The Listening Post

Trump, Russia, and the collapse of the collusion narrative

US media reflect on their role in promoting the Russiagate conspiracy theory. Plus, revisiting Ethiopia’s media scene.

On The Listening Post this week: after all the collusion hysteria, mainstream media in the United States reflect on their role in promoting the conspiracy theory. Plus, revisiting Ethiopia’s media scene, one year on.

The collapse of the Russiagate collusion narrative

It read like a spy movie – and had people gripped. Russiagate, the theory that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to hijack the 2016 US presidential elections, was a story that was too big to fail.

But that’s what happened, and certain US news outlets now have some questions to answer because the Mueller report has found no smoking gun.

Having sold Americans the seductive and conspiratorial notion that the man in the oval office was a compromised foreign agent, now comes a moment of reckoning for the US media.

As for Trump himself, after two years of accusing the media of a witch-hunt – calling them the enemy of the people – this story has handed him a 2020 election gift like no other.

Aaron Mate – Contributor, The Nation
David Cay Johnston – Founder and editor,
Marcy Wheeler – Writer, Emptywheel
Jackson Lears – Professor of History, Rutgers University
Matt Taibbi – Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

On Our Radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about the latest on Julian Assange. He has been living in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for seven years now, but ever since Ecuador elected a new president, things have been getting progressively worse for the WikiLeaks founder.

Between hope and fear: Press and politics in Ethiopia one year on

A year ago, after years of social unrest, East Africa’s most populous country – Ethiopia – ushered in new political dawn with the appointment of Abiy Ahmed, a representative of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos.

The reforms came thick and fast – and that included the media: dozens of news websites appeared, more than 20 new media publications, numerous journalists, jailed and stifled under Abiy’s predecessors freed.

Last year, we spoke with four journalists of different media backgrounds about a year marked out in Ethiopia’s history as one of those rare celebratory stories.

But what happens when the honeymoon period is over?

Flo Phillips revisited the story nine months later to see if Abiy’s promises have been kept.

Jawar Mohammed – Founder and executive director, Oromia Media Network
Tsedale Lemma – Editor-in-chief, Addis Standard
Tamrat Giorgis – Managing editor, Addis Fortune
Eskinder Nega – Journalist and human rights activist