17 May 2017

With Loyalists Like These…

Trump 26 Comments

Scott Sumner surveys a lot of anti-Trump stuff, and he says this recent piece by Erick Erickson “might be the single most negative report on Trump that I’ve ever read.” Similarly, Ross Douthat has been pushed to call for Trump’s removal (using the 25th Amendment) in part because:

It is not squishy New York Times conservatives who regard the president as a child, an intellectual void, a hopeless case, a threat to national security; it is people who are self-selected loyalists, who supported him in the campaign, who daily go to work for him. And all this, in the fourth month of his administration.

And in that excerpt from Douthat, the link on “self-selected loyalists” also goes to the Erick Erickson piece.

Wow! What bombshell does this piece contain?

Not a single thing, except that Erickson personally vouches for one of the anonymous sources who is saying Trump shared classified information with the Russians, and says that this guy started out as a fan of Trump. (In case you doubt my assessment, the actual title of Erickson’s post is: “I Know One of the Sources.”)

Here’s the relevant passage:

What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources. And the source is solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least has been and was during Campaign 2016. But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.

So notice that Erickson isn’t giving us a name. This is still a totally anonymous source.

Also, Erickson isn’t giving us a literal quotation. He is just establishing that he knows one of the leakers, and then Erickson goes on to talk about all this other dirt he heard about Trump. Strictly speaking, we don’t even know if the “Trump loyalist” is the one saying all of the things about Trump’s character that Scott Sumner thought was the most damning critique he has yet read.

In this context, then, I think it’s worth pointing out that:

==> Erickson famously disinvited Trump to a debate during the primaries, following the Megyn Kelly comment. Apparently Trump fans then went nuts on Erickson, trolling him online, sending death threats, etc.

==> Erickson is not exactly known for his sober deliberation before posting things online. A brief sample:

In a 2008 blog post, he dubbed Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy.” In a 2009 tweet, he called the retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter “a goat fucking child molester.” Later that year, Erickson argued that President Obama won the Nobel Prize because of an “affirmative action quota.” The 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas, Wendy Davis, was, in due time, “Abortion Barbie.”

I have no idea whether Trump did something really scandalous when he met with the Russians last week. The people who are telling me he did, have completely burned their credibility by either outright lying/deliberately misleading many times before, and/or by linking breathlessly to such people without a moment of introspection.

Here’s a quick test: If in January you were certain that Comey was a slippery serpent who abused his power to throw the election to Trump…but then when he starts talking about what illegal things Trump said to him only after Trump fired him, you are now certain that Comey is 100% telling the truth with no political motivation… Well you need to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your news reading.

26 Responses to “With Loyalists Like These…”

  1. Andrew_FL says:

    This post comes all the way to the line of calling Erickson a liar without having the guys to outright say it.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      This comment comes all the way to the line of calling me a coward without having the guts to say it.

      Actually Andrew_FL I’m saying Erickson’s post falls into the “deliberately misleading” category. Note how I pointed out that he didn’t quote from, or even claim to be paraphrasing, the particular Trump loyalist when Erickson listed all the ways Trump was awful.

      In particular, Erickson didn’t say, “This guy I know called me up and said he had been at the meeting, and leaked details to the WaPo. He told me that what the President did is actually far worse than the version we read in the WaPo story.”

      No, what Erickson did was say he knew one of the leakers, and then writes: “I am told that what the President did is actually far worse…” So far all we know, it wasn’t the Trump loyalist who said that, but a career bureaucrat who hated Trump’s guts all along. Erickson wouldn’t even be lying if that’s what happened and he wrote his post the way he did.

      And given his other online commentary, it wouldn’t shock me if Erickson did that and didn’t think he was doing anything wrong either, while knowing that his word choice would get more hits than if he were clearer in his writing about what he actually heard and from whom.

      • Andrew_FL says:

        If I had intended to call you a coward I assure you I would have. I’m not sure why you would have anything to fear about outright calling Erickson a liar so your reticence was never cowardice in my mind. I’m more interested in whether you had any real doubt that might explain why you would hedge.

        In my mind, what you are describing that you think Erickson did, without evidence, would be lying.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Notice the difference between these two statements:

          (A) I’m interested Bob in why you’re not just calling him a liar. It’s not that I think you are afraid of calling him that, so why the hedge?

          (B) This post comes all the way to the line of calling Erickson a liar without having the guts to outright say it.

          • Andrew_FL says:

            I’m gonna recommend getting over this one.

  2. Edwin says:

    Where was this extreme skepticism of anonymous sources when it came to chemtrails?

    >but then when he starts talking about what illegal things Trump said to him only after Trump fired him, you are now certain that Comey is 100% telling the truth with no political motivation… Well you need to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your news reading.

    If there’s proof with memos as its being reported, it wouldn’t be after the fact.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Edwin what in the world are you talking about chemtrails?

      • Desolation Jones says:

        This is Edwin. (blog name mix up)

        You were okay with promoting Kristen Meghan when she offered no proof and only had anonymous sources telling her chemtrails were real.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          I really feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone at this point, you guys.

          Anyone who cares, this is the post Edwin/DJ is talking about. You will see:

          (1) I am way way way less “promoting” Kristen than the people calling for Trump to be removed, are promoting their anonymous sources.
          (2) Kristen was in the Air Force. She is not some random person saying she talked to an anonymous source. She is reporting that she started poking around and was reassigned etc. to shut her up.
          (3) Kristen may have cited some anonymous sources; I don’t remember. But I was linking to a video by a self-described whistleblower who had been in the Air Force and was telling her story of what happened to her on the job. If you can’t see how that’s different from a constant stream of news reports from purely anonymous sources, I don’t know what to tell you.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          DJ I am not going to re-listen to the 20 minutes of Kristen’s speech that I posted, but look, here’s a MetaBunk (claim of) debunking of her stuff. Notice the guy doesn’t say, “She merely cites anonymous sources, we have nothing to work with.” He doesn’t say anything about anonymous sources, but instead talks about the 5 or so things in her case.

          You can say she’s crazy or lying or whatever, but she certainly didn’t get up there and say, “I talked to someone who works in the Air Force, someone who believed in the mission, and now that person says there’s skullduggery afoot. Thank you and good night.”

          • Desolation Jones says:

            Bob and Tell, her whistle blowing was not related at all to chemtrails. It had to do with some hazardous chemicals she and other people were being exposed to. Her involvement in chemtrails came after she left the military. She (or other people through her) used her credentials as a whistle blower to give her credibility for a completely unrelated matter of chemtrails.

            She explains it in the first page of that metabunk link you posted.

            “It was a long story involving the AF trying to cover up carcinogenic exposures. Seeing how I was the one who conducted the sampling and found this serious overexposure, I was then demonized and not allowed to share the results with employees, which is illegal. To summarize, I was threatened to be deemed “mentally unfit” and my daughter removed from me. There are news clips out there about it, I may have one on my FB video section… it was from almost 3 years ago.

            The samples I took were a few years ago, I have them some where in my house along with the air sampling that led to the whistleblowing issue. ”

            Bob, there’s even a quote of yours in that thread saying exactly what you just said she didn’t do.

            “…and is she lying when she says other colleagues have told her privately that they have seen evidence of this too, but don’t want to get fired?”

            This isn’t her being overly invested in a “theory,” meaning she looks at photos of chemtrails and smells a rat. No, this is (allegedly) guys coming up and saying, “Yeah I loaded a canister of stuff an a plane, don’t really know what it was.”

            I remember in a followup post you even defended the chemtrail theory by pointing out another story that had no solid evidence making the point that if you can believe one, it shouldn’t be crazy to believe the other.


            I’m the one who feels like he’s living the in the Twighlight Zone. Suddenly Mr Conspiracy himself has become the #1 Trump conspiracy debunker. I’m not saying you ever claimed you 100% believed in the chemtrails theory. But you certainly arduously defended the belief that’s it’s reasonable to be believe in it. But suddenly everyone else is going nuts for for believing a Trump-Russia conspiracy with waaay more believable circumstantial evidence than anything Meghan provided.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              DJ wrote:

              Suddenly Mr Conspiracy himself has become the #1 Trump conspiracy debunker. I’m not saying you ever claimed you 100% believed in the chemtrails theory.

              DJ, do you think I’m claiming that it’s unreasonable to believe that Donald Trump is immature, or that he fired Comey to stop the Russian investigation?

              I’m pointing out that if Sumner were right and that Erick Erickson piece really were the most damning one yet (or whatever his words were), then it *might* be unreasonable to believe it.

              Last one: I typically take the side of the underdog. It is now the conventional wisdom that Trump is clearly guilty blah blah blah. So I’m pointing out that no, one could reasonably think this is a deep state attempt to take him out with anonymous sources.

              Likewise, conventional wisdom says someone like Kristen is clearly crazy/lying blah blah blah. So I’m pointing out that no, one could reasonably think she is on to something.

              I’m not actually being anti-conspiracy theory when I’m saying maybe all these major newspapers and bloggers are trumping up (ha ha) charges that are actually untrue. One could easily reject my perspective as a conspiracy theory about the media.

        • Tel says:

          Kristen Meghan claims to have had first hand observation of chemicals that were on base, which had not gone through proper approval and tracking process (she was personally in charge of approvals). Since it was her job to monitor any hazardous chemical, she started looking into the matter further. She also claims to have taken various samples of soil etc and done the chemical analysis, and further that she was threatened in a number of ways when she started getting too vocal about her discoveries.

          There’s nothing even remotely anonymous about any of this. Her claims are 100% first hand.

          Maybe she is lying, or perhaps confused, but we have no reason to doubt her ability to understand chemistry, she is fully qualified, and was holding a key monitoring role at the time of her discovery.

          She trashed her own career and stuck her neck out to report this to the public in a very NON-ANONYMOUS manner, including sitting for a video interview. How could this be less anonymous?

          • Desolation Jones says:

            Here’s another more direct quote in addition to what I posted above.

            “My whistleblowing is not related to chemtrails, it is related to industrial ground activities that overexposed the workers and they didn’t want it reported, and since I took the samples, they wanted to demonize me in case I spoke out.

            It is going through what I did as a whistleblower than led to my activism. Chemtrails and the TSA are my biggest topics I am linked to.”

            • Tel says:

              I don’t frankly care what she thinks about chemtrails, she’s entitled to an opinion based on what she saw and based on her own training and judgement.

              Where are these “anonymous sources” you keep talking about?

              • Desolation Jones says:

                It’s in the video Murphy posted in his original post. Claims pilots, canister loaders, and disinformation agents have come up to her, but are afraid to speak up.

  3. Harold says:

    “I have no idea whether Trump did something really scandalous* when he met with the Russians last week.”

    Whilst it is true that you and I do not know for certain, I think we have some idea.

    Consider the facts.
    1) People are reporting that he did. These are anonymous at present, but we cannot just dismiss this evidence as worthless, even if their anonymous testimony carries less weight than identified testimony.
    2) It is not being denied.
    3) Trump tweeted words that can reasonably be interpreted as admitting he did, but can also be interpreted other ways.

    For me number 2 is the clincher, but if you add up all these facts, I think Trump is guilty on preponderance of evidence, but maybe not on reasonable doubt grounds.

    I could go along with “I am not totally convinced”, but no idea smacks of waaayy too much charity to be reasonable.

    *I assume that you are discussing whether Trump told the Russians “codeword” classified information without permission from the source country, rather than whether it would be scandalous if he did.

    • Capt. J Parker says:

      I think you may have missed the point. Everyone admits Trump shared classified info with the Russians. The only thing in dispute is just how scandalous that action was. I, like Dr. Murphy, don’t know if it was scandalous or not. I tend to think it is not at all scandalous because when Obama did similar things there was no outcry from the people now crying “scandal” with respect to Trump’s actions.

      • Tel says:

        Everyone admits Trump shared classified info with the Russians.

        I’m yet to even see someone able to explain specifically WHAT the so called classified information was that Trump supposedly shared.

        When I followed your link, it goes to WaPo who explain the most classified and secret thing that Trump talked about in his meeting May 10, was the threat exploding laptops on aircraft. Then WaPo helpfully provide a link to their own article, March 21, which explains that same threat of exploding laptops (all based on mysterious officials not authorized to talk in public about this, but strangely who love to talk to newspapers). So Trump’s classified and top secret information was already published in their own newspaper two months earlier… but no Russian would actually read WaPo… so I think we dodged a bullet there.

        Oh wait, it was also published in the NYT which at least a few Russians do read. Oh dear!

        Anyway, the ban on laptops in aircraft on certain flights had already been implemented before it was even reported in any news paper. So now we are expected to believe that Russians can’t even check the latest travel regulations… and somehow this remains top secret until Trump points out the obvious to them.

        • Capt. J Parker says:

          Exactly right Tel,
          The reporting reminds me of a line from an 80s comedy pop song that went:
          “He was so stupid, d’you know what he said?
          Well, I forget what he said because it was so stupid.”


          • Harold says:

            Not everyone agrees about what Trump gave away. Tel, for example, thinks it was no more than what had been in the papers. This is obviously wrong. You apparently agree with him.

            So your characterisation that everyone agrees he gave away classified information is not the point at all. It is the nature of that information that is important.

            Does everyone agree that Trump shared information that was so classified that it was not even shared with allies? That the information was shared with the US on the understanding that it would not be further shared without clearance from the originator country? That he gave away information that could lead to the identification of agents? That by doing so makes it less likely that other countries will share such information in the future?

            This is what is accused and what is not denied.

            I am not aware of Obama doing anything similar.

            If the information Trump gave away was everything I describe here, I think that would be scandalous.

            And my point is we have reasonably good idea that the fnormation was exactly as I descrbe for the reasons I gave.

            Tel, The information Trump shared we have not been told because it is classified. We have been told that it concerns the laptop bomb plot, but we do not have the details that Trump apparently gave away.

    • Bitter Clinger says:

      Full disclosure, I voted for Trump. I did not believe he had any chance of winning. If anyone I knew thought he was going to win and was willing to bet; I would now be living out of a grocery cart and sleeping in a cardboard box. I voted for him to make sure he wasn’t “skunked” by Ms. Clinton.

      That being said, I want to know what the Russians specifically did to “hack” the election. We know they did. There are going to be other elections and techniques are important. Clinton spent 1.2 billion dollars to Trumps 400 million, a three to one advantage and everyone knows that “money buys elections” so Harold what did the Russians do to overcome this monetary advantage? Everyone knows Republicans cannot stand sexual scandal, Rubio was knocked out of the primary for spending too much time in the “cloak room” and Cruz could not be faithful to a woman as ugly as Heidi. But when the Billy Bush video was released it bounced off Trump like flubber. How did the Russians mitigate that? Everyone knows that ‘leaking’ is speaking truth to power. Yet you say the Russians releasing DNC e-mails showing the DNC was corrupt, lying, and sabotaging of “Crazy Bernie’s” campaign, as if that is news, was somehow wrong? I asked my Republican representatives why they didn’t do the same thing to Trump (they claimed they were doing the best they could). Finally explain to me how the Russians got James Comey to re-open the server investigation at just the right time to discredit Sec. Clinton in the most effective way?

      Tel; Explosives in electronic devices have been well known since Lockerbie. Standards and procedures for the detection of these devices are reasonably evolved. The devices Trump warned the Russians about are electronic devices that can interfere with the navigation and aircraft information systems by imputing false GPS and maintenance inputs to the plane’s computer systems while in flight. Detection of these devices at this time is almost impossible.

      • Harold says:

        Bitter, your points are outside the scope of this topic. I am discussing whether Bob and anyone can reasonable say “I have no idea whether Trump did something really scandalous when he met with the Russians last week.”

        This has digressed a little into whether people agree what Trump did, and there is reasonable debate about if that is scandalous or not, or whether everyone agrees about what would be scandalous, and we just don’t know if Trump did it.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Harold wrote:

      Consider the facts.
      1) People are reporting that he did. These are anonymous at present, but we cannot just dismiss this evidence as worthless, even if their anonymous testimony carries less weight than identified testimony.
      2) It is not being denied.

      Harold can you clarify that last part? McMaster came out right when the WaPo story broke and said the story was totally false as reported, and said Trump didn’t do anything improper. I’m not going to go look up the exact phrasing but McMaster was either lying or Trump didn’t disclose classified information that he shouldn’t have.

      So I have no problem if you say McMaster was lying. But it sounds like you’re saying the WH never even denied the charge, which they certainly did. Do you mean, in light of Trump’s tweet the next day, that the official story has evolved and now they’re claiming the president can declassify? (Even there, technically that’s not a leak of classified information.)

      So I’m not picking a fight with you, I just don’t know how to even interpret your statement because McMaster clearly denied it when the story first broke.

      • Harold says:

        McMasters denied stuff that was not the story.

        We don’t know the details because they are classified, but lets say that the one thing that Trump gave away that was not supposed to be shared was the city where the information came from.

        Everything McMasters said was then true, but totally beside the point that Trump had given away the big secret. McMasters denial was described as “lawyerly”, which I don’t think was a compliment.

        The words were “At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

        So the central part of the story was not denied. The WaPo article did not say that Trump discussed sources, methods or military operations. So a non-denial really.

        I do not think McMasters would lie about this. From what I have read he seems a pretty straight person. But if he can use a form of words that looks like a denial he may go that far.

      • Harold says:

        Bob: “said the story was totally false as reported, and said Trump didn’t do anything improper. ”
        Looking back, he did say ” The story that came out tonight as reported is false.” He did not say that Trump didn’t do anything improper.

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