Jeb Bladine: Reality intertwined in more ‘fake news’

This has been an extraordinary week in national politics.

It began with long-awaited congressional hearings on nominees to the Donald Trump Cabinet, accompanied by the president-elect’s first press conference in more than five months. All was overshadowed by the explosion of a long-simmering story about allegations of nefarious Russian involvement in our presidential election.

In the process, it’s possible we already know what will become the most influential political catch-phrase of 2017, used by President-elect Trump to discredit variations of that story: “It’s all fake news.”

Ironically, the phrase gained prominence in 2016 to describe false stories allegedly intended to disrupt the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Now, it appears poised to be a defining element of what likely will be endless conflict between Trump and the media.

More important, however, is the potential for irreconcilable hostility between Trump and the agencies charged with protecting our national security.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Trump reacted to widespread reporting of the Russia-related allegations by using inexcusable language to blame the intelligence community for release of the allegations, adding this memorable catch-phrase to the 2017 political lexicon: “That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done, and did do.”

It should give us pause when our president compares his own intelligence agencies to people whose policies were associated with the murder of millions.
Actually, the Russia-related allegations have been known for months at the highest levels of government, and some were reported by progressive political magazine Mother Jones shortly before the election. Last week, intelligence officials included a two-page summary of the allegations in a briefing dossier for Trump and others, prompting CNN to report that fact along with general descriptions of certain charges.

“The two-page synopsis,” CNN reported, “included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.”

The story grew exponentially when BuzzFeed, a pop culture entertainment and news website, published the full 35-page document of unsubstantiated, incendiary allegations. Wednesday, while CNN and NBC ran conflicting stories debating whether Trump and his advisers actually gained possession of that two-page summary, comedy talk show hosts were having an irresponsible, salacious field day spreading the worst of the underlying claims.

Remember that short-lived BBC political satire series 55 years ago with David Frost? The events in recent days lived up to its title: “That Was the Week That Was.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.


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