"60 Minutes" (Australia) protected Trump. So did Aaron Sorkin. WHY?
Depression has prevented me from posting in recent days. It's hard to keep writing when disaster seems certain.
Impeachment will soon move to the Senate for trial, and I cringe to think of the show that John Roberts and Mitch McConnell will put on. I never expected Trump to be removed, but I did not understand until recently that the Republicans will use this spectacle to gin up "evidence" against the Biden family, and against the Democratic party generally. Prediction: Roberts will show his true stripes, and Dems will scream the way they screamed with Barr showed his true stripes.
President Trump said his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani planned to issue a report to the Justice Department and Congress detailing what he’d learned from his investigations in Ukraine.
Trump claimed not to know what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine this week or what he found out while there, but he asserted that Giuliani says “he has a lot of good information.”
“He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress,” Trump told reporters Saturday outside the White House. “He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet.”
“I hear he has found plenty,” Trump added.
Of course, Trump said something similar about the search for Obama's "real" birth certificate. In the words of this amusing tweet: Giuliani is currently in defiance of a Congressional subpoena. How does one present a “report” under these conditions?
We've known for a while that Rudy has been gathering "evidence" from ultra-shady characters in Ukraine. Mainstream journalists will continue to expose his sources as liars and scoundrels -- but will mainstream voices be heard? Or will Trump's propagandists drown out the truth?
I'm betting that the propagandists will win this one -- and I'm still predicting a Trump victory next November. God only knows what this country will look like when he's done with it.
Why did "60 Minutes" protect Trump? We're no longer surprised when Republicans toady to Trump. But I cannot understand why non-Republicans refuse to mention the man's name, even in situations when they damned well ought to.
I refer to this investigation of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, conducted by the Australian version of 60 Minutes. It's definitely worth watching, not least because the episode features a lengthy interview with Virginia Roberts/Giuffre. She makes a good impression and seems quite credible. Obviously, I feel horrified by what she underwent.
And yet: I've grown wary of that woman. What bugs me is the part she keeps leaving out of her story -- the part named Trump.
In her original Complaint, she did not mention the key fact that Ghislaine Maxwell recruited Virginia while she (Virginia) worked at Mar-A-Lago. The Complaint also mysteriously neglected to note that the father of Virginia Roberts is a longtime Trump employee.
It's not easy to believe that Maxwell, a Trump friend, could cruise the club for underaged employees without Trump's knowledge.
Why did Virginia originally refuse to mention her place of employment? 60 Minutes mentions that the "Epstein girls" were threatened with physical violence. Does that allegation have any bearing on Virginia's mysterious silence on the topic of Trump?
For reasons I find unfathomable, 60 Minutes absolutely refuses to mention El Presidente's connection to the Epstein scandal. Around the four-and-a-half minute mark, the narrator notes that Virginia "landed a job as a locker room attendant at an exclusive resort in Florida." But the show never names the resort.
Why? Why on earth?
Just to be cute, the show offers an aerial view of the unnamed "exclusive resort." Yep -- that's Mar-A-Lago, all right. Trump's club may be shown but not named. Wink wink.
60 Minutes usually presents serious journalism. But it is also a capitalist enterprise, interested in attracting viewers. Looking at the situation from both a journalistic standpoint and a capitalist standpoint, can you think of one good reason why this report would not mention the names "Trump" or "Mar-A-Lago"? Yet at no point are we told that the current American president was A) Epstein's friend, B) Maxwell's friend, C) Virginia's employer, and D) Dad's employer. If you can convince yourself that facts A, B, C, and D are unimportant, you possess a formidable talent for rationalization.
The presentation leaves out much else. Why does the show never mention the fact that Trump chose Alexander Acosta to be his Labor Secretary? Acosta was the person who made Epstein's "sweetheart deal" happen -- yet Acosta's name, like Trump's, is a Great Unmentionable.
The show does inform us that the decision to shut down the first Epstein prosecution came from "the highest levels" in DC. But the year is left hazy; we are not told that the shutdown occurred during a Republican administration.
Predictably, the spooky side of this story is completely ignored. Why would 60 Minutes keep silent about the credible report that Acosta was told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence"? Why no mention of the fact that Ghislaine Maxwell's father also worked for an intelligence service? (These days, no-one disputes Robert Maxwell's history with Mossad.)
Here's another name to add to out list of Great Unmentionables: Alan Dershowitz -- famed lawyer, infamous asshole, impeachment opponent and frequent Fox News guest. We all know what Virginia Roberts said about Dershowitz in her original Complaint. If 60 Minutes doubts the credibility of that allegation, then the audience should have been so informed. If 60 Minutes believes her, why not name Dershowitz?
The documentary never addresses the mystery of how Epstein earned his fortune. A growing number of people believe that he managed, or laundered, money for Russian oligarchs. Journalist Vicky Ward has written that a number of underaged young women in Epstein's circle apparently came from Eastern Europe. Sex trafficking from that part of the world is controlled by crime lord Semion Mogilevich, whose associates continually weave in and out the Trump saga.
Actually, the report offers a further clue. Around the 24 minute mark, this 60 Minutes episode displays a intriguing message to Epstein concerning one of his key associates, Jean-Luc Brunel: "He has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak russian. She is 2x8 years old."
"2x8"? That's a pretty odd way to indicate that someone is 16. (Perhaps she was 28, but the message definitely inserts an X between the digits.) This detail is important for a couple of reasons: It tells us that Epstein wanted to learn Russian, and that a girl from that country made the trip for that purpose.
The documentary goes on and on and on about Prince Andrew's link to Epstein. (The royal family might stand in the way of a fascist takeover of the UK, so smearing the royals has become a right-wing project.) But why no mention of Steve Bannon's link to Jeffrey Epstein? Bannon is the more influential and important figure: He's the guru of the international far right.
If I had the chance to interview Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the first question I'd ask is this: "Why did you leave Trump out of your Complaint?" The second question: "Does Trump still employ your father?"
(We need to know more about that guy. Virginia was repeatedly violated as a child, starting at the age of seven. Most fathers do a better job of protecting their daughters.)
Finally, I'd like to ask Virginia if she knows the history of her other lawyer, J. Stanley Pottinger. If she's sincere about wanting to expose the rich and the powerful, why would she be represented by a man whose name keeps coming up in the annals of GOP skullduggery?
Why would Aaron Sorkin cover up for Trump? While writing the above, my mind kept wandering toward the film version of Molly's Game. The movie tells the story of Molly Bloom, the woman who ran a high-stakes poker enterprise in Hollywood. When things fell apart in Los Angeles, she moved to New York -- specifically, to Trump Tower, where she became involved with shady Russians familiar from the many articles we've all read about Trump-related scandals.
Trump has denied any connection to Molly's games. Oddly, Donald and Ivanka Trump were the listed owners of a mysterious company called Poker Venture, headquartered in Trump Tower.
Sorkin's film pretends to tell the real story, which Molly Bloom's book carefully hid. In fact, the movie simply continues the cover-up.
Incomprehensibly, Sorkin hides the fact that the poker games were located in Trump Tower. Once again, the name "Trump" -- like the name YHWH -- is considered too awesome to pronounce. Why? If the producers wanted to sell tickets, the script should have name-dropped Trump as often as possible -- hell, the freakin' trailer and poster should have name-dropped Trump.
Sorkin also obscures Molly's relationship with the Russians, who obviously were backing the venture. Molly Bloom dealt with a lot of money. You don't extend that kind of credit without muscle.
There's a scene toward the end of the film in which Molly is beaten and robbed by a thug hired to intimidate her. The film alleges -- unpersuasively -- that the hit man worked for the Italian mob, but I found an early news account which claims that it the Russians were the ones who went after Molly Bloom. Italian hit men do not rob their targets -- it's an honor thing -- but Russians do.
So why did Aaron Sorkin cover up for Donald Trump?
(For more than a year, I've been meaning to write a long analysis of Molly's Game, which is an infuriatingly deceptive film. Maybe one of these days.)
Yes,Molly's Game seemed to be the White Knight fantasy version of the story. Molly Bloom's code of honor made her refuse to be associated with the criminal underworld because if they backed her they would collect gambling debts with violence. Her incredibly fancy game would also have existed without mob protection meaning any Chuckle bum could have robbed her game with ZERO repercussions. Baloney. Trump Tower is Russian Mob central.
Jailing a witness for contempt of congress hasn't happened for about 100 years bc reasons. Given the republican party's recalcitrance perhaps it's time. Too bad Pelosi hasn't the spine. As to 60 Minutes after the hatchet job they did on the Jeep CJ5 I stopped watching. If 60 Minutes lied about something I'm familiar with how do I trust them with news items outside my field of knowledge?
posted by MrMike : 12:01 PM
Mike, you're not being fair. I referred to the AUSTRALIAN version of "60 Minutes." I believe that what got you incensed was a 1980 episode of the AMERICAN "60 Minutes." That was a long time ago, and the producing team was very different.
But I am old enough to recall the controversy, and truth be told, I was secretly happy about that broadcast. I was in the market for a new vehicle and was glad to see the prices of used CJ5s trend downward. But then I got the deal of a lifetime on a VW bug, which served me spectacularly well for a number of years. Alas, I never fulfilled my fantasy of going off-road in an old-school jeep.
A friend of mine owned a CJ7. Looked too bulky. He said it guzzled gas and broke down a lot. It was great for his macho image, but not so great as a daily driver.
If that top photo is the unnamed exclusive resort, that's not Mar-a-Lago, it's the Palm Beach Bath & Tennis Club (to the south and slightly east of Mar-a-Lago). Mar-a-Lago isn't on the ocean and the resort in the top photo clearly is.
posted by Karen : 9:57 PM
OMG! Did you actually write that Italian mobsters don’t rob people that they have been sent to intimidate? Do you have some great insight into the Italian mob? Because that statement was utter BS. Yes they do, just like Russian mob, or Ukrainian, or Georgian, or Albanian, or Japanese Yakuza, or Chinese Tongs, or British gangs. They all do it, because they are thugs. There is no special honor among thieves, and the Italian mob doesn’t have some code of conduct. Epstein laundered a lot of people’s money, including Russians, but Russia has nothing to do with this story, he was the asset and under the protection of MOSAD, and his disgusting scheme is one of the reasons why the United States is so utterly entangled with Israel, and its barbaric policies.
Mar-A-Lago is quite close to the ocean, but you are correct. That top picture is not Mar-A-Lago. However, it's pretty common knowledge that Virginia was recruited from Mar-A-Lago and worked there (by her own testimony and I would assume others), so seems like more obfuscation by Australian 60 minutes showing a picture of a different resort.
posted by Gus : 9:13 AM
OT, but a sign that TPM is catching up. Not paywalled.
Mr. K. Enters the journalistic narrative: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/kolomoisky-giuliani-cummins-ukraine-biden-dirt
posted by Anonymous : 11:34 AM
Karen, the top photo (a frame grab from the documentary) DOES depict Mar-A-Lago. I did not say that Trump's club was in the foreground. That's why I included Google Earth imagery: To show how the properties are situated. I did not think that any further explanation was necessary.
Liberty Advocate: That distinction between Russian and Italian hit men appeared in at least two books about organized crime which I read in the 1990s. Don't ask me for titles. I read a LOT of books back then, and at this historical remove, you cannot fairly demand that I recall which data nugget appeared in which volume which I read while munching on Carls Jr. hamburgers back in the 1991-1999 period
That said: That particular data nugget stuck in my memory. I am of Eye-talian ancestry myself, and I like to think that OUR thieves do (or at least did) have a certain twisted sense of honor.
At least when compared with the Russians.
The point is, no better how badly your people have behaved, there's always someone worse. There's some solace to be had in that.
There has been a fair amount written about the Italian code of honor among old-school mobsters. I recall reading this testimony by Tommaso Buscetta back in the day:
And even today there's a fair amount written about the Italian code of honor. That code is what makes the Italian mob more intriguing than any other type of mafia; the code confers a kind of crazy romantic appeal to all of the murder and thuggery.
Nobody will ever make the Russian equivalent of "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas" or "Prizzi's Honor." If such a film DOES get made, it won't do well. Nobody wants to sit through the Russian answer to "The Irishman." Nobody would sit still for the story of a Russian Michael Corleone. Nobody LIKES Russian mobsters; they are simply repulsive.
So call me a romantic, but I'm going to stick with what I read: Italian hit men don't rob their victims; Russians do.
That said, I WOULD like to recall where I read it. So many years have passed...!
Oh, and if you can prove what you've said about Epstein, please do. Otherwise, I will presume that you are committing the characteristic sin of the conspiracy theorist: Blurring the distinction between surmise and established fact.
Yes, I've been guilty of that myself. But I've spent the better part of this century trying to improve.
anon 12:34 checking back in to remark about how hard it is typing these comments on a tablet, with thick fingers and aging eyes.
Of course auto-whatever changed "December 9th" into what might appear to be a conundrum, but was simply our new fangled variety of typo.
posted by Anonymous : 3:51 PM
Whenever a broadcast or news story from a Commonwealth nation appears hedged, I simply assume it's because of the hair-trigger nature of UK-derived libel laws. There is no protection for journalists writing about a public individual -- note Melania's victory a couple of years ago versus the Daily Mail -- and I *think* implied criticism or claims are more easily prosecuted. Coupled with the Trumps' history of SLAPP lawsuits against journalists, and I'm not too surprised AU 60 Minutes may have lawyered up and pulled their punches...