May 22, 2017: Trump in Saudi Arabia | Coup D’état | Scandalous Non-Scandal
1. He Didn’t Give Offense
Leaving a swirl of scandal in his wake in Washington, President Trump headed to Saudi Arabia this past weekend. The international stage normally makes a president look grander, but Trump had some significant obstacles to navigate. In his campaign, he had criticized his predecessor for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and had said “Islam Hates Us.”
Once actually in a Muslim country, the president predictably softened his stance a good deal. For example, he played the fight against “Islamist Extremism” as something that the United States should share with the reasonable Muslim countries.
His fans back home might have been disappointed by this more moderate Trump but they were offering a proactive defense instead. Here, for example, isBreitbart:
“Critics will argue upon first inspection that President Trump’s speech to Arab leaders in Riyadh today was scarcely a shift from President Obama’s infamous, fawned over lecture in Cairo in 2009. Those critics are incorrect……”
“President Trump used the word “terror” in some way — terror, terrorism, terrorists — a whopping 31 times in his speech in Riyadh. In Cairo, President Obama used the word an even more whopping ZERO times.”
Although Trump made it clear that his United States had no interest in enforcing civil liberties in Arab countries, LifeZette praised him for “a historic and bold step” in addressing the “plight of many Muslim women” after Trump said, "And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians."
The Trump cheerleader and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich @newtgingrich, with 1.94 million followers, was on Twitter offering backup praise:
The difference between Pres Trump's bold, realistic call for partnership against terrorism and Pres Obama's platitudes will be breathtaking— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) May 21, 2017
Meanwhile, others in the Red Media seemed mostly relieved that the president had gone a day without embarrassing himself. Under the headline “Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia reassures foreign policy critics,” The Washington Examiner reported:
“[The critics] said that Trump's tone during his first address abroad as president assuaged their worst fears, born of his sharp, quasi-isolationist and anti-Muslim rhetoric from during the campaign.
‘He hit most of the right buttons and missed many of the wrong ones,’ said Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to Democratic and Republican presidents who is now vice president and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
"He avoided offending as many people as he might have,’ added Miller, a frequent Trump critic.”
2. Coup D’état to Overthrow Trump
Just because Trump has gone overseas, it doesn’t mean that the appointment of the Special Counsel has been forgotten stateside. After a few days to catch their breath, the Red Media was rife with conspiracy theories. The Federalist wrote:
“It’s nearly incontrovertible that a slow-motion coup d’etat is now taking place. Since November 9, 2016, forces within the U.S. government, media, and partisan opposition have aligned to overthrow the Electoral College winner, Donald Trump.
To achieve this they have undermined the institutions of the Fourth Estate, the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. government, and the very nature of a contentious yet affable two-party political system. Unlike the coup d’etat that sees a military or popular figure lead a minority resistance or majority force into power over the legitimate government, this coup d’etat is leaderless and exposes some of the deepest fissures in our system of government. This coup d’etat represents not the rule of one man or even many, but by the multitude of our elites.”
What We’re Watching:
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you. The conservative media usually looks down on elitist institutions like Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. But they savored a study from the school reporting that coverage of Trump has been dominated by negative stories.
Here is The Blaze’s version of the story:
“According to Harvard professor Thomas Patterson, “Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity. Of news reports with a clear tone, negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak.”
3. Seth Rich and the Bernie Connection
The Seth Rich story has proven to be one that just won’t die. As we reported on Friday, the Right has been preoccupied with the murder of this DNC staffer in D.C. The conspiracy theory is that Rich, not Russia, was the source for the Wikileaks emails that damaged the DNC. As we reported last week, Fox News and its local Washington affiliate reinvigorated the story when they claimed Monday to have new evidence from the family’s private investigator, Rod Wheeler, that Rich was communicating with WikiLeaks before his death, even though the Rich family and the Metropolitan Police Department saw nothing to substantiate Wheeler’s comments. The family sent Wheeler, who is a Fox News contributor, a cease and desist letter. As of Saturday, this was Wheeler’s comment on the letter:
"Currently I am exploring all of my legal options and I sincerely hope that one day we find the person who took Seth's life," Wheeler said.
Then, on Sunday, the Rich story took yet another turn when Kim Dotcom, a former teen hacker who is facing extradition from New Zealand to America for founding Megaupload, a file-sharing service that illegally allows users to upload, share, and distribute files such as Hollywood movies, tweeted to his 587K followers:
He then continued:
I'm meeting my legal team on Monday. I will issue a statement about #SethRich on Tuesday. Please be patient. This needs to be done properly.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2017
So, what’s the Kim Dotcom/Seth Rich connection? Well, according to ZeroHedge, all roads lead to Bernie Sanders. Kim Dotcom was a Sanders supporter and so was -- according to new evidence -- Seth Rich.
Brace yourself, here’s where it gets complicated. ZeroHedge reported that a user in Reddit's 'the_donald' forum found Seth Rich's Reddit account - 'MeGrimlock4' (a Transformers reference) - revealing much about the slain DNC staffer. Then Reddit user /u/FricasseeingRabbit managed to uncover Rich’s alternate pro-Bernie Sanders Twitter account, which is very close in spelling to Rich’s primary account.
ZeroHedge then claimed that this pro-Sanders account proved that Rich was secretly a “Bernie Bro” and gave him motive to leak.
While the story hangs on very little proven fact, it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The Kim Dotcom tweet managed to catch the eye of Fox News' Sean Hannity, and The National Business Review, a site in New Zealand, reported that it may have even earned him an invite to appear on Hannity’s show.
And yesterday, Newt Gingrich pumped up the Rich conspiracy on Fox and Friends:
"Nobody's investigating that, and what does that tell you about what's going on? Because it turns out, it wasn't the Russians. It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He's been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder."
Meanwhile, here a sampling of the reactions we saw on Twitter from the Right on Sunday night:
From Pinball Wizard @CornerMD with 24.6K followers:
From Tennessee @Ten_GOP with 114K followers:
Yesterday @KimDotcom drops a bombshell on Seth Rich.
Today WaPo calls #SethRich murder a conspiracy & fake news...
Ironic how that works! pic.twitter.com/7Uah5Lebue
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) May 21, 2017
What We’re Watching:
So what do Bernie Sanders fans think of this conspiracy, which seems primed to bring them into the fold as much as the far Right? There’s not much to report yet on the Progressives and Bernie Sanders subreddits, but we’ll be keeping watch.