October 20, 2017

Cuckoo New Yorker Writer: Kelly ‘Used Language of the Military Coup’ at Thursday Press Conference

Three NewsBusters posts on Thursday documented attacks by far-leftists and members of the media on Trump administration Chief of Staff and retired General John Kelly’s reaction that afternoon to Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s accusation that President Donald Trump, during a private phone call to the widow of fallen soldier La David Johnson, “disrespected” him. Not to be outdone, Masha Gessen at The New Yorker accused Kelly of using “the language of the military coup” — which Gessen seems to believe may have already been effectively accomplished, given her contention that Kelly has his job because “he was sent in to control the President.”

In those NewsBusters posts, we’ve seen Kelly and his Thursday press briefing statement described by leftists and media hacks as that of a “nitwit” and “odious” “coward” making “bizarre,” “dishonest,” racist remarks; as a racist who “Dehumanized” a “Black Woman”; and as someone who engaged in a ”political stunt.”

Those who couldn’t imagine the attacks on Kelly becoming even more stuck on stupid vastly underestimated Masha Gessen.

Until very recently, based on her history, where this woman is coming from was hard to peg.

Though she appears to have been an ardent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government in late 2013 just before that country hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, her actions in September 2012 during a brief stint as director of Radio Liberty would seem to indicate otherwise (link added by me; bolds are mine throughout this post):

For over half a century, Radio Liberty (RL) has been a central part of the U.S. government’s efforts to support human rights and free expression in Russia and, before it, the Soviet Union. Today, tragically, Radio Liberty—or Radio Svoboda, as the Russians know it—is in turmoil, its Moscow-based staff decimated by deep cuts, and its future uncertain. And RL’s listeners are outraged. The damage done to a long-standing U.S. policy is profound.

On September 20 and 21, without warning, over 40 of RL’s staff were summarily fired. The way this was done is what one would expect from the Soviet or Russian government. The staffers were blocked from entering their offices and escorted out by armed guards.

the firings came shortly after the selection of a new head of the Russian service of Radio Liberty, Masha Gessen, a Russian American print journalist, the author of a biography of Putin, and gay and lesbian rights activist whom much of the controversy has centered on. Gessen, in her previous, short-term stint of Vokrug Sveta (Around the World), a semi-glossy magazine, had met with Putin just days before the firings took place, giving the impression that the Russian president had potentially exerted pressure on her.

Radio Liberty since appears to have regained its footing, stature, and influence, given that earlier this month, Putin threatened to treat it as a “foreign agent” in retaliation for perceived “unwarranted pressure on the U.S. operations of (Kremlin-funded broadcaster) RT.”

Gessen left Russia for the U.S., settling in New York in late 2013 because she feared, with apparent basis, as the mother of three children adopted into a lesbian marriage, that the country’s courts would take her oldest son away from her.

Gessen produced just two New Yorker columns this year between January 1 and October 3, but has suddenly posted four entries going after President Trump and his administration with a vengeance in the past ten days (Note: The New Yorker has a five-article monthly paywall limit):

  • October 11 — “How Trump Uses “Religious Liberty” to Attack L.G.B.T. Rights”; this is quite odd, given that Trump, unlike his predecessor, entered the White House as “fine” with the legalization of homosexual marriage.
  • October 11 (that’s right, two on the same day) — “How Trump Governs by Tweet: Start with Outrage, Then Escalate”
  • October 16 — “Trump Doesn’t Govern Like a Toddler. He Governs Like a Teen-Ager”
  • Friday’s “John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup”

Gessen’s latest post takes the cuckoo cake (better described at Twitchy as the “coup-coup cake”).

Here are her four specious “arguments” as to how Kelly’s courageous, heartfelt response to Congresswoman Wilson (my opinion, obviously not hers) involves “the language of the military coup”:

1. Those who criticize the President don’t know what they’re talking about because they haven’t served in the military.

What Gessen wrote in her “argument” is not what Kelly said, which is as follows: “Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat.” That is clearly true. Gessen’s blanket claim about what Kelly said is false, given that men and women in the military have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, relatives, and friends who are heartbroken at the loss of their loved ones and are painfully aware of at least part of Kelly’s description of “what happens.”

In the process of making this “argument,” Gessen made an ignorant and easily refuted statement:

The one-per-cent figure (people in the military cited by Kelly as “the best one per cent this country produces — Ed.”) is puzzling. The number of people currently serving in the military, both on active duty and in the reserves, is not even one per cent of all Americans.

The link is hers, and it shows that she is being disingenuous. It tallies “1.3 million active duty military and more than 800,000 reserve forces as of 2016.” A table seen at the Census Bureau shows that there were 200.2 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 in 2016. The 2.1 million total of active duty and reserve personnel is 1.049 percent of all conceivably eligible adults. That rounds down to Kelly’s 1 percent.

Gessen then seemed to shift gears, trying to claim that Kelly’s “1 percent” referred to all soldiers who have died in all wars in U.S. history. That’s nonsense. Kelly was speaking in the present tense, referring to U.S. military personnel who are alive and serving their country.

2. The President did the right thing because he did exactly what his general told him to do.

Again, this is utter nonsense. At the press conference, Kelly specifically said he suggested that Trump not make the calls:

When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it.

(But, since Trump chose to make the calls anyway, as is his prerogative,) well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

In other words, Trump as Commander-in-Chief made his own decision to make the calls, which, despite his initial disagreement, Kelly described as “brave.” Once Trump decided to do so, he wisely sought and took the advice of someone tragically more knowledgeable than him about how to conduct them.

Gessen’s choice to make an artificial issue out of all of this is beneath contempt.

3. Communication between the President and a military widow is no one’s business but theirs.

Gessen writes that “Myeshia Johnson had apparently voluntarily shared her conversation with her mother-in-law and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson by putting the President on speakerphone.” She blew that description too. Wilson herself has stated that “(an) aunt and uncle, a driver and a military official” were present.

Did anyone tell President Trump about everyone else was on the call with Ms. Johnson? If not, why not?

This statement from Kelly would seem to indicate that Ms. Wilson’s presence on the call was not disclosed, and that the congresswoman remained silent to make sure that was the case:

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation.

The Washington Examiner’s Diana Stancy Correll reported Thursday afternoon that “Wilson was with her in a limousine and heard the conversation via speakerphone, and after discussing the call with reporters has clashed with the White House on just what was said.” This would also seem to indicate that Wilson did not make her presence known.

Gessen contends that “(Kelly was) claiming that the President, communicating with a citizen in his official capacity, had a right to confidentiality.” No he wasn’t, but he certainly had a right to expect privacy in such a sensitive situation, to expect that call would limited to the widow and other loved ones and friends, if they happened to be present and identified their presence, and expect to be made aware of everyone who was listening in on the call.

4. Citizens are ranked based on their proximity to dying for their country.

Gessen’s disingenuousness apparently knows no bounds. Here’s what she claims:

At the end of the briefing, he (Kelly) said that he would take questions only from those members of the press who had a personal connection to a fallen soldier, followed by those who knew a Gold Star family.

Here’s what Kelly actually said before taking questions:

Let me ask you this: Is anyone here a Gold Star parent or sibling? Does anyone here know a Gold Star parent or sibling?

(After a journalist apparently raised his or her hand) Okay, you get the question.

(After answering that person’s question) … Any other — someone who knows a Gold Star fallen person.


Though we can’t be absolutely sure, it would appear that if no one had raised their hand as being or knowing a Gold Star parent or sibling, Kelly would have taken questions from other journalists.

This has nothing to do with “ranking” citizens. Instead, Kelly, in his limited time, wanted to prioritize knowledgeable, intelligent questions. He’s not the President’s press secretary. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is, and one could argue that she should (but doesn’t have to) give all journalists in the room a reasonable chance of asking a question. Kelly was under no obligation to give every person in the room a shot at asking a question.

Even after all of her misrepresentations and distortions, Masha Gessen never explained how any of this genuinely represents “the language of the military coup.”

The funniest thing about preparing this post was The New Yorker’s description of the quality of its reporting and prose found in a right-column promotion:


What a sick, elitist joke.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Good takedown. Now they are trying to say Kelly lied about the remarks he made about her statement at a memorial because some video exists of it and she doesn’t say what he says she did. How do we know that is not edited, especially since the video is being put out there by liberal newspapers? Also, did it occur to these people she might have made the remarks behind closed doors or when the cameras were off?

    Another defense that makes no sense to me is her claim that she couldn’t have made any decisions on funding the memorial since she was not in Congress at the time. Yet all the official info I have seen says she was elected and has been serving in the House since 2011! But even if she wasen’t in Congress, that does not mean she couldn’t have lobbied and/or directly called Obama to ask for the money herself of through he groups. (Which I understand are a bit of a fraud.)

    Comment by zf — October 21, 2017 @ 1:32 am

  2. zf, I think Kelly’s claims are too specific not to have some degress of validity.

    I have researched this heavily, and will make these non-definitive points:
    - The Sun-Sentinel vid involved does NOT start at the very beginning of Wilson’s speech. There may be 15 seconds of “thanks for having me,” or a few minutes which would including bragging about getting $20 mil. Who knows?
    - There are people (commenters at other sites, so major grains of salt) who believe that Kelly’s statement referred to a SEPARATE moment during the program when Wilson interrupted someone else to brag about getting $20 mil thru Obama for the project. It’s plausible (but not definitive) to interpret Kelly’s remarks as referring to such an occurrence.
    - It’s a fact that the press reported that the building’s cost would be $156 million and under-budget in late 2014, but it “somehow” came in at $194 million in April 2015, which would give credence to the idea that SOMEONE needed to beg for money to finish the job and pay the contractors for their work. It makes sense that Wilson would have been engaged to work on that task, and that if she did and was successful, she’d brag about it endlessly.
    - Shortly before the building’s dedication, she bloviated for 11 minutes on the floor of Congress about the heroic work she did to get the building named after the two agents slain in 1986, and recounted much of the story of their deaths.
    - Then Wilson basically copy-pasted much of that speech at the building dedication, including some story retelling, even after James Comey and agents involved in that tragedy had already told the story from an obviously more personal viewpoint. That, along with spending several minutes introducing politicians in attendance, struck me as tone-deaf and improper for the occasion. The Sun-Sentinel vid which occasionally showed the audience seemed to show people who were thinking, “When is this woman going to get the heck off the stage?”
    - The woman’s sense of importance is insufferable in both videos, and even if Kelly is somehow dead wrong, she is indeed the emptiest of empty barrels.
    - I think this could almost be solved if the Sun-Sentinel would release its full video of the full event, just like James O’Keefe makes his raw video available. Otherwise, there’s some reason to believe, using the left’s term, that there’s some “selective editing” going on.
    - But even if there is no evidence in the full video, there may have been a pre-event social hour or previous evening dinner where Wilson bragged about the $20 mil, and Kelly misremembered it as having occurred during the speech.
    - Biggest point is that, despite the left media’s celebrations, the Sun-Sentinel has NOT proven Kelly wrong, but it also remains true that Kelly has not been proven right. In my mind, Kelly wins any he said-she said argument, but that’s not a satisfying conclusion.

    I’ve contacted a couple of investigative bloggers about this, and I hope they find something more than I’ve been able to find, because I’m (almost) tapped out.

    Her claim about not being around when the building was funded is just stupid, but consistent with being an empty barrel.

    Comment by Tom — October 21, 2017 @ 7:49 pm

  3. #2, Thanks, Tom, good info I have not seen anywhere else. I believe Kelly also since for one thing, he’s General Kelly and she’s a fruitcake, but also because she bald-face lied about “empty barrel” having something to do with race. Unfortunately here in Florida we have many of the most unhinged members of Congress.

    Comment by zf — October 21, 2017 @ 9:17 pm

  4. Additionally, she fell back on “white privilege,” which should make any decent person blow a gasket.

    This really points to a bigger problem, which is that gerrymandering, while enabling the majority party in any given state to tilt its congressional representation in its favor, also makes the few fruitcakes like Wilson in the “oh, we’ll let the other party have this seat” areas virtually impossible to vote out of office. And of course, that can and does work the both ways.

    Sadly, until Dem states like IL and CA and NY reform their outrageous gerrymandering, the GOP will simply have to continue to engage in the same practices. I am intensely unhappy with that, but have no idea how to fix it without the left taking over the process and ruining things forever, which is what happens when any attempt to solve this on a “bipartisan” basis is undertaken.

    Comment by Tom — October 21, 2017 @ 9:43 pm

  5. Very true and lest we forget the Gerry in gerrymandering was a Democrat.

    Comment by zf — October 22, 2017 @ 7:26 am

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