When Donald Trump makes ridiculously untrue comments, few are surprised. The president has a reputation for breathtaking dishonesty, which is well deserved. Making matters much worse, however, is the degree to which his White House makes no real effort to be more trustworthy.
For example, the White House issued a formal written statement late Friday responding to the federal indictment of 13 Russian operatives who are accused of attacking our elections to help put Trump in power. A Washington Post analysis described the statement as "extremely dishonest," and documented several demonstrable falsehoods -- none of which has been corrected.
But West Wing officials weren't content to stop there. On Twitter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "Unlike Obama, [Trump] isn't going to be pushed around by Russia or anybody else." That might be slightly less laughable if Obama hadn't imposed sanctions on Russia, which is the opposite of what Trump did.
But it was one of Sanders' colleagues who took the offensive to another level. The HuffPost noted:
Just a day after the special counsel leading the investigation indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations, the White House deputy press secretary said it's the media and Democrats who have "created chaos more than the Russians" for their coverage of the probe into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election."There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians, and that's the Democrats and the mainstream media," said Hogan Gidley in a Saturday "Fox & Friends" interview.
So, on Friday, the Justice Department brought criminal charges against Russian operatives who attacked our democracy. And on Saturday, Trump's deputy press secretary effectively defended the Russians, saying it's Democrats and American journalists who are actually responsible for creating "chaos."
What happened after Gidley's absurdity is every bit as important as absurdity itself.
NBC News' Dafna Linzer noted that a Russian propaganda network seized on Gidley's on-air comments, promoting them to Russia Today's audience.
In other words, the day after our Justice Department pushed back against an attack on the United States, Russian officials were pleased with the public-relations assistance Moscow received from the Trump White House.
Take a bow, Hogan Gidley. You not only came up with a ridiculous talking point, that argument was also approvingly amplified by those responsible for an attack against the United States.