Non-conservative Matt Taibbi:
CNN Newsroom anchor Jim Acosta, famed for being the WWE version of a media tough guy during the Trump years, curled up like a kitten last weekend when interviewing Phil Mudd, onetime head of the FBI’s National Security Branch. Also a former CIA man, Mudd is now an Acosta colleague, a “senior intelligence analyst” on the CNN payroll.
“You know, there are real consequences,” said Acosta, “when people go out and trash the integrity of the FBI…”
It was less question than invitation, and Mudd jumped at it. The FBI man seethed that even if you’re upset about the raid of Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, if you think state police can deal with the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese, white collar crime, mortgage fraud and cyber-porn involving kids, you suck.
“If you say defund the FBI,” he went on, “let your kid be abused by an adult!”
“Yeah,” said Acosta. “It doesn’t add up.”
Mudd — who’s supposed to be both retired from law enforcement and a member of the media now — then went on about how difficult things are for FBI agents now that the unredacted warrant was out, releasing names and robbing agents of their birthright anonymity just as “our kids are going back to school.”
“Yeah…” said Acosta again. “They want to intimidate people in law enforcement.”
As they spoke, CNN flashed a graphic of mean things people said online about the FBI last week, like “kill all feds.” Acosta noted, as if spontaneously, that this reminded him of the atmosphere before January 6th (I thought of the “kill all cops” memes, but what do I know?) before asking Mudd if he was worried about another “spasm” of “domestic terrorism. Mudd said yes, America is filled with extremists like the ones “abroad,” and “I think we’re going to see a catastrophic event” like January 6th.
Watching, I found myself wondering, “What is this?” There was no pretense of separateness between the CNN employees, and the spot’s purpose appeared to be to let a senior CIA/FBI counterintelligence official whine about the reaction to the Trump raid, stoke fear, and compare Americans to al-Qaeda. It felt less like news than something out of a dystopian novel like Fahrenheit 451 or We, and this is essentially on air round the clock. Dollars to doughnuts, if you turn on cable right now, you will find, somewhere, a former intelligence official yammering at you through your telescreen.
We’re a week into one of the biggest stories of our time, and the feds and media have spent most every minute acting as an unembarrassed unified front. One after another, national security “analysts” lined up to give breathless, hyperbolic, and and eerily synchronized commentary about the Mar-a-Lago raid. If the message on day 1 was about how they “must have” probable cause of a crime, that was the word up and down the dial. If by the weekend it was “I’ve never seen this level of threat,” you heard that in more or less the same words from the likes of Mudd, McCabe, and others on multiple channels. What’s the public supposed to see, other than an American analog to China Central TV or Rossiya-1, when they tuned in to all this? …