For months I have heard the idea tossed around that the Trump administration, or simply Trump himself, are keeping news cycles filled with controversy to distract from their possibly treasonous ties to Russia; that what we see in the news is not just blundering. It has been suggested that the goal is to keep us looking at one controversial hand after another so that nobody will keep an eye on the indiscretions of the White House and the Trump campaign, changing the narrative while bringing offensive and controversial statements into normalcy.
Like many, I’ve entertained this notion if only because what has become “normal” in Washington is so surreal that it defies conventional belief. Something more must be happening here; nobody messes up this often. However, I like many have found myself lulling to sleep in the muck and filth, passing it along as just another day with the man that said “grab them by the p***y.”
Well into the first year of his term, Trump has continued his less than savory rhetoric, often in the same campaign style rallies that made him infamous. Most recently the Boy Scouts of America had to issue a public apology for his statements, and a rally in front of thousands of police officers saw Trump calling for “rough” treatment of arrested individuals. But he is not alone. The revolving door of staffers that is now defining the administration has come to include Anthony Scaramucci, who once vehemently admonished Trump during the campaign. He fought to get into the administration only to be shown the door ten days later for spouting curse filled nonsense to a reporter, which a public relations rep of his caliber should know better to avoid.
The question than is this; is all of this misdirection actually working? Or is it misdirection at all? The answer to both is; sort of.
The FOX News outlets of the world aside, there are plenty of media outlets that keep the Russia controversies at the forefront, sidestepping at times to discuss the likes of Trump’s odd campaign style speeches and the failing healthcare bill, among other oddities surrounding Washington and the administration.
Let me be clear. Healthcare and inappropriate campaign rallies in front of Boy Scouts are important and need to be discussed. But I think we can all agree that those pale in comparison to the president likely defrauding the public in an election with help from a foreign government, especially Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
But what we see in the news, from MSNBC to the Washington Post and other print outlets, seems at least for now to be the journalistic job that we hope to expect. When you turn on the TV or open the paper, go online or check your Facebook feed, you will find that journalists are keeping Russia at the forefront. Donald Jr.’s meeting and the new revelations about the president’s hand in drafting his inaccurate, or wholly false, statement are still the crux of the responsible reporting that is coming out. But something is missing. How has there not been news on the deeper investigation or an indictment yet?
The investigation in fact continues, but Comey and Flynn are old news and there is only so much time to squeeze reporting about a meeting and a vulgar phone call to The New Yorker. The truth is still out there, being reported, but it’s become harder to find and thus not a part of the mainstream deluge that most people rely on, thus ensuring that the misdirection is working.
For instance, the Huffpost UK buys into the sentiment that the “Mooch’s” bizarre behavior that got him fired was all a smoke screen. While we all gasped at his comments and reeled over yet another event in the hodgepodge of this presidency, a man named Bill Browder had a very important hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Reporting on July 31, Huffpost UK Senior Editor Chris York linked the Browder testimony’s postponement to this convenient timing, and explains why his eventual, and oft overlooked testimony was so important.
Browder was a businessman in Russia who, along with lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a name made famous by the Magnitsky Act and the Donald Trump Jr. dinner that allegedly discussed those sanctions, exposed a $230 million corruption ring, to which Vladimir Putin was tied. Shortly after, Magnitsky was killed and Browder was denied return to Russia.
In his testimony, Browder explained in some detail how Russian officials, tens of thousands connected to Putin and this corruption that clouds the country, create relationships like the one President Trump finds himself in, explaining that “once you get stuck with them, you can never leave.” The Huffpost article can be found at this link, where the full transcript of the testimony is laid out with highlights and explanation of Browder’s involvement with Magnitsky and Putin.
For now at least, the smokescreens this presidency is throwing every day are working just enough to keep him in office. From false or parsed statements, to Sarah Sanders’ non-apologetic assertions that Trump is “joking,” from administration staff being gutted to cleverly timed, foul-mouthed tirades, the president is keeping his head above water. But the investigation is ongoing.
As time goes on, hopefully some of the more responsible journalism that has surrounded this administration will continue and some action can be taken to remove the man that, evidence suggests to this point, colluded with Russia to get elected and continues to placate ties with Vladimir Putin through the lies of his administration and family. Justice can be served, but it is incumbent on all of us to keep our eyes open and make this as big of a deal as it really is.