The cycle of predictable bullshit.

via wiki commons

Here’s what happens: A report or revelation that would end literally any other administration in the history of the country is released. Then, as predictably as night follows day, a complete bullshit story is spun out to a friendly writer (we will not call them journalists, because what they do is not journalism). That bullshit story is published, and Trump’s enablers can deflect with whataboutism (a tactic so infuriatingly successful, they don’t even need another move once they make it). Within about one day, it gets so exhausting to both journalists and news consumers, everyone tunes out and moves on to the next thing.

Thus, a real and important story is swept away in a single news cycle, reduced in the minds of too many people to the same level as the bullshit story that was intended to obscure it.

Most recently (as in, 18 hours ago), we learned that Trump Junior held meetings in Trump tower with Russians who were directly linked to the Kremlin. Trump Junior was promised damaging intel on HRC, and presumably the lifting of sanctions was discussed.

Now the Times has reported direct communications between the Trump campaign’s inner circle and a Russian national connected to the Kremlin. A Russian lawyer with ties to state owned enterprises and to a senior government official met with Trump campaign officials shortly in June of 2016, shortly after the nomination was decided. Donald Trump, Jr., the campaign manager Paul Manafort and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner all attended the meeting. With Manafort’s presence in particular the connection to the campaign is clear.
The significance of this extraordinary meeting, now confirmed by Donald Trump, Jr. lies in the reason why the campaign agreed to it. According to a statement from Donald Jr., there was on the campaign’s part an “expectation” that the Russians would have negative information to offer about Hillary Clinton. The result, so Trump Jr. now claims, was disappointing: “It quickly became clear that she [the Russia lawyer] had no meaningful information.” He now dismisses her claim to have had this material as mere “pretext” for the meeting. The President’s son is admitting that the campaign arranged the meeting solely to get this information.

Trump Junior’s evolving justifications and attempts to deflect are so transparently bullshit, it makes me think that maybe I was wrong when I concluded that Eric was the stupid one.

What Fredo (and Manafort and Kushner) did violates several laws, and is damn close to being treasonous. Just like whatever has just happened today (I don’t even have to specify, because whenever you are reading this, there is something new every day), if we had a functioning government and a political majority who put the country ahead of their own ambitions, it would end the Trump administration before the sun set.

But, just as night follows day, it will amount to nothing of significance, because when this very serious report was released, within hours, another story that is complete bullshit was leaked to a friendly reporter. I’m sorry, I mean writer. Propagandist.

In this case, it’s this completely bullshit story that half of Comey’s memos were filled with classified information so whatabout that? There are many reasons this is bullshit, chief among them: James Comey, for all his faults, is not that stupid. He is not as stupid as the people who are going to be convinced this story is true, and use it to deflect and distract. But that’s part of the scam with these stories: just like phishing emails select for rubes by using bad spelling and grammar, bullshit pieces like this one are not intended to legitimately inform the public or actually sway opinion; they are intended to give the hardcore base — the stupidsphere — something to shout back at anyone who challenges their cult.

In this case, the bullshit Comey story was given to John Solomon, who Josh Marshall describes as The Easiest Mark.

Years ago John Solomon was either the lead or one of the lead politics reporters at AP. He had a well-earned reputation as the easiest mark in the business for GOP oppo research hits. It was actually a kind of running gag among Republican campaign operatives. No one will run with a story you’re trying to float? Bring it to John Solomon.
To be clear, all campaigns shop opposition research to reporters. Any good reporter is happy to get a solid, legit story almost no matter who the source. If the story is legit and can be verified, it’s fine. The key is whether it’s legit or whether there’s no there there. Or more specifically, what key is if the reporter will run the facts with your spin, even if the spin is bogus.
Solomon was the easiest mark.
At the time, it was never clear to me whether this was more a matter of laziness or ideology. Subsequent events helped clarify things. Later Solomon went to work as the editor-in-chief of The Washington Times. And now he’s running Circa. You may remember that Circa was a startup with an ingenious but ultimately flawed or perhaps premature concept that debuted to much fanfare but ultimately shuttered. The URL and social media feeds of Circa were purchased by Sinclair Broadcasting, a hyper-right-wing media conglomerate, which is now buying up properties to bring its style of post-Fox News propaganda television nationwide. Sinclair put Solomon in charge of Circa and relaunched it as a Buzzfeed for right wing propaganda focused on millennials.

I don’t even have to look at Twitter or Facebook to know that, whenever someone talks about this meeting between Trump Junior and the Russians, within minutes, a right wing nutjob will launch into whatbout the Comey memos? before moving into it’s a nothingburger and then to but Clinton! and then finally settling into you lost, get over it.

In this specific instance, it doesn’t appear to have caught fire and taken over the mainstream media narrative. I think we can chalk that up to Junior being so magnificently stupid, and lying so badly, it’s nearly impossible to just ignore what the bullshit was intended to obscure.

But they will keep doing this, because it usually works. It exhausts people’s time, energy, and patience, and just like negative campaign advertising, it eventually forces people to just tune it all out, not just the bullshit. They’ve built an army of bots to flood social media explicitly for this purpose.

So next time (which, let’s be honest, is probably within 24 hours of you reading this) the cycle of important story followed by bullshit noise begins anew, you can be ready for it, identify it for what it is, and call it out. Don’t waste your time arguing about the bullshit story. You can use this great parenting technique we call “the broken record” for when a kid is having a tantrum, or trying to negotiate long after you’re done:

You: Your bedtime is 9pm.

Kid: I WANT TO STAY UP AND WATCH MONSTER TRUCKS!

You: I heard you. Nevertheless, your bedtime is 9pm.

Kid: BUT ALL MY FRIENDS GET TO WATCH MONSTER TRUCKS!

You: I heard you. Nevertheless, your bedtime is 9pm.

Kid: YOU ARE NOT BEING FAIR!

You: I heard you. Nevertheless, your bedtime is 9pm.

Kid: JAMES COMEY LEAKED CLASSIFIED MEMOS!

You: I heard you. Nevertheless, your bedtime is 9pm.

Kid: THE DNC WAS NEVER HACKED THAT’S FAKE NEWS!

You: I heard you. Nevertheless, your bedtime is 9pm.

And so on.