Anybody who isn’t partisan to the point of madness can tell that MSNBC and CNN have lost the plot post-2016. Some of the pundits on those channels now make InfoWars look like a bastion of shrewd, professional journalism.
Take this response, from Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC to President Trump’s appointment of Ric Grenell as acting director general of national intelligence.
As the Twitterheads like to say: This. Is. Not. Normal.
Are the Lawrence O’Donnells of this world just bombarding us with insane conspiracy theories in the hope that, to adapt Lawrence’s words, our shock will be replaced by acceptance? Or have they started to believe that Putin really is ruling America now? The answer, disturbingly, is some toxic combination of the two.
Grenell’s appointment certainly has set a chain of furious reactions within the intelligence community. He has been sent in as a disruptive force and has started with a bang. He’s already begun his staffing overhaul — taking out top officials and imposing new ones. He’s also asked to see the intelligence behind the classified briefing last week which put about that Russia was interfering in the 2020 election to aid Trump. Just asking to see evidence of Russian foul play is evidence of Russian foul play, apparently.
In recent years, Cockburn has been appalled to notice that many parts of the intelligence community are not primarily concerned with the national interest. Many spooks now function more as a sort support service for under-skilled and underfunded investigative journalists as they try to dig up scoops against President Trump. Cockburn hasn’t always got everything right, but he has noticed that many American journos have lost interest in what’s true — they just want to be the first to do the bidding of their spymasters. It’s the fastest route to a contributor deal on MSNBC.
It’s no surprise that Grenell’s appointment has caused a rash of suspiciously briefed stories against him. From ProPublica, for instance, we have learned that Grenell ‘used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the US under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.’
The New York Times has taken several swings at Grenell already. The NYT editorial board says that ‘Mr Trump is once again turning for a critical appointment to someone who is short on relevant expertise but long on loyalty to him.’
Former national security adviser and UN ambassador Susan Rice has called Grenell a ‘hack and a shill’, and ‘one of the most nasty, dishonest people I’ve ever encountered’. Rice is well-known to be charm incarnate, of course.
But the apoplectic nature of the reaction to Grenell suggests he might not be such a bad appointment. Better a brazen Trumpist than a network of deep-state hacks who pretend to be above politics in order to perpetuate their politics.
Watch this space…