Trump vs CNN
The pen is mightier than the sword. CNN may know that, but a tweet just might be more powerful than both. And CNN hasn't yet figured that one out. Last week Trump dealt what may just turn out to be the blow that will put CNN out for the count. After a string of journalistic failures, all it took was Trump re-tweeting a humorous meme of Trump pummelling a cartoon CNN to send the network into a spasm of self-destruction. Funnily enough, CNN is seemingly unaware that they have been played, and defeated, and that they are only digging themselves deeper with every response. It seems they've met their match.

Trump's CNN TKO (Twitter knockout) had good timing too: right before his first meeting with the man CNN considers the most evil in the world. Vlad "the Democracy-Impaler" Putin. After a handshake that most likely sent CNN and anyone dumb enough to watch them into convulsive fits of hysterical outrage, the two presidents apparently had a great time, with the minutes turning into hours. While nothing huge has come out of the meeting, by all accounts it was amicable and agreeable. Topics included: North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, and cyber warfare, among others.

Tune in Sunday, July 9, to Behind the Headlines, 4-6pm UTC (6-8pm CET, 12-2pm EST) as we discuss the G20 and CNN's steady demise.

Running Time: 01:36:30

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Here's the transcript of the show:


Joe: Hi and welcome to Behind the Headlines on the SOTT Radio Network. I'm Joe Quinn and with me as usual my co-hosts this week are Niall Bradley.

Niall: Hi everyone.

Joe: Harrison Koehli.

Harrison: Hello.

Joe: And Elan Martin.

Elan: Hi everyone.

Joe: So what a week it's been, all sorts of high jinks and craziness in the media and around the world, enough to keep anybody entertained or enough to drive anybody crazy if you expected or had any notions that you lived in a sane world where people in positions of authority and influence would act with some sense of logic and reason and from a rational point of view. Well no, that's not the world we live in. We live in a very crazy world, a world that seems to be getting crazier and crazier by the minute and it seems that it's down to people like us to make some sense of it all. Certainly the established authorities have abdicated completely that responsibility of being responsible, being sensible and talking any sense whatsoever. In fact it's like a cake fight at a bakery.

Specifically this week we're going to be talking about the ongoing saga between Trump and the media which is a long ongoing story that really I suppose began before he became President with CNN pointing the crosshairs at Trump repeatedly for the past several months and the fallout. We'll talk about the details. Also just ended this weekend, the G20 meeting of 20 of the world's greatest, most fantastic, fabulous and tremendous people who all got together in Hamburg, or hamburger and some other kinds of food and also talked to each other about stuff.

But apparently most of the western press was only interested in one real event at that meeting which was momentous, tremendous, shocking, earth-shattering, really, meeting apparently - according to them - between Trump and Putin which was just going to be so momentous. I don't know if it was going to change everything. We're going to be talking about whether or not it changed anything.

Niall: I think it was registered on the Richter scale.

Joe: It did, yeah.

Harrison: It was the handshake that shook the world.

Joe: On the media Richter scale at least it registered. In the real world it was just to dudes shaking hands I suppose. So what about CNN? It's been embarrassing hasn't it?

Harrison: Well it's been quite the show for the past couple of weeks because before we get to the other earth-shattering event which was Trump's meme tweet, there were a few developments leading up to that. Of course like you said, the battle between Trump and the media has been ongoing with jabs back and forth; Trump for the most part limiting himself to nasty comments about the media on Twitter and in interviews and press conferences and stuff like that. It's not just CNN but most of the mainstream media channels like MSNBC are kind of non-stop negative coverage of everything Trump and every little thing he does they'll rag on him for it.

So in the week leading up to the tweet event, CNN was in a lot of hot water because of min-scandal after mini-scandal. I won't list them off in chronological order but among the few that took place was the New York Times running that story about Scaramucci, one of Trump's campaign guys. They'd written a story about him and ties with the Russians and had to retract that. That was the New York Times, right?

Joe: Yeah.

Elan: I think CNN came out with the story first and then Breitbart News did a follow up investigation.

Niall: Yeah.

Elan: And the idea was that CNN was saying that a former Trump election aid, Anthony Scaramucci, was under investigation by the Treasury Department and Senate Intelligence Committee investigation for ties to a Russian fund. Ah-whoa! So it turns out that the meetings that CNN said occurred never actually happened. The Senate Intelligence Committee wasn't investigating it, the nothing story, and the Treasury Department looked into it but found out that the story was nothing.

Harrison: A big fat nothing burger.

Elan: A nothingburger. So basically CNN put out this story. Scaramucci lawyered up right away and CNN had to retract the story almost immediately because they were afraid of a big, fat, whopping lawsuit. So that's what happened with that.

Harrison: Okay, so I was mixing up some events too because I was thinking the AP and New York Times also retracted stories in the same time period and those had to do with them making the repeated claim that 17 intelligence agencies all agreed that Russia hacked the election so they had to retract that story because it just wasn't true. But at CNN these three journalists resigned. In other words they were fired for this non-story.

And then Project Veritas came out again - these were the guys that did all those sting operation videos during the election for voter fraud and all kinds of high jinx.

Joe: Podestas and stuff, yeah.

Harrison: Yeah, back last year. So they came out with these videos of Project Veritas' undercover journalists talking to CNN people and getting their off-the-record statements on the whole Russia thing including Van Jones and some other health producer or something that talked about meetings with the head honchos and that it was all about ratings. The whole Russia thing was a nothing burger. There was nothing to the story, no evidence but they were going with it and the official policy line was that 'we keep going back to Russia and focusing on Russia all because of ratings and money', so showing what everyone already really knows about mainstream media, that it's not really professional journalism. It's entertainment and propaganda. They get a line that they want to follow and then they just go with it regardless of how much truth there is to it and they'll find or make up whatever evidence they can to support their story not matter how dubious it is and that's pretty much the state of journalism and the state of CNN.

So Trump is totally correct with all his criticisms of CNN. Of course he's got an axe to grind too but that doesn't change the fact that he's right. So there was this back and forth going on between that, and that led up to Trump just tweeting this internet meme from his infamous appearance on WWE or...

Elan: WWF.

Harrison: WWF, whatever it was at the time. So him bashing on McMann, so some internet troll had created a meme which people on the internet tend to do with the CNN logo on McMann's face and it's just a few seconds of Trump pummelling on him while he's on the ground so CNN's getting beat up by Trump. You can't tell it's Trump at first, just from the back of his head you can see his hair but then not the kind of triumph and war look on Trump going away. It's just five seconds long but it's pretty hilarious.

Joe: And then all the snowflakes at CNN came out and started screaming that this was an incitement to violence against CNN. What is wrong with those people?

Niall: No offence to any fans of American Wrestling, but I never thought I would actually arrive at the point where I enjoy it.

Joe: Or a few seconds of it anyway.

Niall: Brilliant. Brilliant TV. Good show.

Joe: So CNN goes bonkers and claims that this is incitement to violence, is what it's suggesting, that Trump should beat up someone at CNN. But he's been doing that pretty effectively anyway.

Niall: They had Carl Bernstein on CNN. The guy was practically stuttering as he said that this was an "outrageous, outrageous attack on the freedom of the press!" He was shaking.

Joe: Freedom of the press?! Freedom of the press to make crap up! It's got to the point where these people don't care anymore, that there's no sense amongst these people at CNN anyway and probably most of the other western media, that they have some reputation to defend. Apparently they don't care that they have no reputation to defend anymore at all. Going back to just after Trump was inaugurated around that time, the owner of CNN, the CEO or whatever of CNN, had a spat with Trump via Twitter or something or in some way or another they exchanged insults and the CEO of CNN warned Trump that he should remember that he, i.e. CNN, has the ability to make Trump look bad or look good across the world via CNN's network. So right there he was admitting that CNN if it wants, can make shit up about you and make you look bad.

Niall: And they believe, manipulate global opinion.

Joe: Right, exactly. So that guy from the very top of CNN was admitting that they are absolutely willing and able to make stuff up and to misinform and disinform the people who watch CNN or the public for an ulterior agenda, can lie to them. He basically said "Trump, we can lie about you if we want." This is from the media! So what kind of reputation do you expect these people to have? They have no reputation whatsoever and that was also made clear by these interviews made by the undercover recordings by Project Veritas, the guy who runs that who had these CNN producers saying "Yeah, it's all made up. We're just running with it because we have an agenda, because we don't like Trump so we just make stuff up."

And apparently people still watch CNN! Okay, you can still pay attention to the media for mundane facts about stuff that happened but as far as anything about what's going on in the world at a higher level, about politics and what America or Trump is doing and what Russia is doing and what China's doing, people should have every reason now to just absolutely conclude that it's nonsense. You shouldn't read it is the bottom line. Why would you read disinformation unless you're interested in actually trying to figure out the truth from the lies, whatever little snippets of truth might be there. It's far better to find sources of information that don't have that agenda, to spin the facts. Of course everybody spins facts in some way or another or filters facts and gives their take on it, but you're far better to look for sources that, at least in their interpretation of what's going on in the world, that they do so with some level of rationale and logic or fair-handedness or as much impartiality as possible.

But people like CNN have made it very clear that they are absolutely partial. They're absolutely biased against Trump, so why would you bother?

Elan: If it's an important matter, don't go to CNN.

Joe: Right.

Elan: Because you're going to get lies for that matter.

Joe: Right, because you're going to get lied to.

Elan: You're going to be lied to. It reminds me of this recent retraction that the New York Times had to make on the subject of the 17 security agencies in the US who were all saying that there was some collusion between Russia and Trump when it was only three, the triumvirate of the FBI, the CIA and the NSA. Surprise, surprise!

But it's interesting, after the election I think it was, Trump had this meeting with the heads of the media which he convened in his office in Trump tower and as the story goes he gave Jeffrey Zucker, this CNN president dude, a thorough undressing.

Joe: Redressing.

Elan: Redressing, about all the...

Niall: He needs a dressing down.

Elan: He needs a dressing down, that's the expression. Whatever it was, it was apparently pretty strong.

Niall: Jeff! Get in here and take your clothes off!

Elan: Yes. Or face the consequences. But after this recent series of events Zucker apparently ran with his tail between his legs to the New York Times and did an interview. Basically he was trying to spin all this and do some damage control here and said "Trump is bullying us." Finally Trump is able to have CNN expose itself as very fake news which he's been saying for months and suddenly Trump is bullying them, which is the same words that Kathy Griffin used after she got criticism for doing that stupid photo with Trump's severed head or a likeness of it. So they're all taking for the hills at this point.

Harrison: Well it's funny because I read an article the other day that CNN's ratings and viewership is actually tanking. It's a steady downward slope over the past several months and reruns of the Olsen Twins and the Yogi Bear cartoon had more viewers than their regular news programming.

Joe: You get more sense out of those two programs!

Harrison: Yeah.

Niall: That's why I wonder about the recording of John Bonifield, the producer who said "Oh, it's about ratings and our spat with Trump is great for our ratings." I'm not really sure. Maybe it is in some respects but is it really? CNN's probably shot in the US compared to what it used to have. Now it's interesting that Trump, among all of the jabs he's taken at the media in the last year or so, one of the pot shots he had of the New York Times I think and NBC - I don't know about CNN - anyway it was that their business model is failing. He didn't say any more than that. What strikes me about someone like CNN is that ratings are important. And why? Because then they get advertisers to pay and then they get big contracts, usually to secure a market.

So CNN's global so they might be able to take a hit at home and barely keep functioning because they have all these long-term contracts, pipe CNN into hotels for businessmen in Singapore, Australia, cities everywhere, right? And that's about it. It's basically now surviving by the inertia of the brand of CNN but as far as actual mass audience and certainly an American audience.

Joe: Well they have CNN international that's played in all sorts of hotel rooms in different places around the world and on people's TVs but I suppose we should try not to be in our own bubble about this because I'd say there's a lot of people still watching CNN. There may be more people watching CNN although their demographics may have shifted to some extent after this Trump business because a lot of people it seems in the world in general and particularly in the west, people are being pushed or retreating into camps type of thing and subjectivity is at an all-time high, not that it's ever been low on this planet but as far as human beings are concerned, it's part of the genetic makeup I suppose. But it seems to be at an all-time high these days and people I suppose would look to CNN to tell them what they want to hear. So CNN probably can count on a certain audience who will go to them either consciously or semi-consciously with the understanding that they're going to be told what they want to believe about Trump and about the world and about how the world works and what's going on.

So that's what the media has really to say and it's always been like that to some extent but has descended at this point into propaganda. Each media outlet is a propaganda channel and you pick the one that tells you what you want to hear so you can feel good about yourself and good about the way you see the world and believe that that's the way it is whereas we always try to take, as much as possible, a more objective view of the situation.

Harrison: One of the funny things that happened from this Trump tweet was that Jeff Zucker responded by saying that CNN would not give in and again he brought out the bullying line and that this was an attack on press freedoms and that CNN would continue to do what it does, basically implying that it's doing everything right and they're just going to continue to do the job that they're doing which is really ridiculous when you look at it. Any sane individual would laugh because the Trump tweet was actually funny so they'd have a little bit of a sense of humour about themselves and make a joke of it themselves as opposed to taking it so seriously. It just shows how seriously these people take themselves when there's nothing to take seriously about them.

It's kind of sad. Sad isn't the right word. It's embarrassing to watch.

Joe: Right.

Harrison: It's like when you see a really untalented person for example, who thinks they're a good singer or something like that and you see them onstage or really belting it out and they're just horrible and they just can't...

Joe: They're convinced that they're so good.

Harrison: Yeah. They're convinced they're so good and they can't handle any kind of criticism. They might even say "Well those people don't know what they're talking about."

Niall: They're breaking some of the core tenets of PR/propaganda. When you become the news, that's not a good thing, especially when you retaliate. The whole story about what they did next just made it maybe 10 times worse.

Joe: What, that they hunted down the guy who did the tweet?

Niall: Yea.

Joe: Yeah, so they go hunt down this guy and find out who he is, the guy on Twitter who's a teenager and he made the tweet and they threaten him that they're going to expose him if he doesn't stop doing that stuff and delete the tweet and all this kind of stuff and it's like, okay, press freedom; does that extend to freedom of speech? Is that similar? Freedom of the press and freedom of speech for the population? But here CNN on the one hand crying that this tweet was an attack on them and an attack on the freedom of the press because it made fun of them and at the same time then they go in response and attack this guy's freedom of expression or freedom of speech by making the tweet? None of it makes any sense whatsoever. It's actually hilarious.

And there's a real flavour of the social justice warrior theme that's been going around teenagers on campus and stuff; not just teenagers but professors and some politicians who seem to have internalized this idea of "I should have my way no matter what and anybody who says that I'm bad for doing anything is attacking me." So they're basically cry-babies. They're cowards and cry-babies. It's interesting that CNN being anti-Trump is embodying that ideology of just being a snowflake as they call it.

Elan: Well it's a testament to how attuned some of the public is to this dynamic you're describing Joe because there was a whole hashtag created about this retaliation that CNN was trying to implement against this kid basically saying "If you don't print an apology and never do what you're doing again we're going to dox you. We're going to reveal your identity. And we're also going to mention all of the racist and off-colour posts you've made previously."

So people have become aware of this very vindictive, very narcissistic rage response from CNN and calling it for what it is.

Joe: Right.

Elan: And it's revealed to be this petulant child in its reaction to this really ridiculous, harmless, funny little gif that this guy made.

Joe: And apparently they even got the wrong guy initially as well so the guy they got was the wrong guy. It wasn't even the guy who made it, so they just screwed it up all different ways. It is embarrassing as you were saying and it's akin to an adult having their feelings hurt by the taunts of a few preschoolers or some children and starting to cry 'because the children are making fun of me'. But apparently they're oblivious to that and how it impacts the way that they look to the people.

But that's subjectivity. You don't see anything outside of what you want to see yourself and not only is the media in terms of CNN and other media in the US in engaging in that but they're encouraging that in the population as well. There's a mutual feedback mechanism between CNN and those kind of media organizations and the people that promote the same world view or the same way of acting in the world which is "If I don't get my way I'm going to cry and complain and I'm going to be a hypocrite and I don't care. I don't see anything negative about what I'm doing. Everybody else is wrong and I am right." It's like you said, narcissistic, childish and very embarrassing.

Harrison: And with every response that they make they just dig the hole deeper because like you said, this response in itself was digging the hole deeper. So this one journalist wrote this article about finding the guy who made the gif and then in this article there was a section where they've given this story. So they found out who this guy was and then they weren't very clear on the timeline in this story but they reached out to him and sent him an email message and then before he responded he had deleted a bunch of his offensive tweets and posted this apology. So the CNN article acknowledge that this guy had apologized and removed the tweets and then there was the threatening line that said that CNN reserves the right to publish this guy's identity if any of that changes.

It was very clear what they wrote. It's right there literally. They were saying "if this guy changes his behaviour, if he does anything against what he'd already previously done - a retraction, an apology and changed his behaviour - if he did anything bad, they would release his identity, or at least they'd consider it." That was the implicit threat and it was actually explicit. That's just what they wrote.

So everyone sees this and it's like "Oh my god! CNN's basically blackmailing this guy for making this gif" and CNN's response was just digging the hole even deeper. They said "Oh no! That's not what we were saying. We just said we didn't have an agreement with him whether to publish his identity or not" and that's not what the article said! You can read it with your own eyes and with your own comprehension of the English language and that is not what they said! And they doubled down on this and this is actually what prompted the Jeff Zucker comment that I paraphrased earlier about him not giving in and just continuing to do what they do.

So they see nothing wrong with what they did. They will not admit that they did anything wrong. They won't even admit that it was not precisely phrased. They wouldn't even get behind that as an excuse. They were just saying that they said something completely different than what they actually did say. Like how can they even respond to that?

Joe: Amazing level of making crap up and running with it.

Niall: Their reaction and their behaviour is very instructive. They whine about freedom of the press as if they don't mind having an assortment of different views out there. No, no, no. Their view is the view. They would never call this subjectivity. The way they see the world is how it is and they're sort of dogmatic and narcissistic. Their behaviour over it is a testament to just how Bolshevik they are in how they see the world.

Harrison: Well the very fact that they can say whatever they want and they have been saying whatever they want. I mean how's that for a free press? They get away with everything!

Elan: That's the thing. They've been getting away with everything for so long and just upping the ante with the lies that now that they've finally been called out on things, one after the next after the next, they're like a character disturbed person. They have no integrity to fall back on really. Everything is a deflection and a blame on the person who is calling them out on something.

Joe: It's kind of like a part of American exceptionalism as well, that the American media was the paragon of virtue and truth for so long supposedly so they got used to it. So anybody calling them out or questioning their integrity or truthfulness is just something they're not used to and don't know how to deal with it and similar in a certain sense to what the American political establishment has been going through over the past couple of years as well, that they're having a really hard time adjusting to a reality where they don't get their way all the time.

Elan: In that respect, CNN is kind of an interesting reflection of the US deep state, for instance.

Joe: Absolutely, yeah.

Elan: Just spinning narratives to cover their tracks and digging themselves deeper and deeper.

Joe: Of course. And their response to this tweet episode was of course that it was totally foreseeable but it's a testimony to the ridiculous levels of subjectivity and narcissism among the CNN people that they didn't realize that by trying to threaten or intimidate this guy who made the gif of Trump bashing CNN, that the response from the twittersphere would be to make hundreds of similar gifs showing Trump beating up CNN and a bunch of the other media organizations. Jeez, shoot yourself in both feet while you're at it and then stick them in your mouth or something! It's just ridiculous.

Harrison: Well let's bring us back to Trump because it's very common in the media to present Trump as this bumbling idiot with fat fingers on Twitter writing nonsense at three in the morning. And yet what the media doesn't seem to realize is that Trump actually really knows what he's doing on Twitter and he even spelled it out a few days ago. It was actually right before he posted this meme. He wrote - I'll paraphrase again - he wrote "Yeah, my tweets aren't Presidential, they're like new Presidential or something" basically acknowledging that he's not Presidential in the traditional sense but he's creating a new Presidential by doing this which is pretty much true.

He's said it before, Twitter reaches a lot of people quickly and it allows him to bypass the mainstream media and he's very good at tweets. He knows what he's doing on Twitter. This is a 71-year-old grandpa who is more effective on Twitter than most 15 year olds who grew up on it. So there's something to be said about that.

And then the fact that he posts this tweet and look at what the response has been since then. Anyone from CNN or any of the mainstream media before this had happened, if you'd asked them "What would happen if Trump would do this?", they would have given a long response about how it would have been, the death of his presidency or something and confirm that he's an idiot when it has totally the opposite effect, which Trump probably knows. I'd guess that he had some idea of the fallout from this. He would know that CNN would respond in this totally over-the-top manner and more people would just re-tweet his tweet and laugh at it and see what a pile of BS CNN is. Like you said, it's just an obvious chain of events that you'd get hundreds more of these memes on Twitter.

Joe: But CNN doesn't know how the internet works apparently.

Harrison: Right. And they don't know that no one even knows or cares who creates these memes. They're inherently anonymous. You just find them on the internet and they're funny. No one cares who makes these things and yet right away they want to 'find out who made this!'. They find the guy and then what's-her-name, Mika Brzezinski or whoever it is on CNN - might not have been her - but saying "Oh, it's just extraordinary that CNN managed to find out the name of this guy!" Well no it's not. No one even cares! It's just some guy that made an internet meme! There's millions of those out there! Who cares?! And these people again, taking themselves so seriously, patting themselves on the back for doing such great investigative journalism when nobody cares because nobody should care!

Niall: Right. There's probably a good Lobaczewski quote for this, isn't there Harrison? Something about how the pathocracy never understands no matter how much they try to tighten the control system there are always some who just manage to slither away. I think he makes a reference to ordinary people making fun of the system.

Harrison: Yeah.

Niall: And their total incomprehension. "What are you laughing at? You can't laugh at me. I'm big and scary!" Booga, booga, booga.

Joe: Parallax in the chat room posted the quote of a tweet by Trump where he said "If the press would cover me accurately, honourably I would have far less reason to tweet."

Niall: Touché.

Elan: That does say something about Trump, just his level of engagement. There's been over the years a kind of distance between Presidents and people and Trump is speaking directly to people in real time. There is substance to a lot of what he says. He's calling institutions out for what they're doing so yes, is it "unpresidential"? Yeah! But this is what he has to resort to in order to defend himself and gain an inch of autonomy and breathing space in order to do anything.

Joe: Right. And the amount of anti-Trump tweets or memes that have been out there over the past five or six months into the present are just astronomical. The amount of ridiculing he has received is just crazy. So CNN craps its pants when it gets one.

Niall: All's fair in love and Twitter.

Joe: Yeah, and on that "unpresidential" thing, that's something we've talked about before but these anti-Trump, these "not my President" Trump people are pretty sad. They're so superficial and clueless and caught inside their own bubble, whatever kind of bubble they live in. They take form over substance. Over eight years of Obama, because Obama was smooth and suave and sophisticated and said all the right things, he was Presidential, no problem with him whatsoever. They're not interested in what he's doing or what's going on behind the scenes or even in American foreign policy under him and Clinton. They don't care. They don't even know.

If you asked them what his foreign policy was or what Clinton did as secretary of state they probably wouldn't be able to tell you. All they care about is that he danced with Ellen Degeneres and he was so cool and well-spoken and he looks like a Presidents and he sounds like a President. Their horror of Trump is that he's "unpresidential", that he's crass and rude and doesn't look like a President. That's all those people want.

So when you're dealing with people like that who are at that level so fundamentally disinterested in what's really going on and in the world, well then those people's opinions don't really count in any real way but you understand why Trump has to fight back against it because it's personal at the end of the day. You can't blame anyone for fighting back against the kind of smear tactics that are used against him.

I suppose they're trying to pull a lot of people into that subjective bubble of just hate Trump because he's not presidential. Forget about what he does or doesn't do. And of course they haven't left it at just that of course. There's been this whole massive campaign that began before he was actually inaugurated where they tried to drive a wedge between him and the Russians to stop at all costs any rapprochement or any normalizing of relationships between Russia and the US under Trump.

But maybe that takes us into the G20 this week because the sounds coming out of the G20...

Niall: Before we go there I think it's interesting that this smack-down happened at the same time that there were these retractions, the New York Times and CNN I think as well that Harrison mentioned earlier where there was some confusion over whether or not there were 17 intelligence agencies, i.e., all of them I think, or just three who had signed this letter saying "Blah, blah, we think Russia was behind hacking our elections." Well whether it was three or 17, it's been six months since that was announced and no one in the so-called intelligence community objected to their name being on this letter but now suddenly this past week it's become apparently in fact "objective fact". "Oh no, there were actually ever only three, the NSA, the CIA and the FBI".

It's a little bit weird isn't it? No one objected to it before but this week it became a problem and then beside the next concentric circle in US power after the intelligence agencies, fake media, has to start issuing retractions. When someone said earlier, I think it was Elan, that Trump knows what he's doing, yeah he knows what he's doing. He knows there was a smack-down against the intel people. So I think there's something to do with the timing of the issue of who exactly in the so-called intel community was backing away from their stance and this back we're seeing. I think Trump first got some space somehow in the background, something went on in the background, and then when he had a bit of space he took a swing at CNN, maybe.

Harrison: I don't have anything else to comment on, on that. On the subject of timing, it also came right before the G20 and when you tie all these things together, by that time it was known that Trump would have his meeting with Putin, the first meeting since he was inaugurated, so I thought that timing was interesting too, that this whole CNN thing blows up right before the Trump/Putin meeting. It has played out but you would have expected that this meeting with Trump would get a lot of negative press attention, just the image of Putin and Trump sitting together and smiling and shaking hands would be enough to just set off the vast majority of these CNN types into fits of moral outrage.

So I think it might have had an effect on that as well. But let's get into the G20. Just one thing before we get into really it that ties into something you were saying Joe about Trump is that one of the things that Putin said, I think just yesterday. Do you have the quote Elan?

Elan: I do. Do you want me to read it?

Harrison: Yeah, read that out.

Elan: Okay. So the direct quote from Putin is "As regards personal relations, I believe that they have been established. This is how I see it. Mr. Trump's television image is very different from the real person. He is a very down-to-earth and direct person and he has an absolutely adequate attitude toward the person he is talking with. He analyzes things pretty fast and answers the questions he is asked or new ones that arise in the course of the discussion. So I think that if we build our relations in the vein of our yesterday's meeting there are good reasons to believe that we will be able to revive, at least partially, the level of interaction that we need."

Harrison: So I thought that was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, for anyone who's not completely brainwashed by western media, internationally - I'm thinking about people that aren't totally under the sway of the western kind of propaganda machine - I think there's a lot of respect for Putin across the world despite the American party line and regardless of what a lot of people think about Putin, they still acknowledge that he's a decent statesman and if not decent, then exemplary. To have him saying something like this, that there's actually a real statesman Trump behind the surface that you see on TV, behind the image that he presents of himself that is respectful of the person he's talking to, can answer questions, that's competent, that's down-to-earth and direct, that doesn't try to BS you, that's a glowing compliment.

Again, that goes against the western mainstream narrative of Trump just being this bumbling buffoon who has no idea what he's doing.

Niall: It was good PR for Trump, in short.

Harrison: Yeah.

Elan: Absolutely.

Joe: That's why Trump seemed to have a very positive - as much as Putin had in that quote you just gave - had a positive take on the meeting. The things Trump said during the meeting that were heard where he said afterwards "We're all very positive about Putin as well". So it was a bit of a romance going on there, I'm sure to the shock of the whole world, of the western media and CNN in particular. They definitely didn't like it.

That's what America really needs. I'm not saying Trump, by any stretch of the imagination, is the best person for America right now, but certainly given the alternatives, more Obama or more of someone else in the same line as Obama, that would have been a complete disaster because you notice attitude that Obama took towards Putin over the past number of years at the end of his Presidency. It was this aloof attitude. Obama played the role of President and did not really have any interest in being his own man, in actually being the President in any real way. He was the President in appearance and that's all he did really but he was not interested in actually assuming the powers of the Presidency to himself and charting his own course.

And part of doing that would have been to realize that America needs good relations with Russia. Obama did nothing to restore, in fact did a lot to hinder relations with Russia. and Trump is now taking a practical approach to the whole situation. In the kind of world we live in and given the crappy options that we tend to have for setting the world to rights or making the world a better place, it seems that despite what a lot of people think, Trump was actually the best that America could have had at that point in time because he does seem to be a bit more practical about world affairs and talking turkey and stuff and that means he's not Presidential because he talks turkey. He talks in a more colloquial way and that's just horrifying to a lot of people.

I'm not putting a totally positive spin on it because in terms of what America's intentions are in Syria and all that kind of stuff, which is apparently what took up the bulk of the meeting between Putin and Trump in terms of what they discussed, they spent a lot of time discussing Syria and then Secretary of State Tillerson's comments on the results of that meeting were kind of interesting as well in that he more or less said that maybe in terms of Syria, maybe the way Russia was doing things in Syria is the right way and maybe America has been doing things the wrong way in Syria.

Elan: It's really an incredible admission, isn't it? And I'm sure it's knocked some people back on their heels a little. But you have to remember Trump ran on better relations with Russia.

Niall: Right.

Elan: He said why not if we can establish something? Very reasonable. So for months he's trying to have a meeting with Putin. Lavrov had met with Tillerson and Tillerson had met with Putin previously. This is his big opportunity at the sidelines of the G20 and he took full advantage of it. You see it in his handshake. He not only shook Putin's hand but he grabbed his forearm as a kind of expression of "Look, I'm reaching out to you with both hands!" Quite literally.

Niall: Save me Vlad!!

Elan: Yes. The deep state is on my ass! Excuse the language.

Harrison: "I heard what you did for Erdogan. I might need the same level of support."

Niall: "How did you get rid of those oligarchs?"

Elan: Just to continue on that point, what was supposed to be a half hour discussion turned into two hours and fifteen minutes or so as we've read a dozen times in the past couple of days which speaks volumes about the fact that these two guys had a lot to communicate with one another. And they did!

Joe: And they were able to.

Elan: Yes! In attendance were Lavrov and Tillerson and I think some translators and that's it! Trump didn't have any of his neocon hangers-on in attendance I don't think.

Harrison: And that's interesting too because in the lead-up to this there were all kinds of media reports about the head of the Russian division of the National Security Council or something, Fiona Hill. She's a Brookings Institute Russia hawk. She wrote a psychological biography of Putin, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, what you'd expect from an American writer on Putin, basically saying he's this Machiavellian evil guy.

So there were all kinds of articles about how all kinds of people in the White House were pushing for Fiona Hill to be in this meeting and that Trump should let her in because he needs someone who knows Russia to be there. It was almost sounding like a sure thing that she'd be in there in the meeting and she wasn't there in the meeting. She was in Hamburg. She was there with him but she didn't get to attend. It was just Trump and Tillerson which I found interesting.

Niall: She's never met Putin but she knows exactly how he thinks so she wrote a book on his psychological profile. Right! Trump for his part said the meeting was tremendous and that "It's time to move forward in working constructively with Russia" which is kind of where the rubber hits the road here. This is what they've spent the last 10 months trying to prevent, block, thwart, in any way possible. The cat's out of the bag now. They've met. That's Trump's statement. They will continue to try to suppress any movement in that direction but you notice that in those two hours they advertised some form of a concrete decision with an agreement to not shoot at each other in Syria.

So there'll hopefully be some impetus behind this now to change the facts on the ground.

Joe: Well supposedly they actually agreed to a ceasefire in south western Syria, as in no more coalition...

Niall: As of today, right?

Joe: Right. No more coalition or Russian air strikes and by that implication, no more Syrian air strikes. Now what that actually means and what they're planning on doing under that ceasefire is yet to be seen. Tillerson also said that Russia and the US want exactly the same thing in Syria. Now he didn't say what that was but I suppose he meant it was the defeat of the Jihadis. Of course you can't necessarily take that at face value but he said it and he said that they have differences about how to go about doing it. Of course that's all speaking around the topic of what both Russia and the US are doing in Syria, what they're trying to do, what the troops on the ground and the air force of Russia and the coalition air force, what are they actually really trying to achieve in Syria and what their goals are and how could the US and Russia converge on some kind of a mutually beneficial or mutually acceptable way forward to put an end to the conflict in Syria.

It's hard to see how that would happen in the sense that if Russia has been advocating and insisting on the territorial integrity of Syria all along and I assume maintains that stance at this point while the US is pretty clearly and has been for a year or more, actively and repeatedly supporting the Kurds, or the Free Syrian Army or whatever they're called now but mostly at this point they're giving support to the Kurds.

Niall: The Syrian Democratic Forces.

Joe: That's right.

Niall: You've got to keep up with your acronyms Joe!

Joe: SDF, whatever, which is basically the Kurds largely. The only reason they would be supporting the Kurds in that way is because they want to use the potential for the establishment of a Syrian Kurdistan in the north of Syria as leverage, or that's what they want to achieve outright in order to effectively divide Syria into at least two parts and then they would control a new Syrian Kurdistan. But there's a lot of problems with that situation obviously, one of the major ones being that the Syrian government doesn't want that to happen, it's interested in the division of Syria and the Turks are pretty much dead set against it as well because the Turks do not want a Kurdistan in the north of Syria right on the Turkish border because that would threaten Turkey because there's a lot of Kurds in Turkey along the southern/southeastern borders that would want to then join up and you'd even get a Kurdistan joining up in the north of Iraq with Kurds in Iraq.

The Kurds have been promised a homeland since the First World War basically so they have this historical claim to it and the US seems to be using that as justification to divide up or to argue for the division. Ultimately we'll probably see that coming out at some point, the division of Syria, the cutting off of the northern part of Syria. It's difficult to see how that would go smoothly and I think the reason for that is the way the US wants to support such a thing because they're certainly not doing it on humanitarian grounds or some kind of long standing pro-Kurd sentiment among the Trump government or even in the deep state in the US. It seems to be that the point of that is to create a new country that the US would control as a kind of block to the emergence of Iran primarily in terms of it being the biggest and the most powerful player in the Middle East in terms of its resources and all of that kind of stuff.

That's their main issue because I think the US deep state and the imperialists in the US fear the vision they have of the future, the horrible nightmare vision of the future - Iran rising and being aligned with Russia and even Iraq to some extent falling into that sphere of influence of Iran and Russia and Syria obviously already being in it and even Turkey then seeing the light and realizing it has to operate with Iran and Syria and Iraq and Russia, if that were to happen, if you had this group of countries all working together with the military might of Russia, the energy resources and might of both Iran and Iraq and to some extent Syria, that would be the end of US dominance in the Middle East. It would also probably be the end of Saudi Arabia if Saudi Arabia didn't see the light and throw its lot in with that group.

So basically you're talking here about a sea change in who rules the Middle East or the potential for that to happen and it seems very imminent in that sense or if the US realizes that if it doesn't do something to stop it right now...

Niall: Thus the sudden crisis with Qatar.

Joe: Right. The reason the Qatari crisis came up was because Qatar had been establishing ties with Iran over their mutual gas field in the Persian Gulf and also Qatar, like I mentioned some time previous, that Qatar recently bought a 20% stake in the Russian national gas company Gazprom.

So it was all going in the wrong direction for them, certainly for the Saudis as historically the top dog in the Middle East in line with America, propping up America with the petrodollar and all that kind of stuff. So it's very dangerous. It's almost like an existential crisis for the Americans and you can understand why to a certain extent.

Niall: Yeah. They're losing allies.

Joe: Right. And America would suffer badly. It would be knocked off its perch effectively in a relatively short period of time and it could be catastrophic. And the danger of course is if that were to happen it could be a domino effect and you would have a serious problem for the entire world if America falls.

Niall: And falls too suddenly.

Joe: Right, then everybody's going to suffer and this is one of the reasons, behind the scenes while it's never said when they talk about American interests and why the Americans have always pushed for this dominance around the world is because they realize they've set themselves up into this position where "if we fall then everybody suffers". They maybe exaggerate it a little bit to convince themselves of just how important they are...

Niall: If it's not us it's anarchy.

Joe: Exactly. "If it's not us it's going to be bad for everybody therefore we have to be the leading light in the world. We have to continue. We've already got 700 military bases around the world. We're not going to just close them all up and go home. And that's not just because we want to keep them but that's an established order. If you pull down an established order then chaos ensues."

So these are all the justifications they have, the rationales they have for maintaining the current world order and continuing to do what they do. But then along comes Trump and he's kind of thinking "Well, we're spending a lot of money around the world" and he's more American-centric. He's a bit more isolationist in that way. He thinks about America as a country. It's not that he's against all the stuff America gets from around the world but he's looking at that business plan effectively, of America ruling the world and saying "What's our outlay?"

Niall: Cost benefit analysis.

Joe: Yeah. "What are we paying out and what are we getting back?"

Niall: Yeah. That's why about Iraq he was saying "Six trillion out! What did we get?! We didn't even take the oil!!"

Joe: Right, exactly. So he wants to be more practical about it and say "Listen, we need to cut costs all around the place here." And then that led people to think 'isolationism'. Oh my god! America's going away! Merkel and all the Europeans all got a bit scared and afraid they were going to be left behind and that has emboldened the European heads of state, the EU leaders to say "Well, if we can't rely on America anymore then we've got to go it alone!"

So it's all very chaotic at this point. It's the bringing down, to a certain extent, of the potential for intimations of the breaking down of an old order and it's like musical chairs. Everybody's running around wondering if they're going to end up with a chair, trying to make sure that they end up with a chair when the music stops. So it's a bit chaotic, yeah.

Did you see Macron though at the...

Niall: Yes! He said something similar in his statement regarding Putin. He said "We can move to a new phase in Russia/France relations."

Joe: Well that's natural. As they move away from America the EU leaders start to get afraid that America's going to leave them in the lurch under Trump then they'll naturally start to make smiley faces and make eyes at Russia and look east or look further into the Eurasian continent. But Macron's there and he arrives for his meeting with Putin and he's late. And he apologizes with a smiley face and his big French nose. He's going "Sorry I'm late. I just had to" - this is word-for-word what he said - "I just had to sort a few things out with the climate", meaning that he was in discussions with someone about the Paris accords and getting the deeds to stick on some climate agreement or something like that. That's what he said.

Elan: I think what happened was he came in a little late and Putin said that to him.

Niall: No, no, no. Macron said first...

Joe: Macron comes in and says "I'm sorry I was late but I had to resolve some things with the climate just back there in the room with some of the guys. We were sorting out the climate." That was what he was suggesting, and Putin looked at him and said "Okay." And Putin's response was "Well I hope the climate will be better now that you've had this discussion."

Elan: Oh yes.

Joe: With a kind of smile and Macron's there kind of laughing and smiling. "Well yeah, yeah. I'm sure it will." It's almost like Macron just was clueless about the...

Niall: I think it went over his head.

Joe: ...about the dig that he just had. Putin basically just ridiculed him. "I hope the wildfires in California will now basically go out after you had that discussion." And just to make the point he put on a serious face and the very next thing Putin said following that was "Actually we don't know what the cause of climate change is." And Macron's looking at him going "Whaahaahaa. Yeah", with this big stupid grin on his face as if he doesn't know what's happening. But he continued on to say "But as you know, we also support the Paris accords and we're willing to do whatever we can to help". But in two comments he just ridiculed Macron and told him that the whole premise of what Macron was talking about, i.e., the Paris climate accords, was baseless because nobody knows what causes climate change.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: That was hilarious!

Niall: Yeah. He's awesome.

Elan: Well a couple of other things were discussed during the Putin/Trump...

Harrison: Well before we get to that let's just play a clip. This was Tillerson after, giving a summary, and then we'll get into some of the other things that they discussed.
Tillerson: As to the nature of the two hours and fifteen minutes, first let me characterize the meeting as very constructive. The two leaders I would say 'connected very quickly'. There was a very clear positive chemistry between the two. I think again, and I think the positive thing I observed - and I've had many, many meetings with President Putin before - there was not a lot of re-litigating of the past. I think both of the leaders feel like there's a lot of things in the past that both of us are unhappy about. We're unhappy, they're unhappy. I think the perspective of both of them was 'this is a really important relationship. Two largest nuclear powers in the world. It's a really important relationship. How do we start making this work? How do we live with one another? How do we work with one another? We simply have to find a way to go forward.' And I think that was expressed over and over, multiple times I think by both Presidents, this strong desire.

It is a very complicated relationship today because there are so many issues on the table. And one of the reasons that it took a long time I think is because once they met and got acquainted with one another fairly quickly, there was so much to talk about; all these issues. Just about everything got touched on to one degree or another. And I think there was just such a level of engagement and exchange, neither one of them wanted to stop. Several times I had to remind the President. People were sticking their heads in the door and I think they even sent in the First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there and that didn't work either. But yes, it's true.

Well we went another hour after she came in to see us so clearly she failed. What I'm describing to you, the two hours and fifteen minutes, it was an extraordinarily important meeting. There's just so much for us to talk about and it was a good start. Now we'll tell you, we spent a very, very lengthy period on Syria with a great amount of detail exchanged on the agreement we had concluded today. It was announced. But also where we go in trying to get much greater clarity around how we see this playing out and how Russia sees it playing out and where do we share a common view and where to we have a difference? And do we have the same objectives in mind?

And I will tell you that by and large, our objectives are exactly the same. How we get there - we each have a view - but there's a lot more commonality to that than there are differences so we want to build on the commonality and we spent a lot of time talking about next steps. And then where there's differences we have more work to get together and understand. Maybe they've got the right approach and we've got the wrong approach.

So there was a substantial amount of time spent on Syria just because we've had so much activity going on.
Niall: Did you hear that admission from a US official?! "Maybe we're wrong on something!" I don't think I've ever heard that laid out, actually said.

Joe: I was just hearing the words there of Trump [falsetto] "Oh Vlad! I wish this night would never end. I could go on forever." It was very warm - "Oh Donald!" - recounting of the meeting they had.

Niall: But T Rex was clearly playing it up. He let you know it was two hours and fifteen minutes. He wants people to know that it was awesome.

Joe: But that's the best weapon they have against the attempts by this deep state or whatever other people behind the scenes in the US to stick a wedge between Russia and the US because by having this history, this track record of good meaning positive "we liked the blah, blah, blah," then how do you turn around the next day and say...

Niall: "We're at war."

Joe: "We're going to hate each other." And obviously it seems that if what he said is true and Putin said positive things as well, it suggests that the attempts by these intel agencies in the US to stop an agreement or some kind of meaningful cooperation between Russia and the US, that they were doing that for very good reasons, that their fears were well-founded, i.e., left to their own devices, Trump and Putin or America under Trump and Russia under Putin would...

Niall: Naturally gravitate towards cooperation.

Joe: Right!

Elan: It's interesting because Tillerson went to Moscow a few months ago and the talk behind it was that he was going to give Moscow an ultimatum on Syria, right? But apparently he's talking to Lavrov and then Putin just shows up in the meeting and it goes on for another few more hours or so. The feeling I have is that they worked on him. They gave rational arguments. They gave information and they were able to do with him what they were unable to do with Kerry necessarily. And that is talk some sense into the guy! And Putin just did it again I think, on the sidelines of the G20 when Tillerson kind of strayed a little bit and said "We're not sure about Assad".

Harrison: No, he said they were sure about Assad. He said "There's no place for Assad. The international community wouldn't accept it. We don't know how it'll happen but when the dust all settles there's no place in Syria for the Assad regime." So he was unequivocal about that.

Elan: And so Putin's response to this, setting him straight yet again, is "The Syrians decide who is going to be their President."

Harrison: They said Tillerson isn't a Syrian so he had no right to say that.

Niall: Yeah. I think there's a little bit of play acting going on here. I don't think that Tillerson needed to be worked on or corrected as such. If you remember back to when Tillerson was first rumoured to be nominated as secretary of state, Saturday Night Live pilloried him as big oil, friendship with Russia, oh god yeah, here's another Vlad hatchet man! So that was either an instinctive reaction or a very well informed one. In other words, people who knew Tillerson in the US deep state could predict where this was going to go, i.e., to where we're at just now.

Putin made a point of saying in his press conference after meeting Trump - just before I think he corrected Tillerson. He made a point of saying that "Mr. Tillerson who we know very well after all he has an Order of Friendship", an honorary title/medal, whatever it is, in Russia. So they go way back. CNN and Saturday Night Live were right in highlighting this connection, for the wrong reasons.

Joe: What's wrong with the connection?

Niall: I know.

Joe: The only thing that makes any of that bad is the spurious, made-up bullshit claim that Russia hacked our election. That's the only thing that they have that they threw into the works and everything else is built from that. Because of the supposed hacking of the American election by Russia which didn't obviously happen, anything about Russia at all is evil, is bad. "They destroyed our democracy." It was a really smart move for them to do that actually, if you think about it. But it's not going to last. It's pretty desperate I think and as time gets on there's practicalities that have to be dealt with. You can't hang your hat on a spurious claim.

Niall: Yeah. Investigations have to come to an end. Is there evidence or not? And we've had hints with this retraction business. "Oh we never said all that." Okay yes you did. Okay fine you didn't.

Joe: Yeah.

Elan: The elephants in the room of the discussion between Trump and Putin and I think it was brought out pretty early on, was Trump saying - because he had to ask Putin because they had to say that he would ask this - "What was your role in hacking the US election?" right? So Putin responds as he has been "We had no role. We didn't do anything."

Joe: He asked for evidence.

Elan: Yes, he asked for evidence.

Harrison: Well that's interesting because there were two slightly different accounts from the American side and the Russian side. So on the American side I think it was Tillerson had given the rundown of it saying that Trump twice during the conversation pressed Putin about this and that Putin, like he has done previously, totally denied it and gave his line that Russia had nothing to do with it. Lavrov said that Putin said the same thing but that Trump accepted Putin's denial. So Tillerson didn't say anything about Trump accepting Putin's statement but Lavrov was probably right because you can see it whenever Trump talks about it. He's almost wishy-washy about it. "Yeah, I accepted that the Russians did it. Maybe. But it could have been anybody." So he accepts it and then he denies accepting it.

Joe: It's a really sneaky thing to do in the sense of forcing Trump to make a statement on that. "What do you think? Do you believe Russia hacked the elections" because what he's saying is - and actually Putin brought this up at the St. Petersburg symposium a couple of months ago to that woman Megyn Kelly. She's CNN isn't she?

Niall: She's NBC now.

Joe: NBC. And she said "Well Trump said that he thinks Russia hacked the elections" and Putin said "Are you sure? I didn't hear him actually say that. Are you trying to say that Trump said that Russia gave him the Presidency?" Why would Trump ever think it was a good idea to turn around and say "Yeah, Russia won me the election" because that automatically delegitimizes him as a President. What he's saying is nobody voted for me. The majority of the American public didn't vote for me. He's not going to say that. He's never going to admit that. That's the plan to get him. They tried to get him to say that. Of course he was smart enough to realize "I'm not going to say that. Don't be so stupid. What? I'm going to admit that I shouldn't be President?! You want me to say that?" What kind of crack heads are you people?

But he had to some extent give lip service to it for whatever reason. But as you were saying Harrison, he just flip-flops on it. He says one thing and in the same breath he says the opposite. "Yeah it was probably Russia but it probably wasn't. Anyway, move on. Next question."

Harrison: Yeah.

Joe: So the other bizarre thing is that you have Nikki Haley, this bizarre, anti-matter reincarnation of Samantha Power.

Niall: She's trying to live up to her hero, Samantha Power.

Joe: But she said at the UN - I don't know if it was today, but recently - said publicly that everybody knows that Russia hacked the elections. Is she being told to say that? Who does she actually work for? Is the Trump administration playing a double game here? They seem to be to some extent, like I said, giving lip service to all these things that the media or the deep state or whoever, want them to say and then doing something different.

Harrison: I think that actually says a lot about what the real Trump administration thinks of the UN because if that's true then basically they're thinking "Okay, well let's have a totally rabid republican that just says everything that the deep state wants to hear and let's just stick her at the UN where she can't do any real damage and she can say whatever she wants."

Joe: Yeah, it's like throwing the deep state or CNN a piece of meat every now and again, saying the stuff they want to hear and then just going "Okay, you happy now? Will that shut you up for a week? Okay, good."

Harrison: Another thing on the election hacking discussion that went on, I think they're framing it really well. Tillerson basically said "Yeah we brought it up and there are going to be disagreements and there will always be disagreements but what we're focusing on is moving forward because whatever happened we can't change that but from here going on, we're going to change how things are done and we're going to develop in the future, looking forward, not looking backwards." So they're framing it in such a way that they can at least tacitly admit "Okay yeah, we think Russia hacked the elections but that's irrelevant now because we're establishing good relations and it won't make a difference in the future."

Joe: But do you know what else he said in that clip? I don't know if it was in that clip but Tillerson also was saying that "We didn't want to focus on recriminations. Neither Putin nor Trump wanted to focus on recriminations and stuff that had gone on in the past. There's a lot of grievances on both sides" he said. "There's a lot of stuff we're not happy about. There's a lot of stuff they're not happy about." So it was a tacit admission to CNN and the America-firsters and the exceptional American people is that "Our hands aren't clean". And Trump even said that a few months ago when he was accused about killing people.

Harrison: About Putin being a killer.

Joe: Yeah, exactly. "What? Do you think we don't kill people as well?" So that basic bit of rationality and logic and sense...

Niall: Insight.

Joe: Well it's not an insight, it's just telling the truth in a certain sense.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: It's just simply saying something that everybody should know but apparently nobody's allowed to know. Nobody's allowed to actually tell the basic truth. It's anti-hypocrisy. It's like toning down the hypocrisy, someone who has a sense of "I don't really feel comfortable being massively hypocritical here by going to the UN like Samantha Power and railing against 'Assad killing his people' as if you never killed anybody in your entire life." It's a modicum of decency or integrity in a person that was completely missing in particular under Obama for eight years.

Harrison: And one of the things that came out of this was this cyber security agreement. We can see this as a moving forward. So apparently what Trump and Putin decided was to create a joint Russia-US cyber warfare working group together in order to...

Joe: Stop Russia hacking elections?

Harrison: Yeah, stop Russia hacking elections but setting up something to coordinate what the rules of cyber warfare are, leading up to a kind of treaty like there would be with conventional weapons. Now this gets back to something that Putin had said to Oliver Stone in the Putin Interviews, the recent Showtime interviews where Putin had told Stone that years ago Russia had approached the US with the idea of creating and then signing a cyber warfare treaty, establishing the rules of cyber warfare and how things would work with this new kind of warfare because it's totally unregulated. If you look at conventional weapons and nuclear weapons there are treaties and international agreements on how things should be done but there's nothing of the sort for cyber warfare.

So Putin says that the Americans didn't even get back to them on this. They just totally ignored the issue. Now that Russia hasn't hacked the elections it interesting because by not hacking the elections, it has created the climate where on the surface, in public, it necessitates a kind of agreement to be reached. "Oh, there's a problem! We need to do something about this problem! Well let's work on cyber security together!" So now by not hacking the elections Russia is on the way to getting something they've always wanted because they've wanted this kind of cyber agreement because the US is the biggest cyber warfare purveyor on the planet. That's really what the issue comes down to is that Russia isn't the biggest hacker on the planet, it's the US. US cyber warfare is probably the most dangerous and prevalent in the world.

Just to repeat myself, by Russia not hacking the election they're actually getting something in the direction of the kind of agreement with the States that would perhaps ideally regulate this kind of subversive warfare to a certain degree.

Niall: I think the key thing is monitoring. Once monitoring is in place far less people can do these kinds of things on the sly. And not just doing things on the sly, but there'll be some monitoring and like you say, regulation would mean that the things that are already out of control might just be reined in like we saw with the Vault 7 Wikileaks thing where the entire NSA cyber warfare hacking kits, the actual viruses they've created are apparently out of control out there.

Joe: All of what we're talking about here, all of these events kind of speak to something that is kind of positive and it seems to be an awareness on the part of the Trump administrative as representatives of America, that they can't do what they want anymore, that we're entering a new era where because of the shift in the global power balance, whatever, away from America from a position of complete dominance to other major powers, America is realizing that it actually has to engage in negotiations and in an honest way. It actually has to seriously say "There's only one option here. We can't dictate terms anymore to everybody and force them under threat of violence to do it or else, that we have to actually engage in dialogue and discussion in a serious and honest way and actually stick to it because the alternative is war."

And of course you have this war party or this war deep state in the US who don't see it that way, who say "There can be no falling away of American hegemony and we have to do whatever is necessary to maintain our position on the top of the pile where we can dictate terms to everybody" and that's up to and including all sorts of acts of violence and setting fire to places. And ultimately those people will destroy the world.

So despite what people think - and with the caveat that we don't think America has changed radically for the better in that sense - but it is that the Trump administration does seem to be a change for the better in that respect and in the context of the world being in a pretty terrible state already.

Elan: Two things. One, just a minor development that also came out of the talks was that Tillerson and Trump created a special US envoy to Ukraine and again, Tillerson gives credit to Putin. He says "As per the Russian suggestion, as per Putin's suggestion, we're going to make some show of being a little more engaged with the developments in Ukraine by establishing this new envoy". And Putin was very smart. He knows that talking to Angela Merkel about Minsk II and really putting any kind of pressure on Kiev to implement the agreements made in Minsk II are fruitless after two years of this. So he is at least in part, saying to the Americans "Hey, you guys helped call the shots here." Poroshenko did come with his hat in his hand to Trump about a month ago asking for support in that unofficial meeting that they had. So we have this third little thing.

But just getting back for a moment to what you said Joe, it's Trump. It's probably going to be his finest moment or one of them in his Presidency and unfortunately what seems to be the case is this deep state that he's fighting is probably going to, in their usual way, respond to this moment in some kind of devious and crude manner.

Joe: Yeah.

Elan: To try and undercut things. It's just like a mathematical formula. Okay, now we really have to get some kind of false flag going in Syria or create some other fracture to damage whatever accomplishment Trump and Putin...

Niall: I would suggest that they have one already up and running - the situation in North Korea. That's sort of competing with the G20 and other things like Syria for being the hotspot that could trigger Armageddon and all that. I think it's interesting that this just re-flared only a few months ago even though North Korea has been an unended war since 1950 - can't remember.

Joe: '53.

Niall: So yeah. But what's confusing about that situation is that Trump is every bit as warmonger like in his statements about North Korea as you'd imagine the deep state trying to undercut him would be.

Joe: Well that's leverage. There's a lot of bluff and bluster, like we said before on the show. About 50% of American and a lot of other countries' foreign policies but particularly American, 50% of their power in terms of projecting their power and influence on other countries, is propaganda, is what they say and the words that they say. Very often you can achieve what you want without firing a shot by just using the right words and the right intimidations and threats. That's their first port of call, to sabre-rattle and all that kind of stuff and that by no means, means that they have any intention of actually doing anything about it and I think in the context of North Korea they really realize that they can't do anything about it because China has been pretty clear that there's no option for any kind of an attack on or invasion of Korea and Russia has also said that it has to resolve diplomatically. There's no other option.

So how the deep state would organize something like that, I don't know. Provocations really only work as a gift to a President or a government in power that is eager and willing and ready to launch a war. They get offered the casus belli, the sexed-up dossier or Iraq's WMDs. That was just offered to them. Or 911 was offered as a reason to project American power around the world and they were ready, willing and able to go for it. They had already written papers on why they needed to do what they did after 911 and all they needed was 911. So these things are offered to governments to fulfil or to implement the already-established policy of warmongering.

Now it seems to me that that kind of attitude doesn't exist necessarily in the Trump administration and then you get into the question of who controls the military and is it possible there's someone somewhere who can order the military to go to war against the administration's wishes and I don't think we've seen that yet. That would be a new one.

So it's a problem for these deep state actors and their provocations because unless you've got an administration that is clueless to them and really believes the provocation and believes the lie, like that Assad used chemical weapons or if you have an administration who wants to go to war, unless you've got those two things or one or the other of those two things, then your provocations aren't really very useful. We've seen a hint from the Trump administration that they're not really interested in taking that kind of bait although they've been flip-flopping a little bit but you can put a lot of it down to bluff and bluster and the propaganda effect.

In terms of what they did after the first alleged provocation back in April of the alleged chemical weapons used in Syria and the response by the Trump administration was to engage in a bit of a fireworks show and then say "Okay, moving on" and then this thing, like we were saying last week, about Mattis saying that "Oh, Assad's going to do another chemical weapons thingy according to our intelligence computer" and then "Oh he didn't do it. Oh he must have heard us. Oh aren't we so great!" That's all...

Niall: Very good intelligence.

Joe: What is that even for? Why did you even say that. You just look stupid. And nobody's buying it and you can only use that chemical weapons thing so often, especially when you have the response from Russia in particular calling it out as bullshit and if you don't act on it, you're can't go very far with that. You can't do it again and again. So we'll have to see where it goes, but I don't know. We've got another 3-1/2 years of El Donaldo versus the deep state versus Russia versus China versus North Korea versus Europe.

Harrison: It might be another 7-1/2 years.

Joe: Oh yeah? Well here's hoping Harrison! Four more years! Not my President! You're not my President Trump!

Elan: Or it might be less than four years.

Niall: Oooooh. Or it might be twelve years. Is there...

Elan: Trump for President forever!

Joe: Yeah, when he's 90. Four more years!

Niall: No, then it'll be our first woman President - Ivanka Trump.

Joe: Ah yes. He's grooming her obviously by putting her in front of all these meetings, stand-in for him. He probably has an idea "Ivanka could be far better than Hillary. They want a woman, I've got one! She happens to be my daughter."

Niall: So long as he doesn't call her a hot piece of whatever.

Joe: Yeah, whatever.

Elan: Ohhh.

Joe: Well whatever. You know there's a lot worse things in the world than crass, male sexist comments like that. People shouldn't get their knickers in a twist about them. There's far more important things to be dealt with, far worse things going on. Alright I think we'll call it a night there guys, will we?

Harrison: Yeah, sure. I'm G20'd out.

Joe: You're G20'd out.

Elan: I'm CNN'd out.

Niall: I'm Twumped.

Joe: I'm Putin this one to bed. {groans}

Niall: Ohhhh, that was good.

Joe: Alright. Play us out there.

Elan: Alright.

All: Good-byes.