Afternoon Idiocy Watch

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Our little lost aircraft carrier (aka the USS Carl Vinson) is the story of the day on Twitter, providing laughs aplenty. But there’s a serious side to this as well. The New York Times provides us with the official story:

White House officials said Tuesday that they had been relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from an ill-timed announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by the defense secretary, Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that a flotilla was racing toward the waters off North Korea.

There are only two options here. First, Trump ordered the carrier group to sail immediately for the Korean Peninsua, but naval officials disobeyed him. Second, Trump (or Mattis) ordered something different, but then deliberately lied about it to make it sound like the carrier was making flank speed for the Yellow Sea. So which is it? We’re all adults here, and I assume no one is buying this nonsense that it was all just a big glitch.

In other news, the White House sent out this press release today. Seriously, they did:

The news here is that members of the Trump administration support Donald Trump. The other news, apparently, is that the White House was unable to find anyone else to praise Trump’s feeble “Buy American” executive order.

Moving on: Ryan Lizza has talked to some intelligence sources about all those classified intercepts in which Susan Rice allegedly “unmasked” the names of Trump aides. “There’s absolutely nothing there,” said one person who’s read them all. So what’s going on? Another person told us what I think we all knew already:

The intelligence source told me that he knows, “from talking to people in the intelligence community,” that “the White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ They put out an all-points bulletin”—a call to sift through intelligence reports—“and said, ‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.’ And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.”

It’s pretty obvious that this has been the motivation for everything that’s happened since Trump’s original clueless tweet. What a waste. And keep in mind that this idiotic strategy never would have come close to working if not for Fox News and Breitbart and folks like Devin Nunes, who are willing to shill for Trump regardless of the circumstances.

Finally, the Associated Press reports on Ivanka Trump’s business acumen:

On April 6, Ivanka Trump’s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

That paragraph used to be the lead, but later got demoted to the 7th graf. I’m not sure why. But AP reports that sales have hit record levels in 2017, “up an estimated 166 percent last year.” And one day in particular was especially good:

Not bad! That Ivanka sure knows how to pick the right celebrity mouthpieces, doesn’t she?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend