Ignoring, if not outright disowning, designated national hero heartthrob Robert Mueller is especially hard to do, given that most of the corporate news "resistance" to Trump in the last two years has revolved around Trump's alleged collusion with Vladimir Putin and the largely ineffectual meddling by a handful of Russian trolls in the 2016 election. One "blockbuster" scoop after another has fallen apart, with the latest one - that Special Counsel Mueller has documents proving that Trump ordered his former fixer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate scheme -- having been directly debunked by Mueller himself.
The #Russiagate propaganda crusade, you might remember, picked up steam in the days immediately following Hillary Clinton's embarrassing loss to Donald Trump. Her operatives had to come up with another scapegoat, besides the FBI, to divert attention from their own terrible campaign skills and lack of a coherent message. This emergency planning and plotting and placement of the propaganda by the Clintonites is well-documented in the book Shattered.
But with public polling revealing that the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling and collusion is way down on the list of the electorate's concerns, Democratic Party consultants are suddenly warning candidates away from using #Russiagate as a campaign issue.
Forget about an increasingly unhinged Rachel Maddow warning her MSNBC fans that we're all going to freeze to death in the Polar Vortex if "the Russians," and maybe even China, take it into their heads to mess with the US power grid. (see hilarious Jimmy Dore video below)
After two years of relentlessly propagating their dangerous and nonstop McCarthyite hysteria, it now appears that Mueller has been a lousy boyfriend, if not a stalker, all along. "2020 Dems See Danger In the Mueller Probe," according to a Politico piece published today.
Although skillfully flirting with the manufactured "seething outrage" of the politicized Russiagate franchise might help propel one lucky candidate to the Democratic nomination altar, the contenders must be very careful to not be seen as "politicizing" it, or enjoying it too lustfully.
Instead, using one of the favorite neoliberal buzzwords that justifies everything from austerity for the poor to endless wars of aggression, they have to be "smart" about it:
"Smart campaigns will war game this very quietly," said Ben LaBolt, a former spokesman from the Obama White House and 2012 reelection campaign. "They'll have smart plans on the shelf. But it's not something they'll talk about. It's not something that they'll broadcast."
Translation: campaigns will have to carefully and anonymously leak Russiagate propaganda dirt-slime to churnalists like Maddow without the risk of getting personally scratched in the process. Because that would really smart.
Not only would it hurt, but the cure for Trumpism actually turns out to be even worse than the disease:
Democrats working for 2020 candidates describe Mueller's work as something akin to a virus that will keep forcing their campaigns to take precautions.I wonder if they'll come up with a vaccine in time to avoid getting infected by their own dirt-slime. I wonder how Mueller will react to being called a virus by the same fan club that's had such a huge crush on him for more than two years now. Maybe the Democratic operatives can invent a special condom to protect themselves from a Mueller STD or an unplanned Mueller pregnancy. Or, as one contender, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota bluntly puts it, they may even have to divorce themselves entirely from Mueller's probe.
It's the elephant in the room," said the party strategist working with a White House hopeful, fretting about the uncertainties tied to Mueller, from the rumors about possible new indictments to the advice from inside their own campaigns to just stay quiet about the topic.What the anonymous strategists don't say and what the Politico article doesn't reveal is that #Russiagate might as well be called #Nothinggate.
The so-called epidemic of "fake news" on social media which magically propelled Donald Trump to victory is itself fake news, according to Brendan Nyhan, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. A study conducted by his team of researchers reveals that blaming fake news for Trump's win has provided nothing more than a "psychological refuge" for the millions of Clinton voters disappointed with the outcome.
Relatively few people consumed this form of content directly during the 2016 campaign, and even fewer did so before the 2018 election. Fake news consumption is concentrated among a narrow subset of Americans with the most conservative news diets. And, most notably, no credible evidence exists that exposure to fake news changed the outcome of the 2016 election.His research, which relied upon the voluntary cooperation of people who allowed their Internet search histories to be examined, reveals that only 27 percent of Americans visited a fake news site in the final weeks before the 2016 election. These sites were designated "fake" because they made wild and misleading claims about either Trump or Clinton. The vast majority of people who visited these sites did so because they already had opinions which gelled with those espoused by the sites. Even then, Nyhan writes, these fake sites only made up eight percent of the subjects' total news diet.
The fake news panic echoes fears that prior forms of communication would brainwash the public. Just as exaggerated accounts of hysteria over Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast took advantage of doubts about radio, claims about the reach and influence of fake news express people’s broader concerns about social media and the internet.
And despite all the hysteria to the contrary, Nyhan and his team found that visits to fake news outlets declined dramatically in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.
The alleged scourge of fake news is merely the excuse being used by the public-private surveillance state to censor independent journalism and to suppress independent thought. It's easier for the Powers That Be and their postmodern McCarthyite media hacks to blame an outside bogeyman like Russia for "sowing dissent" among the increasingly precarious masses of people than it is for them to admit that their own wrongdoing is causing America to collapse. Their fear-mongering helps them avoid supporting policies like universal health care and a living wage or guaranteed income for every citizen.
Finally, there remains no evidence that fake news changed the result of the 2016 election. Any such claim must take into account not just the reach of fake news but also the proportion of those exposed to it whose behavior could be changed. As noted above, approximately six in 10 visits to fake news websites came from the 10 percent of Americans with the most conservative news diets — a group that was already especially likely to vote and to support Donald Trump. Accordingly, my colleagues and I find no association between pro-Trump fake news exposure and differential shifts in candidate support or voter turnout.But as Rachel Maddow might say, "what if" Nyhan and his team are really Russian stooges?
I have a feeling that despite the squeamish Democratic candidates' avowed trial separation from the Mueller probe, #Russiagate will die over her dead body, her top ratings, and her $7 million annual salary. She'll war-game it to death, if the ongoing climate catastrophe doesn't do the trick first.