Our Lying Media

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“Fake news” and Trump Derangement Syndrome

by Justin Raimondo, February 03, 2017

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The headline was alarming: “Trump to Mexico: Take Care of ‘Bad Hombres,’ or US Might.” The Associated Press story went on to report:

“President Donald Trump warned in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press….’You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,’ Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. ‘You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.’

“A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation….

“Americans may recognize Trump’s signature bombast in the comments, but the remarks may carry more weight in Mexico.”

While the denials of the Mexican government were interspersed throughout the text, the context clearly framed their statements as self-serving: after all, who wants to admit to being humiliated? Certainly not Nieto, whose approval ratings are in the mid-teens.

So, is Trump getting ready to invade Mexico?

No way, Jose: the AP story turned out to be fake news, just as I said it was. As none other than Jake Tapper of CNN, hardly a Trump fan, reported a few hours later:

“According to an excerpt of the transcript of the call with Peña Nieto provided to CNN, Trump said, ‘You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.’

“Trump made an offer to help Peña Nieto with the drug cartels. The excerpt of the transcript obtained by CNN differs with an official internal readout of the call that wrongly suggested Trump was contemplating sending troops to the border in a hostile way.

“The Associated Press report said Trump threatened to send US troops to stop criminals in Mexico unless the government did more to control them, but both the US and Mexican governments denied details from the story. Sources described the AP’s reporting as being based upon a readout – written by aides – not a transcript.”

Quite a difference between the AP story and the reality. One wonders how many people still believe the AP version. My guess: quite a few. Once fake news gets out there, it’s hard to reel it back in. After all, there are still people who believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Which goes to show that fake news isn’t new, and yet one could make a good case that, ever since Trump won the White House, it’s turned into a pandemic. Just off the top of my head, here’s five recent examples:

  • The New York Times story that cooked up a nonexistent presidential executive order reinstating CIA “black sites” – false!
  • The “news” that Trump had moved the bust of Martin Luther King out of the Oval Office – fake!
  • Politico’s allegation that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin foreclosed on the home of an elderly widow for 27 cents – wrong!
  • The much retweeted tweet that had Trump blowing a kiss to FBI director James Comey at a White House reception (the implication being that Trump was thanking him for releasing information on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails) – untrue!
  • The story that a Russian bank was directly connected to the Trump campaign via computer, presumably in order to transmit Putin’s cash (and orders) directly to his “puppet” – debunked!

I could go on, but you get the idea. A veritable tsunami of unverified (and unverifiable)”news” about Trump and his administration has spewed forth from the open spigot of the “mainstream” media on a daily basis, only to be disproved shortly afterwards. The corrections, when they are printed, often come too late to undo the damage – and that’s the whole point. The effect is to create a penumbra of disaster and dark menace around the Trump White House, and one can’t help but think that this is what is intended.

And then there’s a more sinister development, exemplified by the latest news about the Special Forces raid carried out against an alleged al-Qaeda target in Yemen, in which a large number of civilians were killed in addition to one US soldier (four others were injured). What we are hearing now is that al-Qaeda had foreknowledge of the raid, either because drones were flying much lower prior to the raid or for other reasons: in any case, their redoubt was fortified, and the terrorists were ready and waiting. On the way to their target, the Special Forces team realized all this, but decided to go ahead anyway. The result was a slaughter: an entire village was wiped out, we sustained losses (including a crashed helicopter) and the mission, in retrospect, seems like it was a disaster. We are also hearing that the mission was disapproved at least twice by the Obama administration, and that Trump approved it when it was brought up again. Which raises the question: why was the military reiterating this proposal when it had already been rejected at least twice? Presidents don’t make these decisions in a vacuum. One has to assume that the military said they had intelligence that augured success rather than what actually occurred.

And intelligence is the key word here. Who is responsible for supplying the President with intelligence in situations like this? Why, it’s the same “intelligence community” that has been conducting a rather open war on Donald J. Trump.

Which brings to mind Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s ominous warning to Trump: “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you.”

In short, this whole incident screams “set up”: do the Never Trumpers in the CIA have blood on their hands?

From fake news to fake intelligence – this is the world we find ourselves in. And the problem is compounded by a systematic campaign against alleged fake news by those who are doing the most to generate it – the “mainstream” media.

We here at Antiwar.com have been among the targets of this campaign: the professional witch-hunters at “PropOrNot” (in tandem with the Washington Post) putting us on their list of “Russian propaganda” sites, and the much-touted “fake news” list put out by Melissa Zimdars, a media professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, which labels us as “biased” and “unreliable.” Marcy Wheeler does a good job of debunking Zimdars’ methodology, but one has to wonder how one of the only news outlets to accurately predict that the Iraq war was based on a lie, and warn that it would turn into an utter disaster could be dubbed “unreliable.”

This collapse of the journalistic profession couldn’t have come at a worse moment. We are heading into uncharted waters with the Trump administration, and the media’s constant barrage aimed at him actually undermines any real scrutiny: they’ve cried “Wolf!” so many times that when the real wolf is at the door they’ll have lost all credibility. This is particularly true in the international arena, where the threat of war is looming large: from the Persian Gulf (Yemen, Iran) to Ukraine (where Kiev is engaging in dangerous provocations), to the South China Sea, the arc of crisis is getting bigger and more volatile by the day.

Yet the “news” media is so busy bickering with the new administration over such burning issues as the crowd size at the Inauguration that they have little time or use for such trivial matters as war and peace. And when they do concern themselves with such questions, their bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome prevents them from seeing – and telling us – what’s really going on.

This presents us here at Antiwar.com with a difficult problem: we rely on reporting from other media to give our readers an accurate picture of events as they unfold. However, our job is made much harder if a large section of the media has simply given up reporting the facts. The solution, if there is one, is to be very careful about what we report as news: to check and re-check, without jumping to conclusions, and then check again.

In short, we are doing our best to navigate these troubled waters, and I can say unequivocally that we are absolutely committed to reporting the truth rather than merely repeating the conventional wisdom. I am pledging to our readers right here and now that we aren’t letting our biases take precedence over factual reporting.

Yes, Professor Zimdars is correct, at least to some extent: we do have a bias in favor of peace. But that doesn’t mean that the information we impart to our readers is “unreliable.” The reason for this is simple: our readers aren’t stupid. Once burned, lesson learned: we would soon lose all credibility if we took to reporting only what seemed to conform to our ideological preferences. Our readers would find that neither convincing nor worth supporting – and we do depend on our readers for the resources we need to keep this web site going.

We’ve been bringing you the news of the world, from an anti-interventionist perspective, for over fifteen year now, but I have to say we’ve never faced challenges quite like this in all the time we’ve been online. The air is thick with propaganda, and – worse – hysteria, on both sides of the spectrum. In the face of all this, we are doing our best to pursue the straight and narrow path of truth before ideology, avoiding both the Scylla of confirmation bias and the Charybdis of groupthink.

Wish us luck: we’re going to need it.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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John Pilger: The Hijacking of Feminism

OffGuardian

Today’s liberal feminism is a sinister 21st century variant of historical feminism. It is one key apparatus of many currently being utilized by the capitalist system rooted in patriarchy, misogyny and racism. This nefarious system employs trillions of dollars funneled through the non-profit industrial complex (via foundations) to protect and expand these formidable power structures. Today’s liberal feminism is a racist fascism, bound by whiteness, privilege and class, that markets reformism and accommodationism under the clever guise of grassroots activism.


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Soros Exposed

Eurasia News Online

WAYNE MADSEN

Although multi-billionaire hedge fund tycoon and international political pot-stirrer George Soros lost big with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the victory of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, he stands to lose further ground, politically and financially, as the winds of political change sweep across the globe.

Soros, who fancies himself as the master of placing short put options on stocks, often cleaning up to the tune of billions of dollars in the process when the stock values collapse, has been dealt a few financial body blows. Recently, the Dutch securities market regulator AFM «accidentally» revealed on line all of Soros’s short trades since 2012. Soros’s trades were revealed on AFM’s website and were removed after the regulator realized the «error». However, the Soros data had already been captured by automatic data capturing software programs operated by intelligence agencies and…

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Blundering Into A War With China

China: War On The Horizon?

Dispatches From The Edge

Jan. 27, 2017

In his Jan. 13 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson made an extraordinary comment concerning China’s activities in the South China Sea. The U.S., he said, must “send a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops,” adding that Beijing’s “access to the those islands is not going to be allowed.”

President Trump’s Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the threat on Jan. 24.

Sometimes it is hard to sift the real from the magical in the Trump administration, and bombast appears to be the default strategy of the day. But people should be clear about what would happen if the U.S. actually tries to blockade China from supplying its forces constructing airfields and radar facilities on the Spratley and Paracel islands.

It would be an act of war.

While Beijing’s Foreign Ministry…

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The Fix-nothing farce of symbolic politics

The Fix-Nothing Farce of Symbolic Politics

Much of what passes for politics these days is symbolic. Anyone who studies the issue of illegal immigration concludes that the solution lies not in building $10 billion walls but in changing the incentive structure of citizenship, legal and illegal immigration. As long as successfully crossing the border enables access to free healthcare, education and sanctuary and the potential for cash work–the equivalent of winning the lottery for those with none of these benefits–walls will be tunneled under, overflown or bypassed by sea.

The Trump Administration’s proposed policies on tariffs, walls to stop illegal immigration, etc. are defended as symbolic gestures–in other words, their value is in communicating “things have changed”, not actually solving the problems facing the nation.

On the other side of the spectrum, protests in defense of a corrupt, failed status quo are also symbolic. No thinking person can claim that the status-quo policies on illegal immigration are fair, just or functional; how is letting illegal immigrants “jump the queue” ahead of the hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants who have labored patiently for years, paying all the outrageous costs of navigating the Kafkaesque complexities of legal immigration fair or just?

Protesting in defense of a racket-based status quo fixes nothing and solves nothing. Protests are also purely symbolic: the indignant express their indignation, gather to support a corrupt, venal system of rackets and then go home to stroke their egos on social media: I struck a blow today for… a corrupt system of rackets that enrich self-serving vested interests and privileged elites.

Dear Trump insiders and protesters: did either of you propose a real solution to the college debt-serfdom racket? No, you didn’t. Your symbolic gesture was nothing but a fix-nothing farce. If you think a trillion dollars of debt to pay for mostly worthless credentials is sustainable, fair, just or functional, you’re willfully blind to the ugly reality: higher education is just another cartel-state racket:

As Jim Kunstler as often observed, the status quo in the U.S. is nothing but an interconnected network of rackets run by protected technocrats to benefit a plutocracy of wealthy insiders and their political-class lackeys. These rackets–higher education, healthcare, defense weaponry, the corporate media, and on and on–are nothing but institutionalized extortion, embezzlement and fraud, systems that enrich the top 5% at the expense of the bottom 95%:

Dear protesters and Trump insiders: do either of you understand that the whole tragi-comedy of rackets passing for politics is a house of cards that depends on ever-expanding debt? Once the debt bubble pops, the rackets implode, and the real value of symbolic politics–zero– will be revealed.

The farce of symbolic politics fixes nothing. Solutions are not symbolic; solutions gut the rackets by breaking down the regulatory walls protecting the privileged elites who are stripmining the bottom 95%, “snowflakes” and “deplorables” alike.

That’s how the fraud and the rackets are enforced: get each camp to view the other as the enemy in the great coliseum of symbolic, do-nothing politics. Mix and stir, then stand back and continue skimming the nation’s wealth in whatever racket is buttering your bread while the two camps distract themselves with symbolic battles.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print). For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

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Are UK and EU heading for economic cold war?

Eurasia News Online

Mario Giro says coming ‘battle of interests’ could have terrible consequences for western world

A senior Italian official has warned that the UK and the European Union are heading into an “economic cold war” over Brexit that could wreak havoc on the west and weaken the continent.

Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, said that while many countries in the EU had said the UK’s vote to leave the EU represented a loss to the union, there were more hardliners in the EU against the UK than it appeared.

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Game Over for the Democrats?

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/01/game-over-for-democrats.html

Originally published at CounterPunch (republished with permission of the author).

Photo by P Bear | CC BY 2.0

Photo by P Bear | CC BY 2.0

In 2008, the American people overwhelmingly voted for “change” in Washington. They never got it. Hence, Trump. To pretend that there’s not a straight line connecting the failed policies of Barack Obama and the subsequent rise of Donald John Trump, is to ignore the obvious and to shrug off responsibility for the situation the country is in today.

Obama created Trump, the man didn’t simply appear from the ether. Had Obama acted in good faith and kept his promises to shake up the status quo, end the foreign wars, restore civil liberties, hold Wall Street accountable or relieve the economic insecurity that working families across the country now feel, Hillary Clinton would have been a shoe-in on November 8th. As it happens, Obama made no effort to achieve any of these goals, which is why Hillary was defeated in the biggest political upset of the last century.

The point we need to underscore here, is that the Democratic leadership is responsible for Trump, not the working class people in the red states who merely did what they had to do to effect change.  These people can’t be blamed for voting their own best interests. That’s what people do. Had Obama done anything to genuinely improve the economy, things might have turned out differently. But he didn’t, in fact– as popular as Obama was– a full two thirds of the American people thought the country was headed in the wrong direction. In other words, the election was a referendum on Obama’s performance as the primary steward of the US economy. Obama lost that referendum.

Even so, the DNC could have reloaded and taken a different approach to the economy under Hillary. They didn’t. They thought the “recovery” meme was effective enough to put them over the finish line. But it wasn’t effective enough, because too many people saw that the recovery was a fraud, that there was no recovery,  it was all a slick Madison Avenue public relations campaign aimed at concealing the fact that Obama had restructured the US economy in a way that deliberately kept growth at-or-below 2 percent so the Fed could continue pumping cheap money to its constituents on Wall Street while everyone else saw their personal debtload grow, their retirement savings vanish, and their standards of living slip.  Isn’t that what really happened? Obama’s grand restructuring project has resulted in perennial economic stagnation and widespread pessimism about the future. The former president  oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from working class people to parasitic plutocrats in the history of the nation. It wasn’t an accident. Obama was following a blueprint that was given to him by his handlers at the DNC.

So now the country is to be led by a brash billionaire reality TV celebrity who has no previous political experience and who seems unusually sensitive to any kind of personal criticism. Not surprisingly, there’s no sign that the Democratic leadership feels any responsibility for this extraordinary development.

Why is that? Why hasn’t anyone in the DNC admitted their failure, admitted that they didn’t accurately gage the mood of the country or the hunger for change? Why haven’t they acknowledged that putting the most untrustworthy candidate of all time –a thoroughly dislikable, warmongering harridan– on the ticket was a mistake? Why?

It’s because this vile collection of corporate Dems who run the party are incapable of self reflection, right? It’s because the Podesta throng — who still hold the party in their deathgrip –truly believe that bamboozling their base with Potemkin executives like Barack Obama, is a terrific model for running the government. They think Obama’s tenure as president was a success story, mainly because  his grandiloquent bloviating and larking around on stage with sleeves rolled up like an overpaid athlete– diverted attention from the trillions of dollars  that were being sluiced to the banking whores on Wall Street. Isn’t that why the Dems haven’t changed?

They actually think they’ve stumbled on the secret formula for winning elections and that the election of Trump in 2016 is just a “one off”, a temporary setback.

But it’s not a one off.  The rise of  Trump has been accompanied by the rise of rightwing parties and ideology across the planet. What we are seeing is a fundamental change in the zeitgeist, which is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.”  In  this view, Obama represents the culmination of the values and ideas that emerged during the 1960s and persisted until just recently when they collapsed. The utter corruption of the progressive vision (due, in large part, to the cynical and reactionary policies of parties like the Democrats) has paved the way for a new era, the Trump era, in which state repression is bound to increase even while personal liberty and economic security are steadily eviscerated.

And what is the Dems response to this new phenom?

Why, nothing at all. The whole matter seems to be over their heads. They don’t seem to grasp the shifting public mood, the changing epoch  or how it will impact their future plans. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to make themselves more irrelevant. It’s pathetic.

And keep in mind, that ever since the election, the Dems have made no effort at course correction, no effort to reconnect with the millions of working people in the red states who used to vote Democrat but switched because they wanted change. No. Instead, party leaders have embarked on a counterproductive character assassination campaign aimed at discrediting the new president by alleging Russian “hacking” of the election. And while they have produced absolutely zero hard evidence to substantiate their loony claims, the Dems, the media and the thoroughly unreliable Intel agencies have continued this scapegoating onslaught thinking that they are shaping public opinion in a way that undermines  President Trump.

It would all be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. But it is serious. The rise of Trump poses some significant challenges to democratic government, but, regrettably, the opposition party is in the middle of a major nervous breakdown. How are they going to stop this autocratic juggernaut in their present state of collapse?

They won’t be able to. They’re going to get beat to a pulp unless they get it together and stop  running around with their hair on fire yelling, “The Russians are coming” instead of rebuilding the party on a commitment to basic progressive values; civil liberties, non intervention, and economic fairness. The Democratic Party has to be more than a membership register attached to a donor’s list. It needs to reconnect with its base and try to understand why working people are either leaving the party altogether or so disenchanted they won’t even vote.

How about a little self-examination, eh? How about clearing out the deadwood starting with crooked Hillary and her sleazy handler, Podesta?  How about committing to a vision for change that’s more than a public relations scam aimed at hoodwinking your base? How about ending the buck passing bullshit and pushing legislation that offers some relief for rampant economic insecurity, student debt, dwindling retirements, universal health care, and environmental devastation.

The Democratic party doesn’t have to be a place where progressive ideas go to die. But they’d better get it together fast or it’s going to be Game over.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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