The New York Times (and other establishment media outlets) has been recently reporting that the assertion that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election on behalf of the Clinton campaign is a “conspiracy theory” fostered by…wait for it….Russian disinformation. This position conveniently supports the establishment Democrats’ (and the U.S intelligence community) position as summarized in impeachment hearing testimony this past week by Russia hawk Fiona Hill who called such assertions a “fictional narrative.”
Granted, some of Trump’s references to Ukrainian help to Clinton/DNC contain his typical errors of detail within what sometimes sounds like verbal vomit. Just when you think he might be making some kind of sense, he’ll start spouting some hodgepodge of thoughts that ricochet off the walls. However, this “conspiracy theory” dismissal by the establishment media – led by the NYT – ignores in depth reporting done by Politico in January of 2017 which found that:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
A Ukrainian-American operative [Alexandra Chalupa] who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.
Read the full article here. Note that in a May 2016 email to a DNC official, Chalupa discussed her ongoing attempts to dig up dirt on Manafort in Ukraine and also mentioned, “there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks.” This undermines any suggestions that she was doing this investigation for “personal” reasons and not to benefit the DNC and its interests.
Additionally, reporting from Yahoo.com also detailed some of Chalupa’s efforts to use Ukrainian connections to undermine Manafort and the Trump campaign on behalf of the DNC. Lev Golinkin also reported on this for The Nation. The NYT itself had reported on the Manafort allegations based on information it had knowingly received from Ukrainian sources – both within the Ukrainian government and outside of it. See here and here.
So, does this mean that the reporters and editors of Politico, Yahoo, and even the NYT were taken in by Russian disinformation? If so, how did it happen? Did the Russians beam the disinformation into their heads while they were sleeping? Did these fearless guardians of truth get hypnotized by Russian agents posing as news sources? Has the Kremlin managed to slip subliminal messages from RT into their smart phones? How can we ever trust what Politico, Yahoo or even the NYT reports ever again? Will Politico and the NYT be removed from Facebook? This demands answers!
But seriously, the “newspaper of record” has degenerated so much in the past two decades that it no longer makes any pretense of objectivity or even seriousness. The bullshit it peddles is so obvious to anyone who has an ounce of independent and critical thought left. As a follower on Twitter recently said, the NYT has now become such a rag, that “a bird would be ashamed to take a dump on it.”
Let’s move on to another aspect of the impeachment debacle that has just come out. As reported by Vanity Fair late last week, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, focused on independents – who make up roughly 40% of the electorate according to Gallup – have now said they oppose impeachment. Several questions were asked by the pollsters, which enabled the reporters to take a deeper dive into how and why those polled came to oppose impeachment:
Three important factors are driving the views of Independents. The first is that, in their view, impeachment distracts from issues they care about. Twenty-seven percent of Independents described impeachment as a top priority, and another 10% agreed that it is a priority, just not a top one. In the abstract, 37% saying that an issue is a priority doesn’t sound too bad, but among the 11 issues that Politico and Morning Consult tested, impeachment ranked last, well below the deficit at 74%, health care at 72%, and infrastructure at 70%. Even Trump’s absurd border wall scored as a higher priority for Independents. Fundamentally, most Independents want Congress to focus on the issues that impact their lives. They have not been convinced that curtailing the bad acts of Donald Trump would have any tangible effect.
The second factor is the view among Independents that impeachment reflects the agenda of the political establishment and the media. Regardless of what they think about Trump’s behavior, Independents see impeachment as a continuation of the partisan bickering and media excess that began even before his inauguration. By massive margins, Independents say that the impeachment issue is “more important to politicians than it is to me” (62% to 22%) and “more important to the media than it is to me” (61% to 23%). It is hard to read this as anything but a warning to the Democratic leadership and candidates: Stop talking about issues that matter to you, not to me. Impeachment proceedings are viewed as bread and circuses for the anti-Trump crowd in Washington and the media—or, as Stanford political science professor Morris Fiorina described it to me, “entertainment and confirmation.” That’s a dangerous perception as Democrats approach one of the most consequential and fraught elections of our times.
Third, as other reporting has suggested, Independents suffer from scandal fatigue and overall confusion. They agreed with the statement “[It is] difficult to tell all the investigations in Washington apart” by a roughly two-to-one margin. (Even Democrats concur by a substantial, if somewhat smaller, margin). This no doubt reflects a successful Trump strategy to sow confusion and spread blame. By constantly charging others with acting badly and by creating such a long litany of disputable acts, Trump has in effect led many voters to dismiss the whole mess as the type of bad thing that all politicians do. Confusion has been aggravated by a rating-seeking media, whose credibility has been undermined by the fact that some cable hosts and their guests have consistently predicated, with astonishing stubbornness and inaccuracy, that the next scandal will be the one that topples Trump. It may be that the Democrats finally have the best facts against Trump, and the clearest story line of all. But they face a segment of the public that is jaundiced by what has gone on before.
Another poll, reported on by Axios, shows that, while a slight majority of Americans still think the U.S. is an exceptional nation, that number has declined from last year. Furthermore, Americans are generally inclined to be non-interventionist in terms of foreign policy. A breakdown of the demographics reveals a significant generation gap within the findings. Here are the details on attitudes toward intervention.
1. In response to humanitarian abuses overseas, most would opt for restraint (47.1%) or a UN-led response (33.5%) rather than U.S. military action (19.4%).
2. More Americans think the U.S. should decrease (57.6%) rather than increase (42.4%) its military presence in Asia in response to a rising China.
Many favor an argument often made by President Trump — that countries like Japan and South Korea can afford to defend themselves.
3. Americans are split over what to do about Afghanistan.
38.8% say the U.S. should withdraw within the year, 31.4% say the U.S. should negotiate with the Taliban but remain until a deal is reached, and 29.8% say the U.S. should remain until all enemies are defeated.