Fake News on the Right

From Marcy Wheeler:

The story starts with this Louise Mensch story. For those who don’t know, Mensch is a former Tory Member of Parliament turned American rock promoter wife. Since quitting Parliament to spend more time with her family, she has become a pundit known for taking reasonable observations, injecting just a bit of whack, and turning them into fairly unhinged theories. Perhaps her best known foray into investigative work is when she unknowingly used her own racist search history to impugn a Jeremy Corbyn supporter. In spite of her still apparent tolerance for racism, she offered up her support to Hillary on Valentines Day in 2016. Of late, she has been writing unified theories of Russian spying that start from real nuggets and important observations, then spin loose from the actual supporting evidence.

Back to Mensch’s original article. At a time when Hillary’s team was furious that the FBI had been publicly discussing her emails rather than Trump’s Russian ties, Mensch reported that the FBI got a FISA order in October, after having been denied a more broadly drawn order earlier in the year.

The timing of the October FISA order has been backed in subsequent reporting. It is Mensch’s explanation for the basis of the order that is the problem, as it relied on the dodgy Alfa Bank story.

I will return to some other aspects of the Alfa Bank story shortly. But for now, consider that the evidence never said a private server “in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower … was connected to a Russian bank.” Rather, it showed that a marketing server in Philadelphia was pinging Alfa Bank and Grand Rapid’s Spectrum Health. As it turns out, it was pinging at least 16 other servers, but that detail was suppressed when the story got packaged up for the press by yet unidentified people. So even if the FBI would have needed a FISA warrant to read traffic involving a Russian (that is, non-US person located overseas) bank — which it wouldn’t — it’s highly unlikely they would have gotten that far, because the story didn’t hold up (and was easily explained by the spam that the servers in question were getting). Moreover, there is no way the FBI would have imagined “financial and banking offenses” from a spam marketing server sending regular pings to a bank. So even if the FBI continued to investigation suspected ties between Alfa Bank and Trump (again, more on that in a follow-up), the specific reference Mensch used to hang the FISA order on should never have involved allegations of a wiretap in Trump Tower.

This is not to say FISC didn’t issue an order pertaining to financial questions involving Russians. Mensch also points to David Corn’s piece on the Trump dossier, which we now know alleges a bunch of other, far more substantive financial issues. Later reporting described a tip from a Baltic country. But all of those pertain to suspected Russian bribes of people close to Trump or Paul Manafort’s corruption, not a spam marketing server sending spam to past clients of Trump hotels.

Which is to say that Mensch took a great tip — that there had been a FISC order — and slapped it onto dodgy allegations floating around in ways that didn’t even make sense for FISA, much less the allegations themselves…

Breitbart, in a piece written by Trump’s campaign biographer in the rag until recent run by Trump’s consigliere Steve Bannon, links the two, tying this preservation of the ongoing investigation to the events that led to Sessions’ recusal.

What an entirely predictable mess.  This is precisely why I am reluctant to go outside sources I trust for news.  I don’t read Drudge or Breitbart, but neither do I read TPM.  However, to be honest, the original fake news assertions from the WaPo, clumsy as they were, and like all great conspiracies, contained more than a grain of truth.  Yes, the MSM has been corporatized, but the competition for eyeballs also drove many of those on the Right away from rectitude to sensationalism.

We all have agendas and it is vital that we regularly display them for others.  Unfortunately, the misdirection of false flags which has been accepted statecraft, recently became part of the toolkit used by editors to influence hapless readers, to the extent we have media-based NGOs such as White Helmets in Syria.  To the neophyte, clarity must be viewed through the eyes of others whom we trust.  Enter Trump and Bannon.

The only reason Trump is doing so well relies on the stage 4 Hillary cancer infecting the Left.  Indeed, despite worries over Deep State, Trump’s real opposition comes from the GOP establishment and his supporters.  Trump regularly throws red meat to the latter, but is powerless over professional buffoons like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  Their inability to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was Romneycare created for the GOP by the Heritage Foundation, will prove that point.

To those who insist that primaries exist to remove such people, I challenge you to find successful candidates down to the local level who are not minions of powerful interests.  ALEC wouldn’t be targeting municipalities, otherwise.  Even insurgents like Sanders and Warren bend to the influence of all that money.  It is therefore no surprise Trump has done likewise.  Indeed, if politics is the art of the possible, change may only come with the assistance of Goldman Sachs.

Many of Trump’s most ardent supporters are also political newcomers and vulnerable to fake news on the right.  Their previous apathy was also a function of being bombarded with fake ads and biased reporting.  The GOP spent decades discouraging voter turnout by creating a feeling of general distrust which has only recently been overcome by their economic plight.  Like Trump, many of his supporters are unaccustomed to the tedious and arcane art of politics, which has been likened to watching sausage being made.

The Left knows these neophytes on the Right are but amateurs and have mounted a desperate and unexpected media effort, sans evidence, to drive off these dilettantes before they do significant harm.  Unfortunately, their victory sustains them thus far, since many of them believe in prosperity gospel and Trump appears as a Saviour cast in an oddly golden light.  It will probably take more than fake news to dislodge the resolve shared by these racists, bigots and gun nuts also emboldened by victory in legislatures.  With the Bible as prime example, the Right thrives on fake news.  It is the MSM who are proving themselves amateurs.

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