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Media Coverage of Donald Trump, Jr.

I have been appalled by most media coverage of the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., and Russian lawyer .. Veselnitskaya.  As an indictment of Ms. Veselnitskaya, the New York Times said on July 8

Ms. Veselnitskaya was formerly married to a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region, and her clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting. Her activities and associations had previously drawn the attention of the F.B.I., according to a former senior law enforcement official.

In other words, the NYT condemned this lawyer for having unsavory clients.  But that standard, virtually every lawyer in the US would be condemned as untrustworthy.  Ms. Veselnitskaya may be a bad person, but not through guilt by association with shady clients.  The NYT has sunk to the level of the National Enquirer in terms of denigrating people.  It shows trashy writing and trashy editing.  The NYT’s hatred of Trump is so strong that it has lost its professionalism.  

The NYT article also included this paragraph:

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Mr. Trump, and a special prosecutor and congressional committees are now investigating whether his campaign associates colluded with Russians. Mr. Trump has disputed that, but the investigation has cast a shadow over his administration for months.

This paragraph has nothing to do with the story about the Russian lawyer, but it sticks in something nasty about Trump.  It’s equivalent to writing, “Many people say Trump is ugly and stupid.”  Such a comment does not say that he is ugly and stupid, it just plants that idea in readers’ minds, much as the paragraph about ongoing investigations does.  Two years ago, the Times would never have stooped to writing such slanderous garbage.  

I’m not saying the Donald Trump is a great man or a great President.  He is not.  But if you are going to make the case that he is not, you should be honest about it.  You should stick to the facts.  Trump hatred has driven the “old gray lady” to become a slutty whore.  The Times has fallen off its pedestal.  

It is possible to report the Trump, Jr., story accurately, but I have watched or read four versions and found only one to be fair.  The fair version was tonight’s Vice news on HBO.  It stuck to the facts and indicated that while this meeting was probably not the smartest thing Donald Junior had ever done, it was probably not terrible.  It does not look like that TV interview has yet been posted on the Internet.  

Meanwhile, both CBS and PBS followed the NYT in linking Donald Junior’s meeting to Russian spying, if only by implication.  The CBS Evening News report by Jeff Pegues included a clip by an ex-FBI agent who said that in any meeting the Russians were “always trying to use you,”  the implication being that Trump was compromised, when in fact as a businessman he probably meets people everyday who are trying to use him, get him to do something he doesn’t want to do.  Why does the FBI think that the Russians are so much smarter than New York real estate developers?  CBS implies that Trump Junior is a hopeless dupe, that no businessman would ever take a meeting because a friend asked him to.  CBS no doubt believes Trump Junior is an idiot and a traitor, but they need better information than this to prove it.  This just more guilt by innuendo and association.  The PBS Newshour report followed much the same pattern.  

Oddly, although Democrats and the news media believe that no one can resist the wiles of the Russians, American officials at the embassy in Moscow meet with Russians everyday.  Have they all be compromised and turned into traitors?  If so, none would be more guilty than former Ambassador Michael McFaul.  However, McFaul was a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton and still appears frequently as a commentator on TV.  How is it that he escaped being brainwashed by Putin, while they believe Trump officials were brainwashed by spending a few minutes with Russians.  Of course, there are Trump associates who spent more than a few minutes with Russians and who are suspect of being under Russian influence, particularly Paul Manafort and maybe Gen. Michael Flynn.  Flynn certainly did some things wrong, but I find it hard to believe that an Army general who was the head of military intelligence would have become a pawn of Russian intelligence, while Michael McFaul escaped any contamination whatsoever.   

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