Back in the USSR

People react to bad news in a number of ways. They freak about the message, or freak about the messenger. After it was revealed the Democratic National Committee screwed Bernie Sanders and his supporters, by favoring Hillary Clinton, media is angry at the possible messenger.

Yes, the more information profession is pissed off about more information. So, when in doubt, blame the Russians. It reminded me of this scene from “Dr. Strangelove.” Media jumped on that narrative faster than Slim Pickens on a nuke.

drstranglovebomb
Photo courtesy: Dr. Strangelove/Columbia Pictures

Never mind it took the FBI up to a year to determine they couldn’t figure out if the Russians, or others, hacked Hillary’s server of convenience and obstruction. Within days, we hear it’s likely the hackers were the Russians. From “experts.” As a former TV producer I can find an expert to tell you Guam is sinking. In Congress. But, that’s a story for another time.

And it’s not like the DNC wasn’t warned.

This morning, Donald Trump dared to go where Hillary hasn’t since December 4, 2015. The candidate for US president held an open press conference and took questions from reporters for about an hour.

Here’s what made the media crap themselves today.

While answering questions from reporters in Florida today, Trump looked directly into the cameras and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (ABC News)

Clinton’s camp was in high dudgeon. The media followed.

Clinton’s senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, released a statement in response to Trump’s comments.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Sullivan said. “That’s not hyperbole. Those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics to being a national security issue.” (ABC News)

Now, here’s the part of that exchange that isn’t getting a lot of play. It changes the context of Trump’s “Russia, if you’re listening…” remark.

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.” (ABC News)

Trump mocked the press and they bit.

Now, to be clear, if the Russians are trying to influence our politics it’s a bad thing. But that bad thing has been going on forever. We do the same. Look at Barack Obama trying to oust Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the administration’s earlier denials, look at what a Senate committee turned up.

And it’s not the first time a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.

Think “Lion of the U.S. Senate” and, bad driver of Oldsmobiles, Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy (lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and had to withdraw because of the Oldsmobile in 1972) was so desperate to keep Ronald Reagan from being re-elected in 1984, he secretly went to the Soviet Union for help. This was made public in the early 90’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Never mind that the current administration and current Democratic candidate for president underestimated Russia and mocked Republicans about the Cold War.

But back to the media.

Not all WikiLeaks are equal. Or so it would seem.

The Washington Post was thrilled to invite its readers to find what they could in the so-called “Cairo cables.” They went as far as crowd-sourcing the database to turn up more information faster.

Just like the Cairo WikiLeaks, the DNC WikiLeaks are about information. Sure, the Russians may be a secondary story and a big one at that, but the screwing over of a candidate and his followers is really the story right now.

Bernie Sanders knows darn well what happened. When asked if he trusted Hillary to carry out the “left leaning platform” for the Democrats, Sanders balked.

“Sorry, I’m not going to get into the trusted or not,” he responded.

“Hillary Clinton, you know, as I just said a moment ago, [you asked me to] characterize somebody in a way I’m not going to. Hillary Clinton is a very, very intelligent person . . . I’ve known her for 25 years.” (NY Post)

Just as Ted Cruz didn’t endorse Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t, when he could, say he trusted Hillary Clinton.

And, if you believe for a second that Debbie Wasserman Shultz wasn’t in the tank for Hillary Clinton, look at it this way instead.

Who knows more than DWS about collusion between the DNC and Hillary camp against Sanders? Best way to silence people: hire them. Debbie also needs party backing in a potentially tough re-election to the House.

So yeah, go ahead and be outraged by Russian mischief. I’m into nostalgia.

It takes me back to the good old days of duck and cover.

DuckandCover

And given the Trump press conference took place near Miami Beach, I couldn’t help but think of the Beatles send-up of the Cold War.

Here’s Paul McCartney performing in Kiev in 2008.

No matter how you feel about the DNC leaks and who leaked them, it’s hard to see why the content rather than the alleged leaker is the main story. I expect our enemies to mess with us. But neither Obama’s “flexibility,” or Clinton’s “reset button,” look like good foreign policy right now.

Funny thing. When I was a TV news manager I took many calls from disgruntled (love that word) viewers who had issues with stories. Only a tiny percentage of those stories had factual problems.

I always touched base with the producer or reporter involved with the questioned piece. More often than not one of us uttered this phrase of frustration, “they always want to kill the messenger.”

 

 

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