N.Y. Times lends opinion page to strange conspiracy theorist

Glenn Greenwald has said that “many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies,” notably “a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence.” Among those he references are Rachel Maddow and Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress.

I would add another name — Louise Mensch, journalist, digital media executive at the News Corporation, and former member of UK Parliament. Alex Pfeiffer of the Daily Caller describes some of Mensch’s pet conspiracy theories. According to Pfeiffer, she has written that “Breitbart and Russia are 100% linked”; that Jeff Sessions is a “Russian partisan”; and that the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted online was actually a Russian hacking ring.

Taking the alleged Breitbart-Russia connection one absurd step further, Mensch has tweeted: “I absolutely believe that Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Putin. . .” (Greenwald responded “absolutely.” Given his contempt for theories less egregious than this one, I imagine Greenwald was having a laugh.)

Mensch, then, would seem like a strange candidate for a place on the opinion section of the New York Times. But there she is, with a column called “What to ask about Russian Hacking.” That’s how committed the Times is to the anti-Trump “resistance.” No one is too loony or too opportunistic for the Times to turn down if he or she can advance the unsubstantiated Trump-Russia collusion story.

Mensch’s piece consists mainly of questions she would like the House Intelligence to pose to various individuals. These are typical:

[For Jeff Sessions] To your knowledge, did you break the law during the campaign? If so, how? To your knowledge, did anyone else related to the Trump campaign break the law during the campaign?


[For Carter Page] Stephen Miller, then a campaign spokesman, stated that Jeff Sessions was putting together the foreign policy team. How were you recruited to that team? What contact did you have with its head, Mr. Sessions?

As far as I know, neither Sessions nor Page is on the Committee’s witness list. The same is true for others Mensch has drafted questions for. Her lengthy witness wishlist includes Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Anton. It’s a wonder Steve Hayward didn’t make the list.

Were any of the people for whom Mensch has drafted questions to testify, many of her questions could be handled with one of two responses: “No” or “Who gives a sh*t?”

Near the end of her romp on the Times opinion page, Mensch tell us: “Never in American history has a president been suspected of collaborating with a hostile foreign power to win an election.” She may be right as to past presidents, but her statement assumes that the suspicion of Trump is reasonable.

If so, it would have been reasonable to suspect that President Obama collaborated with Russia during his election campaign. We know that Obama told the Russian president that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election. A conspiracy theorist might ask: What did Russia agree to do to aid Obama’s campaign in exchange for this promise of flexibility?

I don’t consider Obama’s statement evidence of collusion. But there is at least as much reason to view it as such as there is to suspect that Russia’s hacking of certain Democrats’ emails was the product of collusion with the Trump campaign.

It’s telling that the New York Times had to reach down to Louise Mensch to maintain the Trump-Russia collusion drumbeat. It publishes her piece at a time when Mike Morell and James Clapper are saying there’s no evidence of collusion, and congressional Democrats tamping down the expectations of their left-wing base.

It’s equally telling that the Times would reach down to an inveterate conspiracy theorist like Mensch.