A masterclass in how right-wing propaganda is manufactured

(Featured image credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images. Source: NYT.)

NYT published an astonishing article this morning about Rudy Giuliani’s interactions with two Ukrainian oligarchs, in that it gives an inside view into how right-wing dirt is manufactured by such luminaries as John Solomon (formerly at the Hill) and Sean Hannity.


Rudy Giuliani had been attempting to get Ukraine leaders to announce an investigation into Biden for almost a year. He was on the verge of getting the last Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to do so, when Poroshenko lost the election to newbie politician Volodomyr Zelensky on 21st April 2019.

This story picks up when Rudy, with his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (now under indictment at SDNY) scramble to influence new President Zelensky to continue the sham investigation of Biden.

Two days after Zelensky was elected, they contacted Oligarch 1 (Ihor Kolomoisky), a Zelensky mentor with US legal troubles, to offer him “help” with the US DOJ in return for dirt on Bidens. Keep in mind what this “help” meant: dropping investigations now that AG Bill Barr was in Trump’s pocket. They were sent packing by Kolomoisky with some colorful language. Kolomoisky warned that this threesome was plotting against Biden.

Snubbed by Kolomoisky (Oligarch 1), Rudy trash-talked him on Twitter, accusing him of threatening Parnas & Fruman (his “clients”), and called upon new President Zelensky to arrest him.

Then they went to Oligarch 2 (Dmitry Firtash). Firtash has been indicted by US DOJ for bribery, and is fighting extradition from Vienna.

Now we are in June 2019. Rudy offered Firtash the services of Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing, scumbag Fox News lawyers who are long-standing friends of Trump and Rudy. The deal they offered Firtash: they would “help” him fight extradition, in exchange for dirt on Biden. Firtash has a history with Biden: reforms pushed by Biden as VP cost Firtash hundreds of millions of dollars, and he raged against “overlord” Biden for years.

Around the same time—June 2019—DOJ hired the son of DiGenova and Toensing (Brady Toensing) as the Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy. Clearly, given Trump’s corruption of the DOJ and his influence on AG Bill Barr, and now with the Toensing offspring installed at DOJ, Rudy and his pals believed they could get Firtash off.

DiGenova & Toensing were hired by Firtash in July. In August, they managed to get a face-to-face meeting with AG Bill Barr in order to press Firtash’s case.

Now keep in mind what else was going on around this time. On July 25th, Trump had his famous phone-call with Zelensky where he pressured Zelensky to work with Rudy and Barr on their investigation of the Bidens. When the phone call went public in late September, Barr showed great umbrage at being linked with Rudy; but a month prior, in August, he had been quite willing to take a face-to-face meeting with Rudy’s sleazy associates DiGenova & Toensing.

By this point DOJ had gotten wind of the Whistleblower’s Complaint. They knew they were being scrutinized for the extortion of Zelensky for dirt on Biden.

With DOJ under scrutiny, Barr refused to intercede on Firtash’s behalf.

Black propaganda

John Solomon interviewing a different Ukrainian Prosecutor on Hill TV

But what they were able to pull off is no less important.

DiGenova & Toensing were now officially Firtash’s lawyers. Therefore, they had access to his private legal files. Digging through these, they found that a lot of it was interesting for US politics and Trump’s impeachment: for example, letters that showed that Special Counsel Mueller had sought Firtash’s testimony.

The meaning of this letter was twisted by John Solomon at The Hill. John Solomon, also a “client” of DiGenova & Toensing, is a well-known propagandist who often works with Rudy in pushing what is known as “black propaganda“—fake news that appears to come out of nowhere, whose sources are hidden, and thereby more influential. Solomon, facing strong disapprobation from co-workers, has now left The Hill.

Solomon published a piece on July 22nd where he could claim to have access to contemporaneous memos (snitched from Firtash’s private files). He framed the letter from Mueller’s team to Firtash as something nefarious: an illegitimate attempt to squeeze Firtash in exchange for a political hit job on Trump. He also claimed that the DOJ case against Firtash was “falling apart”—which sounds suspiciously as though the Toensing son at DOJ was well on his trajectory of making the case against Firtash disappear.

Rudy went further. On Fox News, he claimed that Mueller’s team “suborned perjury from Firtash”—i.e., asked him to lie. To be clear, Firtash’s private letters showed nothing of the kind. The quid-pro-quo between Firtash and the Rudy-DiGenova-Toensing trio was close to fruition—extradition vanishing in return for dirt that helped Trump.

They also found among the private files affidavits signed by corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin that made allegations against Biden. Solomon wrote about them as “once-secret memos” and Rudy waved them around on cable TV. They didn’t mention that Shokin was holding back anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine and that all Western nations wanted him removed before they would provide aid; they didn’t mention that therefore, Shokin had an ax to grind against Biden.

The propaganda had another piece that never came to fruition. There had been an interview arranged with Shokin on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox where he could repeat those allegations against Biden. Parnas and Fruman—as the team’s translators—were on their way to Vienna to set up this interview when they were nabbed by SDNY. The Hannity interview never happened as Parnas and Fruman now face charges.

A strange and much-remarked upon meeting in NY occured the same evening that Parnas and Fruman were arrested—between AG Bill Barr and Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch. It was an odd pairing that set off much speculation: what on earth could the Attorney General have to say to a media mogul? It was only later that we found out that Hannity’s interview was slated to occur on Fox through the good offices of Parnas and Fruman, and was now thwarted due to SDNY.

The Upshot

This was a plot that was foiled halfway.

Imagine an alternative universe: we wake up one day to see President Zelensky leveling charges on Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN that Biden had corruptly demanded they kill an investigation into Hunter Biden. Meanwhile, John Solomon and Sean Hannity feature sympathetic interviews with ex-prosecutor Shokin where he claims to have been shut down by Biden. All of this news breaks just as the 2020 election cycle is getting underway, with Biden as the likely Democratic nominee opposing Trump. His name gets associated with foreign scandal.

On a separate thread, Firtash escapes from under the weight of his US DOJ bribery charges. He is free to travel without the threat of extradition.

While the US news media covers these allegations against Biden breathlessly, and Shokin becomes a short-lived media star, we are completely in the dark about the many months of backroom machinations it took from the the likes of Rudy, Parnas, and Fruman to get there. We are in the dark about how Zelensky was extorted and finally received his military aid. We are in the dark about the connection between Firtash’s newfound freedom and Biden’s troubles.

We were saved from this fate due to the Whistleblower’s Complaint.

Once again, here is the NYT article “Why Giuliani Singled Out 2 Ukrainian Oligarchs to Help Dig Up Dirt“.

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