Trump’s Lies About China Paying Tariffs Gets Fact-Checked Live – On Fox News!

America is currently suffering through a historically unique period wherein it is being misled on a daily basis by both it’s president and the State TV network (aka Fox News) that is propping him up. Donald Trump has been documented to have told more than 10,000 lies since his inauguration. And the pace of those falsehoods is increasing as he gets ever more desperate due to the unfolding web of criminality that he is frantically trying to cover up.

Donald Trump

The risk this poses for the country is significant. Trump doesn’t care how dishonest his impotent rants are, so long as they provide a distraction from his impending legal jeopardy. And he doesn’t even care if they introduce threats of war or other serious harm to the nation – and the world. Representative of that reckless disregard for the welfare millions is an entirely manufactured economic crisis that Trump has latched onto with fanatical fury. His shameless ignorance of economic and fiscal affairs is the real crisis that America faces.

Last week Trump threatened China with increased tariffs if they didn’t capitulate to demands that Trump seems obsessed with but refuses to specify. He tweeted repeatedly that China would suffer if they didn’t comply, throwing the stock market into a tizzy that produced a 600 point drop. Trump believes (or pretends to) that the tariffs he seeks to impose would be paid by China. Probably around the same time that Mexico pays for his idiotic border/vanity wall. He even said that the tariffs would be more financially advantageous than actual trade with China.

Every economist with a pulse knows that tariffs are not paid by countries. They are paid by the importing businesses (i.e. U.S. companies), and those costs are generally passed on to U.S. consumers. It’s a de facto tax that would burden every American family. Nevertheless, Trump tweeted or retweeted his ignorant assertions twenty-six times just in the past week. He is apparently impervious to the facts and logic associated with this (or any) issue.

On Sunday morning Trump’s stubbornness was brought into the spotlight by his favorite “news” network Fox News. His Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, was interviewed by Chris Wallace, when the subject of tariffs came up. Kudlow tried to obediently tow the Trump line, but his embarrassing failure to do so resulted in this exchange (video below):

Wallace: It’s not China that pays tariffs. It’s the American importers, the American companies that pay what is, in effect, a tax increase, and oftentimes passes it on to U.S. consumers.
Kudlow: Fair enough. In fact, both sides will pay. Both sides will pay in these things.
Wallace: But the tariffs on goods coming into the country, the Chinese aren’t paying.
Kudlow: No but the Chinese will suffer GDP losses and so forth, with respect to a diminishing export market and goods that they may need…
Wallace: I understand that. But the President says that China pays the tariffs. They may suffer consequences, but it’s U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct?
Kudlow: Yes, to some extent. I don’t disagree with that. Again, both sides will suffer on this.

First of all, as Wallace pointed out, whether or not China suffers GDP losses is a completely different question than who pays the tariffs. And Trump said explicitly that China’s “massive payments go directly to the Treasury of the U.S.” That’s a lie that even Kudlow couldn’t support. Trump also said that “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker.” Which Kudlow unequivocally contradicted by saying that “both sides will suffer on this.”

That last comment should ring in the ears of all Americans. Trump’s chief economic advisor admitted on national television that Trump is causing the U.S. to suffer. Many Americans already know that. Particularly the farmers who have already been hurt so badly by Trump’s tariffs that he had to promise them a bailout paid for by every other American.

And you can add to the list of sufferers all of those impacted by Trump’s sabotage of ObamaCare; those dealing with the effects of natural disasters, especially in Puerto Rico; those whose wages have been stagnant for years as Trump’s Republican Nationalist Party opposed increasing the minimum wage; and those residing on a planet that is rapidly deteriorating due to deliberate abuse in pursuit of profit. When it comes to making other people suffer, Donald Trump can finally take credit for really being the best at something.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News is Referenced in the Mueller Report Four Times, and Each Makes Trump Look Worse

With the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report by Donald Trump’s plant in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, there is going to be a flurry of furious spinning by Trump’s devoted martinets in the right-wing press. Trump himself will continue his frantic robo-rant of “no collusion, no obstruction,” as he has been doing for months.

Fox News, Robert Mueller

Naturally, Fox News will assume its predictable role as the main line of defense for Trump. They will focus exclusively on any positive angles among the vague interpretations of Mueller’s report offered by Barr or other Republican partisans. And they will brazenly ignore anything in the report that is remotely detrimental to Trump, of which there is a significant amount. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News noted that “There is a lot of stuff in here that is damaging to the president, politically embarrassing to the president.”

However, Fox News itself had a place in the Mueller report with four references to Trump’s State TV affiliate. The following passages from the report illustrate just how deeply integrated Fox is with Trump and his associates. For instance:

Page 70:

“That night, the White House Press Office called the Department of Justice and said the White House wanted to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein’s idea to fire Comey. Rosenstein told other DOJ officials that he would not participate in putting out a ‘false story.’ The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference. Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Comey’s firing was not his idea.”

What we have here is Trump keeping tabs on the investigation by watching Fox News, and then trying to get Deputy AG Rosenstein to lie for him about FBI Director James Comey’s firing. That’s obstruction of justice right there. The fact that Rosenstein refused doesn’t make Trump’s attempt any less illegal. And then there’s this:

Page 99:

“[Reince] Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017. Priebus notified one of the President’s personal attorneys, who told Priebus he was already working on it. By late June, several advisors recalled receiving media inquiries that could relate to the June 9 meeting.”

It’s rather remarkable that Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, found out about the infamous Trump Tower meeting (with Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and some Russian operatives) only by watching Fox News. That’s how out-of-the-loop Trump’s closest White House aide was, but also how integral Fox News is to Trump’s affairs. And that’s not all:

Page 126:

“In a Fox News interview on August 22, 2018, the President said: ‘[Cohen] makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else. And one of the reasons l respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial-you know they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. The President said that flipping was ‘not fair’ and ‘almost ought to be outlawed.'”

In this “interview” with the unabashedly pro-Trump “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, Trump is laying the groundwork for threats directed at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, while simultaneously praising his more loyal campaign chairman, Manafort. This is a fairly clumsy attempt at witness tampering. Which he did some more of here:

Page 151:

“In January 2019, after the media reported that Cohen would provide public testimony in a congressional hearing, the President made additional public comments suggesting that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes. In an interview on Fox on January 12, 2019, the President was asked whether he was worried about Cohen’s testimony and responded:

‘[I]n order to get his sentence reduced, [Cohen] says “I have an idea, I’ll ah, tell-I’ll give you some information on the president.” Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at because where does that money-that’s the money in the family.'”

Trump made these accusations during an interview with his adoring acolyte, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. They were directed against Cohen’s family as a flagrant attempt to scare him into keeping his mouth shut.

It’s hard to see why Mueller didn’t think he had sufficient evidence to indict Trump, or at least to recommend that Congress take up an inquiry that could lead to impeachment. And as guilty as Trump now appears to be, it’s plain that Fox News was a willing accomplice every step of the way. It is not insignificant that Fox was referenced four times in the report. They were further included in twenty-seven footnotes. No other national news network was referenced in the body of the report even once. What does that tell you?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

To Sarah Sanders: If Congress is Too Dumb to Understand Trump’s Taxes, Releasing Them Can’t Hurt

Donald Trump’s media relations have been a case study in both a totalitarian hostility toward the free press and a narcissist’s obsession for attention and adulation. He has repeatedly referred to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” while lashing out personally at journalists and networks that he doesn’t think are sufficiently adoring.

Donald Trump

Trump’s White House has all but abandoned the daily press briefings that every other president in modern times has held. But he continues to send his press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, out to the same TV news networks that he maligns. While there she does nothing but disseminate flagrant lies, packaged propaganda, and irrational defenses of her bosses many offensive utterances. Case in point: Sanders went on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to try to shore another bad week for Trump. When the subject turned to the President’s stubborn refusal to release his tax returns, Sanders let this bull fly (video below):

“Frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress – particularly not this group of congressmen and women – are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.”

Seriously? Trump’s first responses to this question were promises that he would release his taxes and would be happy and proud to do so. That later shifted to a lie about being audited, which he said prevented him from releasing his returns. It doesn’t. Most recently he has just declared that he isn’t going to do it under any circumstances. Which should cause any thoughtful citizen to wonder why he’s lied for so long and what terrible things he is trying to hide?

But for Sanders to make such a vicious ad hominem attack on the entire institution of Congress only escalates the suspicions that Americans should have. After all, it is the job of Congress to conduct oversight on matters like this, and many members have professional experience and training in economics. The insult by Sanders is just a lame attempt to avoid the real issues that concern Trump’s corruption and nefarious business relations that may include Russians.

If Sanders thinks Congress is too dumb to comprehend Trump’s taxes, why does the White House she represents think they are capable of developing a new healthcare plan; or ratifying international treaties; or passing Trump’s Tax Scam; or regulating everything from energy to banks to defense policy? Her scattershot slander only reinforces this administration’s aversion to the American ideal of democratic self-rule. According to Trump World, we’re all too stupid to be allowed any such privilege.

However, if Sanders really believes what she’s saying, then why would she have any objection to Trump’s taxes being released right now? After all, Congress won’t be able to understand them, so what’s the harm? In reality, this is just another example of projection by Trump and company. This is a man so inept that he bankrupted four casinos. He is the one who is so painfully idiotic that he can’t comprehend even simple matters, particularly about the economy. Take for instance his Sunday morning tweet about the Federal Reserve Board:

None of that is true. It’s pure fantasy to suggest that the Dow would be 10,000 points higher, even if the Fed did what Trump wants. But they can’t do it because lowering interests rates when the economy is already overheated would result in inflation and a massive stock selloff as investors sell equities and shift into bonds. What’s more, if a recession should result (a real probability), there would be no way to mitigate its harm by lowering interest rates further. It’s a recipe for a depression. But that’s where this administration is determined to take us. They just hope it occurs after a Democrat is elected next year so they have someone else to blame.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Semper WTFi? Trump Tells Fox News that He Only Supports the Military if They Bow Down to Him

This has been a busy Sunday for Donald Trump. When he wasn’t posting flagrant propaganda videos of himself disrespecting California fire victims, he was excitedly planted in front of his television so that he could fire off rapid responses to the insolence directed at him by those pesky Democrats and wayward Republicans. So naturally he lashed out the imaginary “caravan” of criminal invaders marching toward the U.S. border. He posted an infantile tweet that referred to Rep. Adam Schiff and Adam “Schitt.” And he promoted his latest appearance on State TV (aka Fox News) with Chris Wallace.

Bill McRaven, Donald Trump

There was a lot of blathering idiocy throughout the interview, and it can be viewed in conveniently sectioned off pieces here. But one area of particular interest was when Wallace sought Trump’s reaction to remarks made by retired Admiral William McRaven. Trump twice interrupted Wallace as he tried to ask the question regarding McRaven saying that Trump’s attacks on the press are “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.” Eventually Wallace got the question out and it resulted in this disturbing exchange (video below):

Wallace: Bill McRaven. Retired admiral. Thirty-seven years. Former head of Special Operations…
Trump: Hillary Clinton fan.
Wallace: Special operations…
Trump: Excuse me. Hillary Clinton fan.
Wallace: …who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.
Trump: Okay. He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?

Holy Shiitake Mushrooms. Trump actually has the gall to disparage a Navy Seal with more than three decades of service to his country, and whose leadership helped bring down two of America’s most virulent foes. And Trump’s reason for slamming McRaven was that he allegedly supported a couple of Democrats (aka Americans). What’s more, Trump’s insult went off the deep end by belittling McRaven’s accomplishments because they hadn’t happened sooner. For the record, George W. Bush had eight years to deal with bin Laden. Under Obama, bin Laden was dead in two years. And that was while Obama was also dealing with Bush’s Great Recession. Trump, on the other hand, evaded military service entirely via five questionable deferments. He has no moral standing to criticize McRaven, Obama, Clinton, or anyone else.

It’s also worth noting that Trump is lying again. McRaven was not a supporter of Clinton or Obama. He never endorsed either and he served presidents of both parties. However, he was on the Trump transition team’s short list for a top national security post. Which makes his slander all the more repulsive.

This ought to be a wake up call for every member of the military, every veteran, and every American who supports them, that Trump has zero respect for their service or commitment to duty. Unless, that is, they are also slavishly adoring of him personally. Anyone who demonstrates independent thought or otherwise veers from total devotion to Trump is discarded and treated like traitors no matter how impressive or patriotic their past. Trump will turn on you if you fail to worship him sufficiently. And that’s not patriotism, it’s malignant narcissism with tyrannical tendencies.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Et Tu Fox News? Will Trump Be Asked About the Acosta Ruling and Fox’s Support for CNN?

Last week, in fit of rage, Donald Trump revoked the White House pass for CNN’s presidential correspondent, Jim Acosta, Subsequently, CNN filed a lawsuit to against to get Acosta’s rights restored. Nearly everyone in the journalism community supported CNN, including Fox News. Although their support at the management level was contradicted by most of their on-air hosts and contributors.

Donald Trump Fox News

Friday morning the court (with a Trump-appointed judge) issued a preliminary injunction ordering Trump to restore Acosta’s press pass because his due process rights were violated. A final ruling on the matter is expected soon. However, there is a presumption that Acosta’s First Amendment rights were also violated because due process is a constitutional provision for the protection of underlying rights.

In any case, the White House is now legally mandated to permit Acosta to cover the President and his press briefings. That is likely to add to Trump’s severe anxiety and depression, as has been reported in recent days. From the midterm election shellacking he took, to special counsel Robert Mueller’s impending report and possible indictments, Trump is in a foul mood. And being forced to play nice with Acosta, who he just singled out as an “enemy of the people,” isn’t going to cheer him up.

What might make Trump feel a little better is a friendly visit with his favorite “news” network, Fox News. He is generally in a more relaxed frame of mind when being questioned by the State TV reporters that he knows won’t challenge him. So Trump has squeezed an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday into his schedule. Wallace, however, is often not as accommodating – or worshipful – as Foxies like Sean Hannity (who Trump just mocked for his fatuous adoration and dumb questions). So Trump may be surprised with a few inquiries that attempt to scratch below the surface.

There are plenty of subjects for Wallace to explore that have been neglected by Trump’s recent interviews with sycophants like Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller. This will be Trump’s first one-on-one since the election. It will be an opportunity to catch up on recent developments concerning the Mueller probe. Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – and the possibly unlawful appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General – have not been discussed in detail. On the latter issue, it will be interesting to see if Wallace asks him to address his statements to the Daily Caller that his promotion of Whitaker was tied to his desire to terminate the Mueller investigation.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

But one of the most interesting lines of questioning would be about Trump’s reaction to the Acosta court ruling and Fox News’ support for CNN. Will Trump now lump Fox into the basket of media organizations that he believes are the people’s enemies? Will he attack the judge that he appointed? Will he double down on his anti-free press rhetoric? Will he reiterate his opinion that he has the right to pick and choose who can cover him? And finally, will Wallace actually ask any of these questions? Tune in on Sunday for the big show.

Fox News Anchor Scolds His Fox News Colleagues for ‘Bashing the Media’

There’s a peculiar thing about Donald Trump’s campaign against the First Amendment and freedom of the press. That’s how much he actually relies on the press to spew his propaganda and lies. Without the media broadcasting his hate speech who would know about it?

Fox News Chris Wallace Sean Hannity

To be sure, he has Fox News, the PR division of the Trump administration. And for some reason they are always left out of any criticism that the President has of the “mainstream” media, despite being the top rated cable news network. For the most part, Fox News is a willing accomplice in the murder of the media. They lay it on more thickly than any other network. And they never seem to grasp the irony that they are demeaning the news business that they pretend to be a part of.

Apparently that obliviousness has finally worn through to at least one member of the Fox team. Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, addressed this issue in an interview with ABC News and was not shy about expressing that “It bothers me.”

“I don’t like them bashing the media, because oftentimes what they’re bashing is stuff that we on the news side are doing. I don’t think they recognize that they have a role at Fox News and we have a role at Fox News. I don’t know what’s in their head. I just think it’s bad form.”

Make no mistake, he’s talking about his fellow Foxies Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the vegetative Trump bots of Fox and Friends – among others. Wallace seems to recognize that their knee-jerk assaults on any less than flattering coverage of their Orange Messiah isn’t in the best interest of journalism. And the manner in which he dresses them down is a scathing rebuke. Although he may be pulling punches by assuming that there’s “something” in their heads.

ABC News noted the obvious in their commentary, writing that Fox News is “the preferred network for conservatives.” And they cited a study by Media Matters that revealed the depth of Fox’s bias. For instance, Sean Hannity “criticized the press in 90 percent of his monologues from May 15 to Sept. 1.” And that he “used the term ‘fake news’ 67 times.” But something else stood out that makes the glaring prejudices of Fox even more appalling:

“As president, Trump has given interviews to Fox News more than any other outlet, but he has favored Hannity and other supportive hosts like Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters. News anchors Wallace, Bret Baier and Shepard Smith and chief White House correspondent John Roberts have been shut out.”

So even while Trump favors the garden variety sycophants at Fox, he is careful to narrow his exposure to only the most slobbering drool merchants at the network. He steers wide of anyone that might accidentally stumble over some honest journalistic principles. Even the Fox News version of a reporter must be avoided at all costs. Trump is only comfortable talking to mindless disciples. Lucky for him, there is no shortage of them at Fox News – or in their audience.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Implies That Donald Trump is Just as Batty as Kim Jong-Un. Who Can Argue With That?

On Wednesday Donald Trump laid the foundation for a nuclear confrontation with North Korea. His brimstone laden “fire and fury” speech has brought new and unnecessary tensions to an already shaky relationship. It was an inevitable escalation of craziness from a narcissistic personality with a thirty-three percent approval rating. And of course, it didn’t take long for the media pundits to weigh in with predictably inane debates.

Donald Trump Kim Jong-Un

On Fox News Thursday morning there was a particularly confounding view offered by anchor Jon Scott. He wanted to know whether there was a “double standard among the press” for their criticism of Trump’s overheated rhetoric. He was puzzled as to why Trump was being criticized but “nobody seems to care all that much about the threats coming from Kim Jong-Un.”

Let’s be clear about this. Scott is making the absurd inference that the media should treat Trump’s statements with equal significance as a certified fruitcake. On the surface, I can’t really find any fault with that. Trump is at least as batty as Kim. However, when looked at as an American president vs. Kim, the distinction ought be huge. Under ordinary circumstances the U.S. should be regarded as far more serious and conscientious than raving madmen.

Unfortunately, these are not ordinary times. Hence the critique of the press by Scott, who thinks Trump should be regarded in the same league as Kim. But Scott’s guest, fellow Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, wasn’t having it:

“Well, look, we kind of expect crazy from Kim Jong-Un. As I said, he’s the head of the ‘Hermit Kingdom. He’s a pariah for almost the entire world. So, we don’t expect him to be judged the same standard as the president. […] I certainly hope we’re not judging Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un by the same standards.”

Wallace’s perspective is surely more coherent than Scott’s. But Scott’s is more prevalent on Fox News and throughout the right-wing mediasphere. Even Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said that Trump was using “language that Kim Jong-Un would understand.” When did lowering our communications skills to the level of babbling nutcases become the goal of American diplomacy?

Wallace deserves some credit for batting down Scott’s absurd allegation of a press double standard. But he still managed to live down to Fox’s low standards for misleading reporting. Woven into his remarks was this completely false observation of the fallout from Trump’s “fire and fury” speech:

“I don’t think anybody objects to the idea that the president was tough and sent a very stern message to the North Koreans.”

Oh really? You would have to be ignoring the letter from sixty members of congress fervently objecting to Trump’s war mongering. And you would also have to have missed the objections from Democratic senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. Not to mention Republican senators John McCain, Dan Sullivan, and Jeff Flake. Trump’s off-the-cuff bluster was widely considered to be inflammatory and counterproductive. And Wallace’s attempt to soft-peddle the backlash only keeps Fox News viewers ill-informed. But then, that’s the mission of Fox News, so Wallace and Scott are just doing their jobs.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Leaks Under New Department of Justice Directive?

The still nascent presidency of Donald Trump is rife with controversies and scandals. His financial conflicts of interests and unsavory connections to Russia have dominated his short tenure in office. Additionally, he has produced no legislative accomplishments. Most notably, the failure of his efforts to kill ObamaCare went down in flames. He has made no progress on immigration, taxes, terrorism, or his lame-brained border wall.

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

However, Trump regularly signals what issues are of most importance to him. And judging by the frequency of his tweets, it has little to do with matters critical to the nation. Rather, he is variously obsessed with either the media, last November’s election, or the torrent of White House leaks. Most experts agree that leaks occur when an organization is in disarray. But in Trump World it is blamed on a shadowy conspiracy of “deep state” saboteurs.

On yesterday’s edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (video below). Much of the segment specifically addressed the question of leaks and what the Justice Department intends to do about them. Wallace sought to follow up on remarks made last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those comments sparked some controversy for implying that journalists could be targeted for prosecution. Rosenstein walked that back a bit in the following exchange:

Wallace: Some of the people who engage in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the members of the so-called ‘deep state’ or faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks – have disclosed classified information – will you prosecute?
Rosenstein: “What we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leaks? What were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, than who is the leaker. So if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we’ll prosecute them.
Wallace: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
Rosenstein: Including anybody who breaks the law.

If Rosenstein can be taken at his word, Donald Trump may be in even more trouble than previously thought. Leaks from any administration are made for a variety of reasons. It may be because someone is genuinely concerned about a course of action and has no other recourse to alter it. Sometimes a leaker is angling for position or acting out of vengeance. And sometimes leaks are deliberate attempts by the White House to disseminate information that it wants disseminated.

For example, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, recently outed his boss as a leaker. During an interview on CNN, Scaramucci defended Trump’s reluctance to concede that the Russians were responsible for hacking during last year’s election. He even offered “evidence” by way of an anonymous insider:

“You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.”

That, of course, is grade AAA bullshit. Professional spies may be good at what they do, but they are not infallible. Scaramucci is suggesting that the Russians are so superior in their clandestine operations that their American counterparts are helpless yokels, incapable of facing off against the almighty Ruskies. But more important was what Scaramucci said next. After CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Scaramucci’s hypocritical use of an anonymous source, the Mooch spilled the beans:

“How about it was – how about it was the President, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.”

So here we have a White House official admitting that the President was the source of a leak that disclosed inside information. Trump’s observations about the capabilities of Russian intelligence ought to be regarded as top secret. But this business was aired on national television at the behest of Donald Trump. On another occasion, Trump leaked classified data to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. This leak may have put intelligence assets of an ally at risk of discovery or termination.

Who knows what else the President might have leaked. Handing out information that advances the administration’s interest is an ago-old tactic. Dick Cheney did it to plant the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And Trump has his own media operation headquartered in the White House and led by Breitbart News chairman, Stephen Bannon. Remember, this is the same guy who used to call newspapers and pretend that he was a publicist working for, well, himself.

So if Trump is later found to be the source of leaks to the media, will the Department of Justice keep their word and prosecute him? That’s an open question for the time being. They have not been especially anxious to pursue criminal investigations of the President. And, of course, Trump remains poised to fire anyone he thinks is getting too close to the truth. In the end, it may only be possible to obtain justice with a truly independent counsel, or a Democratic congress. Stay tuned.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith Wants to Know ‘Why is it Lie After Lie After Lie?’

The saga of Donald Trump, Jr. continues to unfold with more damning evidence surfacing everyday. The meeting that he attended last June was originally said to be about Russian adoption. Then they expanded it to say it might have covered opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Then emails were released showing that the meeting was solicited wholly as a campaign dirt exchange and that the Russian government was involved. Most recently it turns out that an alleged Russian spy was in attendance as well.

Shepard Smith Fox News

This web of deliberate deceit has left mouths agape on both sides of the political aisle. Staunch conservatives like Charles Krauthammer and Ralph Peters have blasted the Trump family’s brazen dishonesty and feeble cover ups. This outrage has even extended to Fox News anchors who are no longer capable of masking their astonished disbelief. An example of this occurred Friday in the following exchange between Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace (video below):

Wallace: “We’ve been told a variety of stories, and who knows if we’ve gotten to the end of the story?

Smith: “We’re still not clean on this, Chris. If there’s nothing there – and that’s what they tell us, they tell us there’s nothing to this and nothing came of it. There’s a nothing burger. It wasn’t even memorable, didn’t write it down. Didn’t tell you about it, because it wasn’t anything so I didn’t even remember it. With a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower? If all of that, why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie? […] The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling. And there are still people who are out there who believe we’re are making it up. And one day they’re gonna realize we’re not and look around and go, ‘Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?'”

Wallace: “I don’t know what to say. You know, I think there’s a lot of truth to everything that you’ve said.”

Indeed. The look on Wallace’s face, and delayed reaction was telling in itself. That’s pretty much the only response Wallace could have made. The flimsy obfuscation and diversions by Trump and his media shills is painfully obvious. And yet, they continue to pile on the lies even after they are exposed. The complaints from hacks like Kellyanne Conway, Sean Hannity, etc., fail to do anything but shower them all in shame. Nevertheless, Fox News flunkies like Eric Bolling, Jesse Watters, and the Fox and Friends crew are still spinning furiously. But as the truth slowly leaks out they will be left in a pool of embarrassment and disgrace.

Credit must be given to Smith and Wallace who are demonstrating that they aren’t afraid to acknowledge reality on occasion. If this is done more frequently there may be some hope that brainwashed Fox News viewers will see the light. That’s a lot to hope for. But we have to start somewhere.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s Lawyer Repeatedly Contradicts President’s Claim that He’s Under Investigation

Donald Trump and his administration are not known for their ability to communicate a consistent, coherent message. They have a history of wildly contradictory statements and absurd deflections from reality. So it isn’t surprising that Trump’s new lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has continued that tradition. He made several appearances on the Sunday morning news shows that did nothing but contribute to the confusion surrounding the investigation into Trump’s obstruction of justice.

Sekulow Trump CNN

On all of these programs the discussion was related to a story in the Washington Post saying Trump is under investigation. The Post reported that on the basis of five (count ’em, five) sources who requested anonymity. Of course, Trump has previously railed against the use of anonymous sources despite using them himself when it suits him. However, professional journalists have relied on such sources with great accuracy for as long as there has been journalism.

Trump’s response to the story was expressed in a tweet that apparently confirmed the Post’s account:

That’s simple enough. The President is explicitly agreeing with the Post that he is being investigated. And the investigation concerns, in part, the events leading to the termination of former FBI Director, James Comey. He’s also blaming it on someone at the Justice Department who told him to do it. Never mind that he told NBC’s Lester Holt it was his decision alone. A decision that he made before consulting the DOJ. The bottom line is that everyone is on the same page with regard to the existence of an investigation. Right?

Wrong. Mr. Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, objects. On each of his Sunday interviews he blatantly contradicted his client. He repeated that the President is not now, nor has he ever been, under investigation. But his attempts to support that argument were ludicrous. Let’s begin with the most friendly forum for Trump’s representative, Fox News. Chris Wallace noted that Sekulow himself said that Trump is being investigated.

Sekulow: [Trump] is being investigated for taking the action that the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, recommended him to take by the agency that recommended the termination.
Wallace: First of all, you’ve now stated that he is being investigated after saying that he …
Sekulow: No.
Wallace: You just said that he’s being investigated.
Sekulow: Let me be crystal clear so you completely understand. We have not received, nor are we aware of any investigation of the President of the United States.

Wallace deserves some credit for not letting Sekulow get away with contradicting both himself and Trump. But Sekulow’s attempt at crystal clarity just dodges the substance of his own prior remarks. So let’s move on to Meet the Press with Chuck Todd:

Todd: Let me begin with getting some clarification here. The President tweeted this week “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director.” When did the President become aware that he was officially under investigation by the special counsel?
Sekulow: The President is not under investigation by the special counsel. The tweet from the President was in response to the five anonymous sources that were purportedly leaking information to the Washington Post about a potential investigation of the President.

Sekulow’s reply doesn’t begin to answer the question. In fact, it makes no sense. How does Trump’s alleged response being aimed at the Post’s story change the meaning of it? That question comes up again when Sekulow appears on CNN’s State of the Nation with Jake Tapper (video below):

Tapper: The President said “I am being investigated” in a tweet and people take his word on that. But you’re his attorney. You’re saying that when the President said that he was not accurate.
Sekulow: No. The President was – It was 141 (sic) characters. There’s a limitation on Twitter, as we all know. And the President has very effective utilization of social media. So here’s what we have. The President issued that tweet, that social media statement based on a fake report, a report with no documented sources from the Washington Post. […] The President’s response was as it related to the Washington Post report. He cannot in a Twitter statement include all of that in there. But the Washington Post statement came out that morning. There should be no confusion. The President is not under investigation.

Now Sekulow is asserting that the Post’s story is fake. Of course, he doesn’t provide any evidence to substantiate that allegation. As a lawyer he should know better. But even that reckless remark doesn’t explain why Trump said that he is being investigated. Sekulow tried to bolster his defense by asserting that Twitter’s character limit is what prevented Trump from being clear. But Trump’s tweet contained only 111 characters. So he had twenty-nine to spare. And according to Sekulow, “the President has very effective utilization of social media.” So he could easily have added “WaPo Says,” or even “the fake news WaPo says.” So there was no impediment by Twitter on Trump making an accurate statement.

At this point it should be noted that Sekulow is not telling the truth about whether Trump is under investigation. All he can say honestly is that he isn’t aware of any investigation. He cannot say that there isn’t one. Wallace called him that and he agreed. Nevertheless, he repeated the same falsehood on the other programs. It’s a propaganda tactic aimed at convincing people that Trump is pure as the driven snow. But his execution is so inept that he just winds up muddying the waters and making his client look guilty. Which I suppose is a professional hazard for lawyers with guilty clients.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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