Short Take: The Measure of Manafort

The set-up was there for anyone who cared to see it.

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex this month to await trial on a separate state case.

Been “expected”? Says who?

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, is expected to be transferred within the next few weeks to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, where he will most likely be held in isolation while facing state fraud charges, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Oh, people with knowledge of the matter. Well, that clears it up. Except Manafort could also be transferred to the Tombs, which is a jail attached to the criminal court building, or any of the other jails in New York City that aren’t Rikers Island, except Rikers Island is the jail that’s most notorious, vilified, and easily recognized as an object of hatred and derision. Or held in federal custody and brought over to 100 Centre Street when required.

Because all the other jails are fun places to hang out. Because the notoriousness of a jail is somehow a product of walls and bars, not the screws who run the joint and set inmate against inmate like gladiators, or rape and beat children in their custody. But I digress.

So people whose names must be concealed because, well, reasons, are claimed to know stuff that will happen in the future, including that Manafort will be sent to Rikers and “held in isolation,” which some might call “protective custody,” which sounds less bad. Or not, because there is absolutely nothing about these expectations that couldn’t be entirely wrong.

And as it turns out, the future predictions proved entirely wrong. Does the writer, William Rashbaum, concede that his new story about the future based on unnamed sources was baseless, creating beliefs that were false from the outset?  No. Of course not. Instead, he bootstraps his future predictions from unnamed sources into a federal conspiracy.

But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York.

And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers.

This might be news, provided one used the word to describe something factual, had federal prison officials ever said that Manafort would be transfered to Rikers. But they didn’t. There were unnamed “people with knowledge,” but there was no official who ever said anything of the sort on the record. And now they did something entirely different than what the unnamed “people with knowedge” said they would?

Allison Wilkey, director of public policy at the Prisoner Re-entry Institute at John Jay College, calls it outrageous in a letter to the editor about how Manafort got away with it, again.

In the past, the Justice Department issued a report about the treatment of youths at Rikers Island, citing the “culture of violence” and the deep harms being inflicted upon youths, including solitary confinement.

Another Justice Department report cited the women’s facility at Rikers as being one of the 12 worst jails in the country with respect to staff members’ sexual misconduct against incarcerated women.

In neither of these instances did the department suggest that these teenagers or women should be moved because of their health and safety needs. This is just another example of how we have two systems of justice: one for white, wealthy, and/or well-connected people, and another system for everyone else.

Or it’s an example of the difference between the federal and state systems, an example of false expectations by unnamed “people with knowledge” taken seriously despite being laughably baseless, or it’s an example of how a false narrative based on non-existent stories makes people stupider. This “story” proves something, but it’s surely not what makes Wilkey outraged.

15 thoughts on “Short Take: The Measure of Manafort

  1. Bear

    This seems to have become standard practice: speculating on a news story and when it doesn’t come to pass, blaming it on the current federal administration.

    1. SHG Post author

      Reporting on news used to be about things that had actually happened (remember the “five W’s” they used to teach in J-school?) rather than predictions of things that could happen, but then, everybody know what already happened these days, so if you want to be cutting edge, there’s no place to go but the future.

      1. Bear

        And “H” for how. What I don’t remember is “M” for might of or “C” for could of. I’ll keep consulting the tea leaves for predictions, which currently are as correct as often as the NYT and many other “journalism” outlets.

    2. B. McLeod

      Or, simply making up a story they think might be true, and attributing it to “informed sources.”

  2. Pedantic Grammar Police

    Manafort is an evil man and he must be punished. It’s no surprise that the deep state media laments any rumors of his escape from the worse possible hell to a slightly less horrific fate, regardless of the facts. It’s not that he is an influence-peddling douchebag; there are bigger douchebags swimming in the influence-peddling pond. It’s that he was peripherally involved in the stealing of the Presidency from its rightfully anointed heir. No punishment could be too harsh.

      1. Jake

        Should we substitute all unwelcome expressions at SJ with the name of someplace in Greece then? I elect ‘Athens’ as a substitute for deep state.

          1. Pedantic Grammar Police

            Jake and I will be in the corner swapping conspiracy theories. Have you heard that crazy one about JFK? Some people say it wasn’t really Oswald’s magic bullet. How about that Gulf of Tonkin incident?

    1. Bear

      Dave, outstanding. I got my Little Feat fix for the day. With all due apologies for the word “fix.”

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