Monday 3/13 - Steve Handelsman, NBC - 'Alternative facts’ and no facts about President Trump’s wiretap accusation

Monday 3/13
Steve Handelsman, NBC
'Alternative facts’ and no facts about President Trump’s wiretap accusation

You’ve probably heard of Riker’s Island.  It’s a small island in the estuary between the East River and Long Island Sound, between the NYC boroughs of Queens and the Bronx.  

It’s known because it’s where NYC has a huge and dismal jail which usually holds in close and crummy quarters about 10,000 prisoners.

Not far from Rikers there another much smaller island, North Brother Island.  It’s less well-known but it served as kind of private prison for one inmate, Mary Mallon, “Typhoid Mary” as she was known.

Typhoid Mary was kept in quarantine on North Brother Island for more than 20 years.  She died there.  She was locked away for 2 reasons, although asymptomatic herself, she was a carrier of typhoid fever.  But that was just the first reason. The second was that she defied all attempts to keep her out of the kitchens, where as a cook she was known to have spread typhoid to at least 22 people, 3 of whom died.

You might say, she had an irresistible compulsion for contagion, like the 45th President of the United States.  Donald J. Trump simply can’t stop himself from lying and spreading his endless untruths like typhoid across the American body politic, which has become very sick.

Think of the 4 big lies he’s told about his predecessor, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.  Trump has said, publicly and repeatedly that Obama was a Muslim, was not born in this country, was the creator of ISIS, and ordered the FBI to wire-tap him.

The first 3 lies were ridiculous and were easily refuted and more or less abandoned.  

The last one, Twitter-spat out just days ago is so precisely untrue that the refutations by people like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a known liar himself, are essentially meaningless.

Wire-taps?  Nobody does wire-taps any more.  It’s a snooping technology that goes back decades, when it was used, for example, to listen to the conversations of New York mobsters and their hitmen and labor union vassals, many of whom were Donald Trump’s friends and collaborators.

The intelligence and law enforcement agencies were allegedly “intercepting” conversations between Vladimir Putin’s friends and Donald Trump’s business, family, or political associates, no longer use wire-taps.  And, I believe, weren’t targeting Trump.  They were targeting the Russians, like Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who just happened to be talking about sanctions with the ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, or about the GOP convention with the untruthful Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Confronted about their chats with Kislyak, Flynn and Sessions lied.

Lie, lie, lie…that’s the typhoid Donald Trump is spreading.  Lie down with dogs, it is said, and you get up with fleas.  Well, aren’t Flynn and Sessions scratching?  

I say, let Trump keep Mar-a-Lago…just make him move it from Palm Beach to North Brother Island, … and stay there.


Steve Handelsman recently retired after 33 years as a national correspondent for NBC News.  Based in Washington, he covered political campaigns from 1984 to the Presidential election of 2016.

Some of the major domestic stories Handelsman has covered include Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Hugo. Overseas, he covered The Iraq War, The Gulf War, unrest in Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Africa, and the Middle East, terrorist attacks in Brussels (2016) and London, the opening of the Berlin Wall, Pope John Paul II’s death, and Summit conferences in Geneva, Moscow, and Iceland.



Subscribe to insider notes from Dave Marash along with previews and cartoons of upcoming podcasts. You’ll be richer, taller, and if you don’t eat, thinner.


Here & There is kept afloat by wonderful sponsors and curious listeners like you. Your support is appreciated!