Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

What's that old adage about picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel?

“If you haven’t seen the 1944 movie Gaslight or kept up with your Phycology Today subscription, gaslighting is when someone tries to make you question your reality and sanity,” [Anderson] Cooper defined. “They do this by lying, they do this by speaking in contradictions and by denying the reality that you know to be true.”

“That is how the White House is gaslighting the American people daily in covering-up how it handled the case of Rob Porter,” the host observed.

Cooper then reviewed the time line of mistruths from the White House since the scandal broke last week.

“We asked the White House for anyone to come and talk about any of this tonight and they said no,” Cooper reported.

“You don’t have a White House official, but you do have me,” replied CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
I can honestly say I've never seen the press do this to a President before, and I remember Watergate pretty darned well.   MAD Magazine even knew what was up then:

But WaPo suspended "Doonesbury" because Mark Slackmeyer pronounced Nixon "Guilty!  Guilty!  Guilty!"  It was not a time to call the President a liar, even though he clearly was, and although even MAD Magazine knew he was a crook.  Still, a patch of ice doth not a winter make, so:

“We are now one full week into the domestic abuse scandal involving now-former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, and yet the American people still do not know who knew what, and when, and why,” Tapper began during his monologue on “The Lead.”
“Just since yesterday we’ve learned more that suggests the White House has not told the American people the full truth,” Tapper continued. “From the White House podium yesterday, Sarah [Huckabee] Sanders painted a rosy picture of a White House motivated by a clear sense of right and wrong, seeking to remove—with clarity and purpose—someone who had been accused of abhorrent behavior.”

“What that narrative does not acknowledge is that the initial response from the White House was to prop up Porter and stand by Porter,” the CNN host added,
Tapper then turned to an off-the-record interview between Porter and four top White House reporters, which occurred after “that black eye photograph of Porter’s first wife was published.”

“Whatever the motivations, make no mistake,” Tapper said of that interview. “This was the communications staff of the White House facilitating an opportunity for an accused domestic abuser to tell journalists … that his ex-wives were liars. All of it paid for by your tax dollars, and a clear contradiction to the narrative the White House is now pushing—that once they saw the black eye photo, Porter was essentially shown the door.”
“Okay, everyone got that?” Tapper asked. “So today, a process that was not completed was the one that was internal, at the White House, the white house personnel office. That, of course is the exact opposite of what Sanders said just 24 hours ago.”

“The White House has yet to be forthright and transparent with the American people about how this happened,” Tapper said. “The most clarity we have gotten so far might be from President Trump himself who has wished Porter well in his future but has not said or written one single word of support for the victims of his alleged abuse, or for survivors of domestic violence in general. Instead, we’ve been misled and and we’ve been lied to time and again. And for what?”

And April Ryan has her sources, and Trump's declaration of "transparency" are suddenly very feeble:

"April, I’m going to ask you straight up to you, did the White House lie?” said CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto asked Tuesday, while guest hosing Out Front for Erin Burnett.

“You know, the question is, what does Sarah know,” Ryan suggested, referring to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Apparently it’s not just about the fact that the FBI had the information, I’m hearing that personnel security office works with the National Security Council along with White House personnel,” Ryan reported.

“So three groups that have information about those who are working in the White House, or potential people who the president or senior staff may want to bring in,” Ryan continued.

“And typically, again, from sources, from various sources, when they give an interim security clearance, that’s just for a limited amount of time and it’s supposed to be narrow in scope,” she said. “The person is not supposed to be able to touch top secret or classified materials.”

“And if Rob Porter was a priority, he could have had his security clearance by now, if indeed he passed the muster,” Ryan continued. “So there is a lot of holes here. And the question with finding out this information, the question is now, if you are limited in scope with what are you supposed to do with interim security clearance, Jared Kushner has interim security clearance, but he is talking to Bibi Netanyahu.”

I haven't seen language like this since the days of Ron "That statement is no longer operative" Ziegler, Nixon's Press Secretary during Watergate:

“Watching the press secretary at Monday’s briefing, the words that came to mind were these: A new low,” Sullivan wrote. “Yes, a new rock bottom from the podium at the Trump White House press briefing.”

Sullivan noted that reaching “a new rock bottom” was a feat, considering Huckabee Sanders’ predecessors, Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci. “But she did it,” Sullivan wrote. “Time after time Monday, Sanders stuck to her pallid script, repeating without elaboration the words she said the president had told her to say, expressing his supposed support for domestic violence victims, although just days before he seemed much more sympathetic to those accused of abuse, specifically his deposed aide Rob Porter.”

“With her dismissive gestures, her curled-lip sneers, her ready insults and guilt-free lies, Sanders is a conduit — a tool — for Trump’s own abusive relationship with journalists,” Sullivan wrote, wondering if reporters really need to “keep coming back for more.”

Even Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace are appalled:

“Steve, I want you to see if you can come up with any parallel. I reached back through the Palin years, to the Bush years and we were deeply flawed. We made more mistakes before lunch than most people in normal jobs make in five years. But I can’t remember the depravity that I see in this White House,” Wallace admitted.

“That’s for sure,” Schmidt confirmed.

“[I] wonder if you can just talk about how sort of effective it is for them to do such a volume business of chaos and crisis creation,” Wallace suggested.

“I think the important thing to understand, to remember, for the American people, is that this is not normal. This is — there’s never been an administration like this,” Schmidt argued. “In fact, when you look out across all the western democracies, you don’t see lying like this. the constancy of lying, the dishonesty, the allegations of conspiracy, the smearing, the defend-to-the-end at all costs the image and the reputation of the leader”

“There’s never been anything like this. We are in a — we are in unchartered territory with this comportment and it’s vile,” Schmidt added. “The behavior is disgraceful, it’s disgusting.”

“The country has never before now elected somebody who is so manifestly unfit intellectually, morally, temperamentally, for the office of President of the United States,” Schmidt concluded.
Even Newt Gingrich blew up the latest "bombshell" regarding Susan Rice and a meeting with Obama in January 2017, on Fox&Friends:

“Well, I’m guessing that she had taken those notes — and this is a guess as a historian — that she had finally gotten around to it, had a few extra minutes and thought she would capture it in a structured document,” Gingrich explained.

“As she’s cleaning out her office?” Earhardt asked.

“Right,” Gingrich replied. “No, literally, I think — I’ve had that happen to me — I’ll have some piece of paper from a meeting three weeks ago that I never quite got around to capturing in an email or putting into a file. It may well have been she was just tidying up.”
So it was either nefarious and conspiratorial, or it was....perfectly ordinary.

Small wonder, then, this happened:

He'll find a crowd to whip into a frenzy; but the GOP is going to own shutting down DACA, even if Trump's Usual Gang of Idiots figure out how to shut it down correctly.  His budget proposals are already too little too late, and voters are itching to make him a lame duck for two years.

As I said before, the best thing about Trump is that he may have convinced the press to do their jobs the way Margaret Sullivan described them:  “To state the obvious: Holding powerful people and institutions accountable is the chief role of journalism in this country, and a crucial one.”  Hopefully they won't forget that when they don't have Donald Trump to kick around anymore. 

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