It’s a thin and shaky cable that stretches between bemused interest and hysteric obsession and sometimes you just stand there in the middle, wondering which way to walk. Casual glances at a news subject’s headlines with only an occasional long read is in the long run probably safer for mental health, and a damn sight better in terms of work productivity, yet it never seems to satisfy. You feel a permanent – perhaps not a hunger exactly – but a definite urge to take in more. On a trivial level it’s like being a fan of a football team yet not knowing the names of the starting XI. Not good enough.
On the other hand, you can go that step too far, the cable wobbles, the rocks of the canyon below show themselves as fangs awaiting the decoration of fresh blood. Obsession becomes its own paradox, whereby the more you know the less you know. That’s not hyperbole, rather it’s an actual aspect of human minds, as Mario Livio described it in his recent book Why? The way we think is that we process sensory inputs and try and make patterns out of them, stable and predictable patterns. This is why we stare at abstract art, Rorschach tests, or try and understand what the hell our parents were trying to do when they were raising us. If the pattern emerges, we are satisfied; if it does not, it’s all hey-ho off to the therapist we go-go-go!
This whole Trump Watch is just that cable, a disruptor of minds and lives. New facts, rumours, sources, theories and conjecture come roaring into view seemingly by the second. We used to have a 24 hour news cycle. These days? More like 24 seconds as someone in the White House is hired, fired, resigns, leaks … well, you get the idea.
This story is huge, the biggest I’ve seen in my long and occasionally lively life. It makes Watergate look like a failed liquor store hold-up in Fritters, Alabama. Here’s just a few aspects of Donald J Trump’s (ahem) alleged (ahem) crimes and misdemeanors: election tampering, money laundering, Russian interference, data theft, tax evasion, sex trafficking, child abuse, witness tampering, and we haven’t even got to general incompetence and crimes against the planet through the rejection of the Paris Treaty on the environment. Patterns? Good God man, it’s like trying to make a portrait out of fingerpaint, but as soon as you have the nose and ears drawn someone drops another bucket of colour onto the canvas.
What I’ve learned over these past months is to whittle down the inputs to a select series of reporters, observers and researchers. They have proven themselves accurate, complete and – occasionally – humorous. Shakespeare knew that you have to have the Fool or the gravediggers come on stage even during the darkest of his tragedies, because sometimes the audience needs a little relief. So, to help you along, I share with you my Top Five people worth following.
Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch)
Yes, that Louise Mensch, novelist and former Tory MP for Corby from 2010-2012. You may best recall her interrogation of the Murdochs over the phone hacking scandal; or you might best recall her for subsequent reports of, shall we say, a vigorous and enthusiastic attitude towards nightlife during the 1990s. In November 2016, Mensch broke the story of FISA warrants (i.e. Court approved espionage) covering the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and she has not looked back since. When I have on occasion doubted some of her leaks and predictions published on her Patribotics blog, future events have proven her correct. Her sources have proven impeccable and her reporting sound. Follow her.
Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated)
Claude Taylor is an artist, a former White House staffer during the Bill Clinton administration, and a self-described veteran of three Presidential campaigns. Now in all truth, the last could be anything from state organizer to envelope stuffer, but that’s beside the point. Taylor has proven himself accurate in reporting on the advancement of the various and impending charges against Trump and his associates as they progress through the US Court system.
Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann)
An obstreperous former sporstcaster and public affairs presenter on several US networks, Olbermann now records regular vidcasts for GQ Magazine released via Twitter. Because of his style – equal parts methodical commentary and deeply pungent sarcasm – he has drawn eye-popping numbers, with up to 54 million viewers of each roughly eight minute video.
All I know of the person behind the Twitter handle is that SeanSpicer’s Mic is a Washington DC based attorney. Her great value is that she carefully combs through the laws, regulations and court documents germane to the case(s) against Donald Trump and re-produces them, highlighting the most important sections.
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire)
Lastly, if I had to choose only one print journalist to follow on this trail through madness it would be Charlie Pierce. He is as close to the spirit of Hunter Thompson as there is today. Pierce not only reports on Russia, money laundering, etc. but also on the real damage the Trump Administration and its shadowy cohorts in government are doing to the stability and reputation of the United States and its people. He can make you laugh between the screams.
So, there you have it. The cable is still dangerous, the high winds may blow us off, but these five will serve as a balancing rod. Let’s all stay focused and for God’s sake, don’t look down.
Be seeing you.