If MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell isn’t a secret double-agent for Donald Trump, he has sure functioned as one this week. On Tuesday he flat-out reported “fake news” about Donald Trump, soberly relaying a second-hand rumor of dubious provenance as the smoking gun that would bring down Trump’s presidency. After impeachment fever too over liberal Twitter for an entire night, O’Donnell then had to retract the whole thing and apologize on air Wednesday, creating that stopped-clock moment when Trump’s unhinged accusations against the press are partly true — or at least can’t be convincingly rebutted.
Both on Twitter and on his Tuesday night live program, O’Donnell reported that “a source close to Deutsche Bank” had told him that “Russian oligarchs” close to Vladimir Putin had co-signed the bank’s loans to Donald Trump, which amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Obviously that would be a huge story, and it was one that spoke directly to the prior beliefs and convictions of the MSNBC audience: that Trump is a criminal, that he is financially entangled with the Russians in some way, and that sooner or later some revelation will break through the wall of lies and denial and bring him down. Since Robert Mueller’s report didn’t slake that thirst for narrative catharsis, maybe the Deutsche Bank records would!