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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/26/19

Mueller Report Ends a Shameful Period for the Press

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The Mueller report's categorical statement that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia ends one of the most shameful periods in modern American journalism, one that rivals the mindless cheerleading for the Iraq War by most of the press. It further erodes and may prove fatal to the credibility of a press that has steadfastly rendered most of the country invisible and functions as little more than an array of gossiping courtiers to the elites.

"'[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,'" the report by special counsel Robert Mueller says, according to a direct quotation given in an official letter by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

The charge that Russia stole the 2016 presidential election, that Vladimir Putin has secret "pee tapes" of Trump cavorting in a Moscow hotel with prostitutes or that Trump has been a longtime "Kremlin agent," repeated by reporters whose work I admired in the past, is demagoguery as pernicious as the vile taunts and racist tropes that come out of the White House. The press endlessly repeated such allegations while ignoring the expanding social inequality and suffering of a country where half the population lives in poverty, as well as the collapse of our democratic institutions. These facts, not Russian manipulation, saw enraged American voters elect a demagogue who at least belittles the elites, including those in the press, who sold them out. The charge that Trump was a tool of Russia is entertaining. It attracts billions in advertising dollars. It allows the press to posture as a moral crusader. But over the past three years this obsession blotted out most of the real crimes committed by this administration and the reality most Americans endure.

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The mainstream press, owned by the corporations that have extinguished the democratic state and are fleecing the public, as well as destroying the ecosystem on which we depend for life, does not hold its employers to account. The empty chatter about Russia, including in The New York Times, exposes the bankruptcy of the U.S. media. MSNBC and CNN, which long ago abandoned journalism for entertainment, have breathlessly clogged the airwaves with ridiculous conspiracy theories and fantasies and used them to justify a faux crusade.

Don't expect any of this to change. Rachael Maddow, like Jack Tapper or any other fatuous news celebrity, will not be held to account for slogging through this fiction night after night. Maddow will still collect her $10-million-a-year salary. And the handful of reporters who exhibited journalistic integrity -- Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate', Robert Scheer, Max Blumenthal and Katrina vanden Heuvel -- will continue to remain on the margins of the media landscape. The press is an arm of the corporate-funded burlesque that has replaced the country's political life and turned civic debate into a vast reality show.

The more the big news outlets try to spin this report, arguing that they need to see the full report rather than the attorney general's summary, or that Jared Kushner sought to use the communications systems of Russian diplomats, the more credibility they will lose. And they do not have much credibility left. The lurid details of the president's alleged sexual relations with a porn star and a Playboy bunny, and of "Russiagate," have replaced journalism. These stories have nothing to do with the lives of most Americans. This descent into the inane and the tawdry gives immunity to Trump. In attacking the press, he attacks an institution most Americans loathe. And with good reason. The press, unwittingly, enhances a president it seeks to destroy. And its decline, accelerated by its collaboration with liberal Democratic elites who scapegoat Russia to avoid confronting their responsibility for trashing the country in the service of corporate oligarchs, will get worse. Little the press says about Trump will now be believed.

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There was, of course, massive interference in our election by a foreign power -- Israel. But try saying this naked truth out loud and you will suffer the character assassination, chanted by the unified chorus in the press and the political hierarchy of both parties, that was unleashed on Rep. Ilhan Omar. The engine driving our animosity toward Russia comes from the arms industry, which with the expansion of NATO up to Russia's border -- despite assurances given upon the unification of Germany that this would not happen -- is making billions of dollars selling weapons to countries in Eastern Europe. The situation is also exacerbating tensions between two of the world's biggest nuclear powers. But this is just one more suppressed truth.

The Trump administration has carried out policies that, rather than serve Russian interests, have further antagonized our relationship with Moscow. It has imposed sanctions. It is openly attempting to overthrow the government of a country that Russia supports, Venezuela. It is attempting to block the sale of Russian natural gas to Europe. It has sold weapons to Ukraine, a foe of the Kremlin. It has armed insurgents in Syria and carried out airstrikes, even as Russian troops seek to prop up the Syrian regime. It has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. But facts matter little to Russian-conspiracy theorists.

It is not only Trump who has obliterated the line between fact and fiction. It is the press. It hyped and reported allegations it never investigated or confirmed. And by doing this, repeating failures of the kind that appeared in its coverage of the invasion of Iraq, it has committed suicide. A nation that lacks a functioning press becomes a tyranny. This is not Trump's fault, but our own.

 

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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Devil's Advocate

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Well said, as always, Chris!

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 8:32:32 PM

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Lois Gagnon

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Has there ever been a political entity more capable of shooting itself in the foot than the Democratic Party? They've turned it into high art.

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 8:44:35 PM

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Terry Y

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Reply to Lois Gagnon:   New Content

I dunno, Lois. "Shooting itself in the foot..." implies an accident. Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that it's not.

Submitted on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 at 9:34:09 PM

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There is only one party, the War Party. It has two branches who follow scripts much like pro wrestlers.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 2:21:26 AM

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Reply to Lois Gagnon:

The Democratic Party has placed itself in a very difficult position. The party clearly serves the interests of the 1%. That decision was made during the first Clinton administration. Bill Clinton and his wife recognized that as a way of getting very rich. And that has worked out very well for them. However, there are not many members of the 1% so in order to win elections the party must convince the progressives that it represents the interests of the people, a blatant lie. To my great surprise and disappointment a great many, in fact the majority, of progressives have bought the "lesser evil" lie. Nonetheless, it is a tough sell because it is so transparently false. The party's decision to manufacture the Russiagate fraud was a really dumb decision. And crimes were committed in the process, which would be worrisome for the party elites who committed the crimes if the elites were held to account. However, it is doubtful that that will ever happen. The party is in fact doing what it needs to do to serve its masters, the 1%. The party elites know exactly what it is doing. And the selling of its bs is not an easy job.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:28:05 PM

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ruckrover

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Well said Chris Hedges.

For other insightful independent media that deduced long ago that 'Russiagate' was a fake conspiracy theory created by Hillary in collusion with Deep State actors, see:

click here Moon of Alabama

click here Consortiumnews

click here 21st Century Wire

click here Professor Stephen F Cohen

click here Jimmy Dore

And that's only some from the liberal progressive side of politics. There were so many in the conservative side (including reasonable like Dr Dave Janda) that saw through the Russiagate hoax.

Given the damage wrought by Russiagate - are the creators of it going to be brought to account? Truth matters if you want democracy - even if it means a president we don't like is fairly elected but subject to a fake conspiracy theory to destroy his presidency. Where will such madness end if it is not faced and dealt with? After all it followed immediately from rigging the primaries against Bernie Sanders. Do you want democracy or not?

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:11:31 AM

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Please add Peter B. Collins to your list. I find Jimmy Dore to be very entertaining, but Peter B. to be more "believable" (perhaps I am trying to say that he's more "impartial" to providing the facts. The difference may be only in my perception though)

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:12:56 PM

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NPR is on overdrive trying to resurrect the narrative of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and "undermining our democratic values" from the collapse of the case against Trump. Thus, the ranting against Russia has become more extreme, while voices with alternative viewpoints are more aggressively quashed.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:16:49 AM

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The ignoring of policy and damage to policies affecting ordinary America s is what a Galls me the most. Especily since its common knowledge that Trump intends to disrupt the media and keep the focus on him while he pillages America and the press does nothing.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 4:16:18 PM

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Great article! Can you write another one that analyzes what the collapse of the Muller investigation means for Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning? In fact, if you'd like to, we can do a guest spot on this for KCSB News. lmk.

Kat Swift

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 5:52:01 PM

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There will be no change in the Assange/Manning situation, period. RussiaGate was only a "bonus" excuse to keep up their persecution of WikiLeaks, which they began somewhere around 2010.

The sealed indictment on Julian was created before the 2016 election. (Don't forget, Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy for about 7 years at this point.) And, this "investigation" (attached to that sealed indictment) is no doubt the excuse being used to subject Manning to further harassment.

The Mueller farce meant nothing to this farce.


Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 7:01:29 PM

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Thank you Chris. To those with integrity the truth is welcome. I would add that the Russiagate fraud was and is not only shameful for the press but also for those who uncritically accepted the lies as fact, including many who post regularly on this site. These establishment "liberals" are no better than the cultists who uncritically accept the lies told by the Republican Party and by Trump and his minions. As others have observed we now see the attempts by some of the establishment Democrats trying to undermine and challenge the report. That is to be expected. Those people do not seek the truth. They seek to obstruct the truth. At this point I am a man without a political party. If we are unable to destroy the duopoly I see no possibility of repairing our corrupt political/electoral system. I do hope that 1. the Mueller Report is released to the public (in the hope that it will shut up some of these establishment liars); and 2. that there is a full investigation of those who manufactured this fraud (in the hope that some measure of the rule of law might be realized). Please also allow me to express my disgust at the fact that the use by Hillary Clinton of her personal computer to store ultra secret documents did in fact jeopardize our national security and a very serious crime. It is shameful that she and her fellow elites were able to sweep such a serious matter under the rug. Standard operating procedure since the elites are not held to account. No rule of law. No democracy. That is the current state of affairs in the "exceptional" U.S.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:08:03 PM

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Please consider reading the comments on Truthdig.


The comments there lead me to this excellent article in Counterpunch.


An interesting comment on the outcome of the Mueller investigation and how the Russiagate story

was (probably?) started by the Clinton Campaign as a way of excusing her loss.


There are quite a few cuss words because the author is livid. But in the end, his version of events

makes a lot more sense to me than the crap Rachael Maddow has been selling.


What is a real shame is that Trump is a crook, but the choice of trying to link him to Russia

(as oppose to say Israel) has made it impossible now to follow up on those crimes.


The effort of MoveOn (as an example) to continue to demand even more investigation into Trump being a Russian Troll are ludicrous.

What, the guy you've been praising for months as a stand-up, completely honorable man (Mueller) has now become a traitor to the cause?


Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:09:29 PM

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When Trump reversed himself on ending regime change wars and brought serial war criminals into his orbit to overthrow the Madura government, the deep state abandoed its interest in ousting Trump. He is now a fully integrated imperialist carrying exceptionalist international terror in deference to his neocon masters. The timing of the report's release with the crusade agianst Venezuela is no accident.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 10:20:36 PM

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The USA Press has earned the Fickle Finger of Fate Award, the Purveyors of Fecal Matter Award, and of course the Warmonger and Murdering Scum Award for all years 1947 to the present. May all of them rot in Hell for Eternity.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 27, 2019 at 9:23:09 PM

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