It’s been floated by many people, Robert Woodward amongst them, that Trump’s most recent outrageous behavior is a diversion. An attempt to move the spotlight away from the Russia story onto topics he thinks he can more easily control.
I disagree, and here’s why. The incident yesterday where Spicer banned CNN and the Times from the media scrum IS the Russia story. You can’t have one without the other. If you were to do a simple DNA trace, it would go like this ~
1) The Trump administration is embroiled in a colossal scandal: Principle members of the administration, possibly Trump himself (which is what everyone’s trying to find out), had been colluding with Putin’s henchmen in the run up to the election. And our Intelligence services have confirmed that Russia was trying to help Trump win. This is a monumental news story! Suggesting the incident yesterday was all part of some “master plan” to hoodwink the media, implies that an administration too incompetent to function is somehow competent enough to fool the combined braintrust of the international media. Get real.
2) The print media, online news agencies, radio, broadcast and cable news channels (except for Fox of course) have all been digging in on what could be the scandal of the century. Lesser stories are falling through the cracks. Nobody cares about who’s sleeping around. Very few lost kitten reports these days. This is their job!
3) Trump doubles-down on his war with the media. He called them “the enemy of the people” at CPAC yesterday. He will only give interviews now to media sources he deems “friendly” (i.e., those that don’t ask questions about Russia). All others that dare to ask hard questions, he calls “fake.”
4) We learned on Thursday that White House rodent, Reince Priebus, tried to strong-arm the Deputy Director of the FBI into downplaying the Russia story. The Deputy Director told him to piss up a rope. Then last night we learned the administration has been recruiting sympathetic agents and members of Congress to do likewise. All this is being leaked by multiple sources! If this White House even has “plumbers,” they’re clearly on an extended vacation. Either that, or they’ve joined the #Resistance.
5) By virtue of the fact that we know he’s picking fights with the FBI, trying to pressure them, the media, elected members of Congress and anybody else who dares ask tough questions, all of which are seemingly leaked to the public with uncontrollable glee… this White House has done more to keep the story above the fold than they have to bury it.
6) And you have to ask yourself: Has Trump’s behavior really changed all that much since the Russia story exploded? If so, I’m not seeing it. More desperation in his Twitter feed maybe, but he’s still the same 24 karat asshole he was when he first announced his candidacy. If the past few news cycles were attempts to deflect damaging reports, then he’s the worst negative news deflector since Anthony Weiner.
What will be used as an attempt to bury it however, will be what’s on their agenda in the coming days. The Great Wall of Mexico, his much ballyhooed speech before a joint session of Congress, maybe his revised anti-Muslim immigration legislation, etc. The media has to cover those, as they’re bona fide news stories.
But IMHO, I don’t believe the presser story was a deliberate attempt to “look, squirrel!” the media into losing focus on the Russia/Trump connection. All that did was motivate even the dimmest bulbs to ask; “Why are they only blocking people trying to ask the Russia questions?” Duh.
The Russia story and the banning of the media are ONE AND THE SAME. The former begat the latter. The ignorati class will continue to deny it, but it’s clear as day to anyone with an IQ above room temperature. And thankfully, we’re beginning to see sparks of life in our once hopelessly lazy media. CNN, the Times, WaPo, the BBC… all banned yesterday, and all doing good work keeping the story alive. And a shout out to the ballsiest man in Murdoch’s empire, Shepard Smith, for his one man trend-bucking-trend.
But arguably, not even our Fourth Estate is doing as good a job keeping the Russia story alive as the administration is doing themselves—unintentionally. Their ineptitude might just be seen as a blessing one day.