HomeArticleProgressives Helped Pave The Way For These ‘Russian Asset’ Bernie Smears

Progressives Helped Pave The Way For These ‘Russian Asset’ Bernie Smears

The other day I published an article saying we can expect to see more and more smear campaigns painting progressives as Kremlin agents and useful idiots of Putin as the 2020 election draws closer. Since the publication of that piece two things have happened: a report that Bernie Sanders is about to announce his 2020 presidential candidacy, and a sharp spike in centrist Democrats smearing him as a Kremlin agent.

Take a gander at the following tweets for some examples:

I’m flagging this spike not just because it’s an obnoxious trend we can expect to see used to as a murder weapon against any attempt to shift America’s corrupt political system even a single inch to the left, but also to point out the fact that American progressives have helped create this dynamic.

Russiagate is pure narrative. Russia’s alleged interference in America’s elections and Trump’s alleged collusion with that interference have been treated with the same kind of intense, blanket news coverage and hawkish patriotic punditry that we saw in the wake of the September 11 attacks, except unlike 9/11 there are no dead bodies, no fallen buildings, nor indeed any actual, tangible sign that anything real happened at all. It’s an entire media class shrieking endlessly about a story that has no hard center that people can look at and see for themselves. It’s a crisis that is made entirely out of a narrative about a crisis.

Since it has no basis in facts or reality, the only way to keep alive a crisis that is made of pure narrative is to keep feeding it with more narrative. Anyone who has helped do that is partly responsible for the frenzied, hysterical environment we now see before us in which a Bernie Sanders campaign which hasn’t even begun yet is already being undermined by completely baseless allegations of Kremlin collusion.

Much of this frantic Russia hysteria has been created by the center, and also increasingly by Trump’s branch of the right wing as it strives to prove itself “tougher on Russia” than anyone else. But a lot of it has come from a leftish direction as well. Not so much from the proper leftists, the Marxists and the Greens (though their fervent opposition to right-wing governments does sometimes set them at odds with Russia in a way that can see them advancing similar narratives to the centrists), but from the more mainstream progressives who back Bernie Sanders but supported Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The most high-profile of these progressives, ironically, is Sanders himself. Sanders has been shamelessly endorsing the establishment Russia narrative and feeding into the fact-free collusion conspiracy theory for two years now, using his large social media platforms and in his appearances on the mainstream media as well. His many, many promotions of Russiagate have been instrumental in seeding the idea on the left, which is partly why I now routinely have Sanders supporters arguing with me on social media in favor of the CIA/CNN Russia narrative.

This doesn’t mean that Sanders “deserves” the Russia smears that are now being heaped upon him or whatever, but it does mean that he helped build an environment in which mainstream media reporters like Virginia Heffernan can publicly level deranged, hysterical accusations of Kremlin servitude at him without it getting tossed out of the office as a crackpot conspiracy theorist.

Progressives helped create this environment, and this needs to be acknowledged and corrected by the American political left, because it will only be used against them.

Another prominent voice which has been instrumental in marketing Russia hysteria to progressives and creating this toxic McCarthyite environment has been Cenk Uygur and his popular outlet The Young Turks. TYT has over four million subscribers on YouTube alone and exerts a tremendous amount of influence over the thinking of Americans who identify as progressive. The outlet isn’t all bad, and Uygur himself sometimes puts forward some very useful insights on the reality of oligarchy in America and mass media corruption, but they’ve also been aggressively foisting the establishment Russia narrative onto the political left for a long time, not just promulgating belief in it but harshly criticizing leftists who don’t.

In May of 2017, for example, TYT aired a segment titled “Yes, The Russia Scandal Is Actually A Scandal” in which Uygur excoriated people on the left for refusing to subscribe to the CIA/CNN version of events without seeing hard evidence for them first. Not afraid to name names, he called out vocal Russiagate skeptic Michael Tracey, who was at the time a TYT reporter, mocking Tracey with his hands over his eyes yelling “I don’t see it! I don’t see it!” Tracey has since left TYT.

There are many appalling examples of Cenk’s deranged facilitation of the longstanding agendas of the US intelligence community to subvert and isolate Russia, like when he and his TYT panel attacked Trump for holding an insufficiently aggressive nuclear posture toward Russia, suggesting that it was because the president is “in the pocket of another country.” Or the time he leveled an astonishingly sleazy McCarthyite insinuation at another Russiagate skeptic, Aaron Maté‏, suggesting that his refusal to accept opaque US government assertions on faith may have been due to some fealty to the Kremlin.

Uygur has been consistently wrong about Russiagate, predicting in March of 2017 that Trump would be out of office within six months as a result of the imaginary scandal, and recently posting an embarrassing fit of joy about the “bombshell” BuzzFeed report on the Robert Mueller investigation titled “Trump’s Done. Here is the Evidence.”, which was refuted hours later by Mueller himself.

These are the minds who have helped bog down America’s progressive movement with stupid, self-defeating hawkish and McCarthyite narratives which suck all the oxygen out of the room for the advancement of progressive issues, and which are now being used with increasing frequency to attack not Trump and the right, but Bernie Sanders and the left. The consequences of their idiotic behavior will go increasingly mainstream in the long, long lead-up to the 2020 election, and it will do incalculable damage to progressive agendas, unless it is thoroughly excised from the movement and flushed down the toilet where it belongs.

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Latest comments

  • Seems like Russiagate is the 2018 version of McCarthyism. I am amazed by the hyperventilating progressive voices that are convinced of massive conspiracies that will topple the Donald. So much effort wasted on this, when it could be better used highlighting Trump and US policies on Foreign regime change, corporate abuses, and policies that trod on the rights and lives of the people at the bottom of the economic and power ladder.
    On a side note, wanted to say thank you for your writing contributions. I am a recent fan, and find your work well written and a worthwhile read.

  • If Putin and his cohorts pay any attention to American politics, they must be laughing their asses off. We are horrifying in our violence and hilarious in our absurdity.

  • It’s all in the plan. Part of divide and conquer. Fragment the progressive agenda.

  • You say you don’t like it , but when we touch, fire.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89WqnsQblXU&t=8s

  • I identify as a progressive, but I certainly do not push the Russiagate narrative. But, I also hold that anyone pushing the Russiagate narrative is not truly a Progressive, but just another dupe of the deep state and others pushing that narrative.
    Also, we the real progressives, left Cenk Uygur when he jumped from Bernie Sanders to HRC. I think it is safe to say that, despite what Uygur professes to believe, his word is no longer trustworthy. I do think what says it all is that, in the Philadelphia area, TYT can be seen on broadcast TV, whereas RT America was forced off the air.
    The repercussions of what exactly happened to net neutrality can easily be seen in that action.

  • All true, sadly. Sanders has never been all that great on foreign policy, just less bad than almost everybody else available. His main attraction in 2016 were his positions on domestic policy, which are actually left-wing for a change and have shifted, or at least widened, the Overton window to the left.

  • “Russiagate is pure narrative.”

    As a student of propaganda, I tend to pay more attention to wording than folks generally do. I don’t mean wording on the stuff I write here. I mean the wording used by others, especially in the media. The other day, I mentioned that PR is newspeak for propaganda. I learned this in a college course on Public Relations.
    .
    It wasn’t taught in class. As part of an individual project, I was given the opportunity to interview the CEO of a very large prestigious PR firm. He was frank and open about the business. He saw me as a prospective employee. It didn’t happen as I found greener pastures in advertising, also aka propaganda.
    .
    I have noticed the frequent use of the term “narrative” to describe the Russia/Trump conspiracy theory. The term was used a number of times in the post I reply to now. This word has become very popular among the media in general. Why is that? Maybe it has something to do with its connotations. To me, narrative is akin to story-telling. The association is one of narration, like the voice-over on a National Geographic special or something. It’s connotation is benign and non-threatening. It goes down smoothly like vanilla. No spicy hot stuff that sets your mouth afire in narrative.

    Did that just happen like some kind of natural development? I think not. PR is propaganda and narrative is an excellent example of PR. In fact, narrative IS propaganda. It is no different than Fake News. Fake News is just another term for propaganda. This is how propaganda works. Replacing words is effective. Fake News works. Narrative works too. They are one and the same. One has been created by the Establishment. The other has been created by the Disruptor. Words are weapons. Choose your weapon wisely.

    • Rod, propaganda and narrative are just euphemisms for lying. The problem is far too many people do not care whether or not they are being lied to. Until people refuse to be lied to TPTB will continue to do what they will to the great unwashed, who have no one but themselves to blame.

      • Rebel, narrative and fake news are currently being used as euphemisms for propaganda. Propaganda comes in many forms and is perfectly capable of being true. It may be true more often than not. At some point, I may provide examples.
        .
        So, sorry, but you’re wrong. It’s impolite to correct someone when you don’t know the subject matter. I share to help others learn. Propaganda is NOT a euphemism for lying. Please don’t confuse the issue.
        .
        What is your area of expertise, Mr Scum?

        • Rod, something is either true or it is not. It is not any more esoteric than that. Propaganda may contain a piece of truth within it but that does not mean the message being conveyed is true. Propaganda is deception. Often by the sin of omission i.e. not telling the whole truth. A half truth is no truth. If it is deceitful, and the purpose of propaganda is deceit, it is a lie. Period. If it is true then it is not propaganda, it is news. And vice versa.

          My expertise is my two eyes, my two ears, my brain, and a “game” called Spot the Lie. One does not need any more expertise than that.

          • Mr Scum,
            You are an ignorant person by choice. You don’t know what you’re writing about and you don’t make sense. I do. You may have the last word.

    • NEWS: a report of recent events.

      NARRATIVE: a story or account used as a way of presenting or explaining a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of values.

      PROPAGANDA: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

      FAKE: not true, real, or genuine.

      TRUE: being in accordance with the actual state of affairs.

      FALSE: intentionally untrue; adjusted, intended or made so as to deceive or mislead.

  • To see how far back this sort of thing goes consider this about CIA involvement with left wing publishing.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/24/the-cia-and-the-intellectualsagain/

  • Well said. I am thankful there are people like you who say much of what I think.

  • SO SICK OF RED BAITING.

  • The left complaining about the left not being concerned with truth and facts is amusing as hell. Attacking people who hold “unproper” leftist views is SOP for the left. So it is entertaining to watch them eat each other up using the same tactics they use on non lefties. Gonna spark this jay and watch the show…

  • How long will it take before this group realizes you are all being led around by this silliness?
    “American Progressives”?
    Infighting about what?
    E.g. …..”thoroughly excised from the movement and flushed down the toilet…”?
    Hubert Humphrey? Were you in Chicago?
    That USA no longer exists and hasn’t for many many years.

    Entertainment in a Reality genre.
    Sad”

  • Now that Tulsi has thrown her hat in the ring, they are going to come after Tulsi Gabbard. Who are they?
    Watch the film that Israel doesn’t want you to see.
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/watch-film-israel-lobby-didnt-want-you-see/25876

    • Tulsi Gabbard is likely not much more than a useful idiot, but your link to the film about the Zionist terrorist state of Israel is vital for Americans to watch.

      Ever since MLK was murdered in 1968 by a criminal conspiracy of the CIA, U.S. military, and others, proven by his Estate in a 1999 court ruling, and the 1963 murder of JFK by a hard core criminal conspiratorial cabal of Zionist Israeli terrorists, the CIA, American Jewish and Italian gangsters, mainly centered in Chicago, LBJ, a sociopathic pyschopath, and others because JFK, and RFK. murdered similarly in 1968, had opposed the Imperial Self-Perpetuating Permanent War Machine by JFK negotiating directly with Khruschev; working to end the Viet Nam War; working to force the Zionist terrorist state of Israel’s secret police front implanted in the U.S. to register as foreign agents; was roughing up the ahole steel barons in the U.S.; and had begun to work to dismantle the criminal private corporate banking cartel known as the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. has not had any leader with the guts to challenge the criminal cabal that runs it, and most of the rest of the world. Israel is one of the greatest enemy threats to U.S. civil liberties, and world peace, and stability. It’s also one of the largest state sponsors of Islamic terrorism, along with the U.S., and Saudi Arabia.

      • Dennis, agreed. Well said, a solid grasp of the situation.

      • Well said, Dennis! Keep it up; my fingers are getting weary.
        ..
        Bernie cannot be a socialist and an imperialist at the same time. And dy endorsing Hitlery after the she stabbed him in the back, and now running AGAIN as a D, I really doubt he’s going to get much support, but I might very well be wrong. If he were to denounce US imperialism and run as an independent, or even as a socialist, I believe he would get much more support, but I might very well be wrong on that, too.
        ..
        The good news is that Gabbard has responded to the US War Department’s Latin American Ukraine Redux:
        https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-needs-to-stay-out-of-venezuela-says-tulsi-gabbard/articleshow/67694370.cms
        Again, will she be able to endure the slings and arrows that will certainly ensue? Is she as tough as Agent Orange? IMO, because she has served in the military, she’ll have to be even tougher.

        • Gabbard has something to say and much to contribute. I have read and watched everything I can find on this new candidate and , to me, she is real. What a welcome concept: Real. I do not expect she will be allowed by the deep state to progress far in the 2020 race but I support her. Gabbard 2020.

        • “Bernie cannot be a socialist and an imperialist at the same time.”
          .
          Why not?

  • Nice column.
    Do not excuse Cenk Uygur because he holds a good position on some domestic issues. His Russiagate narrative is intended for progressives so he needs to be seen as one of them. So he is good on some domestic issues which gives him cred to peddle Russiagate.
    He is a new Cold Warrior – no doubt about it and willing to risk nuclear Armageddon. He and those like him are the Hubert Humphreys of the 21st Century, willing to dole out the goodies domestically while fighting to keep the Empire all powerful just as old Hubert did in Vietnam.
    Do not watch Uygur; watch the Jimmy Dore show on YouTube.

    • Which raises the obvious question as to whether Cenk Uygur is himself a puppet of the Deep State. Suggesting that Aaron Mate might have hidden affiliations could very well be Cenk’s projection of his own relationship to the CIA or some other controller. I have no proof of this, but
      I’m just saying that “something else” might be going on with him.

  • The ruling class having fine-tuned its elimination process ahead of 2020 is extending their assault.

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    ~ Father Martin Niemöller

    Did anyone over the past two years REALLY not see this coming?  All one has to do is disagree with another on the left on social media or in a comment and immediately the individual is labeled a Russian bot.

    Silence is consent.

  • If I remember correctly, it was an attorney who was a Hillary supporter, and perhaps a bundler, who brought a suit relating to Obama’s citizenship – of course, Hillary denied any knowledge about the birth of the birther movement. It was just about the time that all the birth certificate nonsense had dwindled away that the Donald appeared to reinvigorate the craziness. Fast forward, some Hillary opposition research and the demonization of Putin by neocons collided (and maybe colluded) and Russia-Gate was born. Now the blowback begins against Sanders. Hillary leaves a trail of weirdness and false narratives wherever she
    goes. And everyone thought Bill Clinton was such a great liar.

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