TRUMP: The Kremlin’s Candidate
We have all heard about the little love notes sent between Putin and Trump, but it goes much deeper than that. What is the real message they are trying to send?
Back when he hosted a prime-time talk show on MSNBC, Ed Schultz divided the world into heroes and villains. The heroes usually included Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The villains were most Republicans, and especially Donald J. Trump. When Trump obsessed over Obama’s birth certificate and academic credentials in 2011, Schultz branded him “a racist.” When Trump flirted with running for president the next year, Schultz ridiculed him. “Who has shown any interest in Donald Trump being the next president of the United States other than Donald Trump?” he fumed. “Mr. Trump, stop embarrassing yourself!”
Another bad guy was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Schultz delighted in ripping conservatives for what he called their “love affair” with the Russian leader and his ability to make Obama look weak on the world stage. “They hate Obama so much they will even embrace the head of the KGB … ‘Putie’ is their new hero!” Schultz said in one 2013 segment. In another, he smugly reminded conservatives about Putin’s “nasty human rights record” and the way his “reckless behavior” was “crippling” Russia. More generally, Schultz often framed GOP opposition to Obama as “anti-American” or “unpatriotic.”
That was all before last July, when MSNBC abruptly canceled The Ed Show after a six-year run and dumped the 62-year-old prairie populist from the network. By the time Schultz resurfaced this January, he had been reincarnated in a very different journalistic form: as a prime-time host, reporter and political analyst for RT America, the U.S. branch of the global cable network formerly known as Russia Today, funded by the Russian government.
Gone is the praise for Obama and Clinton. Gone, too, are the mocking references to “Putie.” And gone are the judgments about others’ patriotism. Schultz’s 8 p.m. RT show, The News with Ed Schultz, now features Putin-friendly discussions about the failings of U.S. policy in the Middle East, America’s “bloated” defense budget and the futility of NATO strategy.
Even Trump is getting a new look from Schultz. Speaking at various points on RT in recent months, Schultz has said that Trump “has tapped into an anger among working people,” is “talking about things the people care about,” and even, as Schultz recently declared, that Trump “would easily be able to function” as president.
OK so much for Ed Schultz, a loose cannon under the best of circumstances. But, this odd relationship described below is much more disturbing.
Seated next to Simonyan at the dinner and just two seats away from Putin himself was perhaps the most intriguing example of how the Russians have gone about recruiting disaffected members of that establishment: a rugged-looking man in a tuxedo who less than 18 months earlier had been head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s powerful in-house equivalent of the CIA. Michael Flynn, now a private citizen after a reportedly disgruntled retirement, was not there to gather intelligence. His attendance at the RT gala, before which he also gave a talk on world affairs, appeared to inaugurate a relationship with the network—presumably a paid one, though neither Flynn nor RT answered queries on the subject. Flynn now makes semi-regular appearances on RT as an analyst, in which he often argues that the U.S. and Russia should be working more closely together on issues like fighting ISIL and ending Syria’s civil war. “Russia has its own national security strategy, and we have to respect that,” he said in one recent appearance. “And we have to try to figure out: How do we combine the United States’ national security strategy along with Russia’s national security strategy, despite all the challenges that we face?”
At a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled current and former members of the Obama administration. “It was extremely odd that he showed up in a tuxedo to the Russian government propaganda arm’s party,” one former Pentagon official told me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to working with Russia where our interest align. But this RT propaganda and Trump rhetoric are too cozy. Abandonment of NATO, let Assad take care of ISIS…Yeah, No.
Worth reading the entire article.
Read more: politico.com