Still, for Republicans, the shady art of agitprop

Amongst Trump supporters, news moves at a dizzying, disorienting pace. The hostile quell of democratic progress is a constant tool of counterprogramming used by right-wing media entities and pundits, a stubborn brand of media narrative pillared by non-apology and paradox. And so the headlines of Trumpland reflected as much: Republicans did not lose control so much as the party happily, powerfully maintained it. It was, in the president’s phrasing, a “Big Win!” But a deeper truth persists, and flickers just as bright. The hoped-for blue wave failed to wash ashore, but the tide shifted still: For the first time since Trump assumed office two years ago, there will now be House of Representatives oversight of the Executive Branch..

Still, for Republicans, the shady art of agitprop hinges on a steady tempest of deflection and denial — performed most skillfully by the likes of Fox News, The Daily Caller, and other conservative propaganda machines. “Kansas is dead to me,” Ann Coulter tweeted in response to Laura Kelly winning the state’s gubernatorial race. A boiling stew of confrontational politics and media distortion, they are enterprises consumed with presenting an image of the most basic formulation: one with that has no center and lacks equilibrium.

Tuesday night’s results only seemed to exacerbate the normally obtuse logic employed by these entities. Look no further than this predictably styled Big League Politics headline about the Democratic losses in the southern belt: “SOCIALISM LOSES: O’Rourke, Gillum and Abrams Blew It, But It’s Their Policies That Suck.”

As morning seeped into afternoon, Trump railed against the press during a briefing at the White House, saying the “Republican party defied history” in spite of a “hostile” crusade from liberal media. On Fox News — which non-jokingly branded itself “America’s Election HQ” — Daily Briefing host Dana Perino wondered about “stale” Democratic leadership in the House, which was now an incandescent blue. Clips of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp’s Tuesday night speech — in which he exclaimed, “the math is on our side” — also made rounds. The statement was a slimy, convenient reframing of rampant voter suppression Kemp benefited from in his run against Oprah Winfrey-backed Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has yet to concede. On Twitter, in a tart whiff of self-absorption, pundit and Blexit founder Candace Owens enlightened followers: “What I learned this election: No one cares what @taylorswift13 thinks. No one cares what @Oprah thinks. No one cares what @Diddy thinks. No one cares what @rihanna thinks. But celebs will still keep telling us who to vote for because there is no known cure for narcissism.”

Narcissism is certainly one way to paint the heart of conservative media, and even more certainly the most accurate way to paint Trump’s relationship to it. He understands media as part of a larger narrative about control — that even as he torpedoes into it, without it, how one is translated for public consumption can be hard to unprogram. It is all in how one angles perception: Winning equals power, and power is one thing Republicans, most of all Trump, refuse to relinquish, even if they understand it as pure illusion.

The signs of progress were everywhere for Democrats, too, even as conservative media took a lopsided view of the results. In Florida, Prop. 4 passed in a resounding manner, restoring voting rights to an estimated 1.5 million former felons, a sure gamechanger for the liberal vote come 2020. Elsewhere, women of all stripes were elected to the House: Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan became the first two Muslim women to hold seats. Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas, who identifies as queer, became the first two Native American women to win appointments. Elsewhere, Catalina Cruz became the first former “Dreamer” to win a New York State Assembly post. And though Ted Cruz managed to thwart Beto O’Rourke by an impossibly thin margin and secure his Senate seat for a second term, his narrow win was, in fact, an undeniable sign of the growing liberal groundswell, and changing demographics, in Texas.

“In fighting and challenging — in marshaling the energy of candidates and volunteers and protesters, the investment in left politics and new leaders and approaches — progressives not only scored big wins on Tuesday, toppling men,” Rebecca Traister wrote at The Cut, “they laid a path for the future.”

By evening, with the promise of tomorrow somewhere past the horizon, even Trump could feel his grip loosening. The smokescreen of conservative cable news was dissipating. The resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions again sent right-wing media into PR mode — how best could they color what many were speculating was a chess move by the president to soften the blow of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation? Early on, Sessions was considered a Trump loyalist but, as most relationships do in the Trump White House, it soured over time. On Twitter, Scott Greer, conservative author of No Campus for White Men, offered a different counterprogramming measure: a meme. In side-by-side photos — one of the new Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker lifting weights and the other of a giddy, gnome-looking Sessions — he wrote: “The Chad Gamer has replaced Redpilled Keebler Elf.”

A video of a female Egyptian university student walking through the Cairo University campus while being whistled and shouted at by male students has caused an international and viral backlash against sexual harassment in Egypt, Saudi television station Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday.

The young girl, with long blonde hair and a pink shirt, pink shoes and jeans, can be seen in the video, uploaded to YouTube, walking through the university campus as a group of men gather around her and whistle and shout profanities at her.
The Saudi television channel reported that a group of men also attempted to remove her clothing, which cannot be seen in the clip.
University guards were forced to escort her until the she was safely off campus.
Adding to the controversy, the Dean of Cairo University Law School, Gaber Nassar, described the student’s outfit as “a bit unconventional” and implied that she was responsible for the harassment it caused.
“This girl entered the university wearing an abaya (loose cloak) and then took it off in the faculty, and appeared with those clothes, that caused, in reality — but this doesn’t justify at all [the incident],” Nassar said on private Egyptian channel ONTV.

Nasser later claimed he was misquoted and justified his response on Twitter.
“I assure that this is not true and I apologize for the misunderstanding and I repeat that those who (harassed the girl) will be severely punished,” he wrote.
Officials said eight promising leads are being probed after a worldwide appeal for help.

In a case that has given hope to the parents of Madeleine McCann, police in Greece are thought to be concentrating on four calls from the US and others from Sweden, France, Canada and Poland.

The charity looking after the girl, known as Maria, said it had received more than 5,000 calls and thousands of emails.

Panos Pardalis Dresios, of The Smile of the Child charity, said the girl, who is in hospital, is playing with her toys and “feeling much better”.

He added: “What we’re trying to do is for the kid to be calmed down and to play, and the experts will be the ones who will decide how they’re going to deal with this.”
Last night a relative of a man detained by police at the camp in Farsala told how Maria had been “very loved and cared for”. The man, calling himself ­Kostas, said: “We got this girl in a very nice way. She was given to us and we raised her.

“She had problems with her eyes. We took her to the doctor, we took her everywhere. We didn’t take her to sell her. We loved her so much, with so much passion.”

Authorities allege the so-called mother, who has also been detained, claimed to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months.

Ten of the 14 children the couple registered as their own are unaccounted for. Maria’s DNA doesn’t match that of her so-called parents who are both charged with ­abduction.

Kate and Gerry McCann have been buoyed by the discovery and their spokesman said: “They have always maintained that until there is evidence to prove otherwise, missing children can still be out there waiting to be found.”

The case has also given new hope to the sister of missing Ben Needham. Leighanna, 20, wants to take a DNA test to see if there is a link with Maria. She believes it is possible the child could be Ben’s daughter.

Ben, who is also blond, was just 21 months old when he went missing on the Greek holiday island of Kos in 1991. Yesterday it emerged that five years after he vanished Ben’s family received a tip-off he was being held in the same camp.

Police failed to follow up the lead and Ben’s family were threatened with guns and iron bars when they went to the camp.

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