Friday 29 December 2017

More on the hapless Luke Harding

"How can you write an entire book called COLLUSION and then not be able to coherently and convincingly answer a single question or offer a single fact which undeniably proves that collusion took place?"

Is Luke Harding:
- “the reporter Russia hated”
- an “enemy of Putin”
- a borderline psychotic paranoiac, whose narcissistic delusions have been deliberately encouraged and exploited by an intelligentsia that will use any old crap it can find to further its agenda
- a bit of a tosser”

What Happens When A Russiagate Skeptic Debates A Professional Russiagater

26 December, 2017

Have you ever wondered why mainstream media outlets, despite being so fond of dramatic panel debates on other hot-button issues, never have critics of the Russiagate narrative on to debate those who advance it? Well, in a recent Real News interview we received an extremely clear answer to that question, and it was so epic it deserves its own article.
Real News host and producer Aaron Maté has recently emerged as one of the most articulate critics of the establishment Russia narrative and the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory, and has published in The Nation some of the clearest arguments against both that I’ve yet seen. Luke Harding is a journalist for The Guardian where he has been writing prolifically in promotion of the Russiagate narrative, and is the author of New York Times bestseller Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.
In theory, it would be hard to find two journalists more qualified to debate each side of this important issue. In practice, it was a one-sided thrashing that The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill accurately described as “brutal”

This interview is brutal. He makes mincemeat of Luke Harding, who can’t seem to defend the thesis, much less the title, of his own book:

The term Gish gallop, named after a Young Earth creationist who was notoriously fond of employing it, refers to a fallacious debate tactic in which a bunch of individually weak arguments are strung together in rapid-fire succession in order to create the illusion of a solid argument and overwhelm the opposition’s ability to refute them all in the time allotted. Throughout the discussion the Gish gallop appeared to be the only tool that Luke Harding brought to the table, firing out a deluge of feeble and unsubstantiated arguments only to be stopped over and over again by Maté who kept pointing out when Harding was making a false or fallacious claim.
In this part here, for example, the following exchange takes place while Harding is already against the ropes on the back of a previous failed argument. I’m going to type this up so you can clearly see what’s happening here:
Harding: Look, I’m a journalist. I’m a storyteller. I’m not a kind of head of the CIA or the NSA. But what I can tell you is that there have been similar operations in France, most recently when President Macron was elected — 

Maté: Well actually Luke that’s not true. That’s straight up not true. After that election the French cyber-intelligence agency came out and said it could have been virtually anybody.

Harding: Yeah. But, if you’ll let me finish, there’ve been attacks on the German parliament — 

Maté: Okay, but wait Luke, do you concede that the France hack that you just claimed didn’t happen?

Harding: [pause] What — that it didn’t happen? Sorry?

Maté: Do you concede that the Russian hacking of the French election that you just claimed actually is not true?

Harding: [pause] Well, I mean… that it’s not true? I mean, the French report was inconclusive, but you have to look at this kind of contextually. We’ve seen attacks on other European states as well from Russia, they have very kind of advanced cyber capabilities.

Maté: Where else?

Harding: Well, Estonia. Have you heard of Estonia? It’s a state in the Baltics which was crippled by a massive cyber attack in 2008, which certainly all kind of western European and former eastern European states think was carried out by Moscow. I mean I was in Moscow at the time, when relations between the two countries were extremely bad. This is a kind of ongoing thing. Now you might say, quite legitimately, well the US does the same thing, the UK does the same thing, and I think to a certain extent that is certainly right. I think what was different last year was the attempt to kind of dump this stuff out into kind of US public space and try and influence public opinion there. That’s unusual. And of course that’s a matter of congressional inquiry and something Mueller is looking at too.

Maté: Right. But again, my problem here is that the examples that are frequently presented to substantiate claims of this massive Russian hacking operation around the world prove out to be false. So France as I mentioned; you also mentioned Germany. There was a lot of worry about Russian hacking of the German elections, but it turned out — and there’s plenty of articles since then that have acknowledged this — that actually there was no Russian hack in Germany.
In the above exchange, Maté derailed Harding’s Gish gallop, and Harding actually admonished him for doing so, telling him “let me finish” and attempting to go on listing more flimsy examples to bolster his case as though he hadn’t just begun his Gish gallop with a completely false example.

That’s really all Harding brought to the debate. A bunch of individually weak arguments, the fact that he speaks Russian and has lived in Moscow, and the occasional straw man where he tries to imply that Maté is claiming that Vladimir Putin is an innocent girl scout. Meanwhile Maté just kept patiently dragging the debate back on track over and over again in the most polite obliteration of a man that I have ever witnessed.
The entire interview followed this basic script. Harding makes an unfounded claim, Maté holds him to the fact that it’s unfounded, Harding sputters a bit and tries to zoom things out and point to a bigger-picture analysis of broader trends to distract from the fact that he’d just made an individual claim that was baseless, then winds up implying that Maté is only skeptical of the claims because he hasn’t lived in Russia as Harding has.

There's been some heavy promotion for a book called "Collusion," written by the 's Luke Harding, this Christmas. Here the author is interviewed by of . What follows is an absolute car crash, which is a must watch.

How can you write an entire book called COLLUSION and then not be able to coherently and convincingly answer a single question or offer a single fact which undeniably proves that collusion took place?
3:27 PM - 24 Dec 2017

This interview by of is fantastic - exactly how an interview should be conducted of someone claiming to have found evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. Very worth taking 25 minutes to watch, and just decide for yourself
4:29 AM - 24 Dec 2017

The interview ended when Harding once again implied that Maté was only skeptical of the collusion narrative because he’d never been to Russia and seen what a right-wing oppressive government it is, after which the following exchange took place:
Maté: I don’t think I’ve countered anything you’ve said about the state of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The issue under discussion today has been whether there was collusion, the topic of your book. 

Harding: Yeah, but you’re clearly a kind of collusion rejectionist, so I’m not sure what sort of evidence short of Trump and Putin in a sauna together would convince you. Clearly nothing would convince you. But anyway it’s been a pleasure.
At which point Harding abruptly logged off the video chat, leaving Maté to wrap up the show and promote Harding’s book on his own.

You should definitely watch this debate for yourself, and enjoy it, because I will be shocked if we ever see another like it. Harding’s fate will serve as a cautionary tale for the establishment hacks who’ve built their careers advancing the Russiagate conspiracy theory, and it’s highly unlikely that any of them will ever make the mistake of trying to debate anyone of Maté’s caliber again.
The reason Russiagaters speak so often in broad, sweeping terms — saying there are too many suspicious things happening for there not to be a there there, that there’s too much smoke for there not to be fire — is because when you zoom in and focus on any individual part of their conspiracy theory, it falls apart under the slightest amount of critical thinking (or as Harding calls it, “collusion rejectionism”). Russiagate only works if you allow it to remain zoomed out, where the individually weak arguments of this giant Gish gallop fallacy form the appearance of a legitimate argument.
Well, Harding did say he’s a storyteller.

This portrayal of the hapless Luke Harding is priceless

Luke Harding : the hack who came in from the cold

9 September, 2015

Luke Daniel Harding (born 1968) studied English at University College, Oxford. While there he edited the student newspaper Cherwell. He worked for The Sunday Correspondent, the Evening Argus in Brighton and then the Daily Mailbefore joining The Guardian in 1996. He was the Guardian’s Russia correspondent from 2007-11.

Aside from his more publicly known achievements, it’s worth noting Harding was accused of plagiarism by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine of the eXile for publishing an article under his own name that lifted large passages almost verbatim from their work. The Guardian allegedly redacted portions of Harding’s article in response to these accusations.

According to his own testimony, Luke Harding is the guy who realised he was in the siloviki cross hairs one day when, during his stay in Moscow as the Guardian’s bureau chief, he came home and found one of his bedroom windows open.

A less situationally-aware person would have made the fatal mistake of thinking one of his kids or his wife had done it, or he’d done it himself and just forgotten, or that his landlord had popped in to air the rooms (a bit of a tendency in Russia apparently). But Luke was sure none of his family had opened the window. So it had to have been the FSB.

You see, Luke isn’t confined as we are by the constraints of petty mundanity. That was why it had been so clear to him, even without any evidence, that the FSB had murdered Litvinenko. And that was why Luke took one look at that open window and realised the entire Russian intelligence machine was out to get him….
The dark symbolism of the open window in the children’s bedroom was not hard to decipher: take care, or your kids might just fall out. The men – I assume it was men – had vanished like ghosts.
And that was only the start of the vicious campaign that was to follow. Tapes were left in his cassette deck, when he knew he hadn’t put them there. An alarm clock went off when he knew he hadn’t set it. Luke was filled with ” a feeling of horror, alarm, incredulity, bafflement and a kind of cold rational rage.”


Things developed rapidly. Luke went to visit a woman called Olga who warned him to take care, because he was “an enemy of Putin.” He was sure someone had hacked his email account. Whenever he said the name “Berezovsky” his phone line would go dead, so he started using the word “banana” instead. A person from the Russian president’s office called and asked for his mobile number. Unable to imagine a single good reason why a Russian government official would need a cell phone number for the Guardian’s Russia bureau chief, he refused.

That wily Putin wasn’t going to catch him that easily. The game of cat and mouse had begun.

A middle-aged woman with a bad haircut knocked at his door at 7am, and walked away when he opened it. Had she just gone to the wrong door? Of course not, it was the FSB taunting him. At the airport on his way back to London a man with a Russian accent (in Moscow!) tapped him on the back and told him there was something wrong with his jacket. Noticing the man was wearing a leather coat, which meant he must be from the KGB, Luke immediately rushed to the gents and took off all his clothes to find the “bugging device” the man had planted on him. He didn’t find one, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.


When the Russian government launched its prosecution of Berezovsky for fraud, someone from the FSB phoned Luke and asked him to come in and make a statement about the interview he’d conducted with the man a short time before. 

They also advised him to bring a lawyer, which seemed sinister to Luke. A man called Kuzmin interviewed him for 55 minutes. Luke got quite thirsty, but wouldn’t drink the fizzy water he was offered, because he was pretty sure it had been tampered with. Surprisingly Kuzmin didn’t interrogate him as expected, but Luke decided this was because the FSB were trying to intimidate him. They probably didn’t need to do an interrogation, thought Luke, since they’d been breaking in to his flat almost every day for like – ever, switching on his alarm clock and probably also bugging his phone.

After the western-backed Georgian invasion of South Ossetia Luke was amazed to note there was widespread antagonism toward western journalists in Moscow. And the FSB just would not leave him alone. Worried by this “campaign of brutishness” he decided to keep a log of the dreadful things they were doing. 

Reading this we find not only did they continue to regularly open his windows, they once turned off his central heating, made phantom ringing sounds happen in the middle of the night (Luke couldn’t find where they were coming from), deleted a screen saver from his computer and left a book by his bed about getting better orgasms.

All this would have broken a lesser man. But Luke didn’t break. Maybe that’s why in the end, they knew they’d have to expel him like in the old Soviet days. Which is what they did. Well, they didn’t renew his accreditation, which is the same thing. 

They pretended it was because he didn’t have the right paperwork for an extended visa and offered him a short extension so his kids could finish up at school. But Luke knew it was actually a Soviet-style expulsion. Because Luke can always see the real game when most of us just can’t.

He demanded to know if President Medvedev had been told – personally – that Luke was going home. The person in the press department he was speaking to just sort of looked at him and didn’t say anything.
Luke was pretty sure he worked for the FSB.

So he went home, got on the lecture circuit and wrote a book all about his terrible experiences in Vladimir Putin’s neo-Stalinist hell. But just when he thought all his espionage problems were over, they started up again when he began his book about Edward Snowden.


This time it was the NSA, GCHQ and a host of other western agencies stalking him. The PTB obviously realised that Luke’s book would be much much more of a threat to national security than even Snowden himself, and did everything they could to try to stop him writing it. They followed him around (he knew they were agents because they had iPhones) and even used spy technology to remote-delete sentences from his computer – while he was typing them. Especially when he was writing mean things about the NSA. But after he typed “I don’t mind you reading my manuscript… but I’d be grateful if you don’t delete it”, they realised they’d met their match and stopped.

He wasn’t sure if the culprits were NSA, GCHQ or a Russian hacker, but one thing it definitely wasn’t was a glitchy keyboard.

I mean that would just be stupid.

NOTE: In case any of our readers are (understandably) inclined to think we must be making this up or exaggerating, we encourage them to read about it here and here in Luke’s own words. You’ll find we have merely summarised them.

Yes, he really does believe everything attributed to him in this article. He really does think the FSB were opening his windows. And he really did run to the public toilet and take all his clothes off because a man tapped him on the back in an airport.

We also recommend you take in this opinion piece by Julian Assange, and this one by a Brit ex-pat in Moscow.

After that feel free to complete the following questionnaire:

Is Luke Harding:
  1. the reporter Russia hated”
  2. an “enemy of Putin”
  3. a borderline psychotic paranoiac, whose narcissistic delusions have been deliberately encouraged and exploited by an intelligentsia that will use any old crap it can find to further its agenda
  4. a bit of a tosser

1 comment:

  1. i go for option 4 with a little of option 3 thrown in for good measure.


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