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Alternative History
April 3, 2019

What would have happened if they actually met?

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch — who was initially opposed to the idea of a Donald Trump presidency — flirted with the idea of endorsing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

It's a common assessment, at this point, that President Trump's rise was aided by Fox News, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's global media empire, which has altered the political fate of numerous countries across the world. Trump and Murdoch had cultivated a relationship dating back to the 1970s when Trump became a star tabloid figure heavily featured in Murdoch's New York Post, so the unofficial partnership makes sense. But Murdoch never thought highly of Trump as a person — sources told the Times that the media mogul has referred to the president as a "[expletive] idiot" in the past. Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, shared that sentiment as well, believing Trump was not "remotely worthy" of the Oval Office.

So, Murdoch reportedly personally called Clinton and left a message at her campaign headquarters with the intention of setting up a meeting. Clinton did call back shortly, but declined Murdoch's invitation. Spurned by Clinton, Murdoch was left with more time to come around to the idea of Trump as he continued to defy expectations and stay at the top. The rest, as they say, is history. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

January 4, 2019

To the casual observer, President Trump's strange mini-lecture on the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during his televised Cabinet meeting Wednesday may as well have been an outtake from Drunk History. "The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia," Trump said, falsely. "They were right to be there."

"To appreciate the shock value of Trump's words, it's necessary to dust off some Cold War history," David Frum writes in The Atlantic, and he does, briefly explaining why the Soviets really invaded in 1979 and how nobody in America — from either party — subscribes to the "Soviet-Putinist propaganda" Trump spouted Wednesday. "Putin-style glorification of the Soviet regime is entering the mind of the president, inspiring his words and — who knows — perhaps shaping his actions," Frum warned. "How that propaganda is reaching him — by which channels, via which persons — seems an important if not urgent question."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had the same question Thursday night, and she began by noting other instances of Trump surfacing bizarre Kremlin-aligned disinformation about Belarus and Montenegro. "The only place on Earth articulating that is the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin," she said. "Where did he get that from? Who planted that in his ear?"

"There is nowhere in America — nowhere — where President Trump might have picked up this idea" that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was "right" or in response to terrorism, Maddow said. "But there is one place not in America." Next month, Putin's United Russia party will vote to formally and retroactively rehabilitate the decade-long Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as justified due to terrorism. "That is the only place in nature where that idea even exists," she said. "Someone is stovepiping this stuff into the president's ears so it pops out of his mouth at the most unexpected times. What do we do with that?"

Maybe Trump's lecture on Russia "does not raise questions," Frum suggested. "Maybe it inadvertently reveals answers." Peter Weber

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