The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Is @MaxBlumenthal on the Kremlin Payroll? (And Other Ukraine Questions)

Posted on | August 3, 2022 | Comments Off on Is @MaxBlumenthal on the Kremlin Payroll? (And Other Ukraine Questions)

We’ll get to the Max Blumenthal-as-Putin-puppet angle in just a minute, but first, Ace of Spades notices a shift in Bidenland:

White House Stenographer Tom Friedman
Throws Zelenskyy and Ukraine
Under the Bus, Calling Both Corrupt.
What Does It Mean?

That question — “What does it mean?” — involves some reading of the tea leaves from anonymous officials quoted by Friedman:

Dear reader: The Ukraine war is not over. And privately, U.S. officials are a lot more concerned about Ukraine’s leadership than they are letting on. There is deep mistrust between the White House and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine — considerably more than has been reported.
And there is funny business going on in Kyiv. On July 17, Zelensky fired his country’s prosecutor general and the leader of its domestic intelligence agency — the most significant shake-up in his government since the Russian invasion in February. It would be the equivalent of Biden firing Merrick Garland and Bill Burns on the same day. But I have still not seen any reporting that convincingly explains what that was all about. It is as if we don’t want to look too closely under the hood in Kyiv for fear of what corruption or antics we might see, when we have invested so much there.

Why would “U.S. officials” be informing Friedman of how “privately . . . concerned” they are and their “deep mistrust” toward Zelensky? Such communications are never accidental. “U.S. officials” don’t just happen to express such misgivings over cocktails with a prominent New York Times columnist. The Biden administration (or the State Department, or the Pentagon or the CIA, or some combination of these bureaucracies) is clearly trying to send a signal, but as Ace asks, “What does it mean?”

I mean, it’s true that Ukraine is corrupt, but we live in an Empire of Lies where the truth is forbidden and is only permitted to be spoken when it, coincidentally, and perversely, advances a Regime goal.
So why send out this errand boy? Why has this errand boy been sent out by grocery clerks to collect a bill?
What Regime goal is being perversely advanced by the truth here?
We had a similar Deep State hit on Zelenskyy a week or so back — regarding Zelenskyy firing government officials the American Deep State apparently had on their payroll and thus did not want fired — I think and I think it can be explained the same way: Zelenskyy is being told “You are being paid by us, you are our puppet, and we can replace you easily if you do not dance to our movement of your strings.”

Ace enlists Jim Geraghty’s expertise in tea-leaf reading:

My best guess is that nobody at the White House was prepared for Russia’s invasion, but neither did they believe that Ukraine could inflict such heavy casualties on the Russians and thus produce this kind of drawn-out conflict, which has had very bad political consequences for Biden. So they want to pressure Zelensky into some kind of “peace for our time” negotiated ceasefire that Team Biden can then spin as a foreign-policy “success.” But that’s just my guess, and it’s entirely possible that nobody in D.C. really knows what their ideal end-game is or how they’ll achieve it, so perhaps I’m giving too much credit to them as having some kind of coherent motive, when they actually don’t. And now let’s turn our attention to alleged Russian puppet Max Blumenthal . . .

About 15 years ago, when he was a young “investigative reporter” (a/k/a, partisan hit man) for The Nation, Blumenthal authored an “exposé” of the Washington Times focused on accusations of racism — “RAAAAACISM!” — against me and some of my bosses. Blumenthal’s “sources” included a washed-up alcoholic who’d left the paper a year or so previously, and whose name I won’t repeat here, but whose credibility wasn’t exactly gold standard, to say the least. All that is water over the dam, and I never even think about it anymore, except Tuesday morning I woke up and wondered, “Whatever happened to Max Blumenthal?”

Don’t ask me why that question just hit me out of the clear blue sky, because I can’t exactly remember — maybe it was something I dreamed. At any rate, Blumenthal was once reasonably prominent, well-known enough that Andrew Breitbart liked to use him as a punch-line, but I hadn’t heard anything about him in several years, since he got himself mixed up in a controversy over his anti-Israel opinions.

So, I started Googling and oh, ho ho ho! What have we here?

Blumenthal has contributed to broadcasts on RT (formerly known as Russia Today) on many occasions. In December 2015, during a visit to Moscow presumed by multiple sources to have been paid for by the Kremlin, Blumenthal was a guest at RT’s 10 Years On Air anniversary party attended by President Vladimir Putin, then-Lieutenant General Michael Flynn of the United States and English politician Ken Livingstone. In an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News in November 2017, Blumenthal defended RT against “the charge that it’s Kremlin propaganda.” He has also contributed on multiple occasions to Sputnik radio, as well as to Iran’s Press TV and China’s CGTN. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone website within a month after his visit to Moscow. In an October 2019 article for New Politics magazine, Gilbert Achcar wrote that Blumenthal’s Grayzone, along with the World Socialist Web Site, has “the habit of demonizing all left-wing critics of Putin and the likes of [Syrian dictator ] Assad by describing them as ‘agents of imperialism’ or some equivalent”. . . .
After Blumenthal’s visit to Moscow in December 2015, according to a 2018 article by Janine di Giovanni in The New York Review of Books, he began to promote views supportive of Bashar al Assad and the Syrian government’s position.

For the record, Blumenthal denies selling out for Kremlin cash, and I have no information one way or another on the subject, but it appears that Blumenthal has now somehow become a target of the “Deep State.” This involves a London-based firm called Molfar, “a consulting company specializing in open-source intelligence.” Molfar “is partnered with Ukraine’s Ministry for Digital Transformation” and with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an agency that is almost as “Deep State” as the CIA. And it seems Molfar is defaming Blumenthal, the left-wing British paper Morning Star reports:

Molfar came to the attention of the Star after it sent a press release last week offering to dish dirt on Grayzone journalist Max Blumenthal, who it accused of taking “money from the Kremlin to run an aggressive campaign against Ukraine.”
Mr Blumenthal strenuously denied the allegations and told the Star he had not been given a copy of the file.
“Molfar has been too cowardly to provide its dodgy dossier to my colleagues, so I have not seen it in full. But the claims made in its mass email are totally false, as I and the Grayzone do not receive state funding. Unlike the USAID-backed smear factory at Molfar, our support is entirely grassroots and reader-based.
“This half-baked attempt at intimidating me for my factual journalism pales in comparison to the repression and violence meted out by the US-backed post-Maidan regime against the many Ukrainian journalists, politicians and human rights activists who have dissented against its corrupt and authoritarian rule,” he said.

So, Zelenksy’s “regime” is “corrupt and authoritarian,” according to Blumenthal, who claims to be the victim of a “USAID-backed smear factory.” In other words, our tax money is being paid to some “consulting company” in London that is defaming an American citizen on behalf of the Ukrainian government? Speaking as someone who has zero admiration for Max Blumenthal, neverthless I must object to this alleged abuse of U.S. taxpayer money. It was perhaps predictable, when the Biden administration started flinging billions upon billions of dollars in assistance to Ukraine, that some of this money would be used in nerfarious ways, but smearing Max Blumenthal — whose father is a longtime henchman of Hillary Clinton — on behalf of the Kiev government? No, I never would have predicted that.

On the other hand, if these Molfar guys have actual proof that Blumenthal is on Putin’s payroll, they need to stop making vague accusations in press releases and start dishing out the actual evidence.

Either way the cookie crumbles — either Max really is a Kremlin puppet, or the “Deep State” is once again exposed as shady and incompetent — I’m ready to see this story become front-page headline news.



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