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Friday, September 08, 2017

Anatomy of a sleazy editorial

Readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who might have expected well-researched analysis in an editorial on Labor Day should be sadly disappointed.

"Mueller finds alarming signs, and sleazy people, in collusion probe" was one of the most error-prone editorials in the land. The editorial is an example of how newspapers have fallen in to disrepute worthy of a brothel.

Shall we begin deciphering it? I draw on 27 years of experience in writing editorials.

From the editorial:
Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and agents of the Russian government has been remarkably discreet, as it should be. But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller's team is probing very deeply. If there's a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it.
Remarkably discreet?

Then how does the newspaper know who is being probed if Mueller is being discreet?

Federal prosecutors do leak damaging information to friendly newspapers and cable outlets. Jim Comey testified under oath to Congress that he used a third party to leak a memo to the New York Times.

Mark Felt -- passed over by Nixon as FBI director -- was Deep Throat in Watergate.

It would take a stretch of the imagination to believe that another former FBI official would eschew such tactics in trying to shake information from reluctant witnesses.

How does the editorial board know "other sources" -- implied as not connected with Mueller -- leaked?

Unless the board names the sources, we must logically conclude that sources with inside information are insiders.

So much for discreet.

Unless, of course, the board means sneaky.
Cohen is Trump's longtime lawyer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Sater is a childhood friend of Cohen, a former business associate of Trump, and a onetime government informant with ties to all manner of unsavory people, including Russian oligarchs. Schneiderman, at the opposite end of the probity scale, is New York state's attorney general.
The editorial board just assumed as fact that an attorney general in New York with ambitions for the governorship is honest while anyone connected with Trump is a crook.
Cohen and Sater are making big blips on Mueller's radar screen, as well as those of congressional committees looking into possible election collusion. Last week, the New York Times reported that Cohen had written an eight-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee vehemently denying allegations that he was a central figure in contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.
Again, how does the board know what blips (and what size they are) are on Mueller's radar screen if Mueller is being so discreet?
The allegations were made in a controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. That dossier identified Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the man in charge of a Kremlin operation to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy and promote Trump's.
Ah, the dossier.

I thought this discredited piece of opposition research died when Fusion GPS claimed that Trump hired Russian hookers to urinate on a bed Obama had slept in.

What does the dossier say about Cohen?

Oh yes, the dossier said he was in Prague in August 2016 plotting with Russians to undermine the American electoral process.

Except, Cohen was in Los Angeles at the time and has never visited the Czech Republic or Slovenia.

But as that MTV of News, CNN, wrote: "However, the lack of a stamp on Cohen's passport, does not preclude the possibility that he entered the Czech Republic."

Even though he was at the time in Los Angeles with his son who was being recruited by the University Southern California for its baseball team.

Back to the sleazy editorial:
In January 2016, six months after Trump announced his candidacy, Cohen emailed Peskov asking for his help getting Russian government approvals for a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. Peskov never replied. Trump had been fully briefed on the Moscow project, but by January 2016 claimed to have no business dealings with Russia.
Gee, a lawyer for an international resort company contacted foreigners.
Sater does have connections in Russia but also has been linked to the Russian mafia, the U.S. mafia, money laundering and al-Qaida. He has served as an informant to the U.S. Justice Department. He also has connections with the Russian oligarchs who helped finance the Trump Soho hotel. Former associates say he met frequently with Donald Trump and traveled with his children.
Now that is interesting. A lot of guilt by association, but interesting.
Schneiderman is reported to be partnering with Mueller's investigation into contacts that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had with entities tied to Putin. If Trump were to pardon Manafort of federal crimes, Manafort might still face state charges — unless he cuts a deal.
How does this partnering with an ambitious Democratic politician work?

Certainly it would undercut any claim of an independent investigation.

But let us look at the assumptions the publisher, the editor, and the rest of the editorial board made:

  1. The board assumed Manafort conspired with Putin.
  2. The board assumed Manafort committed federal crimes.
  3. The board assumed that Trump will pardon him upon conviction.
  4. The board assumed that Manafort is a target of a state investigation.
  5. The board assumed that Manafort has the goods on someone higher up ("unless he cuts a deal.")

That is a quite a few assumptions crammed into 44 words.

Well, the writer is thrifty, I will grant you that.

The editorial concluded with the a leap of faith higher than Trump Tower:
The deeper Mueller digs, the more alarming the possibilities become. Even Americans who don't care for this president should be worried about the presidency.
However, the facts are that Comey testified under oath that President Trump was not the target of any investigation by the FBI.

Trump's lawyer confirmed that Mueller has said President Trump is not under investigation.

The editorial failed to enlighten readers about anything but the ignorance of the editorial board with its knee-jerk reaction to anything about President Trump, despite residents of its state overwhelmingly supporting him over Hillary -- 57% to 38%.

Missourians also rejected the newspaper's endorsement of Hillary.

I suggest they reject anything the newspaper writes about Trump, even Happy Birthday.


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  1. This quote is a hoot: "If there's a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it."

    If you do not know if a smoking gun exists how can you judge your distance from it? Wishing does not make it so.

    -Mikey NTH

    1. The one smoking gun no one wants to mention has to do with this guy Sater. He may have links to various mafias, but it is also true that as an Israeli he has links to the Jewish Mafia. Saying those words is forbidden in the US press. Look him up in Wikipedia.

    2. Watch out, Robert Holmgren. One of these days, "the Jewish Mafia" may leave a horse's head in your bed. We already know a horse's ass sleeps in it every night.

  2. Warning! Do not use this "newspaper" for toilet paper. The smell will be difficult to remove from your backside.

  3. Don't miss the late edition, where the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor takes the guy who delivered his lunch pizza to task.

    "What?! No SPLC consultation, and you're telling me it's a 'Nice Day'?!"

  4. I wonder how many readers have dispatched the Dispatch since they read this.

    1. I wonder how many didn't read this, having already dispatch the Dispatch?

  5. "The editorial is an example of how newspapers have fallen in to disrepute worthy of a brothel."

    Hey, that's not fair. At least brothels are providing a desired service.

    1. Exactly. Brothels are not part and parcel of the Marxist Left seeking to create faction and chaos in America for their "divide and rule" agenda.

    2. What are the morality police going to do when the brothels start using sex robots? What kind of crime would that be? It has already begun. - Elric

  6. There's something a bit odd about that photo of Mueller that I haven't quite figured out. Hmmm. - Elric

  7. Very thorough analysis. And good catch in this context re Cohen and the Steele dossier's phony, debunked claim that he met with Russian operatives in Prague... puts that piece of garbage in perspective, too. Just incredible that the editors would even go with a mention of that document this late in the game.

    1. Maybe he flew there on George HW Bush's SR-71 that 41 used to coordinate with the Iranians in '80.

    2. It's time to establish a standard of evidence for determining when journalists "should have known" something was debunked for the purposes of suing them using the "reckless disregard" requirement for libel charges.

  8. Just can't trust the press (or the other media) these days.

  9. Schneiderman has form. He attempted with 16 other Dem AG's to prosecute the current SecState for his views on global warming.

    That Mueller is bringing in Schneiderman says much about Mueller's investigation.

    1. Yeah, they are all scumbag Democrat lawyers protecting the corrupt Deep State.

  10. I am also sure this rag was on the left (wrong) side of nearby Ferguson's "Hands up, don't shoot" debacle.

  11. Don;

    Yesterday the AP stylebook was updated. In an article on Chicago schools, illegal aliens were referred to as "undocumented citizens". Future AP articles will be categorizing these lawbreakers as "undocumented citizens" (well, they do get free education, housing assistance, welfare benefits and other goodies as real citizens do).

    I told this to 2 of my neighbors this morning, and they spontaneously broke out in laughter. One of them mentioned that the media has been a joke for a long time.

    Like you, I sometimes get upset at what the MSM is doing. But the truth is that other then people wanting the government to give them something for nothing, the MSM (and entertainment industry - including organized sports) have become a punch line to most Americans. Very few take them seriously anymore.

    Please keep doing what you're doing on the Inernet. It is where more and more people are going to find out the real news. Like their relatives in the Democratic party, the MSM is dead, but refuses to acknowledge it.

  12. This is not an editorial. It is an account of the writer's wet dream of what he wishes were true.

  13. "Probity" in New York state politics?

    Snort. That's a good one. Tell me another.

  14. Used as a wrapper, that newspaper would spoil a crap sandwich.

  15. My first reaction ... the only sleazy one I saw mentioned was Schneiderman!

  16. Replies
    1. And Trump cutting a debt ceiling deal with Nancy Pelosi was excellent fisting! Republicans will be walking funny for some time to come.

  17. You may presume that Mueller first tried to place this in the NYT or WaPo but they have already burned their tongues once too often. So they've moved out to the farm leagues.

  18. Seems to be a lot of 'Russian oligarchs' references these days. Wondering if my understanding of the word was in error, I checked Google:'a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.
    "the ruling oligarchy of military men around the president"" was the first definition! I'm sure that's just coincidental, though. Couldn't be part of the 'broader narrative' the left likes so much, could it?

  19. Just a guess, but such unsubstantiated left wing bias is causing an accelerated loss of circulation. About 5 years ago newspapers stopped reporting Audit Bureau of Circulation print circulation. The numbers were that bad. They now report a mixture of print and online. That's like equating bowling balls to ping pong balls.

    Articles like this, demolishing phony journalism, does get to the newspaper folks. It infuriates them. For years they always had the last word. The internet has changed that.

    1. Circulation numbers aren't just compiled for the heck of it, Corky. They're compiled for advertisers to see, as well as when ownership of a newspaper chnages hands. It would be moronic to ignore online readership, and the money men would not tolerate it.

      Just a guess, but such unsubstantiated left wing bias is causing an accelerated loss of circulation.

      Good thing it was just a guess. Because the foremost conservative newspaper in America, the New York Post, has hemorrhaged away more than 40% of its readership over the past ten years... and that's counting digital readership.

  20. Linked at Instapundit at 10:54AM.

  21. The P-D editorial page editor, Tod Robberson (a Pulitzer winner!), is the sleaze that suspended conservative radio host and columnist Stacy Washington (who he recruited..) for a pro-gun column she wrote AFTER HE APPROVED IT AND SENT IT TO PRINT! Nothing they do surprises me.


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