How the Right-Wing Information Bubble Is Spinning Cohen and Manafort

Any sentient being that watched events unfold yesterday would agree that things took a very bad turn for the sitting president. But those who live inside the right-wing information bubble wouldn’t know that. They got a different story about what happened as Trump’s enablers were out in force spinning a completely different narrative.

When it comes to Michael Cohen’s plea to eight felony counts, Alan Dershowitz provided the spin for Tucker Carlson.

Never mind that Cohen’s lawyer said that his client has “matters that would be of interest to the special counsel relating to preknowledge of computer hacking by Donald Trump.” The narrative we’re hearing is that campaign finance violations are nothing more than jaywalking and everybody does it.

What’s interesting to me is that when Rudy Giuliani came on as Trump’s personal lawyer, the strategy was to move away from a legal defense and focus on the public relations battle going on in the media. Given that, what you have is an admission that the president had multiple affairs with porn stars and Playboy bunnies and paid hush money to keep them quiet in the month prior to the election. The reason Trump’s enablers are now switching to a legal defense is they don’t want to attempt a defense of that.

When it comes to the fact that Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight felony charges, the “ever-so-intellectually-serious” Byron York has the spin.

What does the Paul Manafort divided verdict — guilty on 8 fraud charges with a mistrial declared on the remaining 10 charges — mean for the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to fix the 2016 election?

Nothing.

In other words, no matter how many felons Trump surrounded himself with, if it doesn’t relate to a conspiracy with Russia, it doesn’t count.

In delving in to that argument, nowhere does York mention that the fraud charges were based on money Manafort tried to hide that was paid to him by Putin’s guy in Ukraine, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych. That would mean taking the long view of where this might be headed, which completely ruins the narrative York is trying to spin.

There’s no denying that Mueller’s prosecution is related to an attempt to get Manafort to cooperate with the investigation, as well as to signal to others that he is willing to prosecute to the full extent of the law if they don’t fully cooperate. Anyone who knows how investigations into criminal conspiracies operate understands that, especially someone as intellectually gifted as Byron York.

As of this moment, putting the pressure on Manafort hasn’t worked, and Donald Trump is digging his own hole even deeper by cheering that on.

The spin of these two events provided by Dershowitz and York can be found all over right-wing media, along with many attempts to distract audiences with stories about a murder that is alleged to have been committed by an undocumented immigrant. Another “oh-so-intellectually-serious” conservative, John Hinderaker, sums things up for the enablers with this:

The Mueller Switch Project has three objectives: 1) furnish House Democrats (assuming they take the majority in November) with ammunition to impeach the President; 2) help the Democrats to win the midterm elections; and 3) make President Trump’s re-election less likely in 2020.

Today’s legal developments unquestionably represent a step forward for the Democrats on all three fronts. But in principle, there is no reason why they should change the landscape. Manafort’s conviction has nothing to do with Trump. And no matter how Mueller may try to dress it up with talk about campaign finance–which voters don’t care about, anyway–the Cohen plea simply confirms what we already knew–that Trump tried to keep Stephanie Clifford quiet. That may be a big deal to Melania, I can’t speak for her. But I doubt that it is a big deal to a significant number of voters, and I doubt that tomorrow’s headlines will move the needle on the midterm election.

Notice that for Hinderaker, none of this is about Mueller getting to the bottom of how Russia attempted to interfere in a U.S. presidential election. Instead, he follows Trump’s lead in suggesting that it is a politicized effort to go after the president and then summarizes the conventional right-wing spin on yesterday’s events.

The result of all of this is that, if you inhabit the right wing information bubble, you will assume that everything is fine and the president has nothing to worry about. The more the hammer comes down on Trump, the wider the chasm becomes between those who wall themselves off from reality and those who embrace it.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.