The Jury Talks Back

7/11/2017

Irony Overload: A Literally Incredible Development

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 6:38 am

FoxNews.com:

Two weeks after Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination last year, Bill Clinton arranged a secret meeting at his Harlem office with a lawyer who has connections to ISIS, according to confidential government records described to FoxNews.com.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Sidney Blumenthal, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Blumenthal were told that the ISIS-connected lawyer had information damaging to the candidacy of Ms. Clinton’s opponent, Donald J. Trump, who was then the Republican nominee for president.

Mr. Clinton was informed in an email in advance of the meeting that the material was part of an effort by ISIS to aid his wife’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

You’ll have to click the link to understand just how literally incredible the story is. The irony of this story following directly on the heels of the Donald Trump Jr. revelations regarding Russia — well, it leaves the reader with the feeling that it is nothing short of impossible to believe.

And of course, it’s not true. I just made it up. It’s . . . wait for it . . . FAKE NEWS!! Actual, literal fake news.

In fact, it is of course, the Donald Trump Jr. story, slightly altered. All I did was switch the names of the preferred candidate and the non-preferred candidate — and the identity of the enemy power.

But if this story had happened, everyone here would be OK with it. I know this, because I have read the arguments by commenters assuring me that there is no problem meeting secretly with possible agents of an enemy power to get dirt on your presidential opponent. Since those arguments are driven by principle and not by partisanship, there would be no problem with the scenario described in the above fake news article.

Bringing us back to reality, Jonah Goldberg has an excellent piece on all of this, and I agree with almost every word:

I’ve found the whole feeding frenzy unappealing. The Democrats are clearly in full partisan mode, framing every inconvenient, benign, or even potentially exculpatory detail as a smoking gun. The whole “hacked the election” formulation, used both by the Democrats and by allegedly objective reporters, is a misleading bit of hyperbole. Is “meddled with” or “interfered in” too big a concession to reality?

Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of hyperbole among those most eager to defend Trump on the Russia story. I’ve lost count of how many adjectives Sean Hannity uses to describe the media these days. I think it’s the “Alt-Left, Globalist Mainstream, Deep State, Destroy Trump, Get a Two-Liter Bottle of Pepsi When You Order a MAGA Pizza Media” now. More seriously, the rush to say there’s nothing to the collusion story is a mirror of the rush to insist the story is everything. There’s just not much room to say, “Maybe there’s something here. Let’s wait and see.”

. . . .

What I just don’t understand is how conservatives can mock, scoff at, and ridicule the idea there might be some legs to this story when Donald Trump does everything he can to make it look like there might be a there there. He fired the FBI director. He told the Russian ambassador he did it to thwart the Russia investigation. He told Lester Holt the same thing. Donald Trump is clearly obsessed with the Russia story and with forging a bromance with Vladimir Putin. Both his son and his son-in-law have ties to Russia and keep having to revise their denials, making anyone who believed them in the first place look foolish.

My main difference with Jonah is that his attitude is entirely “wait and see.” That is mostly my attitude, with one difference. Ever since I have seen the argument advanced that there would be nothing to this story, even if everything alleged were true, I have been fascinated that people would argue that, and I have wanted to tease out the implications.

Hence this post and its FAKE NEWS!! story.

Again, these are not arguments about the legalities, but about morality and how the American public would have reacted if a) all this was true and b) all this was known before the election. Maybe they wouldn’t have cared. There was already quite a lot they didn’t care about.

So tell me. If the scenario I describe above had actually happened, would you be OK with it? Really?

Really? (Patterico tilts his head and looks meaningfully at the reader.) Really?

And if not, what’s the difference?

6 Comments »

  1. Can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, one reason I’m not getting worked up about this story is that I no longer believe CNN, or any other major news agency. They have cried “Wolf!” enough times that they’ve lost my trust. The part about “according to three people with knowledge of the email”? I literally do not believe the people who are telling me this. Had they named any sources, so that their information could be independently verified — then I’d think that maybe this could be true. But considering the fact that this is still anonymous sources, and I have no way to verify the story for myself, I don’t believe it. They are telling me that three people independently verified the information. All right, but it’s just as easy to make up three anonymous sources as it is to make up a single anonymous source. If they name the source, or quote the actual text of the email, then I’ll have something I can verify. Until then, I just assume that they’re crying “Wolf!” yet again.

    And if you remove the part where they knew ahead of time that they’d be meeting with a Russian source, then the scenario becomes, “Highly-placed individuals in the Trump campaign met with someone who claimed to have dirt on the opposition.” If they knew ahead of time that the source was an enemy agent — then there’s something troubling about that. (Though I don’t think Russia and ISIS are exactly parallel here: I’m more worked up about ISIS than about Russia, because Russia is not actively engaging in terrorism around the world. So your parallel doesn’t quite work, but I’ll take it in the spirit that it was intended.) So yes, if the contents of the email are as they have been reported, then I’d be concerned.

    But the NYT and CNN have a credibility problem with me by now. When they tell me that Trump did X and did not do Y, my immediate impulse is to believe that the truth is the exact opposite of what they’ve said: that Trump did Y and did not do X. So until I see independent confirmation that the “they knew ahead of time” thing is true, I’ll continue to ignore this story, because it’s coming from people that I know to be liars, and I have no other evidence but the word of a known liar for that particular bit of info.

    Comment by Robin Munn — 7/11/2017 @ 10:34 am

  2. My reason for being pretty sanguine about a meeting between Whazizname Junior and some Russian lady who claims to have dirt on the Clintons or the Clinton Foundation or whatever is because if I were in Junior’s shoes I would pretty sure that any real information about Clinton collusion with Russians would be suppressed by the most of Big Media, so I would probably want to learn about this myself so that I could help leak it to more friendly outlets.. It sounds like he didn’t believe what she was peddling and he didn’t pursue the matter any further. I’m not really going to get worked up about this.

    Comment by JVW — 7/11/2017 @ 10:52 am

  3. Robin Munn: Donald Trump, Jr, has now tweeted out the contents of the emails, and they are apparently as they were described.

    Comment by aphrael — 7/11/2017 @ 12:11 pm

  4. Also, under this section of federal law (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/11/110.20), it’s a crime for a campaign to accept “anything of value” from a foreign national; I think opposition research clearly qualifies.

    Comment by aphrael — 7/11/2017 @ 12:12 pm

  5. It might be helpful to remember that there really was active collusion with a foreign government, collusion that directly influenced the election.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446

    So there it is; a foreign government actively colluding and coordinating with a US presidential campaign, which amongst other things caused the departure of the other campaign’s campaign manger via false, orchestrated allegations of corruption from the foreign government.

    Exit question; was the “Russian lawyer” Trump, Jr, met with linked to the Kremlin anywhere near as strongly as John Podesta (Clinton campaign chair) was and still is via his seat on the board and stock ownership of a company run and owned by a Putin crony?

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 7/11/2017 @ 12:15 pm

  6. We should definitely not make Hillary president then.

    Comment by Patterico — 7/11/2017 @ 4:47 pm

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