August 17, 2018

While CNN does attempt serious discussion on their shows, it's a losing battle because of their tendency to "balance" things by inviting right-wing hacks who have neither intellectual integrity, nor logical coherence. It's all about spin, often absurdly so, and spin is deeply offensive to viewers who tune into cable news for an understanding of the day's events.

And this happens so reliably that it can't be an accident. It's a strategy -- and it's not working. We don't tune into CNN because we want Fox News Lite. We want to be informed.

Look at this shameless shill, Mike Shields. A campaign consultant who used to work for the RNC, he was House Speaker Newt Gingrich's comms director, and served as chief of staff for the RNC.

Now, you'd think that his experience might actually yield some form of useful insight to the viewer -- but you would be wrong. After all, he's still in the game, and his appearance on CNN is only a mini-commercial for his ability to spin turds into gold.

No enlightenment, only purposeful obfuscation. Christians vs. the lion, and guess who gets eaten?

If CNN fixed this one thing -- if they booked people who were actually thoughtful and honest, people who actually delivered facts we didn't already know, instead of these rhetorical battles of the talking heads, it might reverse their ongoing ratings slide. Just a thought.

This debacle was a discussion of John Brennan losing his security on Chris Cuomo's show last night, and about retired Admiral William McRaven asking Trump to strip his security clearance, too..

Jennifer Granholm was trying to talk about the implications, but Shields was more fixated on calling Brennan a hack.

"He said something really interesting in his column. He said leaders should set an example. Exactly right. Don't become partisan when you leave the intelligence community. Don't cast aspersions upon people that you should represent," Shields pontificated.

He said Brennan was "very partisan when he worked for President Obama. Very partisan."

"Just because they criticize the president, now all of a sudden these are partisan hacks," Granholm said. "People who worked for Brennan were very clear that he was not a partisan. so you can say it on the outside because he feels a duty now to say something to save our country. He feels a moral obligation to step up, which is obviously what Admiral McRaven also feels.

"So does Brennan feel a moral obligation to constantly say -- does Brennan feel a moral obligation to constantly say, oh, there's collusion, offering no evidence?" Shields said. "There has been no evidence of collusion, but he wants to attack the president. How does that shape Americans' views of their intelligence community that are working very hard to keep us safe every day? it is a smear on them for them to do that."

"You keep saying that there's no -- you keep saying as though you know -- can we stipulate that Brennan might have more information than you do in and can we also say that even what is known publicly yes, it appears that the president and the Russians were having some sort of exchange, whether it was through intermediaries or not, whether it's the Wikileaks thing or the meeting at Trump Tower," Granholm said.

"For you to say there's absolutely no collusion, no way, when the president was having conversations with people in the White House, with Russians in the White House about having gotten rid of that Russia thing, so you can't say there was nothing. And he said in his piece today -- Brennan did -- that he doesn't know whether it's criminal criminal conspiracy, and he's not saying that, but that there wasn't any communication is hogwash."

Granholm pointed out how irresponsible it would be for him to say nothing.

"The president's politics, I'm going to criticize him on things that don't pertain to intelligence. If he had stuck to intelligence, then he would have more credibility," Shields said.

"But when he starts attacking the president because of his own political views, that's -- let me give you an example. if there is a ref in the NBA and he retires and goes, by the way, I hate the Lakers, the Lakers are terrible, people might think, wow, when you were a ref, you probably weren't giving the Lakers a fair shake. I wonder if all the refs were like that. Now all the refs are called into question because of --"

And then Cuomo, who's sometimes a sharp rhetorical warrior, said one of the stupider things he's ever said. "Look, I hear you. I love the passion (I love the passion???), and I don't think you're wrong, by the way. I do think these intel guys usually hold their tongues for a reason."

What does that even mean? "I don't think you're wrong, by the way." Are you agreeing that Brennan is a partisan hack? That speaking out against Trump is somehow wrong?

Sometimes I get tired of Rachel Maddow's verbal tics, but I have never listened to her and not understood what she was saying!

Then Cuomo tries to remediate.

"But there is this stench of hypocrisy coming out of because you don't see the president as equally or greater an egregious example of the same ills. The man has pilloried the intelligence community from jump in a way we've never seen. He dismisses the reality of Russian interference only to the extent that it suits his own personal political aims, and you criticize an intel guy, who is far less influential than the president, he says things, and you say he's lacking the fundamental integrity, and he's not dealing with it, and he's undermining the intelligence community. But you are not similarly bothered by the president. How not?"

"Because the president is fighting back against these guys and the president is watching things like Bruce Ohr at the FBI, someone who has not been in government and comes in and becomes the president of the United states and watches people not getting investigated for things that we're just sort of ignoring, that there are legitimate things that need to be investigated so we can have confidence in our intelligence and FBI community," Shields said.

"That's what the president is talking about. He's not being a partisan hack in the way that John Brennan is, someone we're supposed to look at with respect as a former intelligence chief."

And how does Cuomo clean up this mess?

"There's nowhere else to go on that discussion."

You're right, Chris. That's why America keeps changing the channel.

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