WASHINGTON — After Paul Manafort was convicted and Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to various charges not related to Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the mainstream media still keeps the issue alive with disingenuous assertions.
In a Reuters commentary, “The messy meaning of the Manafort and Cohen cases,” Peter Apps reviews the two convictions of Trump’s former campaign manager and lawyer/fixer, each a close advisor in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Despite any connection to Russia, two little words keep the idea alive.
The clear and the unjustly connected
At the heart of the article, Apps writes:
Neither case may provide Mueller with direct proof that there was deliberate collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign, but [there] were clear signs of just how vulnerable those around the president are to financial charges around fraud and tax evasion in particular.”
A proper statement of the facts would not contain the word “may.” Instead, Apps should have clearly stated in the affirmative the lack of connection: “Neither case provides Mueller with direct proof that there was deliberate collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.”
There is no connection in the convictions. None. Yet “may” leaves the possibility open that these convictions provide “direct proof.” There may be proof elsewhere, but these convictions do not provide any.
Then Apps uses the inappropriate connector “but” between the distinct points “collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign” and “how vulnerable those around the president are to financial charges.” Yet putting the two ideas in the same sentence uses the legitimacy of the second phrase to give the false appearance of legitimacy to the first.
New York Times connects convictions To unrelated Russian interference in the election
The New York Times is guilty of the same justification of the Russia charges as proven by lumping them together with the unrelated convictions. The article “What the Manafort Verdict Means” states,
With Tuesday’s convictions in the criminal trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has struck another blow in his investigation: five guilty pleas, 32 indicted individuals, 187 charges revealing startling evidence of Russia’s 2016 attack on our democracy, and now the conviction of one of the top operators in the Trump campaign orbit. Mr. Manafort’s conviction on eight separate counts means he could spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Convictions and charges are not the same. So while the number of convicted professionals around the President grows, none of the convictions are proof of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Yet The New York Times now asserts that the 187 charges, mere allegations without evidence that are essentially narratives by Mueller’s team, are on the same level of proof as convictions. By placing charges and convictions together in the same long sentence, this gives the appearance of equal weighting of proof.
The New York Times opinion piece above is not an exception either. In “All the President’s Crooks,” The New York Times Editorial Board itself writes,
Only a complete fantasist — that is, only President Trump and his cult — could continue to claim that this investigation of foreign subversion of an American election, which has already yielded dozens of other indictments and several guilty pleas, is a ‘hoax’ or ‘scam’ or ‘rigged witch hunt.’”
Yet again, we see “several guilty pleas” of matters not providing evidence of Russian interference justifying “foreign subversion of an American election” as unquestionable. In other words, The New York Times Editorial Board believes that once Trump’s associates are proven to be crooks, something unsurprising to people across the whole political spectrum, you have to be in a complete state or denial or blindly loyal to Trump, or both, to deny the Russian Interference claim.
This is absurd. Let’s assume I alleged the head of The New York Times Editorial Board was receiving payments from the U.S. Intelligence Community and started a 19-month investigation. If I found and obtained guilty pleas for tax evasion from other members of the Editorial Board, would that prove the initial allegation? Of course not.
Further, in a new low, the The New York Times Editorial Board turned to infantile insults. “Fantascist” is a demeaning, dismissive word one would expect to find in a social media battle. One does not expect such preemptive insults in the editorial section of a leading periodical, from the editors themselves no less. Further, if one disagrees with this assertion, then they must be either President Trump himself or a member of his cult. Perhaps those of us seeking verifiable truth after 19 months would beg to differ.
“Messy” implications in Reuters Analysis
The only other reference to Russia in the Reuters commentary comes in the introductory paragraph, presumably to set up the analysis above:
The mixed verdict in the trial of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, along with the guilty plea on campaign finance violations by the U.S. president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is a sign of just how messy – and perhaps inconclusive – Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will be.”
This introduction is misleading too. The word “messy,” also used in the title of the Reuters commentary, would imply some type of entanglement or connection to Russia in the convictions. Again, there is none. Continuing on, the words “perhaps inconclusive” implies there is some support to the allegation of Russian interference. While support may exist elsewhere, none is provided in the remainder of the commentary.
The mainstream media’s misleading use of language is keeping the idea of Russian interference alive. The Reuters commentary reinforces the Russia Gate narrative without providing any support from the recent events mentioned in the article. The New York Times provided the same narrative using guilt by conjunction as well. Reuters and the New York Times, leading outlets of the mainstream media, should know better.
Top Photo | House Oversight Committee member Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., speaks to the media during a break in a closed hearing on the Trump Russia probe in Washington, Aug. 28, 2018. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP
Ian Berman is an entrepreneur and former corporate banker at leading global banks in New York City. He now focuses on financial advisory services and writing about representative government, equitable public policies and ending American militarism and Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestine. He is the Co-Founder of Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression and its predecessor, Palestine 365, on Facebook.