more intrigue

Questions Arise Over Peter Strzok’s Involvement In FISA Application
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 12 2017

Over the past 10 days we’ve learned a lot about FBI agent Peter Strzok, a man who very likely would have lived the remainder of his life in relative obscurity as an FBI counter-intelligence agent but for his sudden dismissal from Mueller’s “Russian Collusion” investigation. As we noted on Dec 2, Strzok’s life became far more complicated when it was revealed that his dismissal from Mueller’s team was linked to the discovery of multiple “anti-Trump text messages” shared with a colleague with whom he happened to be having an extramarital affair. Like most twisted Faschingstein scandals, his overt political bias and anti-Trump text messages were only the tip of the iceberg as it was subsequently discovered that Strzok not only held a leading role in the Hillary email investigation but potentially single-handedly saved her from prosecution by making the now-infamous change in Comey’s final statement to describe her email abuses as “extremely careless” rather than the original language of “grossly negligent.” As we noted a month ago, the change in language was significant since federal law states that “gross negligence” in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines whereas “extreme carelessness” has no such legal definition and/or ramifications. All that said, while ill-advised, sending anti-Trump texts to your mistress is certainly not illegal and probably doesn’t violate any FBI statutes that would require dismissal from an ongoing investigation. If we’re wrong on that, then we would highly encourage Mueller to look at the text messages of the remainder of his team because we’re almost certain he would have to replace everyone. So, that brings us back to the key question surrounding Peter Strzok: why exactly was he fired from the Trump investigation? As it turns out, Rep Jim Jordan has an interesting theory on that question which he shared during his questioning of FBI Director Chris Wray last week.  To summarize, Jordan’s theory is that Strzok received the controversial “Trump Dossier” from the Clinton campaign, then went to the FISA courts, where he passed it off as a legitimate piece of intelligence in an effort to obtain the warrants necessary to effectively spy on the Trump campaign.

Here’s what I think, Director Wray:  I think Peter Strzok, head of counter-intelligence at the FBI; Peter Strzok, the guy who ran the Clinton investigation and did all the interviews; Peter Strzok, the guy who was running the Russia investigation at the FBI; Peter Strzok, Mr ‘Super Agent’ at the FBI; I think he’s the guy who took the application to the FISA court! And if that happened, if you have the FBI working with the Demagogs’ campaign, taking opposition research, dressing it all up and turning it into an intelligence document, and taking it to the FISA court so they can spy on the other campaign; if that happened, that’s as wrong as it gets!

Of course, Director Wray could clear up any confusion on this topic by simply releasing the FISA application but that would just be too simple, now, wouldn’t it?

Leaks From FBI Agents On Russia Probe, Hillary Emails Investigation
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 13 2017

Over 10,000 text messages sent between two top FBI investigators – one of whom led both the Clinton email investigation and the early Trump-Russia probe, have been turned over to Congress Tuesday evening and promptly leaked to the press. The profanity-laced messages reveal a deep hatred for Trump between veteran agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, who were having an extramarital affair while working together on the Clinton email investigation when the texts were exchanged. Strzok and Page were fired from Robert Mueller’s special counsel in mid-August over the messages, yet the reason was not revealed until last month. Strzok notably changed the wording of then-FBI Director James Comey’s statement on Clinton’s mishandling of classified information from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.” The leaked texts leave no doubt that Muller’s probe has been tainted from the beginning. In one exchange obtained by Fox News sent on Mar 4 2016, right around the time Trump emerged as a serious threat in the GOP primary race, Page texted Strzok “God, Trump is a loathsome human,” to which Strzok responded “Good for Hillary.” Later that day, Strzok texted Page, “OMG he’s an idiot” to which Page replied “He’s awful.” Strzok then texted Page “Pindostan will get what the voting public deserves,” to which Page responded “That’s what I’m afraid of.” In messages obtained by CBS, Page wrote to Strzok “I just saw my first Bernie Sander [sic] bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car,” to which Strzok replied “He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out.” On election night, Strzok called the glowing red map showing Trump winning “Fucking terrifying.” A week later, Strzok texted Page “Sesions for AG,” to which Page replied “Good god.” Page and Strzok also disparaged House Speaker Paul Ryan, with Page telling Strzok she hopes Ryan “fails and crashes in a blaze of glory.”

The messages between Strzok and Page make it abundantly clear that the agents investigating both candidates for President were extremely biased against Trump, while going extremely easy on Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information.

The messages sent between Strzok and Page, as well as Strzok’s conduct in the Clinton investigation and several prior cases are now under review for political bias by the DoJ. Furthermore, the fact that the reason behind Strzok’s firing was kept a secret for months is of keen interest to House investigators. According to Fox News two weeks ago:

While Strzok’s removal from the Mueller team had been publicly reported in August, the DoJ never disclosed the anti-Trump texts to the House investigators. Responding to the revelations about Strzok’s texts on Saturday, Nunes said he has now directed his staff to draft contempt of Congress citations against Rosenstein and the new FBI director, Christopher Wray.

Strzok also relied on the Trump-Russia dossier created by Fusion GPS. In Aug 2016, nine months before Robert Mueller’s investigation was launched, the NYT reported that Strzok was handpicked by FBI brass to supervise an investigation into allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. The FBI investigation grew legs after they received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and decided to act on its salacious and largely unproven claims, According to Fox News:

House investigators told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counter-intelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate. The “dossier” was a compendium of salacious and largely unverified allegations about Trump and others around him that was compiled by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The firm’s bank records, obtained by House investigators, revealed that the project was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

Weeks before the 2016 election, Peter Strzok’s FBI team agreed to pay former MI6 agent and Fusion GPS operative Christopher Steele $50k if he could verify the claims contained within the dossier, which relied on the cooperation of two senior Kremlin officials. Vanity Fair asks:

officialsa

When Steele was unable to verify the claims in the dossier, the FBI wouldn’t pay him, according to the NYT:

Mr Steele met his FBI contact in Rome in early October, bringing a stack of new intelligence reports. One, dated Sep 14, said that Mr Putin was facing “fallout” over his apparent involvement in the DNC hack and was receiving “conflicting advice” on what to do. The agent said that, if Mr Steele could get solid corroboration of his reports, the FBI would pay him $50k for his efforts, according to two people familiar with the offer. Ultimately, he was not paid.

Did you catch that? Despite the fact that Steele was not paid by the FBI for the dossier, Peter Strzok used it to launch a counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s team. Steele was ultimately paid $168k by Fusion GPS to assemble the dossier. There’s more! According to journalist Sara Carter, there are more anti-Trump messages exchanged between other members of Mueller’s team:

Q: I’m hearing rumors all over the place Sara Carter that there are other anti-Trump text-emails out there. And we know about them.
A: I think you’re hearing correctly Sean and I think a lot more is going to come out. In fact, I know a lot more is going to come out based on the sources I’ve spoken to.

The text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are highly compromising, and prove that both FBI investigations into Clinton and Trump were headed by a man, aided by his mistress, who did not want to see Trump win the White House. Furthermnore, if anti-Trump text messages were exchanged between other members of Robert Mueller’s special counsel, which are apparently on deck for later this month or January, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking anything concluded by this dog-and-pony show seriously.

FBI Texts Reveal “Insurance Policy” To Prevent Trump Presidency
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 13 2017

FBI investigator Peter Strzok sent a text message last year to his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which discusses some sort of “insurance policy” against Donald Trump becoming president. At this time, Strzok was spearheading both the Clinton email inquiry and the early Trump-Russia probe for the FBI. He wrote in the text message:

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office, that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like a life insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.

Clearly, during a conversation in then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s office, Lisa Page argued there was no way Trump would win, yet Strzok clearly states to Page that he “can’t take that risk,” and that in the “unlikely event” Trump is elected, an insurance policy of some type exists to undermine him. If this is the case, it would constitute an active measure taken by the FBI against one candidate for president, while aiding the other. The text message which references an “insurance policy” is all the more controversial when you consider another exchange:

What exactly does Peter Strzok mean by “protect our country at many levels”? Is this a reference to the insurance policy? The “insurance” text message was one of 375 released Tuesday night before a House Judiciary Committee hearing with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who was on the hot seat today to face questions over Strzok, Mueller and the Trump investigation. It seems that, despite having rooted out two rabidly anti-Trump lead investigators from the Mueller probe, and the fact that the Special Counsel is stacked with Demagogs who have apparently sent more anti-Trump messages to each other which according to reports will come out in the next 4-6 weeks, Rosenstein sees no cause to fire Mueller and close down this sham of an investigation:

everybody who’s ever written a dirty word is gonna get like, slung outta the universe

The Destruction of Matt Taibbi: How the alt right and sloppy reporting smeared the ‘Rolling Stone’ journalist
Walker Bragman, Paste Magazine, Dec 11 2017

Recently, it was announced that MSNBC would not be renewing commentator Sam Seder’s contract. As it turned out, the sudden departure was the result of an orchestrated effort by right wing agitator and #Gamergate veteran Mike Cernovich. Cernovich had uncovered an eight-year-old tweet from Seder sarcastically attacking Hollywood liberals for defending famous director and accused child rapist Roman Polanski. Seder’s tweet read:

Don’t care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene.

He and his following then spread the tweet out of context, calling for the pundit be fired. They succeeded. Immediately, the firing drew backlash from journalists and pundits, who successfully lobbied MSNBC to rehire Seder. This reaction however, was in stark contrast to what had happened just two months earlier when another well-known progressive journalist found himself in a similar situation. Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, known for his hard-hitting reporting on Goldman Sachs in the wake of the 2008 Subprime Mortgage Crisis, fell from grace this October after controversial passages from an eXile anthology resurfaced and were spread online. It purports to be the combined memoir of Taibbi and Mark Ames, who together headed the notorious tabloid magazine in Moscow in then 1990s. Indeed, a disclaimer on the copyright page calls the work nonfiction. However, this is not entirely true. Emails obtained by Paste Magazine from Oct 31 show that when the book’s publisher, Grove Press, received an inquiry from The Guardian about the disclaimer, a representative responded that:

The statement on the copyright page is incorrect. This book combines exaggerated, invented satire and nonfiction reporting and was categorized as nonfiction because there is no category for a book that is both.

Put simply, like the original magazine, much of eXile was made up for the purposes of satire. This includes the controversial passages in question, all written by Ames, in which the authors joke about sexually harassing two of their female employees (Masha and Sveta), and in which Ames describes having sex with a 15-year-old girl (Natasha), coercing a woman (Katya) into having an abortion, and raping other Russian women. There were two women who went by Masha at the eXile at the time. Both told Paste that the passages were fictional, but requested their last names not be included. One wished not to be quoted directly. The other Masha told Paste in a phone interview:

I was never harassed by Matt Taibbi, nor did I see him sexually harass anyone at work or outside work either. It was a ridiculous passage written by Mark.

She and Taibbi, whom she described as naturally shy, would end up dating for seven years, in a relationship she recalls fondly despite a “bad breakup.” She said:

These claims that Matt would do this stuff are ridiculous. I left the eXile because we started dating, and Matt was worried about impropriety. He didn’t even ask me out at work! Matt is a fundamentally decent and kind person.

The woman referred to as Sveta (whose last name has also been omitted for professional reasons) also told Paste that the encounter described in Ames’ passage never happened, and that neither Taibbi nor Ames ever acted inappropriately towards her or any other woman in the office. “It never happened,” she wrote over email. When asked if the two editors ever ignored impropriety by other male staffers, she told us there was nothing to ignore. In other words, the eXile’s work environment was not hostile for women. Multiple former staffers we spoke to told us that Ames did have a young girlfriend named Natasha, but none believed she was 15. The common explanation we heard was that her age had been lowered to satirize the fact that in 1998, Russia changed its age of consent from 16 to 14. Masha, Taibbi and Sveta told us that they believe Katya to be a fictional character. Paste was able to trace the effort to cast the eXile book as a factual memoir back to an alt-right author named Jim Goad in 2011. Goad, whose magazine, ANSWER Me!, had been parodied by the eXile, began tweeting about the Natasha passages, and tagging the outlets that hosted Ames work or had him on as a contributor.

Despite his efforts, only Breitbart picked up the story, and that was after Ames published a damning report about the Koch Brothers’ political influence. And so in Apr 2012, Goad posted a long-form attack on Ames on his website, accusing him of being a pedophile and citing the non-fiction disclaimer at the beginning of the eXile book. However, the narrative that the book was an accurate portrayal of the lives Taibbi and Ames led in Moscow wouldn’t really take off until October of this year, ahead of the book tour for I Can’t Breathe, Taibbi’s look at the death of Eric Garner and its aftermath. Jessa Crispin of The Guardian included a reference to the eXile passages in a piece about liberal misogyny on the Oct 19. Days later, the news was appearing everywhere, from The Daily Beast to The Daily Caller; Jezebel to Newsweek; Reuters to Newsmax; The Nation to Breitbart, and so on. Even Cernovich got in on the action, writing a Medium post titled, “Matt Taibbi Confesses to Forcing Employees to Perform Sexual Favors.” Following the media storm, Goad sent Taibbi a bizarre message gloating over the Rolling Stone writer’s misfortune. He wrote:

I can’t imagine the pain and heartache you’re going through as a result of attempting to do a shitty, rich-kid imitation of me. We both know I will always be better with words than you are. No one believes your alibis. You’ve committed credibility suicide. Cute newsboy cap, though!

Despite how widespread the story was, not a single journalist or editor contacted the women named in the controversial passages. Crispin, whose Guardian piece appears to have set the train in motion, justified the decision by telling Paste over Twitter direct message:

I have not written about these accusations as a journalist.

Incredible as that acknowledgement is, before long it had become an accepted part of the national discussion that Taibbi and Ames were misogynists who had bragged about sexual harassment and horrifying treatment of women. Ames defended the work, Taibbi issued a public apology. The matter was settled, and careers marred. Book sales for I Can’t Breathe suffered as multiple venues cancelled on during Taibbi’s tour. How did this happen? Simply put, for most Pindos today, the culture and stereotypes Taibbi and Ames were lampooning are completely foreign and unfamiliar. For that reason, the eXile book does not really connect, or perhaps hold up as well as a show like South Park, which also delights in vulgar satire but deals in stereotypes widely understood by Pindo audiences. Taibbi explained:

The paper was to be a mirror of the typical expatriate in ‘exile,’ who was a pig of the highest order. He was usually a Western consultant who made big bucks teaching Russians how to fire workers or privatize markets in the name of ‘progress,’ then at night banged hookers and blew coke and speed. The reality is most of the Westerners in town were there to turn Russia into a neoliberal puppet state by day, and get laid and shitfaced by night. So the paper was a kind of sarcastically over-enthusiastic celebration of this monstrous community’s values.

The ‘90s were a unique time in Russian history. Taibbi described it as “crazy, poetic, anarchic, insane,” with “no right angles anywhere.” The immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse was violent and lawless, but it also gave a historically oppressed people their first taste of real freedom. And it was that freedom that captured the 20-year-old writer, and made him wary of the foreign powers which were circling like vultures, chief among them Pindostan. Sounding almost as if he’d been woken from a dream, Taibbi recalled:

I saw nine dead bodies just going back and forth to work in my five years there. It was like another planet. Oddly enough, though, it had a very vibrant free press for the first and only time in Russia’s history.

For added emphasis, Taibbi directed us to a Feb 2010 Vanity Fair article titled “The Lost Exile,” describing one of the magazine’s biggest advertisers, Hungry Duck nightclub:

According to Doug Steele, the bar’s Canadian owner, “at the Duck you got laid even if you didn’t want to.” On Ladies’ Night, the doors opened at seven p.m., but the only people let in were women, as long as they were at least 16 years old. They’d drink for free. At nine, the men were allowed in. It wasn’t until the metro stations opened the next morning that it ended, and in the meantime, anything went. “Orgiastic” is an insufficient description. The only appropriate word seems to be Caligulan, and not just because the Duck was situated steps from Lubyanka, the former prison and Soviet torture chamber that now housed the FSB. The action was mostly elevated, according to Vlad Baseav, an early Exile general manager, with women and men alike dancing on the bar and on the tables, disrobing on the bar and on the tables, having sex on the bar and on the tables, fighting on the bar and on the tables, and then crashing in various states of undress onto the floor scrum.”They would get up and continue dancing, blood everywhere,” Baseav says. Steele recalls a night when the deputy head of a Moscow police unit, drunk beyond all reckoning, emptied his pistol into the ceiling and made everybody lie on the floor for three hours. Lavelle claims he saw a man stabbed to death next to him one night. “No one thought it was unusual.”

Taibbi and Ames seized the opportunity presented to them, and through a unique combination of shock, satire, hard-hitting reporting on corruption, and childish pranks, all enabled by the fact that neither advertisers (mostly nightclubs) nor governments were looking over their shoulder, the eXile did its best to snap people awake to the possibilities of this new freedom in the hopes that perhaps they’d guard it jealously against encroachments by “the good colonialists.” During its short run, the magazine and its editors, whose public personas were crafted to be as grotesque as possible to add to the mystique, became infamous for their hijinks. On one occasion, they wiretapped Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, for a week and ran a story on it. They also regularly featured a “death porn” section containing graphic crime scene photographs. But for all the absurdity and over-the-top vulgarity, at its heart, the eXile had a message and a purpose. Taibbi confessed:

We wanted Russia to preserve its own identity, and also wanted Pindostan to live up to its sales pitch. Like if we believed in a free press, why were we supporting Yeltsin, whose buddies murdered reporters in bundles? Russians believed in us deeply when I first went there, they believed in all the Radio Liberty propaganda. Having a blue passport made me a hero in 1990 Leningrad. By 1999 we were considered swindlers, and a big part of Putin’s rise was that he was seen as a nationalist standing up to the West.

Masha recalled when asked about why the eXile took the form it did:

Matt was appalled and indignant at the hypocrisy around him. I think Mark was the same way, and I think that came out in their writing. Matt was also influenced by Hunter S Thompson and Gogol’s absurdism.

Given the current political climate, where there is finally a desire and willingness to hold powerful men accountable for their abuses but uncertainty as to how best to do that, it isn’t hard to understand why, rather than defend his old work, Taibbi chose to issue a public apology. By his own admission, he’s embarrassed by some of the work he did in his twenties, and is not altogether without regrets at some of the “meanness” of the pranks he pulled. But what are the implications of his apology? Matt Taibbi has never been accused by any woman of sexual assault or impropriety. The women he is accused of harassing (those who weren’t fictional) based on satirical passages from a book he co-authored nearly two decades ago, have all denounced the allegations. It’s the same with Ames, who actually wrote the passages. And yet, as soon as the baseless claims went mainstream, people were quick to try to connect them to an unrelated office conflict from Taibbi’s days at First Look Media. The speed with which this narrative formed and solidified in the national consciousness should give every reader pause. This was clearly a case where old satire aged poorly because it had originally been tailored for people living in a certain place at a certain time, foreign and unrelatable to those judging it today. This situation raises the question: what are we to do with old humor that time strips of context? Moreover, what do we do with the satirical writings of individuals who go on to pursue more serious literary or journalistic forms? Had Taibbi kept doing satire, would his career be on the chopping block now? Probably not. Brianna Wu told Paste:

I think what the really key thing is here, is that we have to look at every single case individually and evaluate the evidence. I would never tell anyone how to interpret these charges against Matt Taibbi, but if you look critically at them, in my opinion, they don’t hold up.

Alayne Fleischmann contributed reporting to this piece. Mark Ames, Michael Cernovich and Jim Goad did not respond to requests for comment. The Guardian’s Jessa Crispin and Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh were the only reporters to provide comment. The author did not reach out to Breitbart and the Daily Beast.

apparently the other sources could have failed to double-check the first source, since fact-checking is not something sources themselves are expected to do

CNN & MSNBC Attempt Coverup of Bogus Story They Started
Mike Shedlock, Mish Talk, Dec 12 2017

The headline image is from the BBC story Russia-Trump: Who’s who in the drama to end all dramas? The BBC names the key players, but it missed one: the media. On Dec 9, Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept reported The Pindo Media Suffered Its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages and Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened. I covered the story in Trump Accuses CNN of Purposeful Fake News “Fraud on Pindo Public”. In a nutshell, three news outlets, starting with CNN and followed by MSNBC broke a bombshell story on Trump that false. CBS jumped on the bandwagon but later blamed CNN. Supposedly, multiple, credible sources said Trump had access to Wikileaks information on Russia before Wikileaks posted it. The story timeline was false. Days later, still CNN refuses to disclose its sources or say what happened. Greenwald blasted CNN in a Tweet again today.

Slate reports We Still Don’t Know Why Three Different Outlets “Confirmed” the Same Bogus Russia Story Last Week. “None of the outlets disclosed anything about the identities and/or motivations of the sources—and there are supposedly at least two of them!—who made such a consequential error of reading comprehension. Nor did any of them provide further information when I contacted them this afternoon asking whether they’d found out anything more about last week’s mysterious, sudden DC-wide inability to distinguish between 4 & 14” says Slate, offering six possibilities:

  1. The outlets were relying on solid sources who all made the same honest mistake.
  2. The outlets were relying on secondhand sources who were just bullshitting the whole time and repeating a bad story that had gotten to them via a game of national security telephone.
  3. The outlets were relying on bad-faith sources who were intentionally trying to make the mainstream media look bad. (The Sep 14 email in question is in the possession of the House Intelligence Committee; maybe some Trump loyalists on the committee pulled a James O’Keefe.)
  4. Only one source ever actually misread the date of the email; the rest of the sources that “confirmed” the story simply confirmed the existence of the email, not when it was sent. These “confirming” sources were then all conflated together by outlets overeager to rush out a big scoop.
  5. “Fake news.” (As in, the reporters made all of it up to GET TRUMP.)
  6. Aliens.

Trump Jr responded:

Pres Trump replied at length:

Which door? The Slate writer opted for door number four. I suggest it’s safe to rule out door number one, an honest mistake, and door number six, aliens. After that, many combinations are possible. But regardless of the answer, it’s clear that CNN is willing to rush unconfirmed garbage to the press, from sources that are not exactly credible.

reading the graun

I spent a week reading the Graun, so you didn’t have to
Bryan MacDonald, RT.com, Dec 13 2017

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 09.06.20

According to its fans, the Guardian is the world’s leading “progressive” news outlet. A place full of latter-day Sydney Schanbergs shining light where darkness prevails. They contend it stands apart from the corporate press, due to being controlled by the Scott Trust, and cite its open-access website as proof of its commitment to freedom of information. Successful campaigns on gay marriage and transgender rights are also used to illustrate how the paper often captures the zeitgeist. However, its detractors have a different point of view. Spewing bile at “Guardianistas” and the Grauniad,” they brand it an issues-led rag which nobody actually reads. They correctly point out that the Guardian ‘boasts’ the lowest daily sale of any UK national newspaper. This stood at 156,756 copies in January of this year. By contrast, the conservative Daily Mail still flogs 1,511,357 a day, on average. The Mail also trumps the Guardian online, when it comes to popularity. Guardian Online, which also uses content from its Sunday sibling The Observer, was launched in 1999 and used to be known as “Guardian Unlimited.” The site is a strange hybrid of genuinely excellent sports coverage, often overblown features that pander to liberal obsessions, a one-note comment section and the odd bit of breaking news. After a week, you quickly learn the Guardian’s worldview: Donald Trump, straight men, Xmas and Brexit are all considered to be really bad. Vladimir Putin and Russia are opprobrious, malevolent and reprehensible. Good things include unfettered immigration, mixed-sex toilets, and Tony Blair. The Guardian seems to oppose the British royal family, but still endlessly writes about their travails. It appears to be open to changing its stance on the future of the monarchy, provided a future King comes out as gay, or if Prince Harry starts a trend of Windsors marrying people of color, or both. A couple of days into this experiment, I was on the verge of switching to the Daily Express or Breitbart for a bit of balance, because the Guardian is equally biased, from the opposite end of the spectrum, as those widely derided outlets. And its messaging is just as relentless. Try some of these headlines, from the opinion section, for size:

A lot of Guardian articles start from the theme of ‘what about me?’ And this example, where neo-liberalism is explained by blaming long-dead people who’d never heard of Margaret Thatcher:

Followed by a piece passing the buck for climate change to a continent which largely came to the industrial revolution more than a hundred years after England.

But this is only the political stuff. When we move onto “identity” issues it gets even worse:

That last is also “the latest example of men thinking women owe them it all.” And my personal favorite:

Presumably, because expensive gifts may distract Fido and Fluffy from understanding the true meaning of Christmas. Remember the above is only a selection from one week, but consuming this sort of nonsense day in, day out for a few years, has to have a serious effect on mental well-being. An acquaintance of mine in Ireland used to describe the Guardian as the paper for people a little bit wrong in the head, but it’s hard to know whether they were born that way or excessive exposure to the “Graun” caused the malaise. The Guardian doesn’t restrict itself to social and political issues, though. It also tries to lecture its readers on more trivial matters, like how to eat beans on toast. Because these numpties would insist on an etiquette or way to correctly eat the peasant’s food:

Toward the end of my week, I was searching for an article that perfectly displayed the Guardian’s relentless bias, then the bleeding hearts of King’s Cross dropped a gift into my lap by publishing a hilariously one-sided story from my regular beat, which is Russia. The Moscow correspondent had visited Siberia to follow Russian protest leader, anti-corruption campaigner and Western-media darling Alexei Navalny on his tour of the country. And his, predictably, gushing profile was based on the writer’s conversations with Navalny’s young supporters in the town of Kemerovo. The standpoint chronicles how the “opposition politician’s campaign gathers steam,” which given Navalny is only polling at 2% in Russia, is like editorializing from a parallel universe. The text falsely presents him as a liberal, while ignoring his hardline ultra-nationalist views, which fits with the Guardian’s long-standing habit of presenting all of Putin’s opponents as saints, no matter their real backgrounds. A fetish which sees bandit capitalists and corrupt ex-officials, who have done a runner with their filthy lucre, rebranded as modern-day Sakharovs. Furthermore, when describing a meeting staged by “Xenia Pakhomova, a bright-eyed, garrulous 23-year-old,” the author admits how “all but one of the eight attendees was under 18,” which is the legal age for voting in Russia. Now, forgive me for using common sense, but what sort of editor regards feedback from kids who can’t even cast ballots as a legitimate way of analyzing the political situation in any country? And can you imagine the ridicule RT would receive if it used kids from a secondary school in Yorkshire, who are concerned about the environment, to suggest the UK Green Party’s campaign was “gathering steam”? This is the Guardian specializing in the triumph of cynicism while accusing Russian media of spreading “fake news” and railing against those it says “deny the possibility of objectivity.” Touché!

does this mean we’ll have to uproot the mushrooms?

Bad Moon Rising: A new cabinet will mark neocon ascendancy
Philip Giraldi, Unz Review, Dec 12 2017

Back during the admittedly brief shock and awe period that immediately followed on the Trump electoral victory, it appeared that there might be an actual realignment of Pindo foreign policy. The neocons virtually unanimously had opposed Donald Trump in the most vile terms, both in the Thug primaries and during the actual electoral campaign, making clear that Hillary was their choice for a future full of unrelenting ideologically-driven warfare to convert the world to ‘democracy’. By that metric, one would assume that Trump would prefer to be roasted on a spit rather than have neocons on his national security team, and many in the punditry did agree with that analysis and went on to share that view. At the time I agreed, but I did note that the neocons have proven to be remarkably resilient, particularly as many of them have remained true to their Demagog Party values on nearly everything but foreign policy, where they are irredeemable hawks, hostile to Russia and Iran, and always reliably in the corner of Israel. In short, many neocons can be unmasked as Hillary Clinton Demagogs if one looks at them issue by issue, which certainly helps to explain some subsequent developments. Some say there has been a kumbaya process going on between self-described conservative neocons and liberal interventionists (neolibs – RB). Katrina vanden Heuvel, borrowing a ophrase from Sec State Madeleine Albright, describes the progressive hawks as “the essential country crowd.” (Albright’s phrase is “indispensible nation” – RB) There are inevitably minor disconnects between the two groups based on their motives for aggression. Demagogs claim to do it to bring democracy and freedom, while Thugs say they do it to enhance national security. Both are lying, in any event, as it all comes down to great power rivalries, with big powerful nations pushing smaller weaker nations around because they are able to get away with it and feel more comfortable if everyone lines up behind them.

So everyone in Faschingstein and New York’s financial services industry agrees that a more assertive Pindostan is a better Pindostan, even when the reality is that no one winds up with either democracy or security. Which brings us to the latest shuffle in the Donald Trump cabinet and what it is likely to mean down the road. Multiple sources are predicting Tillerson out and Pompeo in at Foggy Bottom, with Pompeo replaced at CIA by Tom Cotton. The White House is denying the story, calling it “fake news,” but it is clear that Trump is uncomfortable with the current arrangement and Tillerson will be gone sooner or later. Pompeo as Sec State replaces a somewhat bumbling businessman, adept at dealing in energy futures contracts, who has been struggling with reducing State’s enormously bloated payroll. Pompeo, a real hard-nosed political hardliner who tends to see complex issues in fairly simplistic ways, has become a presidential confidant, briefing Trump frequently on the state of the world, most recently pushing for the horrific decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a recent speech, Pompeo criticized the CIA, observing that it had forgotten how to spy, which is almost certainly true, and adding that it will have to become “more vicious” in order to accomplish its mission of making Pindostan “safe”. Pompeo would like to turn Pindostan into an unleashed wrecking ball directed against the enemies of Our Way Of Life, and he appears intent on starting that process in the Middle East. Pompeo will be replaced as DCI by Tom Cotton. The less said about him the better. I’ll attempt to summarize in 8 words here: Tom is completely owned by the Israel Lobby. In his 2014 election as junior Senator from Arkansas, he received $1m from the Emergency Committee for Israel headed by Bill Kristol, as well as additional assistance from the Thug Jewish Coalition. In Mar 2015, Tom paid those supporters back when 47 Thug Senators signed a letter allegedly written by him that was then sent directly to the Iranian government, warning that any agreement over that country’s nuclear program reached with Obama would likely be overturned by Congress. The letter, which undercuts the authority of the president before an international audience, was signed by the entire Thug Party leadership in the Senate, which at that time also included presidential contenders Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

I do not wish to imply that Cotton and Pompeo are somehow stupid, but they do tend to see the world in a very monochromatic fashion, just like their boss. Pompeo was first in his class at West Point, and Cotton graduated from Harvard as an undergrad and also from the Law School. Trump claims to be the smartest person in the room, no matter where he is standing, but for all the academic credentials and other posturing, it is hard to imagine how the new choices could possibly be worse from a common-sense perspective, unless one includes Nikki Haley, who is fortunately otherwise engaged. Haley really is stupid, and ambitious, and is also owned by the Israel Lobby, which appears to be a thread that runs its way through all the Trump foreign policy appointees. What is wrong about the whole Trump team is that they all seem to believe that you can go around the world kicking the shit out of everyone without there being any consequences, and they all hate Iran for reasons that continue to be obscure, but may be connected to their relationships with (you guessed it) the neocons and the Israeli Lobby! Yes, the neocons are back. I noted back in October that when Pompeo and McMaster wanted a friendly place to drop by to give a policy speech that would be warmly received, they went to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose marketing masthead slogan is “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom.” FDD is currently neocon central, used like the AEI was when Dick Cheney was Vice-Pres and needed a friendly audience. It is headed by Canadian Mark Dubowitz, whose passion in life is making sure that sanctions on Iran are enforced to the letter. Unfortunately, it is not easy to deport a Canadian. Neocon watchers will undoubtedly note that big names like Bill Kristol, the Kagans, Michael Chertoff and Max Boot will not be showing up in government. They will instead be working through their foundations, of which FDD is only one. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, which has recently sprung up in lobby-land, markets itself as “bipartisan and transatlantic,” but it is actually pure neocon. Its goal is to “expose Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in Pindostan & Eurostan.” It includes the usual neocon names but also has the loyal Demagog opposition, including Mike Morell and Jake Sullivan, both of whom were top level advisers to Hillary Clinton.

The replacement of former political appointees in the government has been so slow in Trump’s first year that it has actually benefited the neocons in their recovery. Many survivors of the two previous administrations are still in place, nearly all of whom reflect the hawkishness prevalent throughout the new century. They will be supplemented by second and third-tier neocons who will fill in the policy gaps, virtually guaranteeing that the neocon-crafted foreign policy that has been around for the past sixteen years will be here for some time longer. What all this means is that now that the Palestinians have been disposed of and the Israelis rewarded, we can expect armed conflict with Iran within the next year, followed by increased hostility towards Moscow as Russiagate continues to play out. I do not even want to guess at what kind of insanity the gang in the West Wing Situation Room will come up with for NK. The good news is that the builders of home bomb shelters, a booming enterprise when I was growing up back in the 1950s and 1960s, all of which are now used to cultivate mushrooms, will be back in business.

mcmaster’s tirade against MBs

McMaster: Qatar and Turkey are new sponsors of radical ideology
Joyce Karam, UAE National, Dec 13 2017

General H R McMaster criticised Qatar’s and Turkey’s “new role” in sponsoring and funding extremist ideology on Tuesday, and attributed the rise of the Justice and Development party in Ankara to Turkey’s growing problems with the West. In a rare public foreign policy appearance with his British counterpart Mark Sedwill hosted by Policy Exchange in Faschingstein, McMaster announced that Pres Trump will roll out a new national security strategy on Monday. The strategy will be based on four vital strategic interests for Pindostan, he added, and listed them as follows:

  1. Protect the Pindo homeland and the Pindo creeple;
  2. Advance Pindo prosperity;
  3. Preserve Strength Through Joy;
  4. Advance Pindo influence.

In paraphrasing these strategic pillars, McMaster spoke of three threats to Pindosi interests globally, two of which centred in the Middle East. First he mentioned China and Russia as “revisionist powers” encroaching on Pindo vassals and undermining the international order, followed by the threat from “rogue regimes such as Iran and NK” who he said “support terror and are seeking WMDs.” The third threat he labelled as the Jihadi radical organisations. McMaster struck a hawkish tone on Russia, saying:

We are facing a threat from Russia that involves also so-called new generation warfare. These are very sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation, and propaganda, using cyber-tools operating across multiple domains that attempt to divide our communities within our nations.

Asked about political Islam and his views on the MB and other Islamist political organisations, McMaster said:

Radical Islamist ideology is obviously a grave threat to all civilised people. This threat has only been identified myopically in the past. We didn’t pay enough attention how it is being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organisations. While the Toads supported some of these organisations decades ago, it’s now done more by Qatar and by Turkey. We are committed to countering extremist ideologies and funding, hence the new centre established during Pres Trump’s visit to Riyadh. They have a big problem when Islamist radical ideology bridges into political Islam.

While stressing that not all MB branches are alike, he urged the creation of opposition groups that respect individual freedoms, in order to avoid another “Morsi model.” McMaster said that the MB operated clandestinely and monopolized opposition after the street upheavals and fall of Mubarak in 2011. The other model that McMaster identified with the MB is Turkey’s AKP. He said:

By operating through civil society, they consolidate power through one party. Sadly, it is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West.

On Iran, McMaster said:

Iran is a rogue regime and a revisionist regional power. We need to counter its destabilising activity, deny support to its proxies, especially in Syria, and block its path to nuclear weapons. We need to develop sanctions outside the nuclear deal, and abandon the Obama approach that made the deal itself a focal point of our strategy toward Iran.

McMaster ended the conversation abruptly, saying:

I have a phone call I absolutely have to take. Remember: Pindostan is not seeking regime change in NK! That’s not our policy! What we are emphasising is the denuclearisation of the peninsula!

what MoA would say about this story i don’t know, but here it is with map

Russian, Syrian jets hit Aleppo, Damascus countryside
Al-Jazeera, Dec 12 2017

Russian and Syrian fighter jets have launched attacks in southern Aleppo province and the Damascus countryside, causing civilian casualties in both locations. Rebel groups, for their part, made gains south of Damascus and in the eastern Idlib province, activists said on Tuesday. An Al Jazeera correspondent said hundreds of families were displaced from villages and towns in the southern Aleppo countryside because of heavy bombing by Syrian and Russian fighter jets. The attacks resulted in civilian casualties and extensive damage to homes and property, the correspondent said. The developments came amid attacks by SAA and allied fighters on rebel sites in Burj Sabna, a village in Aleppo’s southern countryside. An Al Jazeera correspondent said one civilian was killed and several others were wounded in artillery shelling by government forces and allied fighters in Zamalka, Eastern Ghouta and the Damascus countryside, although these areas are part of a deescalation zone under the Astana agreement. Activists said a faction of the Union of the Jabal al-Sheikh forces destroyed a government tank in Sahin Hina in western Ghouta, while clashes erupted in the area of Hajar al-Aswad. Elsewhere, local sources said that Daesh recovered several villages north of the city of Abu Kamal in the eastern suburb of Deir ez-Zor, following an attack on government forces. Daesh is trying to regain momentum and recover some of its lost territories after suffering a string of defeats in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq. Sham Network reported that Tahrir al-Sham, which controls large swathes of Idlib province, destroyed a government tank in an area east of Idlib city, as well as a military vehicle belonging to another rebel group. Also on Tuesday, fighting continued in areas connecting the provinces of Idlib and Hama amid Russian attacks from the air, with activists reporting civilian casualties. The Russian raids targeted al-Mitnaa in the southern countryside of Idlib, the activists said. Sham Network reported shelling of Amiriya, a town in Homs countryside, and Daraa al-Balad, an area in Daraa city. In another development, three IRGC Fatimiyun Brigade members were killed in clashes in Syria, according to Tasnim. The report said of one of the dead fighters was buried in the Iranian city of Mashhad, while the other two would be buried in Isfahan on Thursday.

too too ironic

Fusion GPS Tried And Failed To Link Trump To Jeffrey Epstein
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 12 2017

jeffepEpstein’s rap sheet

Opposition research firm Fusion GPS tried and failed to find evidence of a close relationship between then-candidate Donald Trump and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, whose ‘Lolita Express” private jet ferried powerful clients to his private island, “Little St James.” Epstein (who reportedly has an egg-shaped penis) pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old girl in 2008 for which he served 13 months in jail, filed in 2006, including wiring his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving high profile friends with underage girls for blackmail, and receiving sexual massages from high school girls up to three times a day according to his former house manager of 11 years. And as the NY Post detailed last year, Epstein and the Clintons are close:

Epstein has spent the bulk of his adult life cultivating relationships with the world’s most powerful men. Flight logs show that from 2001 to 2003, Bill Clinton flew 26 times on Epstein’s private plane, dubbed The Lolita Express by the press. After Epstein’s arrest in Jul 2006, federal tax records show Epstein donated $25k to the Clinton Foundation that year.

ae4514dd5f95f15ef1f909764d5f7e04Clinton, Epstein & the Boeing

While trying to tie Trump to Epstein in an attempt to push the narrative to at least two reporters, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS found that the Trump-Epstein link appears purely social, according to the Washington Times, which writes:

Journalist sources told The Washington Times that Fusion founder Glenn Simpson pushed the idea of a close relationship between Mr Trump and Jeffrey Epstein. Ken Silverstein, the reporter who ultimately wrote an Epstein-Trump report, confirmed to The Times that Fusion had sourced the story. Mr Silverstein, who wrote the Vice.Com story, was asked by The Washington Times if Fusion pushed the Epstein-Trump story. Mr Silverstein said: “Since you ask, yes, they helped me with that, but as you can see, I could not make a strong case for Trump being super close to Epstein, so they could hardly have been thrilled with that story. That was the best story written about Trump’s ties to Epstein, but I failed to nail him. Trump’s ties were mild compared to Bill Clinton’s.”

In Jan 2016, Vice.com ran Silverstein’s story, which framed Trump’s ties to Epstein as more social, including dinner parties, two plane trips and Epstein hanging out at Mar-a-lago. Radar reported last April:

Trump was among dozens of renowned New Yorkers who knew Epstein socially but ostracized him after Palm Beach police uncovered the financier’s sleazy double life. Trump once barred Epstein from the Mar-a-lago club after he caught him hitting on a young girl.

gsimpGlenn Simpson

Fusion GPS has been the subject of congressional investigation after it was revealed that the firm was behind the salacious 34-page “Trump-Russia” dossier, which relied in part on high-level Kremlin officials, and was used to obtain a FISA warrant against the Trump campaign. Complying with subpoenas from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes, unsealed bank records revealed Fusion was paid $523k by a Russian businessman convicted of tax fraud and money laundering, whose lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was a key figure in the infamous Jun 2016 meeting at Trump Tower arranged by Fusion GPS associate Rob Goldstone. This from the Daily Caller:

Simpson worked closely with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who also showed up at the infamous Trump Tower meeting held on Jun 9 2016. Simpson’s research ended up in the Trump Tower meeting, in the form of a four-page memo carried by Veselnitskaya. She also shared Simpson’s work with Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general of Russia. Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week that he did not know that Veselnitskaya provided the Browder information to Chaika or to Donald Trump Jr, the Trump campaign’s point-man in the Trump Tower meeting.

Moreover, Simpson met with Natalia Veselnitskaya hours before the Trump Tower meeting, and also met with Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta the day after the 34-page dossier was published by BuzzFeed. The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported last month that the heavily-redacted Fusion GPS bank records reveal that the DNC and Hillary Clinton, through law firm Perkins Coie, paid Fusion a total of $1,024,408 in 2016 for opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump, including the 34-page dossier. Ross also reports that law firm Baker Hostelter paid Fusion $523,651 between Mar-Oct 2016 on behalf of a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv to research Bill Browder, a London banker who helped push through the Magnitsky Act. Besides the “Dossier” and the Jeffrey Epstein story, Fusion GPS pushed the story that a secret email server existed between Trump Tower and Moscow’s Alfa Bank. The report never gained traction after internet sleuths traced the IP address to a marketing server located outside Philadelphia. Tying Alpha Bank to the Dossier, Fusion is currently being sued for libel in Pindo District Court in two separate cases by three Russian businessmen for their inclusion in the Dossier, along with the ‘secret server’ story pushed by Glenn Simpson. Alfa bank executives Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan filed suit in early October, claiming their reputations were harmed by the largely unsubstantiated document. The suit alleges:

Even though the Dossier contained unverified allegations, Defendants recklessly placed it beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy.

5170F095-8FED-4C36-8D20-835B852C94F2_w1023_r1_s_0Mikhail Fridman (L), Petr Aven (R)

Keep in mind through all of this that Hillary Clinton was “supposed” to win, which did not happen despite several attempts by Fusion GPS to set Trump up with the dossier, the Trump Tower meeting, and the Alfa bank connection, all of which have turned out to be epic fails.

angry arab: still angry, possibly angrier

On the secular communist and Arab/Syrian nationalist protest in Beirut on Sunday
As’ad AbuKhalil, Angry Arab (Blog), Dec 12 2017

For the life of me I still can’t understand how Anne Barnard reported that there were Hizbullah flags. It was very clear that Hizbullah did not want to join in the secular leftist and Arab and Syrian nationalist protest on Sunday, for whatever reasons, and held their own rally yesterday in the southern suburbs. Here are images of flags raised in the protest. Do you see any Hizbullah flags?

I am summoned by the Lebanese Ministry of Justice over a tweet
As’ad AbuKhalil, Angry Arab (Blog), Dec 12 2017

Under pressure from the orphans of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, Lebanese Forces and their media like LBC TV, the Minister of Justice of Lebanon succumbed to pressures and ordered a summon for me, based on a tweet. The tweet was a “quoted tweet” in which I comment on a tweet by the Twitter page of UNIFIL in Lebanon in which it reported a high level meeting between “senior Lebanese Army officers” and Israeli occupation officers. This happened the day after the Jerusalem move by Pindostan. I wrote:

Disgrace. Disgrace. Lebanese Army commanders meet with officers of the Israeli enemy while Arab streets are boiling with anger over Jerusalem. Let us call for disarming the Lebanese Army while keeping the arms of the resistance.

The last sentence was written as irony, but some Lebanese don’t have an appetite for irony, like Pindos. As you know, the Lebanese resistance movement was started in 1978 by a bunch of Marxist-Leninists, and later broadened to include other secular and leftist forces and later other Islamist-oriented forces. Throughout those times, the defense of Lebanon against Israeli aggression and occupation was undertaken by those volunteers, with the exception of the time when Emile Lahhud led the Lebanese Army, and when he was president, and insisted that the Army be used in defense of Lebanon. I have lived in Pindostan uninterruptedly since 1983, yet the Lebanese Ministry of Justice can still be concerned over my tweets from California. If I were a pro-Toad right-wing Hariri writer, the story would have been picked up by all Western correspondents in Beirut and by HRW in Beirut. They would have raised a hue and cry over the muzzling of freedom of speech. But the views of anti-Israel leftists are not considered worthy of protection by those people.

Ronald Reagan on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
As’ad AbuKhalil, Angry Arab (Blog), Dec 11 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN, Mar 28 – Pres Reagan said today that it would be “most unwise” for Pindostan to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and he strongly suggested that he would veto legislation in Congress to require such a step. In an interview, he said a bill requiring the embassy to be moved “should never have been introduced in Congress.” He said the disposition of Jerusalem, the West Bank of the Jordan River and other areas “must be negotiated” between Israel and the Arab countries. Asked if he would veto legislation on the embassy, he said: “I am hoping I won’t have to, but like the several previous Presidents before me, I think that that is a most unwise thing.”

From the protest in front of the Pindo embassy in Lebanon
As’ad AbuKhalil, Angry Arab (Blog), Dec 10 2017


My understanding from people who were there is that the protest was peaceful until the armed goons of Lebanese Internal Security forces intervened.

Lebanese Communist Party leader in front of the Pindo embassy in Beirut
As’ad AbuKhalil, Angry Arab (Blog), Dec 10 2017

The protest in front of the Pindo embassy in Lebanon included basically and exclusively the secular Lebanese groups like the Lebanese Communist Party, the Syrian Social National Party and smaller Nasserist and Marxist-Leninist groups and organizations. As I indicated to you before, clearly Hizbullah did not want to be there and announced that his protest will be held in the southern suburbs. This is the LCP’s secretary-general, Hanna Gharib, making his speech.

give that man a daiquiri

For CNN, Trump’s Diet Coke habit meant more than terrorist attack
RT.com, Dec 12 2017

To understand exactly what occurred in the world of MSM on Monday, you first have to go back to a NYT report from Saturday titled ‘Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation.’ It’s a dramatic headline to say the least, which the outlet backs up by claiming to have interviewed sixty advisers, associates, friends and congress critturs. The NYT report alleges:

People close to him estimate that Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.

That claim was enough to get the attention of Trump, who tweeted:

But the MSM seemed to care less about the TV claim and more about a singular sentence which stated that Trump drinks a dozen Diet Cokes a day. The NYT didn’t give a source for this. It just stated:

Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.

That was all MSM outlets needed to make a story. The MSM landscape both in Pindostan and abroad was dominated with Diet Coke headlines on Monday, two days after the NYT published its article. A WaPo opinion piece didn’t stop at Diet Cokes. It went on to shame the president for reportedly eating McDonald’s on the campaign trail. Granted, the claims are that he often ate two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate shake in one sitting, but should that really matter amid NK nuclear threats and turmoil in the Middle East? In an effort to justify the hysteria, many outlets called in experts to provide comment about the ill effects that 12 daily Diet Cokes can have on a person. Aisling Pigott of the British Dietetic Association told the IB Times UK edition:

That amount of anything is potentially harmful for anybody. Twelve cans is equal to 500mg of caffeine a day, a large amount of artificial sweeteners and lots of gas.

Dr Joanna McMillan told stuff.co.nz:

If he’s eating a rubbish diet with these drinks, considering he is slightly overweight, looking at his diet overall, then his brain function is affected.

A Monday headline from British newspaper Metro read:

What happens to your body if you drink 12 cans of Diet Coke a day, like Donald Trump?

It of course provided the answer by way of David Katz of the Yale School of Medicine, who said:

Twelve cans a day, diet or regular, it’s potentially going to do damage to your skeleton, and eventually that can be a serious problem.

CNN called in numerous experts, one of whom explained the dangers using a physical display of 12 Diet Cokes. Another expert told the outlet that Diet Coke can fill a person with bubbles, cause bloating and damage tooth enamel. CNN really excelled itself when it came to devoting on-air time to the Diet Coke saga, deciding to give it significant attention on Monday. Some would say its dedication to the story was a bit over-the-top but what happened next was even more shocking. When news broke of a suspected terrorist attack near Times Square in New York, CNN made the decision to continue shaming Trump about his beverage choice, rather than interrupt its segment for the breaking news. The timeline of events is easily understood when you watch the video of the Diet Coke segment, which begins at 8:39am EST. Twenty seconds into the broadcast, the anchor tells her guest, CNN contributor and Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio, that the network has breaking news so she may have to cut away from him. However, the clip continues until 8:47am, with no mention of the terrorist attack taking place at all during that time. At 8:45am, a blurb can be seen on the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center told Fox News:

Pindo news was talking about the bombing at 7:54. Nearly an hour later, CNN is whining about Donald Trump drinks Diet Cokes and watches too much TV, instead of reporting about terrorism in NYC. CNN might tell you what it’s giving you is an apple, but if it is, it’s rotten.

RT.com broke the news at 7:53am EST. There is a bit of irony in what on-air guest D’Antonio said of Trump while the terrorist attack was unfolding:

He’s probably watching us right now, because as the NYT reported, he tunes to CNN when there’s breaking news. CNN is the strongest network in hard news.

Not this time, D’Antonio. Not unless Diet Coke can be considered hard news. CNN’s news judgment didn’t go unnoticed on social media, with plenty of people taking to Twitter to express their surprise and disgust at the news outlet’s priorities. One person sarcastically wrote:

Another person suggested:

Another Twitter user took a less emotional approach:

Donald Trump Jr even joined in: