US media bias resources

There is a lot of discussion about media bias in the US, especially since Donald Trump became the centre of attention. It’s well known that CNN leaves very leftward, and Fox News strongly favours the right. There are a lot of others, some more extreme, and many somewhere in between.

Political bias or leaning is not in itself a bad thing, as long as news is well reported and backed by facts. No one media outlet can be all things to everyone across the spectrum.

Check the Political Bias of Any Media Site in This Massive Database media site political bias chart

Image Credit: Imgur

Media Bias/Fact Check claims to be The Most Comprehensive Media Bias Resource and categorises many media:

  • Left Bias
    These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward liberal causes through story selection and/or political affiliation.  They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage liberal causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.
  • Left-Center Bias
    These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward liberal causes through story selection and/or political affiliation.  They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage liberal causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.
  • Least Biased
    These sources have minimal bias and use very few loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes).  The reporting is factual and usually sourced.  These are the most credible media sources.
  • Right-Center Bias
    These media sources are slightly to moderately conservative in bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor conservative causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information, but may require further investigation.
  • Right Bias
    These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.
  • Pro-Science
    These sources consist of legitimate science or are evidence based through the use of credible scientific sourcing.  Legitimate science follows the scientific method, is unbiased and does not use emotional words.  These sources also respect the consensus of experts in the given scientific field and strive to publish peer reviewed science. Some sources in this category may have a slight political bias, but adhere to scientific principles.
  • Conspiracy-Pseudoscience
    Sources in the Conspiracy-Pseudoscience category may publish unverifiable information that is not always supported by evidence. These sources may be untrustworthy for credible/verifiable information, therefore fact checking and further investigation is recommended on a per article basis when obtaining information from these sources.
  • Questionable Sources
    A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, overt propaganda, poor or no sourcing to credible information and/or is fake news. Fake News is the deliberate attempt to publish hoaxes and/or disinformation for the purpose of profit or influence (Learn More). Sources listed in the Questionable Category may be very untrustworthy and should be fact checked on a per article basis. Please note sources on this list are not considered fake newsunless specifically written in the notes section for that source.
  • Satire
    These sources exclusively use humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Primarily these sources are clear that they are satire and do not attempt to deceive.

The database is US-centric but includes many international media, including a number of Australian, but I can’t see any New Zealand sources. UPDATE: Stuff is included under ‘Left-Center bias’.

“Provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition”

Is this how you keep your job in the White House?

Trump’s intuition will always appear to be right if his yes-men find ‘analytics’ to confirm what he says.

Father of Parkland victim versus the NRA

‘Trade wars are good, and easy to win’

On Thursday Donald Trump announced that the United States would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

After a negative reaction around the world and on the US stock market, Trump has tweeted that ‘trade wars are good, and easy to win’.

Reuters: Trump tweets: ‘Trade wars are good, and easy to win’

Trump said on Thursday that the United States would apply duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect U.S. producers, although White House officials later said some details still needed to be ironed out.

Fears of an escalating trade war triggered selloffs on Wall Street and in Asia and Europe, hitting the share prices of steelmakers and manufacturers supplying U.S. markets particularly hard.

Trump believes the tariffs will safeguard American jobs, but many economists say the impact of price increases for users of steel and aluminum, such as the auto and oil industries, will destroy more jobs than curbs on imports create.

Australia’s trade minister said the measures risked triggering retaliation from other economies and could cost jobs, on Friday, while China predicted harm to trade if other countries followed the example of the United States.

In Brussels, the European Commission called the step a blatant intervention that amounted to protectionism. However, while promising to act“firmly”, it made no mention of retaliation but instead spoke of counter-measures that conformed to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Brussels will join other countries in challenging the measures at the WTO and says it will also look into safeguard measures.

Reuters: Spooked by Trump tariffs, investors see few good options

The specter of a trade war started by U.S. President Donald Trump rattled Wall Street on Thursday and exacerbated worries about inflation and the future of a nine-year bull market.

The S&P 500 slumped 1.33 percent after Trump said the United States would impose duties on imported steel and aluminum, making good on promises to aggressively challenge China and other countries he blames for lost manufacturing jobs.

On Wall Street, Trump’s announcement exacerbated already-brewing concerns about inflation, which could push the U.S. Federal Reserve to hit the brakes in coming months on an expanding U.S. economy and spell the end to record-breaking stock price gains.

News of the tariffs drove the stocks of U.S. domestic steel and aluminum makers sharply higher, but the damage to stocks in other sectors was wide-ranging and illustrative of how broadly investors believe a trade conflict could damage the U.S. economy.

Halfway through Friday trading the Dow Jones was down further but had recovered slightly earlier in the day.

Investor’s Business Daily:  Sorry, Mr. President: Your Trade Protectionism Will Cost The U.S. Dearly

Protectionism is a political feel-good policy that does nothing for the economy. It’s a big cost with very few tangible benefits. That’s why President Trump has made a big mistake in imposing big tariffs on steel and aluminum.

We understand, of course, that President Trump feels beholden to his constituencies in the U.S. who have been hurt by foreign competition, particularly in basic industries like steel and aluminum. But the 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum that Trump seeks to impose will lead to higher prices for all, the loss of thousands of jobs and a political-crony windfall for a handful of big companies.

‘Political-crony windfall’ is becoming a familiar theme of Trump’s presidency.

WSJ: Trump’s Steel-Tariffs Plan Rattles GOP Lawmakers

Since he became president, Donald Trump’s threats to sanction global trading partners sent tremors through business-oriented congressional Republicans worried about how potential retaliation from abroad could reverberate through the businesses and farms in their districts.

On Thursday, the rattle turned into an earthquake.

WSJ: U.S. Allies Steel for Trump Tariff Tussle

President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on steel and aluminum put U.S. allies around the globe in a tough spot, driving down stock prices and generating warnings of a possible international trade war.


According to two officials, Trump’s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.

On Wednesday evening, the president became “unglued,” in the words of one official familiar with the president’s state of mind.

A trifecta of events had set him off in a way that two officials said they had not seen before: Hope Hicks’ testimony to lawmakers investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, conduct by his embattled attorney generaland the treatment of his son-in-law by his chief of staff.

Trump, the two officials said, was angry and gunning for a fight, and he chose a trade war, spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the White House director for trade.

In response to NBC News, another White House official said that the communications team “was well-prepared to support the president’s announcement” and that “many of the attendees had been in the White House before and had already been vetted for attendance at a presidential event.” A different official said of the decision, “everyone in the world has known where the president’s head was on this issue since the beginning of his administration.”

There were no prepared, approved remarks for the president to give at the planned meeting, there was no diplomatic strategy for how to alert foreign trade partners, there was no legislative strategy in place for informing Congress and no agreed upon communications plan beyond an email cobbled together by Ross’s team at the Commerce Department late Wednesday that had not been approved by the White House.

No one at the State Department, the Treasury Department or the Defense Department had been told that a new policy was about to be announced or given an opportunity to weigh in in advance.

The Thursday morning meeting did not originally appear on the president’s public schedule. Shortly after it began, reporters were told that Ross had convened a “listening” session at the White House with 15 executives from the steel and aluminum industry.

Then, an hour later, in an another unexpected move, reporters were invited to the Cabinet room. Without warning, Trump announced on the spot that he was imposing new strict tariffs on imports.

By Thursday afternoon, the U.S. stock market had fallen and Trump, surrounded by his senior advisers in the Oval Office, was said to be furious.


Trump versus US Attorney General

Donald Trump has again ignored the principle preserving judicial and prosecutorial independence with another attack on the US Attorney General. Jeff Sessions, who had been a strong support of Trump for the presidency, hit back in his defence.

Howard Kurtz at Fox News: Trump’s tweet on ‘disgraceful’ DOJ puts Jeff Sessions in a bind

That last word is just remarkable.

As an old Justice reporter, let me pose this question:

How credible would it be if Sessions, a big Senate supporter and surrogate of the Trump campaign, who’s recused himself from the Russia probe, was overseeing an investigation of how the Obama DOJ handled a surveillance request against a Trump adviser who had contacts with Russia?

That’s why you have an independent inspector general.

Is Trump trying to embarrass Sessions into quitting? He’s not a big fan of Rod Rosenstein, who would become acting AG, and the No. 3, Rachel Brand, recently quit. The battle for the Senate to confirm a new DOJ chief would be a drawn-out spectacle.

For the moment, the president has left his attorney general little choice but to defend his department.

Reuters: Trump flays Sessions for ‘disgraceful’ decision, sparking new clash

It is a disgraceful decision by Trump to spark a clash with the AG.

Long-simmering tensions between U.S. President Donald Trump and his attorney general erupted anew on Wednesday after Trump lambasted Jeff Sessions’ decision on a surveillance abuse investigation as “DISGRACEFUL.”

Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest supporters in his 2016 presidential campaign, responded to the public rebuke with an uncharacteristically terse statement in which he pledged “to discharge my duties with integrity and honor.”

The latest fracas began with Trump flaying Sessions for having Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz – not prosecutors – examine how the agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a warrant to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

“Why is A.G. Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate massive FISA abuse,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which regulates government monitoring of the communications of suspected foreign agents.

“Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey, etc.,” Trump continued. “Isn’t the IG an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”

Horowitz was sworn into his post in 2012, during the Obama administration, after serving on a sentencing policy commission to which he was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush.

Trump’s tweet appeared to reveal a lack of understanding of the function of Horowitz’s office, which serves as an independent watchdog that investigates misconduct in the Justice Department and can refer wrongdoing to prosecutors.

Many of Trump’s tweets reveal a lack of understanding of many things.

In his statement, Sessions called the referral to Horowitz “the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary.”

“As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution,” he said.

Sessions’ statement was his strongest defense against repeated attacks from Trump.

Republican politicians have backed Sessions.

“Not to incur the president’s wrath, but I wouldn’t do that. Jeff Sessions is loyal to the president,” Representative Peter King, a Republican member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told Fox News.

Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, defended Sessions’ decision to refer the matter to Horowitz.

Horowitz “has been fair, fact-centric and appropriately confidential with his work,” Gowdy said in a statement. “I have complete confidence in him.”

Fox News: Trump’s punching bag: How much longer will Sessions endure the thrashing?

President Trump’s latest outburst against Attorney General Jeff Sessions – escalating a year-long public flogging of the mild-mannered former senator – is raising the question: How much longer will Sessions endure?

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey backed Sessions’ decision to ask the IG to investigate FISA abuse, calling the move “precisely the right choice.”

“If anyone at DOJ should look into the circumstances of this FISA application, it is the IG, who reports to both the Attorney General and Congress,” he said in a statement.

Trump’s attack was the latest in a long line of public swipes at the AG, who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and is otherwise aligned with Trump’s base on issues like immigration and crime.

But their relationship soured within months of Trump taking office, largely over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia meddling investigation.

If the attorney general chooses to stay, it would seem unlikely Trump would look to fire him outright, especially given the chaos that followed the ouster of FBI boss James Comey.

Doing so could fire up the already-piqued interest of FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who the Post reports is already investigating a period last summer where Trump tried to push Sessions out, amid concerns Trump was looking to replace him with someone who would exercise control over the Russia probe.

Image result for trump train wreck

Trump proposes more guns to combat too many guns

President Donald trump has a proposal to combat shootings in schools – let teachers carry concealed handguns. In a country with far too many firearms and far too many killings, he has proposed more firearms.

He said this in front of people who went to the White House to implore him to do something to prevent more shootings.

In the shooting in Las Vegas last October where 58 people were killed and 851 injured, concealed handguns were no use.

Chicago Tribune: Trump’s solution for school shootings: arm teachers, post veterans with guns

Seated between teenage survivors of the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump said during an Oval Office listening session Wednesday that arming teachers and posting gun-toting veterans in schools could deter or stop school shooters.

His comments came during an emotional meeting that included Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and school-shooting survivors and families who had lost children to gun violence, including a father who buried his daughter just last week. They poured out grief and anger over the lack of efforts to stem school shootings.

Trump talked about strengthening background checks and increasing mental health resources. But his most pointed and specific remarks came when he spoke about adding security to schools by arming teachers and posting gun-equipped veterans.

Trump posited that if Aaron Feis, a popular football coach, has been armed, he could have stopped the gunman who killed Feis and 16 others last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy – that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect – but if he had a firearm he would not have had to run. He would have shot and that would be the end of it,” Trump said.

He then proposed to arm 20 percent of schoolteachers and to hire veterans as armed school guards.

“A teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer be a gun-free zone,” Trump said. He suggested that an armed teacher on campus could reach a school shooter faster than responding police officers. “You’d have a lot of people that would be armed, that’d be ready.”

His proposal to make 20 percent of public schoolteachers ready to fire back at a school shooter would mean training and arming about 640,000 people nationwide.

I’m not sure how much ongoing training the 640,000 armed teachers would require. There’s also likely to be a reluctance by many teachers and schools to become armed fortresses.

The idea got a warm reception among some parents, but was met with swift backlash from teachers’ groups nationwide.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. The group represents 3 million educators in K-12 schools and on college campuses. “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”

“This is bar none, the worst theory of action I’ve ever heard,” said Shanna Peeples, a former educator who worked in Texas when she won the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award. She shared her thoughts on Twitter. “Texas law allows schools to arm their teachers. That’s not a good thing. None of us are trained to respond to threats in the way law enforcement is.”

Strictly limiting the number of high capacity assault weapons that can be bought and owned would be a more sensible approach.

GOP senators versus Trump’s TPP and trade tirades

Yesterday in New Zealand the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was released. Next month it is likely to be signed by the eleven countries who renegotiated some parts of the agreement after Donald Trump pulled the United States out soon after becoming president.

Trump had strongly criticised the TPP during the presidential campaign. It’s hard to know whether he thought it was a ‘bad bad deal’ or it was an attempt to sound tough on trade in order to get more favourable deals.

If it was a bluff it failed, because the TPP is proceeding without the US.

Last month (26 January 2018) Trump appeared to soften his stance on the TPP in an interview with CNBC while at DAVOS: Read President Trump’s full remarks on trade deals to CNBC

  • In an interview with CNBC, he says he could rethink the Trans-Pacific Partnership if the U.S. can secure a better deal.

Trump’s remarks on the TPP:

Trump: I like bilateral, because if you have a problem, you terminate. When you’re in with many countries — like with TPP, so you have 12 if we were in — you don’t have that same, you know you don’t have that same option. But somebody asked me the other day, ‘Would I do TPP?’ Here’s my answer — I will give you a big story. I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had. We had a horrible deal. The deal was a horrible deal. NAFTA’s a horrible deal, we’re renegotiating it. I may terminate NAFTA, I may not — we’ll see what happens. But NAFTA was a — and I went around and I tell stadiums full of people, I’ll terminate or renegotiate.

(NAFTA is an agreement between the US and two TPP countries, Canada and Mexico. Trump insisted on it being renegotiated, but that appears to be bogged down. See below.)

Kernen: So you might re-enter, or? Are you opening up the door to re-opening TPP, or?

Trump: I’m only saying this. I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.

Kernen: That’s interesting. Would you handicap … ?

Trump: Are you surprised to hear me say that?

Kernen: I am a little bit, yeah, I’m a little taken aback.

Trump: Don’t be surprised, no, but we have to make a better deal. The deal was a bad deal, like the Iran deal is a bad deal, these are bad deals.

Yesterday the Washington Post reports: 25 GOP senators urge Trump to restart TPP trade talks, a deal he called a ‘disaster’

Twenty-five Republican senators, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), sent President Trump a letter Friday asking him to “re-engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” It’s the latest attempt by Republican lawmakers to get Trump to take a softer stance on trade, even though his administration is gearing up to erect more trade barriers. Trump withdrew from the TPP in his first week in office after calling the trade deal a “disaster” and a “rape of our country” during his presidential campaign.

“We encourage you to work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement,” the senators wrote. “Increased economic engagement with the 11 nations currently in TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers.”

There is a sharp divide between congressional Republicans and the Trump administration on how to handle trade. Trump blasted America’s trade deals during his campaign and vowed he would either renegotiate many deals or scrap them, but many senators believe harsh action on trade would backfire, causing the loss of U.S. jobs and businesses.

Ripping up the TPP was a key talking point of Trump’s campaign. He portrayed it as a deal that President Barack Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton concocted. It would lower tariffs — better known as taxes — on goods traded between the United States and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim (Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei).

Supporters of free trade, including many Republicans, worried that Trump had made a mistake. They feared the United States was giving up its leadership role and ceding even more power to China. China was excluded from the TPP in an attempt to counter the communist country’s growing influence on the global economy.

After the United States pulled out of TPP in January 2017, Canada took over the leadership role.

Actually Japan probably took over more of a leadership role, and Canada caused a few hiccups in Vietnam last November, but eventually agreed on the CPTPP.

Many of the GOP senators who signed the letter are from states with a lot of agriculture, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

“Farm states were a lot of the big losers from the United States not going ahead with TPP,” said Chad Brown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “TPP would have lowered agriculture tariffs in a couple of countries where they had been high.”

Perhaps the best example is that Japan was willing to lower its tariffs on U.S. beef, opening a potentially lucrative market for American farmers. But now that the TPP is moving forward without the United States, Australian and New Zealand farmers probably will be the biggest beneficiaries.

Yesterday the Canadian Globe and Mail reported in Where do NAFTA talks go from here?:

“We got a blunt and sobering message last week from Steve Verheul, Canada’s head NAFTA negotiator, telling us that negotiations with the Americans are bogged down and, apart from some agreement on peripheral things, there’s absolutely no movement on the really tough issues.

The fundamental problem, Mr. Verheul said, is that the United States isn’t approaching the negotiations with the objective of concluding a balanced deal. The Trump administration’s position is “America First” and “America Only,” reflecting the tone of the President’s bellicose inaugural address.

As a result, the United States has tabled one-sided, intransigent positions, non-starters for Canada from day one. U.S. negotiators have no room to compromise because of orders from the White House. It’s clear that there’s a long, slow and painful road ahead in trying to achieve a North American free-trade deal, with agreement pretty remote at this stage.”

The US also faces trade problems in Europe. Forbes – EU Tells Trump: No Paris Climate Deal, No Free Trade

When Donald Trump took office last year, the assumption was that the transatlantic trade and investment partnership was dead.

The controversial free trade deal between the EU and the U.S., known as TTIP, was already years in development and was a big focus in Europe, particularly with left-wing protesters who said the EU would necessarily have to lower its environmental, health and safety standards to American levels. When Trump was elected on an anti-free-trade platform in 2016, these activists found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being on the same side as the new U.S. president.

Work on TTIP has come to a halt, although the European Commission has been keen to stress that it is not officially dead and talks could continue if the U.S. administration were to indicate interest. No such signal from Washington has been forthcoming.

It is in this context that France’s foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the French Parliament last week that his country will insist that TTIP never be revived if Trump carries through on his promise to leave the Paris Agreement.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” Lemoyne said. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The U.S. knows what to expect.”

The US under Trump’s leadership is at risk of isolating itself on trade as the rest of the world continues to negotiate and make trade agreements.

The Russian dirty trick allegations

Details from the Mueller report on what was allegedly done from Russia to disrupt the US elections.

Bloomberg: Mueller Shows How Russians Sowed Discord With Dirty Tricks

The sweeping conspiracy detailed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller exposes the sophistication of Russian efforts to undermine U.S. democracy using social media — and how vulnerable the U.S. remains to foreign intervention ahead of 2018 midterm elections.

In an indictment on Friday, Mueller outlined how scores of workers at a St. Petersburg, Russia, troll farm set out in 2014 to sow discord in the U.S. political system, ultimately by supporting Donald Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

Assuming fake American personas on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, they wrote provocative posts on divisive political issues, bought ads, coordinated with unwitting Trump campaign workers and paid U.S. activists to plan rallies.

In detailing the most sweeping foreign electoral interference in U.S. history, the indictment against 13 Russians and three companies takes the conspiracy to the door of Russian President Vladimir Putin — with allegations that the operations were largely financed by a Russian often referred to as “Putin’s cook.”

Mueller, who was appointed last May to investigate Russian meddling in the election, didn’t reveal any collusion by the Trump campaign. Rather, the 37-page indictment focuses on the information war, one strand of a many-pronged investigation by the special counsel’s office.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters the indictment doesn’t allege that the conduct altered the election’s outcome.

Starting around April 2014, the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency — a company widely reported to be a front for Russian government — had more than 80 employees dedicated to “spread[ing] distrust toward U.S. candidates and the political system in general.”

Their primary funding came through Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering, two of the co-defendants. By September 2016, prosecutors say, the agency was submitting a budget of more than $1.25 million a month that Concord paid through bank accounts of more than a dozen affiliates. Concord is headed by Yevgeniy Viktorivich Prigozhin, a Russian restaurateur and caterer known for hosting Putin’s state dinners with foreign dignitaries, prosecutors wrote.

“Americans are very impressionable people, they see what they want to see,” Prigozhin told RIA Novosti. “I have great respect for them. I’m not at all upset that I ended up on this list. If they want to see the devil – let them see it.”

Studying the politics and reach of various groups active on social media, the agency created hundreds of social-media accounts of people meant to look like U.S. “public opinion” leaders. One fake account, @TEN_GOP, attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

Members of the organization worked day and night shifts, circulating a list of U.S. holidays so they could tailor their posts accordingly.

“Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except [Bernie] Sanders and Trump — we support them.)’ ” according to the indictment.

Some of the Russians traveled to the U.S. to gather intelligence for the surreptitious campaign, according to the indictment. They used stolen U.S. identities, including fake drivers’ licenses, and contacted news media outlets to promote their activities. They used clandestine methods to communicate and gather information, employing special cameras, “drop phones” and “evacuation scenarios” to ensure security.

The Russian organization had settled on Trump as their favored candidate by at least April 2016 and began producing and purchasing ads promoting the reality-TV star to voters and “expressly opposing Clinton,” according to the indictment.

The social-media operation was sophisticated, with managers tracking the posters’ audience responses, likes and other metrics. Defendants and other senior managers, checking behind the posters, made sure the posts looked like they came from real U.S. posters.

“It is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton” in future posts, the creator of a Facebook group called Secured Borders was told in mid-September 2016.

The indictment shows how the Russians’ fake accounts were intertwined with real political activism. One persona the Russians created: Matt Skiber who rallied online contacts via Facebook to help organize pro-Trump marches. A grass-roots activist in Texas wrote to Skiber account, recommending a focus on “purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida.”

“This is what we’re organizing in FL,” the Skiber account responded to the Texas activist on Aug. 19, 2016. The Skiber account included a link to a Facebook page listing Florida rallies and asked the Texas-based activist to pass it to Tea Party members in Florida. The activist said he’d share the information.

More than 100 real U.S. persons made their way onto a list of social media contacts the Russians kept, according to prosecutors. The defendants’ internal list included the contacts’ names, political views and the activities the defendants had asked them to perform.

The effort went well beyond social media. The Russian effort included organizing rallies for Trump and paying Americans to participate in them or perform tasks at them. One American was paid to build a cage on a flatbed truck; another was paid to portray Clinton in a prison uniform.

Rallies were promoted with Facebook ads. Paid ads included this one on Oct. 19, 2016: “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is.”

After the election, the group organized both pro- and anti-Trump rallies, including a “Trump is NOT my President” rally in New York the week after the election and one in Charlotte, North Carolina, the following week.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Mueller’s office said that none of the defendants was in custody.

Collusion with the Trump campaign is as yet unproven, is denied by Trump – see Trump on Twitter – but the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation into collusion is continuing, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. Grand jurors have already heard about others involved in the scheme, the indictment notes.

See also Trump: Russia succeeded ‘beyond their wildest dreams’ at sowing discord in America

This is pertinent to New Zealand because the same could be attempted here, either as an external or an internal operation. There is no suggestion that any international interference happened in our 2017 election, most attention was focussed on internal disruption due to dramatic the rise and fall of Metiria Turei and ther Greens, and the abdication of Andrew Little and the sudden elevation  of Jacinda Ardern.

I doubt that the Russians or Americans or Chinese care who of National or Labour run our government.


Trump on Twitter

Donald Trump has been busy on Twitter over the weekend.

From Gezza: The last 24 hours of twitter thoughts from Trump:

Thank you to KenStarr, former Independent Counsel, Whitewater, for your insight and powerful words on FISA abuse, Russian meddling etc. Really great interview with ‪@MariaBartiromo‬

Great Pollster John McLaughlin now has the GOP up in the Generic Congressional Ballot. Big gain over last 4 weeks. I guess people are loving the big Tax Cuts given them by the Republicans, the Cuts the Dems want to take away. We need more Republicans!

‪The Fake News of big ratings loser CNN. ‬
Ivan Trumpovic (Anti-Blitzer Cartoon)

If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!

‪Big night. Largest-ever Dallas County GOP Reagan Day Dinner. As I told the crowd, under President @realDonaldTrump: Promises Made, Promises Kept! America is back and we’re just getting started! ‬

I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!

Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!

Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!

‪General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!‬

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration. Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk!

“I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.”
Rob Goldman
Vice President of Facebook Ads

The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman!
Rob Goldman
‪The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump and the election.‬

‪Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know!‬

Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein stated at the News Conference: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

“Charges Deal Don A Big Win,” written by Michael Goodwin of the ‪@nypost‬, succinctly states that “the Russians had no impact on the election results.” There was no Collusion with the Trump Campaign. “She lost the old-fashioned way, by being a terrible candidate. Case closed.”

Melania and I met such incredible people last night in Broward County, Florida. Will never forget them, or the evening!

Our entire Nation, w/one heavy heart, continues to pray for the victims & their families in Parkland, FL. To teachers, law enforcement, first responders & medical professionals who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We THANK YOU for your courage!

One could wonder how he finds the time to run the country.

Russian collusion of hoax?

The indictments announced this week by the FBI special investigation into Russian interference into US elections have shown that probably some Russians did try to interfere in to 2016 election. This would hardly be a surprise, both the US and Russia have long records of interfering in the democracies of other countries.

So the ‘hoax’ claims, made by President trump and others, seems to have been a hoax themselves.

But what these indictments didn’t do was claim any collusion between trump;s campaign and Russians. Trump has claimed this exonerates him, but it doesn’t. This was just another step along the way in the investigation.

The Hill: Mueller indictments still miss the mark on Trump-Russia collusion

The Russian defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”

Despite a 37-page indictment with a long narrative on a coordinated Russian campaign of interference, the most newsworthy fact comes from the carefully placed adjective “unwitting.” It confirms that the special counsel has found no knowing coordination or collusion between these hackers and Trump officials.

The key words there are “between these hackers and Trump officials”. That does not rule out some collusion. And it doesn’t “miss the mark” necessarily. It depends on what mark the investigators were trying to make.

While the indictment is historic, it is hardly a surprise. Few people were questioning the Russian interference with and hacking of the election. Both Democratic and Republican leaders were in agreement on this fact, as were all of the administration’s top intelligence figures. The one hold-out seemed to be the president himself. He routinely referred to the “fake news” of the Russian investigation.

The New Yorker: Mueller’s Indictment Ends Trump’s Myth of the Russia “Hoax”

For well over a year, Donald Trump has dodged the subject of Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential charges of collusion and obstruction of justice. It’s all “phony,” a “hoax,” “fake news,” a “witch hunt.” Last year, during a multilateral summit in Vietnam, Trump met briefly with Vladimir Putin and then told reporters that he had asked the Russian President about election meddling. Not to worry, he told reporters: “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump cannot really accept what his own intelligence leaders tell him about the election; he even directed his C.I.A. director to meet with a former operative turned conspiracy theorist who thought that the hack of the Democratic National Committee was an “inside job.” Only rarely, and begrudgingly, has Trump acknowledged Russian hacking, and, when he does, he hastens to emphasize its triviality, its meaninglessness.

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has now charged thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian organizations with meddling in the election.

These are serious charges (denied by Russia) that should be of serious concern about the integrity of US democracy.

These indictments could, at least for the moment, allow Trump to believe that Mueller will not discover any knowing collusion in the President’s campaign. Nor do they demonstrate that Putin himself directed the operation.

And yet the indictments are unlikely to ease Trump’s sense of political embattlement even inside his own Administration. Earlier this week, a group of intelligence chiefs, including the director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats; the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray; and the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo—all Trump Administration appointees—told a Senate panel that they were in accord with the findings of January, 2017, when the intelligence community asserted that Russia had meddled in the 2016 elections and did so to the detriment of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

As Coats told the senators, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

Mueller’s indictment is in synch with the findings of the intelligence community—a collection of immense bureaucracies that Trump and his supporters have routinely denounced as a conspiratorial and establishmentarian “deep state” intent on undermining his Presidency. Trump has repeatedly expressed his fury with leaders of the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and the Justice Department, a toxic dynamic that seems, by now, more a constant state of affairs than a matter of fleeting temper.

This investigation isn’t over yet, not by a long way.

It is not at all likely that these indictments will put an end to Mueller’s investigation. Nor do they nail down a case for either collusion by members of Trump’s circle or obstruction of justice by the President. Rather, they seem another step in an extended process.

“I read it as a tactical move on his part saying, ‘This was not a witch hunt. This was real,’ and to create the conditions to move into the next phase,” Sullivan told me, referring to Mueller. “It sets up an inquiry into what, if any, Americans were involved. Maybe the Russians just had ‘useful’ tools, and any Americans were unwitting. But I believe that Mueller will keep pursuing this line of inquiry. He’s not done. They are going to dig into these entities and individuals, and see how many more they can identify, and explore their methods and finances and communications to see if this connects to anyone in the United States.”

Politico: Bob Mueller Is Not Playing Around

The intelligence community has spoken with one voice for more than a year about its unanimous findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 United States election. Nonetheless, President Donald Trump, fearful that acknowledging Russian interference would cast doubt on the legitimacy of his win, has vacillated between tepid acknowledgement and skepticism that anything of the kind ever happened. Polls have shown that most of his supporters, following his lead, don’t believe Russia interfered.

Friday’s indictment of three Russian organizations and 13 Russian individuals for their roles in interfering with the election should finally put any such skepticism to rest.

The scheme he has uncovered threatened the very fabric of our democracy—and intelligence officials warned this week that Russia will do it again. If Russia repeatedly gets away with this kind of interference in U.S. elections, it will erode public confidence in our electoral system.

By publicly spelling out the tactics used and acting swiftly and decisively to bring consequences, Mueller is making it easier for state and federal authorities to spot this conduct in the future and is providing a strong deterrent against Russian agents engaging in this kind of treachery.

But the special counsel cannot do it alone. Only with a serious commitment from the federal government, starting with a public declaration by the president and including a real allocation of resources by Congress to protect against future attacks and track down those implicated, can we truly hope to be effective in rooting out this problem.

But Trump seems unwilling to make any serious commitment to anything but discrediting and undermining the investigation.

This indictment also makes it still harder for the president to fire Mueller. The special counsel now has outstanding charges, either through pleas or indictments, against 17 people and three organizations ranging from lying to investigators to a complex scheme to undermine the integrity of a U.S. presidential election.

It can hardly be said that he has been ineffective, and it is difficult to imagine that a decision to fire him at this point could be seen as anything other than an effort to interfere with an investigation of the greatest national significance.

There may be another shoe to drop shortly. CNN reported on Thursdaythat Rick Gates, a former senior Trump campaign aide already indicted by Mueller, is close to completing talks to plead guilty, cooperate with the investigation and testify against others. That will get Mueller’s team one step closer to understanding exactly what happened within the Trump campaign.

Adding all of this together, one thing is clear about this week’s developments: They leave the president in substantially more peril. His longstanding efforts to cast doubt on the idea that Russia interfered in the election are in tatters. His campaign now appears to have at least unwittingly furthered the efforts of Russian saboteurs to wreak havoc in our election.

And this latest indictment, together with a likely Gates plea, very much leaves the door open to future findings of Trump campaign cooperation with Russian election interference. We all should hope that Mueller is successful in getting to the bottom of this debacle; his track record so far suggests he will.

Whatever the investigation finds it is imperative for the integrity of US democracy that it does get to the bottom of things. If Trump doesn’t like the outcome then too bad, it is far more important than his ego.