Trump is absolutely right about CNN

People at CNN often throw a tantrum because Trump say they are fake news. Of course, they’re not really mad, because they know it’s good for business to be one of Trump’s targets. Anyone who is targeted by Trump automatically becomes a hero for millions of people, because they never pause for a second to wonder if this adulation is justified. In the case of CNN, it definitely isn’t, since CNN is fake news. It boggles the mind that so many people who, as far as I know, are equipped with a normally functioning brain still dispute that. For instance, during his press conference, Trump made fun of the canard, repeated constantly by every news organization in the US for months, that 17 intelligence agencies agreed that Russia had interfered in the election.

He was absolutely right, since as Robert Parry noted at the time, John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee in May that only the CIA, the FBI and the NSA had collaborated to the report about the alleged Russian interference in the election that was released in January. As Parry also pointed out, this was confirmed by James Clapper, who also said that “the two dozen or so analysts for [the assess the role of Russia in the election] were hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies”. (Note that, when intelligence analysts are hand-picked to make that kind of assessment, it’s usually not a good sign…) Although these statements were only made in May, there were never any evidence to support the claim that 17 intelligence agencies had collaborated on the assessment about the interference of Russia in the election. In fact, it was always preposterous, since the 17 intelligence agencies in question include, for example, the Coast Guard Intelligence… But this didn’t prevent every journalist/pundit to repeat that claim about the 17 intelligence agencies ad nauseam for months.

The fact is that, as I argued at length a few months ago, the evidence that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC and releasing the material through Wikileaks in order to help Trump is far from conclusive. It’s interesting that, back in 2009, the New York Times reported that Russia wanted to create a treaty that criminalizes cyberwar, but the US refused and, in order to justify their position, US officials pointed out that it was almost impossible to attribute a cyberwar to a government:

Russia favors an international treaty along the lines of those negotiated for chemical weapons and has pushed for that approach at a series of meetings this year and in public statements by a high-ranking official.

 

The United States argues that a treaty is unnecessary. It instead advocates improved cooperation among international law enforcement groups. If these groups cooperate to make cyberspace more secure against criminal intrusions, their work will also make cyberspace more secure against military campaigns, American officials say.

 

 

[US officials] also worry that a treaty would be ineffective because it can be almost impossible to determine if an Internet attack originated from a government, a hacker loyal to that government, or a rogue acting independently.

It’s funny how, just a few years later, the same officials claim they can know with certainty that Russia hacked the DNC and released the material through Wikileaks… As I explained a few months ago, it’s possible that it  did, but we just don’t know know and, even if this happened, Trump’s campaign obviously didn’t collude with Russia. It’s also interesting that it was the US, not Russia, that refused to put together a treaty banning cyberwar. But while the New York Times published that story back then, don’t count on it to remind you of it now.

You would think that, now that Brennan and Clapper made clear the claim about the 17 intelligence agencies was false, people would stop making it. But you would be wrong. Indeed, as recently as June 25, the New York Times published a story in which it repeated that canard. After it was pointed out that we knew this claim was false, it had to publish the following correction:

A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

Even this correction is arguably incorrect, since the ODNI isn’t really an intelligence agency in the way the CIA, the FBI and the NSA are, but at least the New York Times corrected the story.

Although this correction has been the topic of much discussion, Jim Acosta of CNN still took issue with Trump, after he correctly pointed out that it wasn’t true that 17 intelligence agencies had collaborated on the assessment that Russia had interfered in the election:

The other thing that was fake news coming from President Trump, is when he said, “Well, I keep hearing it’s 17 intelligence agencies that say Russia meddled in the election. I think it’s only three or four.”

Where does that number come from? Where does this three or four number come from? My suspicion, Chris and Poppy, is that if we go to the administration and ask them for this question, I’m not so sure we’re going to get an answer. And if we do get an answer, it will probably be off-camera.

Every competent journalist should have know for weeks that it wasn’t true that 17 intelligence agencies said that Russia had interfered in the election, but Jim Acosta is not a competent journalist, he is a politically biased hack and so are most people who work at CNN. In fact, competent journalists are a bit like Eskimos, everyone knows they’re somewhere out there, but almost nobody has ever seen one.

Recently, a right-wing group released a damning undercover video which show John Bonifield, a producer at CNN, admits what everyone who is not completely stupid already knew:

Undercover Journalist: So you believe the Russia thing is a little bit crazy, right?
 
John Bonifield: Even if Russia was trying to swing an election, we try to swing their elections, our CIA is doing shit all the time, we’re out there trying to manipulate governments. You win because you know the game and you play it right. She [Hillary Clinton] didn’t play it right. I haven’t seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime. I know a lot of people don’t like him and they’d like to see him get kicked out of office. … But that’s a lot different than he actually did something that can get him kicked out of office.

 

UJ: Then why is CNN constantly like “Russia this, Russia that?”

 

JB: Because it’s ratings.

 

UJ: Because it’s ratings?

 

JB: Our ratings are incredible right now.

 

UJ: Because of…

 

JB: Yeah, so, my boss, I shouldn’t say this, my boss yesterday, we were having a discussion about this dental shoot and he goes, he was like, I just want you to know what we’re up against here. He goes, just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN [Jeff Zucker] said in our internal meeting, he said, good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we’re done with it. Let’s get back to Russia.

 

UJ: The CEO?

 

JB: Yeah, so even the climate accords, he was like, okay, a day or so but we’re moving back to Russia.

UJ: So I understand it’s all ratings, right?

 

JB: It’s a business, people are like the media has an ethical… But, all the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school, you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. This is a business. Especially cable news. Cable news isn’t the New York Times. It’s not even NBC news. I mean, NBC news still gets 20 million viewers a night, cable news is getting a million. So, they got to do what they go to do to make their money, I think. And so I love the news business, but I’m very cynical about it and at the same time so are most of my colleagues. I’m not alone.

 

 

UJ: But honestly, you think the whole Russia shit is just bullshit?

 

JB: Could be bullshit. I mean, it’s mostly bullshit right now. Like, we don’t have any big giant proof. Then they say, “well there’s still an investigation going on.” I don’t know, if they were finding something, we would know about it. They way these leaks happen, they would leak it. They’d leak. If it was something really good, it’d leak.

 

UJ: I would have leaked before voting, I would say. If anything was good, it would have came out already.

 

JB: The leaks keep leaking and there are so many great leaks and it’s amazing and… I just refuse to believe that if they had something really good like that, that wouldn’t leak because we’ve been getting all these other leaks. So, I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the President is probably right to say, like, “look, you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof.”

This is probably the most honest thing I have read about the media in a long time. Again, anyone who is not completely stupid or blinded by hostility toward Trump already knew everything Bonifield is saying, but hearing him say it so openly is still great.

In case that’s still not clear, the group released another video, where Van Jones, a regular contributor for CNN, admits that there is nothing to the Trump/Russia story:

Undercover Journalist: What do you think is going to happen this week with the whole Russia thing?

 

Van Jones: The Russia thing is just a big nothing burger.

 

UJ: Really?

 

VJ: Yeah.

Meanwhile, millions of cretins around the world, who have no idea they are being fooled, still think a proof that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election is right around the corner…

EDIT: A friend pointed out to me that Bonifield is a producer of CNN’s segments on health and isn’t much involved in anything having to do with politics. I didn’t know that and don’t think it changes much, but I wanted to acknowledge it here, lest I be accused of dishonesty.

4 thoughts

  1. The current NYTimes headline is “Trump-Putin Meeting at G-20 Lasts Far Longer Than Scheduled” as if its a international crisis, right next to “Trump-Putin Meeting Is a Sure Winner for Russia.”

    What a fucking disaster the media has become.

  2. You seem to have a special animosity against CNN.

    Mine is against the New York Times. I clicked on it one day about 6 months ago, and there was so much stuff against Russia that for a moment I imagined that I had magically regressed to 1958. I decided to stop reading it. From time to time, out of weakness, I’ve yielded and tried to read an article, but I almost never finish them and after looking at the NYT, my irritation with it just increases.

    It’s the pretentiousness, the “all the news that fit to print”, the mask of “seriousness” and moral sanctimony that drives me into a rage.

    1. Trust me, I dislike the New York Times at least as much as CNN, and if you read what I have written since I started this blog you will see that I have criticized it a lot more than CNN. But this week CNN just outdid everyone else…

  3. Hey Phil,

    It’s like I always say, “the form excludes the content” and a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas.

    Expecting rational content from a television is like expecting a toad to become a brain surgeon. Or expecting my wife to quit sleeping around with everyone in the neighborhood.

    horses run, bees make honey, vines produce grapes, etc. etc.

    Thanks,
    N. Postman

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