* I've really been enjoying John Cassidy's pieces on Trump at The New Yorker: it's a calm style that is perhaps all the more effective for it. Here, in his latest piece, he opines:
He then summarises what we do know, from leaks and public comments, in a calm way, and how none of it backs up Trumps claims of Obama's direct and personal involvement. With Comey's response, it is quite the opposite.Trump has learned a couple of things since the start of his Presidential campaign, in 2015. The first is that the media, especially the broadcast media, has an insatiable desire for “news breaks,” even fake ones, and thus is easy to manipulate. The second is that he can say virtually anything, however false or outrageous, without suffering any political consequences with his base. He can call a female journalist a “bimbo,” insult a political opponent’s wife, make bogus accusations of widespread voter fraud, say Obama founded ISIS, claim he won a bigger majority in the Electoral College than any President since Reagan—and none of it alienates his core supporters. Arguably, these outbursts make them like him more.In his tweets this weekend, however, he may, just possibly, have gone too far. Trump has now added his voice to the calls for a proper public investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. The only way for Congress to properly assess the truth of Trump’s claim about Obama would be to call on Comey and other senior officials to provide a full accounting of the interagency investigation into alleged contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. Is that really what the White House wants?
* Back to the question though - who is manipulating who in Trump world? As Axios notes, Trump has just made a series of Tweets directly about stories he was obviously watching on the teeth gratingly awful Fox & Friends. Now, are the editors of that show pitching stories to please Trump? Does Trump believe everything they claim, uncritically?
I think most people, with common sense, are concluding that yes, he does believe, uncritically, anything which he thinks useful propaganda, because he's a dumb, insecure, narcissist. If challenged, he will not "own" his own judgement, he'll just deflect by claiming "well, that's what other people say."
And some people think this is not something to be very concerned about....
What would happen if you actually had an experiment where someone at Fox put up a story that ran against a long held Trump belief or bias? (Ha! As if that will happen - there's no money in scaring away your nutty base. All Murdochs are too cynical to put the interests of actually educating the viewers ahead of making money.)
* Speaking of Trump re-tweets of Fox, here is The Washington Post on one of them: You'll never guess who tweeted something false he saw on TV.
* If former CIA directors think things are bad, they probably are:
As Michael Hayden, the CIA director under George W. Bush, noted on Morning Joe on Monday, “We’ve been in continuous crisis now for 45 days, and none of it has been externally stimulated. This is all an intramural game within our own government. No one’s tickled us from abroad. So I can only imagine what this is going to look like when we actually start to get pressure, events start to happen, that do require that sober, methodical response from a government that doesn’t appear as if it’s gotten itself organized yet.”And in the same article, someone asked in December some good questions, the answers to which no one has a right to feel confident about:
In December, Elizabeth Saunders, a professor at George Washington University who studies decision-making in foreign policy, listed eight questions she had about how President Trump would handle an overseas crisis: Where is Trump physically, since he’s so frequently away from the White House? What is the state of Trump’s relations with U.S. intelligence agencies? Which of Trump’s staffers briefs him on the crisis? Which officials are brought into the deliberations about what to do? How many options are given to Trump and how are they described? Will those who oppose the preferred option express their concerns? Who will execute Trump’s decision? And will a record be kept of how the decision was made?