Posted by Curt on 25 May, 2023 at 3:33 pm. 5 comments already!



Two days ago a friend forwarded a Bloomberg article and a note: “And so it begins anew.” The headline, “The Kremlin Offers a Trump-Putin Ticket for 2024,” suggested a third consecutive presidential election cycle draped in conspiracy theory. Do we call it a trequel? A threequel? Russiagate III: Lie Hard With a Vengeance.

The piece by Andreas Kluth, picked up by the Washington Post, begins:

The bizarre and unsavory strongman bromance between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump continues. If you’re a MAGA Republican and not having second thoughts by now, something’s wrong with you. 

Normally with these articles you can just fill in the blanks. You put “Trump and Putin are gay for each other” in the lede, throw a “sow division” in the body somewhere, then it’s plot-complications-unity-derp before dismounting to, “In sum, honest Republicans face a hard choice.” For examples of the genre, see hereherehereherehereherehere, etc. Just as they have Nathan’s hot dog eating contests, media will someday have timed “Write Russiagate copy” competitions, maybe not on Coney Island but Park Slope or the Vineyard.

Left, New Yorker on gay Trump-Putin; middle, the New York Times; right, from Steven Colbert’s “Cock Holster” routine

It’s usually not necessary to read the middles of these stories, but this one is interesting. Kluth is spun up at new sanctions announced by Russia’s Foreign Ministry. These were in response to 300 new sanctions just issued by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), dovetailing with 200 new “individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft.” The latter is sobering and includes a Minister in Tatarstan overseeing “child re-education camps.” One wouldn’t presume to joke about it, or any of the economic and human rights sanctions imposed during the war.

This new Russian government response, however, looks like a media prank, designed to suck in the likes of Kluth.

The “Announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs In Connection With Personal Sanctions of American Citizens” has 500 names on it, of which about 15 are people the average Netflix-addicted New York reporter would recognize: Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow, “Stephen Tyrone Colbert,” Joe Lieberman, James Mattis, Jimmy Kimmel, Letitia James, Eric Ciaramella(!), and Erin Burnett(?), among others. I thought they put Nina Jankowicz 499th to troll her, but the list is in alphabetical order (her name is transliterated to start with the last Cyrillic letter “Я”).

This bevy of characters from high-profile online controversies triggered a hot squirt of commentary ejaculate, including Kluth’s, all on the same theme: “Russia Goes After Donald Trump’s Enemies” (Newsweek), “Putin uses sanctions to target Trump’s perceived U.S. foes” (MSNBC), “Russia’s Latest Sanctions on U.S. Officials Turn to Trump Enemies” (New York Times), and many others.

That American media figures would rush to congratulate one another for being dubbed PRUMP TUTIN enemies (and not for, say, wondering if Russia might “flip the off switch” on our power in winter, or entering “Vladimir Putin’s cock holster” into the lexicon) was so predictable, it’s hard to imagine these names weren’t inserted to inspire this exact press response.

Equally predictable is the list inspiring a rich new round of Russiagate delusions. Remember, the Russiagate era inspired a new genre of reporting — sanctioned by the ostensibly most reputable news organizations — called “reading between the lines”:

CLASSIC: Vanity Fair deduces future news

Kluth’s piece, a thriller built on the characters not on the list, is in the tradition:

The Russian president is once again signaling to Trump and the Tucker Carlson wing of the Republican party that they should make common cause. Your enemies are my enemies, Putin is vibing. And of course he’d quite appreciate Trump returning that favor if he gets back into the White House, and even if he doesn’t.

But what message was Putin “signaling,” if not a coded message of solidarity? I read the list out of curiosity. About a third of the way through, I started laughing, involuntarily. Interspersed between the handful of nutty media personalities was a long list of less celebrated people and organizations. See if you pick up the theme:

Bruce Adams and Megan Anderson; Executive Vice Presidents, In-Q-Tel; George Hoyem, Executive Vice President for Investments, In-Q-Tel; Christopher Darby, CEO, In-Q-Tel; Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA head; David Marlowe, Assistant Director, CIA; Dustin Gard-Weiss, Deputy Director for National Intelligence, ODNI; Christine Е. Wormuth, Secretary of the Army; Stacey Angela Dixon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; James Crown, Chairman, General Dynamics; Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber Technology; Shane Eddy, President, Pratt and Whitney; Paul Abbate, Deputy Director, FBI; Jeffrey Shockey, VP for Global Government Relations, Raytheon; Morgan Muir, Deputy DNI for Mission Interrogation

Add a few dozen representatives of natsec think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment, the Center for Naval Analysis, and the Rand Corporation, plus a smattering of folks tied to information technology contractors or groups like the Aspen Institute, and for a moment I thought I was looking at a list we’d drawn up at Racket of people warranting a look in connection with the “Censorship-Industrial Complex.” It also seems a pretty good starter kit for the “Deep State,” although the commonality is likely more to be about military support for Ukraine (not that these are necessarily two different things).

I counted 29 current Republican elected officials on the list. Oklahoma congressman Josh Breechen just endorsed Trump. Trump just last year endorsed Alabama’s Katie Britt. There are similar stories with Anthony D’EspositoJen KiggansZachary Nunn, and others. There are more Trump allies on the list than Trump-bashing TV hosts, that’s for certain, making the parade of “Putin Targets Trump’s Enemies Doh!” stories humorous on their face.

What good will it do Americans if they read this list really, and try on their own to learn more about what companies like Raytheon, General Dynamics, General Atomics, In-Q-Tel, Lockheed-Martin and BAE Systems really do, or why they’d be on a list with a gazillion Atlantic Council Board members, Penny Pritzker, and Twitter Files Star/Pete Buttigieg aide Carlos Monje? Probably no good at all, from the point of view of these people. But of course we wouldn’t be wondering about the list at all if a cattle car of media dopes didn’t just rush into a mass fluffing session over its contents. Are we allowed to say that’s funny? Probably not, but a laugh is a laugh.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x