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.

Trump’s State Department is Granting Hundreds of Visas for Russian Spies

Friday morning Donald Trump met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. This is either their first meeting or their fifteenth, depending on which statement by Trump you choose to believe. In any case, according to the White House, Trump went into the meeting with no agenda. He told reporters that he was honored to meet Putin. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward encountering the man who everyone in the U.S. intelligence community says interfered with our election last year.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump obviously doesn’t care about the election hacking issue. He still insists that “nobody knows for sure” that the Russians were responsible. That opinion is not only dangerously misguided, it is an insult to America’s national security professionals. It also conveniently lets the guy who helped him get elected off the hook. However, it is not the only threat to which Trump is exposing the nation. CNN is reporting that Russian spies are pouring into the country courtesy of Trump’s State Department:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”

Those 35 diplomats were expelled by President Obama in response to the Russian hacking. It was just one of the actions taken despite Trump having said that Obama had done nothing. But now that Trump’s team is in place they are readmitting suspicious characters. These are potential operatives who could ramp up election tampering activities for 2018 and 2020. And American intelligence officials are worried about just that:

“Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say. But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas.”

Reports coming out of Trump’s meeting with Putin indicate that he was less than eager to hold the Russian’s accountable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the focus was on moving forward. That must have pleased Putin immensely. I’m sure he’d like to get on with his plans to hack future American elections. And now, thanks to Trump, he’ll have an army of spies in the country to help achieve his goals.

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

FFS: Trump Seeks Cyber Security Alliance with Russia, the Country That Hacked Our Election

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t dig himself further up Putin’s anus, he pulls out an even bigger jackhammer. The President appears oblivious to the fact that he is under investigation for colluding with Russia during the 2016 election. Many of his close associates have been caught with Russian agents in meetings they tried to cover up. Seventeen independent American intelligence agencies concluded that Russia engaged in extensive operations to hack our election to Trump’s benefit.

Trump/Putin

Nevertheless, it has now been learned that Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is proposing a confounding alliance. Tillerson had numerous encounters with Russian government and businesses in his previous position as CEO of Exxon. But this new hook up is hard to believe. According to Newsweek, Tillerson is seeking to partner with Russia on projects “aimed at cybersecurity and cyberespionage.” Newsweek notes that this…

“…seems particularly odd given not only the investigations surrounding President Donald Trump and his former campaign but also the conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia intentionally meddled in last year’s election in order to ascend Trump’s candidacy. [and that] Complicating the matter is Trump’s consistent refusal to declare Russia had meddled in the election and reluctance to say anything negative about Putin or his government.”

Set aside for the moment the absurdity of favoring Russia with such a privileged relationship after their activities last year. Any program that joins the United States and Russia in efforts to combat cyber attacks is wrought with obvious peril. The intelligence sharing would give the Russians access to confidential information that could aid them in future attacks on the U.S. They would undoubtedly be pleased to learn what areas the Americans regard as vulnerable. This would include risks far beyond election tampering. Cyber attacks can also be launched against infrastructure, power grids, commerce, and even military operations.

Additionally, this sort of coalition would make American technology available to our new partners. Procedures aimed at investigating digital intrusions would have to be shared. Likewise, methods of correcting and securing systems that have been compromised would become common knowledge. And that knowledge would be invaluable in plotting new attacks.

These ham-handed efforts to engage with a hostile adversary make no sense at all. Even strictly with regard to appearances, it is utterly unjustifiable. Russia, based on its unacknowledged and unremorseful activities, surely doesn’t deserve this special treatment. If anything, they should be subject to further sanctions and explicitly excluded from cooperation on technology matters.

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

The fact that Trump’s State Department is openly seeking to reward Russia, despite their bad behavior, suggests something ominous. Could it be a payoff for some past or future benefit for Trump? Does Putin have something on the President that he would release without accommodations like this? Are these questions too conspiratorial? Perhaps they are. But what possible incentive would Trump have for endangering the nation by sharing sensitive technology and cyber security plans with an enemy and international cyber criminal? At the very least, these are questions the media should asking.