Matt Taibbi Exposes The Sheer Absurdity Of The Ongoing Russian Witch Hunt

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has written perhaps the best summary of how absurd political discourse in the U.S. has become - as nonconforming opinions are now "blacklisted" over the manufactured specter of "red dawn" Putin puppets behind just about controversial topic.

"One of the first rules of a shunning campaign is that it doesn't have to make sense," Taibbi writes. "It just has to be what everyone's saying. Since most Americans went to high school, we tend to be instinctively familiar with the concept."

The crazy inverse logic of the new national blacklist was on full display after special prosecutor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian "troll farm" operatives in February. In the wake of this foreign meddling charge, CNN reporter Drew Griffin banged on the door of an elderly female Trump supporter named Florine Goldfarb and accused her of being a Russia-collaborator. -Rolling Stone

Goldfarb attended a pro-Trump rally allegedly promoted over Facebook by "Russian trolls," despite no Russians having attended, nor any pro-Russia topics discussed. As Taibbi writes "They were plain, ordinary, Floridian Trump supporters – idiots, maybe, but not traitors."

While CNN's treatment of Goldfarb is a prime example of Russophobia in action, its nebulous underpinnings are perhaps the most frightening aspect of the propaganda campaign which has gone completely off the rails.

Since Trump's election, we've been told Putin was all or partly behind the lot of it: the Catalan independence movement, the Sanders campaign, Brexit, Jill Stein's Green Party run, Black Lives Matter, the resignations of intra-party Trump critics Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, Sean Hannity's broadcasts, and, of course, the election of Trump himself.

We've jumped straight past debating the efficacy of democracy to just reflexively identifying most anti-establishment sentiment as illegitimate, treasonous, and foreign in nature. -Rolling Stone

As Taibbi notes, feeding the ongoing Russiaphobia is a propaganda website run by The Alliance for Securing Democracy called Hamilton 68 - a website which claims to track 600 Twitter accounts  which they say have a "relationship to Russia-sponsored influence." It's impossible to verify their claims, as the group does not disclose their methodology - yet anti-Trump politicians and pundits alike repeat its claims uncritically. On their advisory council are NeverTrumpers Bill Kristol and David Kramer - the guy John McCain sent to London to meet with Christopher Steele and bring back the discredited Trump-Russia dossier. 

"An offshoot of the German Marshall Fund, the site represents an unpleasantly unsurprising union of neoconservative Iraq war cheerleaders like Bill Kristol and Beltway Democrats like would-be Clinton CIA chief Michael Morell," writes Taibbi.

Hook, Line, Sinker

With "Hamilton 68" at the media's disposal to justify the ever-rabid claims of Kremlin influence, the entire Russian excuse for Hillary Clinton's loss has metastasized into absurd theatre. "More and more often now, the site's pronouncements turn into front-page headlines," notes Taibbi - such as the #Releasethememo hashtag which went viral prior to the release of "FISA memo" authored by the House Intel Committee majority.

When the dashboard declared that Nunes' #Releasethememo campaign had become the "top-trending hashtag" among Russian twitter accounts, a gaggle of press outlets and politicians rushed to point out that Nunes was doing the work of the enemy. (Even Rolling Stone got into the act, accusing Nunes of working "in concert with Russian propagandists"). -Rolling Stone

Let that sink in. The FBI placed two anti-Trump / pro-Clinton agents in charge of both exonerating Hillary Clinton and investigating Donald Trump. In fact, the entire top-brass of the FBI was clearly of the same political opinions, as they all worked together to exonerate Clinton and launch a witch hunt against Trump. When House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes summarized the FBI's abuse of the FISA court by using an unverified dossier to obtain a spy warrant (which used intel from Kremlin officials), people began calling Nunes a Russian agent!

"Is it possible that we actually have a Russian agent running the House Intel Committee on the Republican side?" posited MSNBC anchor John Heilmann in reference to Nunes.

Of course, after news quietly broke that #Releasethememo had been sent viral by domestic Republicans, even one of the creators of Hamilton 68 began to downplay the story. 

It didn't matter, because Hamilton 68 had by then moved on to its next set of headlines. The group that has seen Russians behind both left and right political causes, behind the Roy Moore Alabama Senate campaign and the decision of California Democrats to deny their endorsement to Dianne Feinstein, was soon a main source for stories about Russians playing havoc with the Parkland shooting in Florida.

The Russians, Hamilton 68 now said, were sowing discord on both sides of the gun control debate by pushing contradictory hashtags like #guncontrolnow and #NRA. -Rolling Stone

Twisting the narrative

Between an announcement by Deputy Attorney General that the Russian influence campaign had zero impact on the election, and comments by New Yorker journalist Adrien Chen, who did a deep dig on said "troll farm" in 2015, significant damage has been done to the official story.

In order to save face since nobody is buying the unraveling narratives of Russian election influence and collusion with the Trump campaign, the media has subtly shifted their reporting from "Russian election influence" to that of sowing general discord among Americans - a conclusion reached by Facebook VP of advertising Rob Goldman in a series of tweets fired off after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's laughable indictment of 13 Russians.

Taibbi points out that the MSM is still using the Hamilton 68 "dashboard" to base their ongoing claims of Russian influence - sans the "collusion" and "election influence" memes they've been shoving down our throats for nearly two years. 

The New York Times put a piece about Russia's Parkland meddling on page A1, the choicest real estate in American journalism, and outlets like Wired, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and countless others trumpeted the same story. Even Fox News, usually a Russiagate doubter, got in the act, citing Hamilton 68 to say: "Russian bots aren't pro-Republican or Pro-Democrat. They're just anti-American." Fox wrote the story in a way that used the Hamilton 68 data to make it seem like the Russians didn't have an exclusive preference for Donald Trump.

And perhaps the most salient point in the article:

But the defense of Trump was really a distraction. The palmed card in this propaganda trick was the mere fact that right-wing media, too, were now accepting the core principle of projects like Hamilton 68: that a foreign enemy lurks everywhere in our midst, and the source of political discontent in this country comes not from within, but from without. -Rolling Stone

Idiocracy

So here we are - with American mainstream Russophobia having "progressed to the point where an anti-Russian documentary won the Oscar and host Jimmy Kimmel proudly declared, "At least we know Putin isn't rigging this competition!"

From Trump to Bernie Sanders to Brexit to Catalonia, voter repudiation of the status quo was the story of the day. The sense of panic among political elites was palpable. The possibility that voters might decide to break up the EU, or put a Trump, Corbyn, or Sanders into power, led to a spate of "Do we have too much democracy?" essays by prominent think tankers and national press figures.

Two years later, the narrative has completely shifted. By an extraordinary coincidence, virtually all the "anti-system" movements and candidates that so terrified the political establishment two years ago have since been identified as covert or overt Russian destabilization initiatives, puppeteered from afar by the diabolical anti-Western dictator, Vladimir von Putin-Evil. -Rolling Stone

Meanwhile, the Hamilton 68 project launched in August 2017, has been accusing Russians of inspiring division and discontent on a wide variety of topics, from police brutality and Black Lives Matter, to the invasion of Iraq, to the expansion of NATO - while "Think-tanks and pundits have increasingly followed suit, demanding that all good patriotic Americans renounce such "Putin-backed" protest movements," writes Taibbi. 

And the "Russia did it!" movement is gearing up for the 2020 election - preemptively painting Bernie Sanders as a Putin puppet meant to divide the Democrats. 

A major target of this idiocy has been Sanders, who is already being pitched to the public as the Kremlin's next Manchurian Candidate. "When Russia interferes with the 2020 election on behalf of Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders," the Washington Post unironically asked last November, "how will liberals respond?"

Unless you really believe that Bernie Sanders is a Russian agent, it's incredibly suspicious that a major consequence of the #Russiagate mania has been the disappearance of progressive voices from traditionally blue-state media.-Rolling Stone

Terrible propaganda

Taibbi notes that even if the Russian meddling claims are true, "the realness of a foreign threat in no way precludes Americans' ability to make a total cock-up of their response to it," pointing to George W. Bush's rediculous "Homeland Security Advisory System" of color-coded threat levels to let Americans know how afraid to be on any given day.

"For seven lunatic years we toggled back and forth between RED (severe threat) and GREEN (low threat) levels of paranoia, until in 2009 the program was quietly scrapped. By then we'd already blundered into Iraq, destabilized the entire Middle East, helped give birth to ISIS, and sacrificed countless American and Iraqi lives for no good reason at all, thanks in large part to cynical government efforts to hype up public fears of Islam," writes Taibbi. 

In a book written by former Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge, it was revealed that in 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft asked Ridge to raise the threat level right before the presidential election in an effort to guarantee a Bush win. 

"There was absolutely no support for that position within our department," Ridge wrote. "None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'"

And who exactly was in charge of the threat level? " Creeps like Ashcroft, wraithlike Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and CIA chief George Tenet. Oh, and then-FBI director Robert Mueller, who also oversaw a sweeping effort to interview thousands of Arabs in America in a program that at the time was compared to our profiling of Japanese-Americans in World War II."

The Hamilton 68 "dashboard," Taibbi writes, almost exactly mirrors Bush's Homeland Security advisory program. It has no real purpose but to provide the public with a constant dose of fear, and is run by the same Neocon war mongers whose policies have more than doubled the national debt, destabilized the Middle East, and led to the mass exodus of Islamic refugees which Europe is currently "enjoying." 

In closing, Taibbi notes that while "Sleazeballs like Paul Manafort and Trump are, like Putin himself, capable of anything," and that "We'll find out soon enough what exactly they all got up to together, if anything," - we should be able to admit that others - "like the millions of Americans on both sides of the aisle who voted against status quo politicians two years ago - aren't, and weren't ever, traitors. And any campaign to label them as such is potentially more dangerous than anything, even a Trump presidency.

Comments

TuesdayBen Dragon HAwk Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:03 Permalink

Exactly, DragonHawk!.  I'm sitting in a restaurant, CNN on.  Wolf Blitzer in a lather.  All talk for last hour Trump/sex (like they think they can run Trump out of office for supposed bad boy randy pre-POTUS behavior) (is he a serial rapist?  bang an intern in the WH?  Lie under oath as POTUS?).  No mention of any of the 10 Obama/Clinton/DNC/Dem REAL scandals presently being investigated!  WTF?!

THE   ***TEN (10) (Десять in Russian)***   PRESENTLY ONGOING CLINTON/OBAMA SCANDAL INVESTIGATIONS:

1) Spy-gate: Probe into FISA/FISC abuse by FBI/DOJ in 2016. Agency: Congress - Nunes, Goodlatte, Grassley. Location: Washington, DC. Status : ongoing (since May 2017)  NOTE: A Special Counsel may take it over - Gowdy and Goodlatte just called for a Special Counsel to investigate potential bias/conflicts of interest & FISA abuse at DOJ.  Special Counsel not yet in place.

2) Foundation-gate: Hillary Clinton 'pay to play' & Clinton Foundation, using foundation interests as vehicle to launder pay-to-play bribe proceeds. Agency: FBI. Location : Little Rock, Arkansas. Status: ongoing (started mid 2017).  Charles Ortel's been all over this for years.

3) Uranium-gate: Uranium One / Hillary Clinton/ Clinton Foundation /Obama. Agency : DOJ. Location : Washington, DC. Status: ongoing (since mid 2017).

4) Leak-gate: Felony Leaks (at least 27). Agency : DOJ. Location : Washington, DC. Status : ongoing (since mid 2017)

5) Server-gate: Illegal exoneration of Hillary Clinton/ Classified emails on private server/FOIA abuse etc. Agency : OIG. Location : Washington, DC. Status : ongoing (since Jan 2017).

6) Awan-gate: Awan/Pakistani/Obama infiltration into Congress via IT. Agency: OIG, then Congress, DOJ. Location: Washington, DC. Status: confidential (since early 2017)

7) Do$$ier-gate: FEC violations by Clinton Campaign relating to funding of Dossier. / Hillary Clinton / DNC. Agency : FEC. Location : Washington, DC. Status : ongoing (since Oct 2017)

8) DNC/Wasser-gate: DNC Hack/Leak / rigging of Bernie Sanders primary / Actions of DNC, Clinton Campaign. Agency: DOJ. Location: Washington, DC. Status : confidential/ likely ongoing (since mid 2017). #SethRich

9) Russia-gate: Investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 US election / Clinton/DNC Drumpf-Russia / Agency: OSC (Robert Mueller). Location : Washington, DC (international in scope). Status : ongoing (since May 2017).  Will Mueller turn on the Clintons?

10) Hezbollah-gate:  Semi-covert? Sessions announces new Hezbollah Investigation Team. Focuses on drug trafficking. Doesn’t state investigating Obama admin handling of it. So it may not count... yet.

And what about the $1,500,000,000.00 Obama shipped on pallets to the Iran regime?

Source: Fantastic tweeter VachelLindsay (formerly ImperatorRex3) - see link for more and supporting links for each scandal

https://twitter.com/_VachelLindsay_/status/971288500795527168

In reply to by Dragon HAwk

HopefulCynical D503 Wed, 03/07/2018 - 21:42 Permalink

CNN reporter Drew Griffin banged on the door of an elderly female Trump supporter named Florine Goldfarb and accused her of being a Russia-collaborator.

Are you fucking kidding me?! That actually happened?! (I refuse to watch that shit. Ever.) CNN needs to be taken the fuck off the air.

In reply to by D503

TeethVillage88s Pinto Currency Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:29 Permalink

Matt Taibbi was Totally Anti-Trump.  I am Sick of Him.  I am Sick of USA.  I am sick of DOJ & FBI & DHS.  FUCK Them.  I am Sick of G.W.B bull fucking shit narratives and assertions of the Narrative.  Fuck NPR.  Fuck MSM.  Fuck GWB & Matt Taibbi.  James Comey & Robert Mueller failed to prevent dot Com Crisis, Savings & Loan Crisis, Sub Prime Housing Crisis, all the attendant Financial Ratings & Independent Auditing Firms Ratings, TBTF... Global Financial Crisis in 2008... they are all Deep State... maybe Matt Taibbi has turned to the dark side for fucks sake... there is no base, there is no Holm, there is no old place,... the end is near.

- Matt Taibbi did great job with expose's after 2008 - 2018 Global Financial Crisis, EU Crisis, so cudos to him

In reply to by Pinto Currency

BobEore TeethVillage88s Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:38 Permalink

Luv it!

You almost there kid! All tru dat stuff you wrote down. And deeper down... below the disgust... depression... wore out feeling and general angst...

you will at last find the truth a waitin ya. In the form of the real really real dirty deal... by which.. all roads lead to mordor, and all 'your solutions belong to US'... as in those talmudic kabbalists who expertly work both side... against the middle.

 

Bill Kristol joined with ex-CIA officials, Marco Rubio's top aide & a few Dem hawks, and created a new group purporting to track Russian Twitter activity based on secret designations.

in the classic fashion. It has always been so. They owned Hilary and Drumpf both from the get go... and needed you to eat the poisoned candy of one more 'hopium-laced' psyop so as to complete the mission. What mission - the Goldmanization of America. 

Yes... Matt did fine work... way back when... yes he's simply another face in the crowd of complicit media shills at this point. I've repeatedly pointed out that ANYONE who writes under their own 'real' name about real politics will be either killed, 'turned' or otherwise 'neutralised' - and he ain't no different.Welcome to the real world - of dark talmudic terror lil buddy!

In reply to by TeethVillage88s

LaugherNYC Pinto Currency Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:38 Permalink

STRONGLY disagree. Taibbi is an excellent reporter, and a star of the Liberal left. He is capable of huge bias in his writing, but Rolling Stone is not a news magazine. The mere fact that he is resisting the party line, and that he understands the risks and issues in seeing Russia behind every rock, is a landmark in liberal media reporting. There is major value in someone like Taibbi calling out the stupidity of what his party is doing, and calling for sanity.

 

Russia is plenty bad. They poison traitors, and get their daughters and a cop in the crossfire. But they are not the bogeyman, and they have 10,000 nukes. If Soros' lapdog Schiff keeps it up, is he under the mistaken impression his father-in-law is going to give him a spot in the cryo-chamber in his bunker?

In reply to by Pinto Currency

Ozymango LaugherNYC Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:52 Permalink

Yeah, a liberal reporter standing up for actual truth and sanity, "resisting" the (Democratic) party line and -- wait a minute, maybe this should inspire Taibbi to go, "Y'know, come to think of it, if so many on the 'left' keep going along with this BS that I have to call them out on it ... why don't I wake up to the fact my fellow journalists are mostly a bunch of idiots?"

In reply to by LaugherNYC

loveyajimbo LaugherNYC Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:54 Permalink

I thought Hillary was the star of the liberal left? 

Taibbi calls Trump supporters idiots... but supported a known multiple major felon and historic corrupt liar and maggot?

IMHO, Matt is a hysterical dog turd.

BTW: WE are "pretty bad" too.  Our Deep State are solid war criminals and financial manipulators.  Dig up the million innocent dead Iraqis and ask them.

In reply to by LaugherNYC

mendigo Pinto Currency Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:14 Permalink

The aspect that I feel is glossed over or missed entirely in the articles which rail about the dems and msm and actors and "intelligence" "community" and clinton and pelosi snd waters and shiff and mcstain and rubio is: 
Is not about Trump and its definitely not about the russians its not about the transvestites or the blacks. The enemy which they must defeat is the common person who dares to think differently from what they are told and to think that we are capable of better and maybe desrve better and maybe we dont have to serve the elites and maybe they dont really know better. To defeat us they will dumb us down and distract us and scarr us and pit us one against the other.

In reply to by Pinto Currency

Give Me Some Truth Pinto Currency Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:27 Permalink

Re: Rolling Stone article is too late

I say better late than never. This is significant. A member of a "liberal" magazine is pushing back against the accepted meme.

See. It can be done. It's always the first person to break away from the club and conventional thinking who shows the most courage.Such articles make it easier for others to follow. Congrats and thanks to the author.

In reply to by Pinto Currency

lincolnsteffens Dragon HAwk Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:33 Permalink

I've been through this shit before. In the 60's and 70's it was the conservatives screaming "Love it or leave it." at civil rights and ant-war protesters. Now we have the super libs./ Socialists screaming "shut up you disgusting excuse for a human being."

It is the authoritarian collectivist New World Order enemy within that is destroying this country, not the Russians.

There are rumors of thousands of sealed indictments already prepared for people in high places that have been committing treason and sedition. I can only hope this is true. Let the arrest warrants begin. 

In reply to by Dragon HAwk

Give Me Some Truth lincolnsteffens Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:35 Permalink

The real threat is an ever-growing State, combined with a media that does not question or challenge  authority/the government.

It's not some ridiculous "troll farm." It's the people who want us to panic over this troll farm who are the real danger. Americans need to get this. At least this Rolling Stone writer seems to get it. ZH gets it. Good job highlighting this article, Tylers.

In reply to by lincolnsteffens

besnook Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:05 Permalink

this is like slut shaming in high school. when a guy couldn't get to feel a girl's tit he made sure the whole school knew she gave great blowjobs.

NoDebt Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:09 Permalink

I don't believe that I should be afraid of Russia.  And that's saying a lot because I'll believe damned near anything.

 

Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy and acted alone?  Yup.

WTC7 dropped on it's own footprint for no particular reason?  Sure, I'll buy that.

Nobody knows anything about the Vegas shooter and all the surveillance video just went missing?  Happens all the time.

Seth Rich was the victim of a botched robbery?  Absolutely.

 

But the Russians are hacking all of our elections and running the country by proxy through the WH?  Sorry.  That's a bridge too far me.  No matter how hard I try to believe that my brain just keeps throwing up on that idea.