Last night I watched the Democratic convention by switching between PBS and MSNBC.
PBS, because I really like Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff as calm, rational anchors who have solid things to say, and say them with experience, warm humor and perspective.
PBS seems not to have bowed their heads low to the Roger Ailes fake “fair and balanced” thingee of “If we have a ‘liberal’ journalist on, we must have a conservative, as well.” So with PBS, this means I only have to stomach David Brooks as the “conservative,” although his views have become so unfocused and tangled up in whatever, I can’t figure out what he’s trying to tell me.
(Now Ailes has been kicked out of his power position, can I hope the news media will drop this “fair and balanced” garbage and simply deliver the news, with sidebar opinions about that news expressed by really smart people–no matter which political proclivity–who actually know their stuff? I am an optimist.)
Anyhow. (My friend Michele Orwin once pointed out to me that I use a lot of parentheses. Since she’s a really good editor, she didn’t quite say “You use too many parentheses,” but hey there it was and ever since I’ve tried to cut down.)
Despite my objections to MSNBC’s egregious overuse of “fair and balanced” and my particular objections to some of their louder talking faces, I watch it for one reason: Rachel Maddow. (Please see above, when I say…never mind, let me quote myself again: …”can I hope that the news media will drop this ‘fair and balanced’ garbage and simply deliver the news, with opinions expressed by really smart people–no matter which political proclivity–who actually know their stuff?” My bolding (of myself, is that OK?), and refer to Rachel Maddow.
Which goes to explain why I was switching back and forth between Gwen and Judy and Rachel. I happened to have been on MSNBC when Richard Engel interviewed the amoral and grandiose Julian Assange. (“Amoral” and “grandiose,” by the way, are not proved facts; they are my opinion. But it is a fact that Julian Assange has been hiding out for years in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, ducking extradition to Sweden to answer sexual abuse claims.)
Engel asked Assange where those leaked Democratic National Committee emails came from and Assange refused to reveal his sources (such pretension! As if he is a genuine journalist). Did they come from Russian hackers? Assange said there was no proof of that. He was wrong, as cyber security experts have unequivocally proven and have detailed what they found and how they found it.
The big, dark question that hung over this whole problem and the interview was: did Russia release the hacked emails to WikiLeaks with the intention of disrupting and influencing the presidential campaign, in favor of Trump?
Assange–whose puffed up ego must be shrinking drastically because he’s been out of the limelight for quite a while and indeed has been overshadowed by Snowden–then blew it. Several times:
- His sleazy denial of proof of Russian involvement. He must have known he was making a false statement (see above, re security experts). As any good lawyer knows, if you prove a witness has made one false statement, you’ve demolished the credibility of anything that witness says.
- Any of us who thoroughly read the articles about the DNC leak knows there was nothing in those emails to startle any rational person. Yet Assange, with an obviously inflated sense of himself and his sweepingly inane misconceptions about American politics, imperiously claimed the leaks went “to the heart of the DNC” and were “turning the convention upside down.” Right then he made his intentions clear: to disrupt the Democratic Convention. Why would Assange, not an American citizen but declaredly interfering in American politics, want to disrupt the Democratic convention? He wouldn’t. But, as the Times pointed out a few days ago, the Russians and Putin himself do. (See in particular the paragraphs about Putin’s hostility to Hillary Clinton.) So Assange is in effect confessing to being a Russian tool.
- The intrusion into the DNC emails occurred over a year ago. So what were the hackers doing with the mass of paperwork all this time? (There are internet rumors the Russians altered and even wrote some of the emails, but I don’t trust internet rumors.) The cyber experts say two groups of Russian hackers invaded the DNC, both of them from top level Russian intelligence apparatuses. That is, these were not your random hackers; they were part of Russian government officialdom. So can we assume the Russian government was hanging on to these emails until someone–Putin is the ultimate strong man in Russia–figured out how and when to use them effectively? I think so.
- But here’s where I think Assange really screwed up. Immediately after his interview with Assange, I heard Engel say, in summing up, that Assange claimed whoever had hacked the DNC had also hacked the RNC and suggested that he, a/k/a WikiLeaks had those documents, too.
Suddenly I’m sitting in front of the TV saying, “Wait, wait, wait–somebody has to follow up on this! If the RNC has been hacked, somebody needs to ask Assange why those RNC emails had not been released–say, during the Republican Convention?
Why would Assange be withholding that dump?
Unless Assange is tacitly declaring his own “fair and balanced” journalistic credentials and intends to release the RNC emails at a time that would damage Trump. Given the RNC’s long-time hostility to Trump, can we all imagine what those emails reveal about how the GOP was dealing with this guy?
But I don’t think Assange is, even tacitly, saying any such thing. Indeed, given that the guy lies, I wouldn’t be sure he had any other emails. And he may be walking evidence of an observation I’ve made about the two-sided coin that is paranoia (you know: grandiosity on one side, and pathological inferiority on the other): the grandiosity eats up any brain power they might have. That is, they are not very smart.
Thus, in his overweening need to be the most important guy in the room, Assange just stupidly leaked himself: Putin turned over only the DNC emails to undermine Hillary Clinton. And he’s using Assange to do it.