Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Even Mainstream Commentators are Complaining about the Skimpiness of the Trump-Russia Story

When a snarky, middle-brow establishmentarian website like FiveThirtyEight categorizes the Trump-Russia story as more smoke than fire, seconding the assessment of former acting CIA chief Mike Morrell, you know there is really no there there.

This from "How Much Of The Trump-Russia Story Is Smoke And How Much Is Fire?," a discussion between FiveThirtyEight writers and editors posted this morning:
clare.malone: Thing on the Russia story is how much it’s been back and forth. Take this story from October — the headline on that said “no clear link.” So what people took away was, “no link!”
micah: Which is a reasonable reading. It’s very confusing. 
clare.malone: And then a couple of months later, we find ourselves here, with a new spin on that story — still no clear link, but as Perry said, people have been acting awfully suspicious.
natesilver: I think that Oct. 31 story from the The New York Times that Clare linked to really does not hold up well in light of their subsequent reporting.
perry: Agree.
micah: And I’d add the confusion of churn. So, weirdly, we didn’t actually learn anything new on Russia on Monday, yet there’s a new spate of stories. So the smoke-to-fire ratio gets bigger.
Nate Silver hedges throughout the conversation. The other participants you get the feeling have some sort of allegiance to the Democratic Party. And that's the "donkey" in the room throughout the chat: No where is the Democratic Party's role in manning the smoke machine mentioned.

Towards the end of the piece there is this:
micah: Last question: This investigation will probably last many months — if not years. How does it affect Trump’s ability to pursue his agenda if it’s sort of a constant low hum in the background?
clare.malone: That depends on America’s continuing reaction to the Trump era. There are a lot of things we don’t know, like how Trumpism will age. Are people, Republican constituents particularly, going to have the same patience or tolerance for this stuff in, say, a year? Maybe. Maybe not.
natesilver: If Democrats ever take over one or both branches of Congress, the investigations could obviously cripple Trump’s agenda.
perry: I think it’s huge. Remember a few weeks ago Trump gave that joint session speech. Van Jones praised him. Then, the Sessions-Russia story eliminated that news cycle.
micah: Hmmm …
perry: That led to Trump making up the wiretapping story.
micah: But, for example, has that affected Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings or the health care bill?
natesilver: You can certainly make an argument that Trump is mishandling health care. 
Nothing about the deep state, about Politico's story of Ukrainians trying to get Hillary elected, about working with Russia in Syria. All very superficial. But interesting that even from a mainstream perspective Democrats are getting tired of the smoke in their eyes.


  1. Yes. Of course. It seems it's beginning to unravel.

  2. The one area I do believe has validity, and I don't know if you noticed this when your blog was active, Bob, is the existence of botnets. The FBI is supposed to be investigating Kremlin-sponsored social media bots juicing the stats and spreading hyperlinks of InfoWars and Breitbart. Whether it can ever be definitely tracked back to the Kremlin I think is doubtful. I do think botnets are used by intelligence agencies. The question is how often compared to the plain old crassly commercial botnets.

    When I first started this page I got hit by Vampirestat frequently. Then periodically after that by "Mens"-themed bots interpreting this was page as one for swingers or sexual predators. Also, I randomly will experience spikes where the audience's origin is Russia. I'm convinced that it is primarily bot driven.

    Bots are indeed real but as far as I know they are entirely legal.

    Which brings up the whole blow back silver lining to the Trump-Russia story. Like Nunes' revelation that Trump campaign people were indeed spied upon, swept up in the gigantic "snooping-on-foreign-nationals" loophole that Glenn Greenwald has been vociferous in exposing, plenty of the tried-&-true deep state shenanigans are being exposed to sunlight.