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9 Jul, 2018 20:58

‘Prump/Tutin’: New York Magazine goes off deep end of conspiracy pool

‘Prump/Tutin’: New York Magazine goes off deep end of conspiracy pool

As President Donald Trump gears up to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, New York Magazine has published the craziest ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory yet: that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987.

The magazine’s article, titled ‘Prump Tutin’, is the lead story in this week’s print issue, and opens by broadly discussing unproven allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.

“A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists, but we can responsibly speculate as to what lies at the end of this scandal without falling prey to their fallacies,” writes author Jonathan Chait, before strapping on his tinfoil hat and presenting almost 80 paragraphs of the wildest conspiracy theories, alleging that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987.

It all goes back to Trump’s visit to what was then still the Soviet Union. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR was beginning to open up and Western investors were eyeing up a potentially lucrative market. Trump nosed around, discussed building a hotel in Moscow with Soviet officials, and returned home to his gold-encrusted penthouse. The Moscow hotel never came to fruition.

He did, however, take an active interest in politics upon his return, when he dropped his affiliation with the Democratic party and became a Republican. ‘The Donald’ spent almost $100,000 on a series of newspaper ads blasting America’s NATO spending, a line he still repeats on Twitter to this day.

In the meantime, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Russian Federation was born; the KGB became the FSB; the US went through a Clinton, two Bushes, and an Obama administration; and Russia went through shock therapy of plunging into capitalism under Boris Yeltsin who won his second term with the help of Western experts, and enjoyed growth and stability in early 2000s not without the help of the oil prices. Putin has been at the helm of the country since 1999.  Russia-US relations ebbed and flowed in those three decades, but one Russian objective remained, Chait argued: Make Donald Trump president.

Chait asserts that Russia bugged Trump doing something incriminating during his visit, and blackmailed him into the presidency almost 30 years later. The slew of false accusations leveled against Trump in the ‘Steele Dossier’ last year - including the famous charge that Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed that Barack Obama once slept on - are cited as proof that the Russians are capable of this.

Trump’s own sexual appetites are also used as proof. Did you know that he once attended an event in a Las Vegas venue that ‘sometimes’ hosted shows with a gratuitous sexual theme? And that he “acts like someone with something to hide.” According to Chait, the ‘pee pee tapes’ are not a bizarre liberal fantasy, but a real piece of incriminating evidence.

Every spurious tie between Trump and Russia is bundled together into one convenient, incoherent narrative: Trump hired Putin to hack voting machines; Russian trolls got their instructions direct from Trump Tower; Russia funds the NRA.

Thankfully, with so many accusations flying around, there’s a handy infographic to help readers keep track of all the collusion. According to the graphic, Trump is linked to Putin, because Russian MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko was signed by an MMA league Trump had a stake in. Who has attended Emelianenko’s fights? Vladimir Putin. Case closed.

To Chait, next week’s Helsinki summit is the final step in the two leaders’ plan for world domination, or… something.

“As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler,” he wrote.

Although praised by the anti-Trump #Resistance, New York Magazine’s article has been savaged by Trump supporters and some media figures, one of whom described it as “a tweet storm, not an essay.”

Conspiracy-mongering aside, what Chait’s article does make clear is that to #Russiagate fanatics, facts don’t matter. The fact that a yearlong House Intelligence Committee report released in April found no evidence of collusion doesn’t matter. Neither does the fact that after over a year and with almost $20 million spent, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has still uncovered no collusion.

As long as the wildest tales of ‘Russiagate’ are presented like a Tom Clancy spy thriller, Democrats, anti-Trumpers, and their allies in the media seem happy to keep turning the pages.