Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The remarkable rise of Michael Avenatti

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Trump seems to lack a moral compass from our perspective, but so what?

    He's literally the most powerful man in the world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10527 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It almost all comes from whoever has his ear at the time.

    His flirting with Macron was painful to watch and listen to today...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7630 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is a fascinating series on the 1970s on Prime TV at the moment. It's actually only about the US in the 1970s and a bit later. There is a lot about American politics. It has been interesting to watch the very slow fall of Nixon (he won a landslide election when the allegations were just starting), and then Ford had to suddenly take over and try and smooth everything. The US didn't appreciate they had possibly their best president ever in Jimmy Carter as the media and Republicans constantly attacked him, and then Reagan got elected saying he was going to 'make America great again'. So is it all just cyclic or is something quite different happening now?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3133 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Trump seems to lack a moral compass from our perspective, but so what?

    Jesus... Don't you find the chic, glib nihilism exhausting? Yeah, it does actually matter that people in high public office not only have a moral compass but some kind of functional relationship with reality, a grasp of what their job entails and some regard for the truth.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12366 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    A friend went down the rabbit hole over Syria – all based on material from social media.

    I had to delete a FB friend who took great offense at my pointing out the inherent nonsense of the reports of new Russian wunderwaffe she kept posting up from dodgy news sites.

    But we can only blame ourselves for this. Take Israel Folau’s notorious instagram comment. He was prompted by a question that he foolishly answered for his Instagram audience of 122K – 90% of whom wouldn’t have seen the post anyway. The click-bait MSM picked this up, amplified it, and turned it into another culture war battle de jour. The whole thing became angry culture warriors screaming their opinions past each other on social media, talkback and the telly.

    But Folau is fake news. His views on anything are of little note and carry no weight. They were propagated not because they had any inherent value as news but instead to generate unreasoned outrage and clickbait, and made 1,000 times worse by being repeated ad naseum to a huge audience for no other reason than the cynical drive for profit at any cost.

    In an environment where the so-called establishment, “respectable” corporate MSM itself creates, curates and assiduously grooms fake news it is pretty easy for Putin’s troll factories, fake news sites and outlets like RT to flood social media with sensationalist conspiracy theories, outlandish claims and downright nonsense. They know their stories will be picked up by a public already primed by the likes of the Daily Mail and the NZ Herald for knee jerk outrage and angry prejudice fulfilment.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2181 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    In an environment where the so-called establishment, “respectable” corporate MSM itself creates, curates and assiduously grooms fake news

    Putting the catamites amongst the pig-ignorant?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7630 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Dems’ memo on Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor Trump wants to head the Veterans’ Administration, is spectacular.

    The guy who went on TV to make those unlikely-sounding claims about the President's robust health would appear to have a lot of issues.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    BREAKING: As Avenatti predicted, Cohen is pleading the 5th in the Stormy Daniels case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    On this whole "separate realities" thing: the roots go back a long way, and lie in a concerted effort to manipulate policy. In Naomi Oreskes' Merchants of Doubt, she tracks the efforts of think tanks and tobacco companies to delegitimise facts as a basis for policy. Selling doubt enabled the tobacco companies to delay the inevitable, and has worked really well to defend fossil fuel interests in the face of action on climate change - but it has been assisted by huge investments in the creation of an alternate reality, networks of think tanks and lobbyists around the world prepared to argue that black is in fact only a shade of white, and anyway, it's too soon to arrive at a final decision on its black or whiteness.

    Of course, this deliberate effort has been weaponised by the arrival of social media and the consequent echo chambers that people can live inside - never troubled by reality, unless it bites them on the posterior. There's a reason why "belief" in the seriousness of climate change goes up after an extreme weather event: it's difficult to be a denier when you're drowning...

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Speaking of the NYT, their main reporter on the "Hilary emails hack" has now said she feels bad about working for the Russians. Not as an employee, she was just a sucker. But she says she definitely worked hard to advance the Russian agenda against US interests.

    https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/new-york-times-reporter-making-stunning-admission-she-became-unwitting-agent

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1086 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Gareth,

    has been weaponised by the arrival of social media

    Not least by the terrorist attacks now increasingly commonplace. It used to be mostly limited to organised groups either for or against state actors, these days the techniques and technology are so widespread any moron can use them. And there are a lot of morons... the Canadian "incel" guy, for example. "Involuntary celibacy" is as crazy a terrorist organisation as I've heard of.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1086 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I've been watching US cable news shows on YouTube over the past few nights and I can't be bothered with the more partisan shows on MSNBC in particular (Lawrence O'Donnell is a windbag and even Maddow strains my patience these days). But they're at least reasonably grounded in observable reality ...

    I've grown to like Ari Melber. He's a fascinating interviewer and got Sam Nunberg to blurt some truths he probably regrets (mind you, Nunberg is a hot mess on any given day). I like Maddow's relentless delve for facts, but not her endless repetition of the narrative, just in case we forgot it from 10 seconds ago. Agree on O'Donnell, and actively dislike the Hardball guy.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2868 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Good grief:

    In a filing Wednesday afternoon, attorneys for President Donald Trump told the federal judge overseeing the investigation of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump would, as necessary, personally review documents to ensure that privileged information is not revealed accidentally to the FBI or prosecutors.

    “…Our client will make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf,” wrote attorneys Joanna Hendon, Christopher Dysard and Reed Keefe in their filing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell Brown, about 2 hours ago Email WebTwitter
    The Dems’ memo on Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor Trump wants to head the Veterans’ Administration, is spectacular.

    Totally brutal. Why did Obama put him up for promotion if there was a negative IG report?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2868 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm amused by the idea of Trump personally reading documents. By most accounts, this never happens if the document has more than 100 words on it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10527 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to nzlemming,

    Totally brutal. Why did Obama put him up for promotion if there was a negative IG report?

    Yeah, this is the spin cycle the usual suspects on the right are pushing hard. But you know what, if any of this shit was happening under Obama's roof then shame on him -- even if the White House Medical Unit is a tiny, modestly budgeted and uncontroversial corner of White House operations.

    That doesn't explain how the Trump Administration failed to do basic vetting on any nominee to oversee a vast, complex and deeply troubled federal agency with 380,000 employees and a budget of $US 180 billion a year. It's not just Jackson either. You've got the likes of Ben Carson and Betsy De Vos who go the Hill and fumble softball questions about the operation of their own departments.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12366 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    who go the Hill and fumble softball questions about the operation of their own departments.

    That depends on why you think they were appointed. Cynics will suggest that to destroy a programme or department you don't need to know much about it.

    Ask yourself whether deciding to grossly underfund health required a deep understanding of the construction of Middlemarch Hospital, or would have been hindered by knowing. As the current board is saying, they sent all that information up the chain while the former Minister is busy claiming ignorance.

    My feeling is that with knowledge comes responsibility, possibly even legal liability. Much safer for the political class if they can avoid knowing the details.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1086 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    That doesn't explain how the Trump Administration failed to do basic vetting on any nominee to oversee a vast, complex and deeply troubled federal agency

    Totally agree. Let me be clear, I wasn't defending Jackson by saying Obama promoted him. I was genuinely asking why on earth Obama promoted him in the face of an adverse report.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2868 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Russell, what's your take on Dershowitz's role as a talking head. On the one hand, he's advising Trump privately, and then he's going around telling news shows what he's told Trump and saying "Cohen will flip on the President". There's a very testy ABC This Week panel from the weekend where I can't work out what he's up to. except maybe promoting his book.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2868 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Moz,

    a deep understanding of the construction of Middlemarch Hospital

    George Eliot's 'Eye-of-God' narrative voice could sometimes gloss over finer details...
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7630 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    Russell, what’s your take on Dershowitz’s role as a talking head. On the one hand, he’s advising Trump privately, and then he’s going around telling news shows what he’s told Trump and saying “Cohen will flip on the President”.

    Beyond "Dershowitz has been a weirdo for years", no idea.

    But Trump's former lawyer Jay Goldberg did much the same – it was like he put down the phone after Trump called him for advice and called reporters to say on the record that he'd warned Trump that Cohen would flip. I could only read it as sending a signal that there was no attorney-client privilege going on here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    There is a fascinating series on the 1970s on Prime TV at the moment. It’s actually only about the US in the 1970s and a bit later.

    I wish I'd watched a bit more of this – it seems very instructive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22403 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    George Eliot's 'Eye-of-God' narrative voice

    I was thinking a more ethereal female voice that that. Kate Bush, say:

    (and wow, the dude in that video looks uncannily like Gerry Brownlee)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1086 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I do not think the president will serve out his term

    Impeachment by a simple majority (possible, maybe likely if the Democrats have a House majority after the mid-terms) but then conviction by a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Highly unlikely.

    There is of course resignation or removal for incapacity. Or prosecution in a regular court like the little people. Which may or may not be possible (and such litigation would certainly take beyond 2020).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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