Does #GoldenShowerGate “Dossier” Discredit Trump? Or Does It Discredit Trump’s Opponents? Or Both?

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2016-01-12 – Everyone is all gaga over an “intelligence dossier” released by BuzzFeed that purports to detail compromising information that the Russian government has to blackmail Donald Trump. No one knows if it is real or not. The document I saw was low quality and looked to me like it was written by a bunch of giggling high school students. But it purports to be written by a former British intelligence official. Who knows if it is real or not? BuzzFeed didn’t say it was real. BuzzFeed said that the document was “unverified” and contained “errors” (fiction doesn’t contain errors, it’s fiction, so the statement about errors seems to imply a non-fiction document—but I won’t quibble any further).

So why is everyone so giddy about this document?

Confirmation bias. You already believe that Donald Trump is in hock to Russia. You already believe that Donald Trump cavorts with hookers. So when a DOCUMENT comes along to confirm your bias, you jump for joy.

Never mind that the document itself is at least third-degree hearsay. Never mind that the style of writing is extremely fishy. Never mind that BuzzFeed calls the document unverified (and the Director of National Intelligence says that the US Intelligence Community has made no judgment that the document is reliable).

Now, I’m not saying that Donald Trump is free of any sordid history with the Russians. The guy acts like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, for Pete’s sake. I’m just saying that this “dossier,” without any further information is not a cause for celebration (or panic, if you like Trump).

We need to know who wrote it and under what circumstance.

If it turns out to be what it purports to be, then maybe we can say that it discredits Trump.

On the other hand, it could have been written by a Trump operative to undermine Trump’s opponents.

A third possibility is that it was written by enemies of America—the Russians, perhaps—to discredit both—and thereby undermine American democracy. (Yes, there’s still room to discredit us more than we’ve already been discredited. Sorry to say.)

Throughout the Obama administration, stories circulated to undermine Obama’s legitimacy—notably the so-called “birtherism.” Birtherism fed a feeling on the right that Barack Obama was somehow an outsider, foreign, un-American. Birtherism fed on confirmation bias.

We laughed at this. We said that people must be really stupid to fall for something like that. . . .

. . . Not saying that the report is false. Not saying that the report is true.

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3 responses to “Does #GoldenShowerGate “Dossier” Discredit Trump? Or Does It Discredit Trump’s Opponents? Or Both?

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