February 03, 2018

RIP Bob Parry and RIP Consortium News too?
#NunesMemo stance undercuts credibility

Robert Parry, founder of
Consortium News. Is he now
turning over in his grave?
Robert Parry, a lead investigative reporter of both the Iran-Contra arms smuggling and related violations of law as well as Reagan's October Surprise in 1980, died unexpectedly last month and rightly received plenty of tributes for his work.

That said, one ongoing and one new contributor at the site are — for me and some others — wrecking its legacy already over the Nunes Memo.

Before I dive in, let me explain that I largely accept CN's overall claims that Russiagate — in terms of the initial claims that Putin-orchestrated hackers were trying to directly meddle in our elections, and that these hackers were behind the initial Democratic National Committee emails run by Wikileaks — is largely a nothingburger.

Now, to points at hand.

I don't know how tight or loose of an editorial rein Bob kept over other contributors before he died, especially before last December and the start of his health issues. I have no idea now if son Nat is running the show there, or whom, and how much editorial control is being run at all.

But Ray McGovern has run multiple articles both before and after the Nunes Memo's release arguing for a simplistic "Deep State vs Trump" take on the memo and refusing to read Idries Shah and note there's more than two sides to this.
“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.” 
He's being joined in this by that tireless promoter of leftist union with the alt-right, Caitlin Johnstone. In her piece last Saturday, she even admitted the content of the memo was a nothingburger but said that didn't matter anyway.

Johnstone did not start contributing to the site until Bob's passing. I suspect that an alive and healthy Bob would have kept her a non-contributor.

Devin Nunes — hack and idiot, as usually pictured
The "more than two sides" would accept that recent data deletions by the FBI and NSA are a problem while noting they in no means obscure that the Nunes Memo was in fact just the latest in a string of partisan hackery by Devin Nunes ever since Trump was sworn into office.

It would also develop the "third side" (there's really four or more) of not only Nunes' level of hackery, but details of the political issues at hand with this memo. We all know them — possibly setting up the firing of Rod Rosenstein is obvious. There could be more.

The "more than two sides" would note the clear omissions from the Nunes Memo, above all that quarterly renewal of surveillance requests on Carter Page were based on material besides the Steele dossier. Per Liberal Values, the memo does let that cat out of the bag at the very end, but both McGovern and Johnstone refuse to even mention the name Papadopoulos. It would also note that while Rod Rosenstein signed off on Mueller's wanting to make the quarterly requests, he did not examine the individual filings.

Byron York jumps in to say that the FBI surveillance requests appear to have had four sources — Steele, a Yahoo story based on Steele, Papadopoulos, and a previous 2013 investigation of Page, plus the general worry over Russia environment as a backgrounder. He then tries to claim the dossier was nonetheless "essential." He also references, on Twitter, Trey Gowdy engaging in ersatz mind-reading of a judge to try to prove that point.

I respond back that without the judge's comment, which of course will not be forthcoming, we have no way of knowing that, and that if Nunes wanted to show what York and flacks like Gowdy claim, he should have mentioned all sources in the memo in the first place.

Instead, Nunes comes off as still looking like a hack, and Gowdy still looking like a flak, and both them and York still trying to push a two-sides argument.

Update, Feb. 5: Nunes has now admitted that the FBI told judges all along that they knew of the political backstory of the Steele dossier.

Meanwhile, per North Star, none of these alt-Trumpistan folks have put the Nunes Memo and Trump's support for it in larger context of Trump's personalized attacks on law enforcement that don't agree with him.

So, Liberal Values needs to have an extended excerpt to show just what a smart "third side" looks like:
There certainly might be grounds to question both the initial surveillance and the continued renewal of FISA warrants for the surveillance of Page (as is required every ninety days).  However, if the Republicans see abuses re FISA, why did they overwhelmingly just recently vote to renew it and expand surveillance? It is hard to take seriously Republican concerns today regarding surveillance when they have been such strong supporters of mass surveillance. 
It is not even clear if Carter Page is very significant with regards to Robert Muller’s investigation considering he is not one of those who have been indicted or who has entered into a plea agreement with Muller. 
The release of the memo does serve as a reminder of the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which had denied for months their role in paying for the Steele dossier. They very well might have violated federal election rules, and should be investigated for this. However, that is a separate matter, and is hardly enough to discredit investigations into money laundering and obstruction of justice within the Trump administration. On the other hand, the attempts by Democrats to fabricate a case, contrary to all the evidence to date, that the election was stolen from Clinton due to a conspiracy between Trump and Russia, is likely to ultimately help Trump distract from his actual crimes. 
The real significance of the Nunes memo is not the content, but how it is used. If it is used to reform mass surveillance it could be a good thing–but that is very unlikely to happen by the hypocritical Republicans. The greatest fear is that Trump will use the Republican spin not only to undermine the credibility of the investigation but to justify another Saturday Night Massacre.
I presume the Consortium News'nothingburgers over a nothingburger will die down at some point. How long that will take, I don't know.

Ray McGovern
(UPDATE, Feb. 19: It's gonna take a while, at least with McGovern. He's got a new piece still calling the Nunes Nothingburger delicious. Specifically, he uncritically praises Nunes' threat yesterday of prosecuting FBI agents and others connected to the Mueller investigation. It's laughable to compare Nunes to Otis Pike. I'm sure that he [and Ray] are NOT concerned about civil liberties violations of the indictment, unlike me.

Additional update, May 17: Senate Intelligence Committee on this issue shows more intelligence than Nunes [and hack lieutenant Mike Conaway] has and than McGovern is currently demonstrating)

I also presume that we're likely to get new nothingburgers over new nothingburgers soon enough.

I will finally presume that Consortium News will lose readers over this. Whether the importation of Caitlin Johnstone groupies (or possibly even more, if other writers like ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller are asked to contribute to the boneyard) offsets that, I don't know. (And Haller now has.)

Since I will be one of those lost readers at that point, I won't care, either.

Unfortunately, I now notice that someone who SHOULD know about third sides, 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, has chosen at Counterpunch to pretty much frame this in terms of two-sided "Deep State vs Trump" as well. That said, this is not the first time Baraka has "struggled for separation" on an issue like this.

Disobedient Media is another glue-sniffer.  That said, Per MediaBias FactCheck's analysis of it, that doesn't surprise me. (That, OTOH, is a good website.) Its information content is general factual, but its framing of this is usually biased, if not highly biased, and definitely toward Wingnutistan.

Plus, like some other of these "gnu media" places, its name is simply fucking pretentious.

I have a few Twitter friends who retweet it. I haven't yet decided whether or not to mute it.

The Anti-Media is another one with a pretentious name. And, not for wingnuttia, but simple lack of factual information, plus a dollop of conspiracy thinking framing, its reputation is even worse.

Sadly, that's another that a few friends at least used to retweet.

Update, April 19: Ray McGovern goes on another idiotic rant, saying that 11 random House GOP Congresscritters (not united by coming from House Intell or any other single committee) throwing shit at the wall by making criminal referrals to strawman people, a list which has now been expanded to include Sally Yates, should be taken seriously, that the "corporate media" are slacking even more than normal, and in conspiratorial dulcet tones, asking "Will the Constitution hold"?

My response:
Well, given that Cohen has withdrawn his suits against Fusion and BuzzFeed (which Ray conveniently omits), which in turn may give credence that Mueller does have proof that Cohen was lying about not going to Prague. (Update: McClatchy hasn't offered confirmation on that, no other major media has followed it, and today's McClatchy is NOT that of 10-15 years ago.)
And, we've already been down the "mislead the FISA Court," Ray. 
And, also along those lines, the 11 Rethugs can make all sorts of "referrals." Nice to pull Sally Yates in the mix. (If she's actually guilty of anything, it's of telling Dear Leader not to pardon or even commute the sentence of Leonard Peltier before he left office, and I'm sure nobody in the House GOP gives a damn about Leonard Peltier.) 
The "corporate media" is probably silent because this is even nuttier than Nunes. It's not the Rethug majority of House Intell or any other House committee. It's just 11 random Republicans throwing shit at a wall. 
There. Fixed it for you, Ray.
God, he's a nutter at times.

Worse yet? He says, per Wiki, that he voted for Stein. Tis true; here's his official endorsement on his website. So, allegedly, he shouldn't be engaging in two-siderism.

All we need now is one of these 11 going Dan Burton and shooting watermelons in a backyard.

==

Sadly, two-sidesism at Consortium News appears to be growing. Sharon Tenison's attempted normalization of Putin, and the commentariat there, are laughable. You write a whole piece like this without the name of Litvinenko? Oh, and Sharon? "Russian culture" is not the same as "Vladimir Putin."

Here, "Idries Shah-ism" would point out things I already know:
1. The US manipulating Russia's 1996 Yeltsin re-election
2. The US shock wavers manipulating Russia's economy
3. Clinton breaking oral pledges by Poppy Bush not to expand NATO eastward.

It would at the same time note Putin's poisoning of Litvinenko, Putin's failure to fully control Russian alcoholism problems (despite Tenison trying to claim he has) and attending continuing decline in male life expectancy, his tight control over Russian society (Tenison also didn't mention the Pussy Riot arrests, the "bracketing" of Navalny and other things) and the fact that he's made himself a president-for-life.

These are all basic facts on the ground.

And, from inside Russia, Putin has been a skilled bureaucratic infighter since his first election in 2000. In fact, it was that same bureaucratic infighting that let him shove aside previous favorites of Yeltsin and emerge as Boris' final fair-haired boy. The relatively non-Russophobe Christian Science Monitor reflected some of these same current bureaucratic changes, namely, Putin's rapproachment with siloviki, back in 2015.

Other than confusing Vladimir Putin with Russian culture, I almost wonder if Tenison didn't get a bit of Potemkin village treatment.

Meanwhile, Parry fils had a post after this with more stuff about the "new" Consortium News. Said they'd been getting trolled on Twitter. I said I hadn't trolled, but that I had commented both there and on Twitter about them engaging in two-sidesism and how I had no real use for Johnstone.

And, this is obviously part of the Deep State's conspiracy against Trump:
Denying these poor people security clearances!

No comments: