Yesterday, as a fetish porn story unfolded, pro-Clinton journalists had hours of fun on social media. It was a red-letter day for Trump’s liberal media opponents. You know. That bunch of idiots who, somehow, remain convinced that if you show how a particular politician has behaved outside established order, the electorate will suddenly lose faith in his politics. As though it were not precisely Trump’s lack of establishment credentials, or even established good manners, that helped get him over the line.

The story goes that during his Friday intelligence briefing on Russian hacking, Trump was presented with a personally damning dossier on himself, and several of his associates. The point of the exercise was, in some accounts, for the intelligence community to show Trump how genuinely scary intel, whether Russian or US, could be. They could even spy on him! Chuck Schumer, shortly to be the highest-ranking Democrat in US federal government, had warned him this might happen. Don’t discredit security agencies, he said last week: “He’s being really dumb to do this.”

Perhaps he was. CNN reported late Tuesday that a memo, described as the work of an unidentified British operative, containing compromising allegations about Trump had been received, but would not be published by them as it couldn’t be verified. But BuzzFeed, AKA Baby’s First News Platform, went ahead and uploaded it anyhow.

At least some of the claims in the now published, unverified leak can be refuted. Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist known for his close and extraordinary work with Edward Snowden, is yet to report on the matter at The Intercept. But he, a man forensically frustrated with the current liberal media faith that everything the US intelligence community says, or possibly leaks, must be trusted, showed the fragility of a few of the claims on Twitter. That a Trump solicitor, Michael Cohen, is charged therein with having met in Prague “NGO officials who are part of the Kremlin for some hacking scheme”, can make legitimate claim to never having visited the Czech Republic begins to make the document less convincing.

There’s some stuff, naturally, about Team Trump and its close association with “the Kremlin”, Julian Assange and other species of imagined modern devil. But the thing that really grabbed headlines was Trump’s alleged private “perversion”.

These claims, which describe Trump’s engagement of female sex workers for the purposes of weeing on a bed in a Moscow hotel that had previously contained Barack and Michelle Obama, are quite difficult to believe. Sure, Trump seems likes an impulsive person with the capacity to think just a few moves ahead, but it would probably occur even to him that he would be forced that night to sleep on a urine-soaked mattress.

That anyone will believe these claims seems unlikely. That the dissemination of these claims will do further damage to public faith in the US intelligence community seems very probable. But, that didn’t stop a thousand news services from using the terms “Trump” and “perversion” in their headlines, nor did it give liberal media workers much pause to think that their own diffusion of rank nonsense ends with a joke on them, and the old DC establishment they are currently at pains to endorse.

What this Watersports-gate did offer, though, was a chance for prominent liberal advocates, who haven’t shut up for the last 12 months about how much they love and accept their new gay pets, to call someone a perv. Just as liberals can still enjoy racism-lite in the form of Russophobia, they can now enjoy homophobia-lite in the form of mocking a non-normative sexual practice.

[Razer’s Class Warfare: pissing in one’s mouth is a traditional value]

As a person who has happened to suffer ridicule for her, ahem, proclivities, I can find no way to excuse this herd of sex-shaming journalists. We do not defile our public platform, or our professed love of tolerance, by calling someone a Dirty Bertie when it suits us. And, yes, it might seem odd to you and me personally when we learn that there are those libidos enflamed by ablutions. But, no, it is not honourable, or even tolerable, when journalists spend all day on social media making piss jokes. How these differ significantly from repugnant jeers about “fudge-packing” is beyond me.

That you can still effectively diminish a person, any person, by suggesting that they enjoy unorthodox sex acts is plain. That you must not, ever, even if it is a guy you loathe, should be equally evident to journalists. But there’s a lot of stuff that should be evident to journalists that currently eludes them. Among them, the fact that many voters outside the media class no longer give a hoot if such-and-such the politician is found to be privately corrupt.

We accept that politicians are privately corrupt, or even dirty. Poll after poll bears out a faith in democracy so greatly diminished, the Lowy Institute can barely keep up. Turnbull and Shorten are the most unpopular leaders in decades. Clinton and Trump were the most disliked nominees in the history of US presidential elections. “Socialism” ranks as a good idea to a majority of US Millennials, who don’t think much of the present order. We don’t trust politicians, and we have begun to lose faith in a media elite chuckling to itself about dirty perverts who don’t enjoy tasteful sex like they do. Where we have begun, perilously, to place our trust is in anything that looks anti-media, anti-establishment or anti-politician — i.e. Trump. Establishment, but not quite so much when considering the opposition. He is, at least, a guy who doesn’t swallow everything the CIA tells him.

Journalists don’t seem to be able to grasp this dislike for establishment, especially those writing yards of fanciful text on the supposed integrity of the US intel community, which must, WMDs notwithstanding, now be believed. When the CIA makes them, or when BuzzFeed prints their unverifiable record, establishment statements must be believed, per most current press. Don’t we know these guys are experts?

The Grizzly Steppe report, currently the “best” evidence that the Russians are stealing our brains, was a stick of IT candyfloss. Still, the Washington Post used the moment to declare that those Russians — you know them, they’re the people who will piss on your bed if you pay them — had actually infiltrated the power grid of Vermont.

Following Greenwald’s analysis of the shocking claim, the Post printed a retraction. But, like many outlets, the Post will continue to urge its readers to believe in the goodness of established US authority at all costs. Even if the information about their highly questionable goodness comes from highly questionable sources.

What, I ask almost every hour I spend torturing myself with “news”, do these advocates for democracy think that they’re doing, other than disservice to their preferred candidates and themselves? Do they think they can create a new surge of belief in establishment by repeating the claim that we must not question it at all?  “Believe the CIA, and the NSA as well,” they say. Not bloody likely.

Day after day, formerly reputable outlets like The Guardian, the Post, The Age and the New York Times print intel community speculation as fact and try to convince us that the only problem with democracy is that we permit bad people, who enjoy pee, participation in it. The need to loathe Trump is so psychologically immediate for so many journalists, they do not see they are imperilling what little trust they retain from readers. In calling for a renewed, and quite unreasonable, faith in the establishment, they come across like unelected school prefects.

[Razer: welcome to Planet Disneyland, where even the ‘real’ news is fake]

It is unlikely that this leak contains much that is verifiable, or even true. It is, in my view, certain that voters are sick of self-serving shit upchucked by the press about little nothings. In his first-rate coverage of the US election campaign, Australian Richard Cooke was one of the few journalists to report on just how much Trump voters despised media — maybe even more than they hate China. The fixation of the press on what Trump said, or what he did privately, was seen by them as self-interested and petty. It was Greenwald who predicted that this ongoing refusal of press to engage with Trump’s policy — they just kept stubbornly refusing to admit that he had any — would end in the dissolution of public trust. It did. Journalists made jokes for 12 months about Trump’s bright orange skin, his failure to speak the tolerant establishment language of our time. He’s now the President-elect, and the answer the piss-joking journalists have for that strange turn is either that his supporters are all white supremacists, even those who voted for Obama in two previous elections, or that the Russians stole all of democracy’s power. How do we know? Our trustworthy intelligence agencies.

People are not buying the personal moral injunctions of the press and more than they are buying the story about the purity of the NSA. Even if it does turn out that Trump loves nothing more than to drink the blood of children in a Jacuzzi filled with the finest Slavic urine, it is likely that few will care. Whatever Meryl Streep says — and that this person, of all persons, could be seen as a defender of diversity is extraordinary — people no longer give much of a toss about the cruel things a politician might say, much less what he does or doesn’t privately do in a chamber that once hosted the Obamas.

We care in rapidly shrinking numbers for the good character of politicians. We now suspect all of them of badness, and so the evidence of it is no troubling surprise. Clinton needn’t have bothered spending so much time bearing out the fact of her upright moral goodness, of her deep love for all peoples — excepting Russians. If she’d spent a little more time talking about what she might do in future office and a little less fondly recalling her brief ’70s moment as an advocate for disabled children, you probably wouldn’t be getting angry at my description of tone-deaf liberal speech right now. We’d both be rehearsing the phrase, “Madam President”.

We don’t care so uniformly anymore if politicians are good or bad people. This is evident, I think, in the current kerfuffle around Sussan Ley. Australia is no longer a nation so well-to-do that we can all afford to worry about bad politicians. It’s bad policies that provoke our anger. Concern for individual morality is largely a hobby of the rich.

As I wrote on Tuesday, the press and political savaging of Ley does not reflect the rage Australians shut out of the housing market feel when it comes to this matter. The most shocking thing for me about the Ley story was not that she might have taken some time out from a funded schedule to buy a house — don’t politicians routinely give themselves advantage? The shocking thing for me was the purchase itself. She can afford a holiday home; I barely make my rising rent.

This is how we live now, many of us in the West: with ancient lavatories in unfashionable suburbs from payday to payday in insecure jobs. It’s not a terrible life, and it’s nothing like the everyday horrors of the global South. But it bears little resemblance to the lives we were promised, the lives that establishment press and politicians seem to believe that everyone enjoys.

For all I care, Ley can charge private flying lessons to the public purse. Trump can ride up and down in a gold elevator all afternoon. Putin can spend all the Kremlin petty cash training a private army of precision pissers. I’d prefer it, of course, if these leaders spoke politely, and possibly put down a tarp down when transacting sex in popular hotels. But really, all I want is their clear-headed policy, and a press that holds that, and not their character, to account.

Peter Fray

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