The Fake News Blues

Donald Trump’s superpower is making great TV.  And by great TV I mean playing the mob.  And by the mob, I mean all of us.

That’s why this latest Biden impeachment talk is going to be so damaging.  But before I get into that we should talk about Fake News.  It was such a genius sleight of hand that I’m not sure if many people even realize what happened. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, we were inundated with disinformation. It was crazy stuff. Pedophiles in pizza parlors, Clinton death squads, deep state lizard people, you name it, it was weird. But during the same time, actual real news stories were happening that were pretty weird too, because basically Trump is a shady dude who hangs with lots of other shady dudes and they do gross stuff. So there were affairs, and meetings with Russian operatives, mob-like fixers, catch and kill tabloid stuff, and a historical trail of lawsuits raining down like confetti in a homecoming parade shot in black and white newsreel.

And then, in an instant, the world flipped on its head.  With the flick of a tweet it all became Fake News.  Not the actual fake news, what is more aptly called disinformation, no real news became Fake News. Whatever was needed to be discredited became Fake News.  And the world hasn’t been the same since.  It was a brilliant, mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting, stroke of intuition from a guy who just has a knack for slipping out of the frying pan and into the fire, out to the earthquake engulfed the street and into the rushing water filled with debris, falling over a cliff thousands of feet above ground and landing on an airplane plummeting to earth at supersonic speeds, you get the idea. It’s his gift, to play the mob, to make great TV.  But even for him that one was genius.  The play to end all plays and he’ll probably never top it. Or at least I hope not.

Part of its genius was how stealthy it was. I’m not sure people understand what it did and how it set us on a new course.  For one it pulled all of the charlatans out of the woodwork and gave them an updated playbook. An army of new hucksters ready to turn reality on its head.  The majority of the Republican party realized that twisting the truth wasn’t needed anymore, you could create it out of whole cloth. And you can lie with impunity as never before. And that’s our world now, which brings me to the Biden impeachment.

The Biden Impeachment scheme actually isn’t invented from absolutely nothing, but it takes deception and the ability to believe in nonsense to a whole new level.  If you don’t tune into the bozosphere (that’s my nickname for the right-wing media apparatus) you probably just heard about the impeachment talk this week, but it’s been going on for months and dates back to Trump’s phone call with Zelensky in 2019. In the bozosphere it goes something like this.  Biden and his crime family have been shaking down governments for years to the tune of 20, no 40, no 50, no maybe 100 million dollars (put your pinky to the corner of your mouth when you say that). It’s the biggest corruption case in the history of the United States. No really, it is, trust me, the facts are all there, believe me, if we can only get to them but Biden is so powerful, so corrupt, he has so many minions in our government that he’s blocking every effort. But we’ll get him eventually!

Ok got that?  Now in reality world, where the rest of us live, the Republicans, at the masterful and relentless direction of Trump, have managed to take Hunter Biden’s obvious rich kid influence peddling and turn it into the crime of the millennia. And there are two very telling aspects of this that I think best illustrate the insanity we’re living in. First is that a huge chunk of our populace is willing to believe this stuff even though it’s easily refutable. Second is that the Republicans, in lockstep, will repeat these easily refutable lies day and night. Knowing full well that all they are doing is trying to fool enough of the people enough of the time. 

Here’s my favorite example. One factoid that the Republicans have repeated over and over and over is that Biden threatened to withhold financial support from Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor that was investigating Burisma, a company that Hunter Biden sat on the board of. Here are the problems with this claim.  1) the prosecutor wasn’t investigating Burisma and was actually refusing to investigate a pre-Hunter Biden scheme that anti-corruption activists in Ukraine were concerned about.  2) Biden was there on official White House business, that was worked out by the Obama administration along with our allies, to try to bring Ukraine more into the Western fold.  Something that couldn’t happen without cleaning up some of the widespread corruption that existed there.

These two facts are easily known, part of public record, and yet the Republicans are relentlessly mischaracterizing this easily known reality. They say that Biden, all on his own, threatened the Ukraine government to fire the prosecutor to protect his son.  I have to admit, it’s great TV. But think how ill-informed you have to believe people are that you think they’ll fall for it.  And think how cynical the parade of clowns repeating this over and over have to be to keep saying it.  That’s what’s interesting.  Both the amount of disinformation a chunk of the American population is willing to digest and the amount of disinformation the Republican party is willing to dish out.

So let’s get this straight.  Joe Biden flies over to Ukraine and threatens to withhold aid unless they fire a prosecutor in order to protect his son. Really?  Could you imagine the conversation back at the White House?

Uhm, Mr. President, Mr. Obama, sir. We just got a call about Joe.

Oh yeah, what happened?

Uhm, you know that aid we promised the Ukrainians? He, uhm, well he threatened to withhold it unless they fired a prosecutor. Apparently, it’s a guy who was investigating a company his son works for.

Oh well, you know Joe.  He’s tight with the family thing.

Yes sir, well anyway they fired the guy and the money was transferred.

Great, it all worked out. Uh, where’s Joe now? 

We don’t know sir, we usually don’t.

Well, that’s all right.  I’m sure he’s fine. I’m going golfing, see ya later.


Seriously? How stupid would you have to be to think that Joe Biden, a Vice President, could just walk into Ukraine and unilaterally threaten to withhold official U.S. policy to get a favor taken care of?

I’m glad you asked.

Well, you’d have to be as stupid as Trump because not only did he come up with that, but he actually did the same thing himself. He actually, and it’s on tape you can listen to it, unilaterally threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless Zelensky announced that the Ukrainian government was investigating the Bidens.  They didn’t even have to really investigate it, just announce it, and then his Republican allies would take it from there. Seriously, that’s what happened.  That’s what the first impeachment was about and all of the facts were expertly laid out. Of course, Zelensky refused.

But you know who didn’t refuse? The Republican party.  It took a while, and Trump by all accounts has been persistent, but eventually, that’s what they’ve done.  They’re doing what Zelensky refused to do. They’re announcing over and over that they are investigating Biden for shaking down foreign governments and companies. They’re not even really investigating it because the FBI already did that and found nothing.  So they just keep making stuff up about shell companies, and bank accounts, and money transfers, that have no bearing on reality.  And it’s working.  It’ll probably get Trump back in the White House. In my view, the only way it can fail is if the storyline peaks too soon and they run out of material to keep the daily drip of misinformation going. 

By this time next year the American voters we’ll be presented with a choice between two candidates that are under multiple investigations.  The difference will be that one is based on real evidence and real events and the other will be practically invented out of whole cloth.  And besides the Trump base who will be there for Trump no matter what, there will be millions of other people who will not know how to make heads or tails of it.  They’ll either choose Trump outright or just tune out to the obvious shit show that our next Billion dollar American spectacle of an election is going to be. With an army of disinformation agents, who now have AI tools, spewing out an endless stream of disinformation that will make the 2016 election look like a children’s book. 

Keep your reality cap on folks, you’re going to need it.