July 15, 2017


Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting a Democratic plot? Pro-Trump media wants you to think so (Oliver Darcy, 7/14/17, CNNMoney)

"All that right-wing media needs to do is just throw out some things that appear to be substantive that have some stray facts that the cult will hang on to, and the cult will do everything else themselves," John Ziegler, a conservative media columnist and former talk radio host, told CNN. "They don't need a full theory. No one ever provides a narrative that explains all this. It's just poking holes and pretending the whole story is fake news. It's a classic trick really. It's a shame that's what the right-wing media has been reduced to."

This week's theory was given its first sparks of life on Monday, when Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump's outside counsel, pointed to Veselnitskaya's loose ties to the firm that produced the infamous Russia dossier -- that firm had worked for a law firm which represented a company for which Veslnitskaya worked -- and suggested they were relevant to discussions of Trump Jr.'s meeting with her.

Soon after, Trump supporters discovered and began to circulate a photo on Twitter of Vesenlitskaya with Michael McFaul, who was US Ambassador to Russia under President Obama. The image was picked up by the Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, which characterized the picture as evidence of Veselnitskaya "hanging out with Obama officials just days after her meeting with Donald Trump Jr." Hours later, far-right Internet personality Mike Cernovich posted a video on Twitter in which he used the photo, in part, to ask whether Veselnitskaya was a "Democratic plant" who was sent to "wire tap Trump Tower." That video had been retweeted more than 15,000 times as of Friday afternoon.

But the story really grew legs when it landed on the Drudge Report, which often acts as the de-facto assignment editor for right-leaning media. The website linked to the Gateway Pundit's post, giving it the headline, "PICTURED WITH OBAMA AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA."

On Wednesday, conservative talk radio king Rush Limbaugh told his national audience that he believed Veselnitskaya was part of a "setup" targeting Trump. Fox News host Sean Hannity also questioned on his radio show why Veselnitskaya was seen pictured with McFaul, telling his audience there was a picture of the two "in existence," as if it was damning evidence.

But the truth, which those discussing the photo typically either played down or ignored altogether, was more innocent. The photo of McFaul and Veselnitskaya did not show the two "hanging out" with each other -- it's of a Congressional hearing, open to the public, at which McFaul testified. Veselnitskaya was sitting in the audience, in the row behind McFaul. McFaul told CNN this week that he had no control over who attended or where they were seated, that he had never met with Veselnitskaya and that he only learned her name this week.

"It's ridiculous," McFaul said. "It's silly. And I think it shows the desperation in a world where facts don't matter. That's the part that bothers me as an academic and American. Basic facts don't seem to matter in these debates."

The photo of the hearing was not the only image cited as supposed evidence as the theory grew in popularity. Trump supporters online also pointed to a photo Veselnitskaya posted to Facebook, of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican who's been critical of Trump, with a Russian opposition lawyer, claiming it was proof she'd been inside McCain's office.

That was not the case. In a press release warning of "fake news," McCain said the assertion was false and that Veselnitskaya "did not attend that meeting." She had only for whatever reason posted the image of him and the lawyer to her Facebook page, McCain said.

But the theory got its biggest boost Wednesday night, with a story published by The Hill. The Hill reported that Veselnitskaya got into the U.S. only because the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama and led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch let her in after she'd been previously denied a travel visa. The report, which was co-written by John Solomon -- a journalist fresh off stints in conservative-leaning media, who has recently written a number of articles favorable to the narratives of Trump supporters -- said in its second paragraph that "it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia-Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa." It was only in its 16th paragraph that the article explained why she had been let in: to help a company owned by a client defend itself in federal court.

The funniest part is since all this nonsense gets endlessly churned in their bubble they think it's real.
Posted by at July 15, 2017 11:41 AM