — convinced them (Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017) that Trump had strong ties to Russian gangsters and likely laundered their money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos.

That’s why Fusion hired Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis). Steele had excellent contacts and sources inside Russia, having run MI6’s Russia desk.

To see Donald Trump as just a “different kind of POTUS” (as many in our news media still do), is to see Al Capone as just “a different kind of businessman” or Pol Pot as “just a different kind of politician”. Yeah, okay — you could say that and you’d be right, but… it’s kinda beside the point. But, if you don’t see Trump as a criminal — either because you truly don’t see him that way or because you refuse to — then you are reporting on a Donald Trump who doesn’t actually exist except maybe inside your head.

Example — NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. She seems like a very nice person. That very nice person should find another line of work. She’s not particularly good at journalism — all her awards be damned. Kelly is a lipstick-wearing steno pad. She thinks “journalism” is repeating back the words people speak to her. But Kelly doesn’t leave it at that — just repeating, say, what Donald Trump says. No, Kelly goes the extra mile. She “characterizes” Trump’s bullshit — she “puts it into his voice” — speaks what she insists is Trump’s thinking behind it all.

Oh, FFS! Kelly’s a nice person — we all agree. Donald Trump isn’t. He’s a rapist and a racist and a bigot and a serial adulterer and an abusive parent and a criminal and a traitor (that’s just for starters). His thought process doesn’t work the same way Kelly’s does. He doesn’t justify himself to himself the way Kelly justifies herself to herself. So, when Kelly applies how SHE thinks to how Trump thinks — it’s completely wrong. The person she’s describing — Trump on the outside, Kelly O’Donnell on the inside — DOES NOT EXIST except in Kelly’s soft, mushy mind.

Kelly’s not the only offender here. It’s the rare working journalist who’ll put themselves inside Trump’s head. “We can’t know what he’s thinking,” they insist — as if Trump’s own words, whole PATTERNS of thinking and the assurances of those who know him weren’t enough to convince THEM. FFS — in a civil trial, all one needs is 51% certainty to win and what is the news media if not a court of PUBLIC opinion?

In most talking head panels, they’ll allow for 90% of the spectrum of possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. He’s completely innocent is at one far end. But, look to the other far end — it’s not there: that’s the missing 10% (generously assuming that total innocence and total guilt are equally likely when only total guilt actually is). Think about that — these conversations between serious people will allow that Trump could be completely innocent but completely guilty? No way! If you can’t allow for the possibility that Trump is 100% a criminal — and does what he does BECAUSE he’s 100% a criminal — then when you put yourself inside his head and (try to) stare out into the world through Trump’s red-rimmed eyes, you’re mis-reporting it. Hell, you’re not seeing it, period.

Want to know why Trump will do anything and everything to stay POTUS for the rest of his life? HE’S A CRIMINAL! He’s been protected all this time by that ludicrous DoJ RULE (it’s not a LAW) — put in place to hinder Nixon and Agnew! Without it, Trump would have been indicted eons ago. Team Mueller would NOT have felt constrained; they held back accusing Trump because that same rule prevented Trump from, in essence, defending himself. A technicality has kept the most corrupt president in the country’s history in power.

If you think of Trump that way — desperate to avoid testifying under oath because you will perjure yourself because you ARE a stone cold criminal and a traitor — then his behavior isn’t mystifying at all. The dots all connect and the picture you get is complete and logical. But, as we know — it ain’t just Trump.

Our news media scratches its head even harder when it tries to make sense of Republicans. “Why, oh why do Republicans go along with this madness?” our press asks itself. They all must be terrified of Trump. Terrified of his voters. Yes and yes. But it’s bigger than that. Prison is the bigger motivator — fear of going to prison and dying in prison. The split second Trump has a legal nightmare, so will virtually every single Republican — because that’s how conspiracy works. See something, SAY something. See something, say NOTHING? An actual journalist should ask “WHY?” Why say nothing? Who are you protecting?

The Republicans knew even before the 2016 convention that Trump was dirty. But then, they were already dirty, too. That’s why then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan admonished the meeting of muckety mucks to stay silent on the matter of “Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump” by “keeping it in the family”. Sounds like a mafia family, no?

It’s the storyteller’s job to keep the heroes and the villains straight inside their head. To do that though, you have to have a deeper grasp of who they really are. You have to look past the icing and dig into the cake beneath. Imagine you’ve just taken a mouthful of rotten cake — made even more horrible because the icing was so pretty. No projectile vomiting allowed! Now — describe the taste in your mouth.

I bet the only thing you say about the icing is how deceiving it was. Now, please — go on! Tell us how terrible that cake tasted and still tastes. Tell us how you might never get its essence out of your mouth or senses even. Finally — how do you feel about the baker? Put yourself inside HIS mind as he concocts the flavor he intends to fool you into tasting.

I always wonder this about Kelly O’Donnell. If Trump (because he’s Trump) said “I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell eats children!”, would Kelly faithfully report it even though she’s pretty certain that she doesn’t eat children and never has? Or would Kelly — as she always does — repeat the words simply because Trump said it?

I betcha Kelly would (finally) draw a line. I bet that she’d (finally) step outside of her ivory tower of “both sides do it”. She certainly wouldn’t put herself inside Trump’s thought process so as to personalize WHY he thinks Kelly does this terrible thing because, she’d know, every thought she’s attributing to Trump is utter bullshit.

Isn’t perspective funny, that way?

The More Perspective We Gain On “The Trump Era”, The Worse It’s Going To Look For Republicans

We don’t have anything like a “complete picture” of the Trump Administration’s raging incompetence in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, yet we already know — with that limited perspective — that their incompetence isn’t just “raging”, it’s outright CRIMINAL. Imagine how much worse it will look when we DO know all the nuts and bolts details. Those details will tie THIS treachery into the LARGER Trumpian treachery — Russia. Perspective’s funny that way. It’s like seeing part of a mosaic and thinking that’s the picture. But, then, we pull the camera back — because there’s almost always more room for perspective — and we realize how much more complex and interconnected the world is once we see how vast and complex a world it is.

A huge heaping of the blame for our collective lack of perspective sits heavily on our News Media’s lap. Their stone cold refusal to AGGREGATE the story of Donald Trump cannot go unaddressed! We just had an election where — for the first time ever in our history — a sitting POTUS was running for re-election having been impeached! And the thing he was impeached for? CHEATING in the very election he was now running in! And the cheating — that was via a foreign government’s intervention in our election — a variation on the exact same “cheating strategy” (one of them) he used in the 2016 election! You would think that would get a mention in the run up to that election. You’d think a NEWS MEDIA would want to bathe in it. They’d want to ask that candidate about it repeatedly — and the squirrelier that candidate got on the subject, the more they’d want to ask. Especially if that candidate was the sitting president!

Let’s remind ourselves what “perspective” can do. Back in the early, early days — early in the 2016 campaign, long before Trump became the GOP nominee, all the other candidates were drawing a bead on Trump. Republican mega-donor, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer — the money behind the conservative Washington Free Beacon — supported Marco Rubio’s candidacy. The Free Beacon hired research firm Fusion GPS to do oppo on Trump. As Fusion GPS’s co-founder, former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, the first thing Fusion GPS did upon getting hired was their “due diligence”.

They got ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material they could possibly find on Donald J. Trump: books, magazine articles, newspaper stories, radio interviews, TV show appearances — literally everything they could in order to create a picture for themselves — in order to create the perspective with which to start the investigation: what do we already KNOW about Donald Trump?

Turned out? What we KNEW — it was all there in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material — should have set the alarm bells ringing. The former journalists at Fusion GPS saw so much likely EVIDENCE of outright criminal behavior — Trump using his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money — that Fusion hired former MI6 Russia desk legend Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis), to do the “research” inside Russia since, it was agreed, Steele had the best contacts inside Russia bar none.

When Fusion went “fishing” in Russia for dirt on Trump? They knew exactly where to drop their lines. And damn if there wasn’t a whole SCHOOL of treason swimming around. The reason Chris Steele worked so hard to put his dossier of RAW INTELLIGENCE under the right noses was because those noses needed the perspective that raw intel would provide. Was everything in the dossier guaranteed verifiable? Of course not — IT’S RAW INTELLIGENCE. You have to understand what it is and how you need to look at it. There are few smoking guns in this world but plenty of smoke. You have to look for where the smoke is thickest — and make educated guesses from there.

The news media glommed onto the most sensational of the stories in Steele’s work product — the Moscow hotel room and the hookers peeing on each other while Trump watched (maybe or maybe not screaming about Trump and his race). The news media — having zero perspective — assumed that if that one story wasn’t spot on, one hundred percent correctomundo, then every last bit of Steele’s RAW INTELLIGENCE could be discounted. Oy!

Now, the people most intent on undermining the dossier’s authenticity (after Trump) have been almost the entire Republican Party. That, after all, was the whole point of dragging Glenn Simpson before the Senate Judiciary Committee (controlled then as now by Republicans hell bent on interfering with any oversight) — not to get at how true the dossier was or wasn’t but to completely undermine every last vestige of any reliability. People obstructing justice aren’t doing it “just because”. They’re doing it because what the rest of us call “justice” scares the snot out of them.

To this day — more than a MONTH after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 Presidential Election, almost every Congressional Republican (minus 27!) STILL refuses to acknowledge that fact. The news media gazes at that fact, utterly baffled by it. They scratch their heads so hard, as they contemplate it, that they’ve begun to carve divots into their skulls. “Why do the Republicans continue to go along with Trump?” “Don’t they realize what they’re doing to their own legacies?”

If the news media had aggregated this story — adding to it every day, adding to WHAT WE KNOW and then building upon that knowledge base to MOVE THE STORY FORWARD — Donald Trump would not have survived the primaries. His whole candidacy would have gone up in “Mexicans are rapists” flames. That’s because the Trump heading down the gold escalator would NOT have been seen as the “successful businessman” and “master negotiator” that Mark Burnett INVENTED for “The Apprentice”, he would have been seen as the racist, bankrupt FAILURE he was. If the news media had done the same due diligence Fusion GPS had done, they’d have thrown “and likely criminal” into the mix too.

The instant Team Biden takes over at the Department of Justice, our whole perspective on the Trump years will begin to change appreciably. For starters, the DoJ will be re-dedicated to serving Justice and not as a corrupt president’s consigliere. It won’t be a question of should we or should we not prosecute Trump and the entire Republican Party for their transgressions. The SECOND Trump stops being POTUS, he WILL be indicted. He’s already BEEN indicted — but, because he’s been the sitting president, that indictment has gone un-delivered. It WILL get delivered now. And then the litigation-prosecution-punishment merry-go-round will begin. It might never stop.

Donald Trump will not go down alone. He won’t. He won’t keep his mouth shut. He won’t keep his secrets or anyone else’s because those are all worth something to him now. And, don’t forget, he’s not a “master negotiator”, he’s a horrible one. He’s all tells. And Republicans have known at least since before the convention that Trump (and other Republicans) were dirty, dirty, DIRTY when it came to Russia. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it in 2016, just before the convention, as he entered a meeting of the GOP leadership: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”.

The correct response to such a statement should have been “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, why do you say that? Why do you even THINK that, dude?” Even if the connections Kevin made were tenuous, that they could have been possible should have guided their actions — that is, if Kevin or then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan or any of the other GOP leaders present had had an ounce of integrity. They didn’t, of course.

The Republican Party has known all along the Trump was dirty. They’ve known all along that THEY are dirty. Why, it’s even been REPORTED IN THE NEWSPAPERS. All one has to do — to benefit from that fact — is READ.

Remember the Mueller Report? Same damned thing. The Report itself says one thing but Bill Barr — and then every single Republican — said it said something else entirely. How does one gain perspective in such a situation? YOU READ THE REPORT! And, if you’re even a semi-literate journalist, you get: inside this NARROW SLICE of the Trump-Russia story, it was hard to say with certainty whether or not Donald Trump and his presidential campaign were guilty of crimes (connected to Wikileaks and how information flowed from and to it) — though there’s significant evidence suggesting it — because of all the OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE in our way. THAT is what the Report’s conclusions actually say.

It’s what Robert Mueller himself TESTIFIED to when he answered Congress’s questions July 24, 2019.

Imagine, if you will, where we’d be if the news media had simply added those two pieces of information to the knowledge base they reported from: 1) the Republicans knew Trump had a criminal relationship with Russia and 2) they consistently denied that fact and were actively covering it up. That’s with the Perspective Meter turned down super low so it only catches the most OBVIOUS takeaways.

Our news media — its head stuck deeply up its own “Both Sides Do It” ass — STILL thinks Donald Trump might could go on to “build a media empire” or “run again in 2024” as if we were going to simply deny that anything even remotely CRIMINAL or TREASONOUS happened — as if we were all just going to stand here denying the truth. Even if criminal charges only ever got leveled because we need to prosecute Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic response (and all his friends who got rich off it), it will touch EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the Trump family. They’ve all profited!

It’s strange — having perspective — when you compare notes with someone who doesn’t. Talk about not reading from the same hymnal. You ain’t even in the same house of worship. But then, that someone experiences a revelation or a catharsis. They open their damned eyes. And they put down the nonsense and read from the real “Good Book” — reality.

Here’s the reality: if we don’t hold Donald Trump, the GOP as an institution and every single Republican responsible for attempting a literal coup d’etat, we will get to experience “Slavery, The Sequel” — a terrible, immoral misjudgment that can never and will never sit right. Perversely, our current crisis is very much a product of not outlawing slavery at the outset. Institutionalized racism (“All men are created equal” did not mean “all men” — or even “all people”) was America’s original sin. It haunts us to this day.

The Republican Party is trying to perpetuate that racism via permanent minority rule. Why else would you BEG state legislators in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan to overlook the popular vote in their states to IMPOSE Donald Trump upon them? Ignore the voters because they voted AGAINST racism — that’s what they’re selling.

The news media though continues to scratch its head, unsure still if what they’re seeing IS indeed racism. There’s an old joke we used to tell on the schoolyard. Kid sees a pile of what could be poop on the street. He picks it up. Sniffs. Smells like poop. Has a lick. Uh huh — tastes like poop, too. He puts it back down on the street and continues on: “Sure glad I didn’t step in it!”

Hey, News Media: you’ve already stepped in it. Pick up some perspective. You won’t make the same mistake again.

Dear American News Media: America Needs YOU To Do Better

The last four years turned me from a news consumer into a news junkie. I bet I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not. But, let’s be clear: the fix I’m after isn’t “news”, it’s Truth. They aren’t necessarily the same thing. That, right there, is our problem. It’s why I watch the news so obsessively now — not because I need them updating me but because I feel compelled to point out every time they confound “spouting information” with telling truth. In the age of Trump, every piece of information spewing from people notorious for lying should be seen as suspect first and true only after rigorous examination.

And, by the way? Both sides don’t “do it”.

First problem? The apparent inability to AGGREGATE information the way storytellers are supposed to. Information from one scene gets added to what we know — and that information directs us toward more questions which, in turn, produce more information that adds to what we know. Except that process has broken down with our news media.

The moment Donald Trump insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”, the correct response from our news media shouldn’t have been “Oh, well — we guess he’s just a different kind of presidential candidate”, it should have been “Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist”. Everything they reported after that fact would have built upward from our FIRM KNOWLEDGE (based on Trump’s own words!) that Donald Trump is a racist.

Every story about Trump thereafter should have included the background that everything Trump said or says is in the context of “he’s a racist”. But, because we allow racists to decide whether or not they’re racist, Trump got to claim HE was the “least racist person in the whole world”. Oy.

See how we let a racist determine the context — to the detriment of the story and our ability to understand it? Imagine, if you will, how different a place we’d be in today if we WEREN’T still debating (if the news media wasn’t still debating) whether or not racist Donald Trump is a racist or not.

If you can’t aggregate simple, evidence-based information into a narrative, journalism (storytelling in general) baffles you. Find another line of work.

Once the news media started down the “He’s just a different kind of POTUS” path, they were lost. “He’s a different kind of…” is what a journalist says to affirm that they’ve normalized what should never be normalized.

They did the same thing with pussy-grabbing, preferring to chase “But, her emails” instead. Keep in mind the perspective: pussy-grabbing plus 20+ accusations of rape, sexual assault and indecent behavior. It’s what real storytellers call CONTEXT.

Quick reminder — when Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-led committee was desperate to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he described Fusion’s process after they’d been hired by the conservative-run Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. The very first thing Fusion did, Simpson testified, was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available information about or by Donald Trump — newspaper stories, magazine articles, Howard Stern appearances, TV interviews. They visited Amazon and used book stores. They even went to the public library looking for publicly available material.

What Fusion found — in publicly available material — convinced them that Trump had been involved with criminal behavior for years and that he’d likely laundered Russian mob money through his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos. In other words, Fusion found enough evidence of criminal conduct that they felt compelled to do MORE research. By then, Jeb Bush (the Free Beacon’s choice) had dropped out and Democrats backing Hillary Clinton were paying Fusion’s fees. The whole reason Fusion sub-contracted the Russian part of the oppo research out to Christopher Steele is because he’d run MI6’s Moscow desk and had top tier contacts inside Russia.

Until Fusion hired Steele, they were doing something every news organization could have done on their own, by themselves: due diligence. Like Fusion, THEY could have gotten THEIR hands on every piece of publicly available material on Trump. Like Fusion, THEY could have met the minimal obligation before beginning their formal work of reporting on Donald Trump.

Except they didn’t.

Steele’s work product is raw intel — and needs to be understood that way. That’s just context. Take away the context and Steele’s product becomes “unverified” meaning “probably untrue”. But, raw intel is all about context. There’s rarely a smoking gun but there can be the preponderance of the evidence. Plenty of smoke flows from that.

Lacking context and convinced that “both sides do it”, our news media has spun a relentless false narrative flowing from the mis-reporting that “Trump won in 2016”. We will arrive at this conclusion: take away intense voter suppression in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (the product of Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data from those three states plus Minnesota) and the Comey Letter 10 days before the 2016 election and Trump’s not close enough for the machine flipping operation.

Remember — Trump won by a combined 77,000 votes across those three states in order to secure the Electoral College votes. If Trump committed treason to win those three states (and win the election) then he did not “win”. Cheating to win can NEVER equal winning. Committing treason to win — that should go double. We KNOW for a fact that any voting machine that connects IN ANY WAY to the internet is hackable. We KNOW these systems have been hacked and are still being hacked. The reason vote-by-mail horrifies Trump and the Republicans in this election is because their whole cheating op is based on using disinformation to foster low turnout by disenchanted voters. Then, with the race inside the polled margin of error, the hacking op can flip or add just enough votes for the result to look dicey but within the margin of error and therefore “possible”.

Also remember — Trump asked repeatedly — OUT LOUD — for Russia to help him. Also remember — Trump was impeached for doing the exact same thing with the Ukraine except in THIS election. You know, the one he’s currently running in?

That fact alone seems not to have been aggregated: Donald Trump is the first (and only) president to EVER run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he’s running in. You’d think that fact alone would keep the news media actively engaged. You’d think an impeached president running for office — while STILL cheating — would be grist for plenty of great, Pulitzer-worthy reportage.

And yet…

None of us wants the news media to fail. On the contrary, we NEED the news media to succeed. That’s why it breaks our hearts when most of them continue to trip over themselves daily. It’s not just personal failure they’re courting as they try to disentangle themselves from themselves, it’s our collective failure they’re flirting with. Their inability to see the larger story is going to kill us.

The first trick with helping an alcoholic or a drug addict is getting them to SEE their own weakness. There’s nothing wrong with having weaknesses. It comes with being human. But we don’t have to be prisoners of our weakness. We CAN overcome them with a little, um, due diligence. The news media needs to acknowledge that it HAS a problem: a lack of perspective born of a failure of imagination.

Our news media still can’t “imagine” the enormity of Trump’s crime. Therefore they under-report and normalize what they see. A talking head round table might examine all the possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. They’ll ALWAYS include the possibility that there’s some innocent explanation (he’s just a “different” kind of POTUS). They’ll NEVER include the opposite possibility — that Trump is guilty of criminal behavior; he’s a “different” kind of POTUS all right, just not in a good way.

These are all fixable. But, like a good 12-step program, freedom from addiction starts with acknowledging that one HAS an addiction.

One last suggestion to help our news media (especially televised news media) be all they can be. Forget about primping before you go on air. Spend more time prepping instead. Got that? “Prepping Instead Of Primping”.

What’s your size, American News Media? I’ll put it on a t-shirt for you…

Failure Of Imagination — As Much As Treason — Got Us Here

It sucks waking up every day, feeling exactly what former first lady Michelle Obama described yesterday in her podcast — a persistent mild depression. I’d quibble with the word “mild” but then I’m a quibbler by nature.

Mrs. Obama was speaking more to the relentless parade of racist cop incidents. Yesterday’s wasn’t deadly but it was horrifying nonetheless. Cops in Aurora, CO stopped a van with a family of African Americans in it — a mom, her daughters and some other kids. The cops were looking for a stolen MOTORCYCLE. They drew up alongside the van, GUNS POINTED at it — AT CHILDREN.

This would never have happened to a white family. Listen to the sound of those terrified children and then look to the WHITE COPS (a female included). Wonder what could be going through their minds. Wonder at the inhumanity.

Think about the trauma that will haunt all of them forever.

I sure hope the people in that van can sue the Aurora, CO Police Department. They’re going to need the money to pay for their therapy. And, it seems, the only way to drain racism from a police department is to, first, drain it of money. At least the money that supports the racism inside a police department.

It gets extra disgusting when you consider that the people inside the van are paying the tax dollars that resulted in them lying on the pavement, terrified for their lives. They paid for that. They will pay for it the rest of their lives.

This has been going on FOREVER. Black people have been saying it. Racists have an excuse. They’re the cause. What about the rest of us white people? Why have we put up with it?

Down deep? Most of us didn’t believe it. Not so much because it strained credulity but because it was too monstrous for our tender, white minds to process. We couldn’t imagine it. Our imaginations failed.

Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia has also revealed a failure of imagination — on the part of most Americans but, worst of all, on the part of our news media. Plenty of them STILL can’t imagine that Donald Trump has any sort of “unseemly” relationship with Vlad Putin. They still wonder aloud why Trump is always so beholden to Putin.

If they scratched their heads any harder, they’d create permanent divots in their skulls.

The truth about Donald Trump has always sat there in clear view. FFS — the first concerted oppo research carried out against Trump established that. Paul Singer, the money behind the Washington Free Beacon (a conservative news organization awarded for its journalism by the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation) hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion was a research company run by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Thomas Catan. For the record — no one here is a raving socialist.

Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 for ten hours. Back then, the House was run by Republicans who were trying to undermine all investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and its strange relationship with Russia. Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did after getting the oppo research gig was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of Trump-related anything (newspapers, magazine articles, TV interviews, radio interviews, books). They scoured the internet, shopped at Amazon, visited actual bookstores and even the public library.

What they found — in publicly available material, in other words, information ANYONE could find — convinced them that Donald Trump could well be an international criminal who’d used his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. If that was the case, they understood, then Trump was completely compromised. To do the dirty work inside Russia, Fusion sub-contracted the work to Orbis, a London-based private intelligence firm run by Christopher Steele — former head of MI6’s Russia desk.

That’s why the Steele Dossier exists. It’s Steele’s raw intel. Let me repeat: it’s RAW INTEL. If you don’t understand the difference between raw intel and news reporting, you should put down the raw intel. It will confuse you.

In the shadow world of spies, one can’t rely on a “smoking gun”. One has to rely on context — the most complete picture one can form so as to discern real objects from fog. The Steele Dossier paints a picture that has remained mostly accurate about Trump and the many ways Russia has compromised him.

And yet, our news media STILL describes this document as fake.

Because Donald Trump and the Republicans describe the dossier as fake. Of course, they have to — they’re all compromised toghether. Hell, the Republicans knew Trump was in bed with Russia during their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wasn’t shocked by that news. He was so un-shocked in fact that 1) he didn’t call the FBI and 2) he swore the whole room to secrecy. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

From the get-go, Donald Trump has openly given away our secrets to Russia. He famously told Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that firing Comey took all the pressure about Russia off his back. How hard would it be to imagine what that really meant? And yet, our news media couldn’t make that leap.

We don’t know what secrets Trump has shared directly with Vladimir Putin — his chief handler — because Trump has never let Americans in on the meetings. The Russians always seem to know what went down though. How much imagination does it take to connect dots here?

Look at these two photos of Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. How much imagination does it take to extrapolate what these photos are shouting at us?

Donald Trump violated the Constitution the moment he took an oath to uphold and protect it. We knew it as he did it — and yet did nothing. Failure of imagination — to act but also to recognize what the ripple effects of our failure would be. Our imaginations failed to tell us that there would even be ripple effects.

Yet, here we are.

Racism is failure of imagination. Extreme religiosity is failure of imagination. Of course it is — you’re letting an imaginary creature or creatures do all your thinking for you. Misogyny is failure of imagination. So’s bigotry and fear of LGBTQ people and intolerance and ignorance of any stripe. It’s all failure of imagination.

Fortunately, failure of imagination is fixable. All one has to do is step outside the box you’re living in, take off your normalcy bias blinders and open your damned eyes.

LOOK at what is instead of assuming you know what is. Actually LISTEN to people and what they need. Imagine solutions that aren’t earthbound. Yes, we can’t make the impossible possible. But we have to be willing to challenge the impossible. Better yet, let’s give our imaginations a chance.

We may find that what we thought was impossible isn’t.

When This Is All Done, Can We All Agree That Anyone Who Says “Nobody Coulda Seen It Coming!” Is An Idiot?

Nobody coulda seen a worldwide pandemic coming? Wrong. People like Laurie Garrett have been predicting it for years. Nobody coulda seen Donald Trump coming? Oh, please.

Fusion GPS c-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Intel Committee in August 2017 about what happened when Fusion did their due diligence before commencing the opposition research the Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do on Donald Trump. Simpson testified (to a Republican-led committee trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), that what they found in publicly available material convinced them that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos — which was why they sought out and hired Christopher Steele. Steele — former head of Britain’s MI6’s Moscow desk. No one had Steele’s contacts or deep background knowledge of how Russia worked.

Chris Steele certainly saw Trump coming. Even after no one was paying him anymore, Steele was still desperate to get someone — anyone — to look at his work (including, I bet, the very people who’d just hired him). It was Steele’s persistence that (eventually) got his raw intel into the hands of the late Senator John McCain.

Plenty of people saw Trump coming — and accurately predicted what would be the outcome of having Trump (literally) occupy the White House.

And nobody saw the explosive rage against racism coming? You’d have to be blind or conservative to think that way. This has been coming at us since the Republic’s founding because we thought slavery wasn’t heinous enough to banish from our shores. We compromised with evil. It was only a matter of time before the costs came due.

“Nobody coulda seen it coming” is what lazy-assed people say to themselves. It’s absolution by ignorance — and it’s bullshit.

The More Perspective One Has, The More Criminal Trump & The GOP Look

Would you buy a used “anything” from these pirates — least of all a government? We’re going to have to have OUR government fumigated after these bastards…

I suppose if you suddenly sprang into being right next to Donald Trump — so his essence, his aura, his version of the world was all that you knew — HIS version of the world might seem possible. But step outside the treasonous bubble of Trumpism — and a 2 X 4 of realism goes upside your head. The man’s lying even when he mutters “Hello”.

No one who isn’t already corrupted by Donald Trump thinks Trump’s view of the world, of events — of his own horrible family — reflects reality. Look at the “defense” the GOP’s “brain trust” banged together for the first day of formal, public impeachment hearings. There was no attempt whatsoever to argue the merits. There was no attempt to say “No, he didn’t do that” because everything’s been admitted to already.

If we approach the GOP’s behavior yesterday with a close up lens — as our Main Stream News Media likes to do — you get Trump’s defenders strategizing how to defend the indefensible. If you step back a few paces — using a slightly wider lens — you get get… well — if you COULD step back a few paces, you’d have done that a long, long time ago.

And if you had stepped back a few paces long before yesterday — if you had as much perspective as possible, say — you wouldn’t still be scratching your head wondering why Trump defends Putin the way he does and why the Republicans continue to defend Trump the way they do. Our MSM is YET to due their due diligence on Trump. They’ve never, most of them, done a top-to-bottom study of who Trump REALLY is so that when they report on him, they’re reporting on HIM and not some bullshit version of him. They’re not the same thing.

Back when the Republicans were doing everything they could to undermine the “integrity” of the Steele Dossier, they hauled Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. Fusion, Simpson testified, had first been hired by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website to do oppo research against Trump. Being pros, before they got going on the real assignment, they did their due diligence. They got their hands on piece of publicly available material on Donald Trump in existence. They combed Amazon and actual book stores. They got magazines and newspaper articles. They got tapes of radio shows and TV shows. They even went to the public library to find stuff.

What Fusion found while doing their due diligence — the scuttwork FFS — convinced them that Trump had been deeply involved with Russian mobsters for years. They saw clear indications that Trump had laundered untold millions of dollars of Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos (which kind of explained how/why they failed — and how/why that was the point). Simpson explained that, suspecting what these professional journalists now suspected, Fusion contacted Chris Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia desk, the Westerner with the best contacts inside Russia bar none.

Chris Steele then produced his “dossier” — the raw intelligence that he’d gathered.

Instead of telling any of THAT story, pretty much all of our MSM — not doing a lick of due diligence — slapped the word “unverified” on Steele’s work (losing all sight of WHY he was doing that work, answering WHAT question asked by WHOM). Imagine how much quicker we’d be to telling and understanding this story if all the “publicly available” perspective had been applied to the story from the beginning — the way Fusion GPS did…

Our media blocks itself from bringing perspective to any story because they start from the premise that “Both Sides Do It”. Regardless of what it is, bad or good, I suppose, “both sides do it”. Neither side has any particular reason — other than their tribal impulse toward one extreme or its diametric opposite. People do things “just because”. All information weighs exactly the same — because (in American journalistic parlance) “who’s to judge?” That’s why lies and empirical truth weigh the same in so much reporting. Too many American journalists think they’d be editorializing to assume the information they’re reporting is actually true.

If you report that Donald Trump is DEMONSTRABLY a racist one moment, he doesn’t stop being a racist the next when he claims NOT to be a racist.

Similarly, when Trump behaves like a traitor — when he does openly treasonous things (like betraying the Kurds where the Press could enumerate every single way Trump’s action served only one person: Putin) — he doesn’t stop being a traitor just because it’s time to report on election 2020. That’s why we’re now telling the Ukraine story, get it?

Trump thinks he’s gotten away with stealing election 2016 so why not finish gutting American Democracy by stealing election 2020 — and using IT to UNBLAME RUSSIA for stealing election 2016? If the American MSM had done its due diligence… ya see where I’m going?

Then — bad to worse — the MSM scratches its head wondering why the Republicans (in the face of so much horrible truth) continue to defend Trump when (look at yesterday) there’s literally NO DEFENSE — for actions that scream from the rooftops “WE’RE CRIMINAL!” Because they live in a “Both Sides Do It” universe where lies and truth weigh exactly the same, this clear evidence of obstruction of justice (rather than seeking justice — it’s not seeking Justice when, like Lindsey Graham, you refuse to look at evidence cos it’s all a “hoax”) gets reported like… like it’s NOT an actual criminal behavior.

Boom — just like that, a CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR gets normalized. Legitimized.

When you have no perspective and you allow yourself to “see the world” through the criminal’s eyes as if the criminal wasn’t a criminal, you get corrupted yourself. If you had an ounce of perspective, of course, you wouldn’t have gone there to begin with. You’d have known that criminals were trying to bamboozle you.

We are zooming toward a bunch of big, big reveals. When this goes to the Senate — whenever that happens — and the Senate refuses to convict on charges so simple and so clear, we will arrive at the place this battle needs to arrive at. Who are we as a country?

Are we the lawless, authoritarian 1850 hellhole of ignorance, racism & old tyme religion the Republicans want us to be? Or are we America?

I guess it depends on where you’re standing.

America’s News Media Failed America The Same Way Their Imaginations Failed Them

Failure of imagination is a very real thing.  We’re living in its shadow so it must be real.

Remember the fable about the ant and the grasshopper?  The Grasshopper’s happy because there’s food aplenty right now so why not hang out?  Why work like the Ant is — gathering food for the winter?  The Grasshopper’s problem isn’t laziness.  When he needs to eat, he’ll go eat.

His problem is he can’t imagine that there’ll be a tomorrow — and tomorrow, he might NOT have all the food he has now.  The Ant almost can’t deal with what “is” he’s so obsessed with what might be or could be his future.

When the talking heads on pretty much any American cable news show start yammering away at each other — wondering why, say, Donald Trump has such a beta dog relationship with Vlad Putin — they’ll entertain the possibility that they don’t know why it is.  They’ll also entertain the possibility that it’s completely innocent — so they’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

But there’s a third very distinct possibility in the mix that keeps getting short shrift or NO shrift:  Trump kowtows relentlessly to Vladimir Putin because Putin owns him outright.  Though Lawrence O’Donnell was forced to retract his single-sourced story last night that Trump hides his tax returns to hide the fact that Russian oligarchs co-signed his Deutsche Bank loans — it was too soon to report it (that’s what we’ll have to live with until it’s fully proven) — no one is saying or thinking “Gosh, I wonder if that means the whole story is screwed up!” 

When Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before Congress (remember when the GOP was trying to undermine every bit of the Steele Dossier’s integrity?), he described how Fusion, upon being hired to do the oppo research on Donald Trump (hired, remember by the conservative Washington Free Beacon, Jeb Bush supporters), they first did their due diligence.  They got ahold of everything they could that even just mentioned Donald Trump in passing.  They got & read every magazine article, newspaper article, saw or listened to every radio and TV interview.  To find that material, Fusion did what any ONE of us could do all by ourselves — they bought, rented, borrowed from the library.

What Fusion found, doing its due diligence, convinced them that Trump had been mixed up with Russian mobsters for years.  And, being good journalists by training, Fusion grokked that if Trump was messing with Russian mobsters, he was likely dirty as hell.

So, Glenn Simpson testified, they hired Chris Steele to do the deep dive because no one had the Russian bona fides that Chris Steele had — he was the Russia desk at MI6.  Steele’s integrity as an investigator was well known to American investigators including the FBI.  The FBI had hired Steele when they after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption.  They knew Steele was a pro. Everyone did.

That America’s news media still can’t handle the Steele Dossier — most don’t get how different the intelligence world is from the “real” world.  The idea of “raw intel” freaks them out because it’s so grey and their world is so black and white.  Intelligence analysis requires Big Picture thinking.  You have to see what’s there knowing a whole lot of the picture is missing.  You’ll never “see it” but you’ll need to know what it probably is; you’ll have to IMAGINE IT.

That’s the leap most American journalists can’t seem to make.  Maybe their Normalcy Bias Blinders are bolted on too tightly. 

More likely they simply lack the imagination to think of it — until it’s already happened or happening.  Then, what a coincidence, it’s the most natural thing in the world to them.

Our news media’s lack of imagination (best expressed by the question “What do YOU make of this?”) has metastasized into an outright cancer.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a liar — our news media still faithfully report every word he says without prefacing it with “This is probably a lie but the POTUS said it so we’re telling YOU what he said”.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a racist — yet our News Media still asks if Trump is a racist; they’ll even report him insisting he’s the least racist human on the planet with a straight face. 

The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a rapist and a thief and a fraud.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump owes Vlad Putin big.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump and his whole corrupt family are traitors.

We will get there — to the Big Reveals.  One way or another, we’ll get there.  And each time, huge swaths of our News Media will be shocked to their socks by the revelations.  They shouldn’t be shocked.

They wouldn’t be.

If they had any imagination.