Yesterday, Slate ran an article by Franklin Foer about an alleged covert link between one of Donald Trump’s servers and a Russian bank that was based almost entirely on speculative research and hearsay. It was quickly debunked by more responsible journalists with FBI sources and competent computer people (this guy too), and the claim will likely be formally withdrawn soon—or it would, in a sane world with any accountability.
But we don’t live in a sane world with accountability. Whether that retraction comes or not, the accusations have already been tweeted out by Hillary Clinton and her media surrogates, and like the insanely irresponsible Comey email announcement from last week, the initial fallout may have more impact than the truth, whenever it pokes its head up from the rubble. Understanding that, I took particular interest in a tweet by The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald I saw this morning, piggybacking off another tweet by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:
Greenwald and Hayes meant to warn us against jumping to conclusions, or trusting anonymous sources, or prematurely publishing inaccurate stories merely because they confirm our biases. Which is fine, I guess, if you want to be super namby-pamby about it.
But I think they’re taking the wrong lesson from this debacle. As an opportunist, what I see instead is a brave new landscape where truth is a partisan matter, and wholly dependent on one group’s desired outcome. This used to be the intellectual hallmark of the conservative movement alone, but times have changed, and liberals appear to have realized that the high ground is a lonely, forsaken place, occupied by suckers and bores. Now, facts are subjective across the spectrum. They can’t exclude me from the fun anymore—if I want something to be true, then it’s true. If I have any influence, then it might be true for a lot of other people, too. The age of wish fulfillment is here, and I’ll be damned if the rest of these bastards are going to leave me behind.
I’m not the world’s biggest Clinton fan, but I definitely want her to beat Donald Trump, and I’m willing to get my hands dirty if that’s what it takes. With that in mind, here’s a true-ish (?) story I offer you, my readers, in the hope that together, we can choose to believe it regardless of the fallout. For a veneer of credibility, I’ll be adopting the language of objective journalism, mixed liberally with the melodrama of the magazine feature. Finally, I’ll phrase the title as a question in order to give myself some distance, just in case it turns out to be total bullshit. Please enjoy.
Did Donald Trump Poison 47 Children with Halloween Candy Last Night?
When Jeyne Rogers let her 10-year-old son Aethelred go trick-or-treating in the quaint Kansas town of Dunnboro for the first time ever, she was understandably nervous. (Note: All names have been changed to protect anonymity.) He had never been out at night on his own before, but he was with a group of friends she trusted, and the streets would be full of revelers, making it less likely that any harm would befall the boy. Still, she spent the night on edge, handing out old Tootsie Rolls to the trick-or-treaters at her doorstep, and reminding herself that she was worrying over nothing.
But when young Aethelred came home, he was wheezing and gasping—every mother’s nightmare. As she and her husband Blomquist (both undecided voters) rushed to the ER, the boy kept trying to say a single word—something that sounded like “Glump.” Jeyne and Blomquist sat in the waiting room overnight, anxiously counting the hours. Finally, a doctor emerged—Aethelred had been saved, he said, but just barely. His blood had been contaminated with lethal doses of carbo-iodine, a new and almost undetectable poison that had previously only been used by Russians or Russian-seeming criminals (beards, sinister eyes, etc.). The hospital never would have detected it, in fact, if not for the fact that Aethelred, nearly unconscious, began mumbling what nurses later identified as the national anthem of the former Soviet Union.
Soon, Jeyne and Blomquist saw their boy. There were hugs, and tears, but Jeyne still shudders when she remembers the first words out of the boy’s mouth:
“It was Trump.”
According to an anonymous source who has spent hours in the Dunnboro town hall—and who told us the story of Jeyne and Aethelred, so that we didn’t have to find any other sources—the 10-year-old was actually one of the lucky ones. No fewer than 47 children were poisoned that night, and most of them died agonizing deaths, as carbo-iodine produces what scientists call “the arachnid effect” inside the body’s major organs, simulating the sensation of being bit by tarantulas in the spleen. Each of these children, before dying, said the same word: Trump.
As of this moment, there are some questions that remain unanswered. Was the man who poisoned these children actually Trump, or perhaps an impostor wearing a Trump mask? The latter is certainly possible, but even in a conservative town like Dunnboro, it’s hard to imagine that the GOP nominee is a popular Halloween costume. And what about the children—were they truly poisoned? We’ve been unable to get a comment from Dunnboro Presbyterian Hospital, whose representatives have repeatedly asked us to stop calling them. We can only take this as a sign that we’re on the right track.
Other questions linger—is carbo-iodine truly affiliated with Russians, or even a real poison? Is the “arachnid effect” just something we made up because it sounded colorful? Is Dunnboro a real town? If so, why was Donald Trump even there? Why haven’t we read about this anywhere else, even though it seems like a pretty big story? All we can say is that we trust our source completely, and when you consider his story alongside the known fact that last night was definitely Halloween, it’s hard to give credence to any other version of events.
At this point, we have to reckon with a difficult truth—a man who almost certainly just poisoned 47 children to death for sport is breathtakingly close to winning the highest office in the land. Choose wisely.
In conclusion, Russia.