On Thursday night, Washington launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat, killing over a dozen people and causing serious damage to the base. US President Donald Trump claimed that the base was targeted in response to a chemical attack in Idlib province by Syrian government forces last week, a claim which neither Washington nor its allies could corroborate with any credible evidence.
As far as concrete actions are concerned, so far, Moscow has announced the suspension of its Memorandum of Understanding on the Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents with the US over Syria, called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, sent the Admiral Grigorovich frigate off to the Mediterranean, and announced that it would be upgrading Syria's air defense capabilities.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, said that Russia's response to the attack was "disappointing," "because it indicates their continued support for the Assad regime." At the same time, the diplomat admitted that Moscow's reaction was "not that surprising."
But not everyone is willing to come around. On Friday, MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell floated the absolutely insane conspiracy theory that it was ultimately the Kremlin that was behind the US cruise missile attack.
According to the theory, President Putin had instructed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to launch a chemical attack against his own people, with the aim of attracting global media attention, which Trump could then use to respond with cruise missile strikes. The latter, O'Donnell noted, would thus eliminate any doubts of Russian influence over the US president.
Wouldn't it be nice if it was impossible to suspect Putin ok'd Assad's gas attack so Trump could fire missiles & change the subject in USA?— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) 7 апреля 2017 г.
Backtracking a bit, given the total lack of evidence to back up his claim, the pundit indicated he didn't know whether his theory had a "2% chance" or "a 50% chance" of being true. "But…I don't think it's a 0% chance, and it used to be, with every other president prior to Donald Trump."
"It's perfect, just perfect," O'Donnell stressed, with his commentary degenerating into a mindless rant. "If Vladimir Putin, if, if, if Vladimir Putin masterminded the last week in Syria, he has gotten everything he could have asked for."
What exactly the Russian leader would find "perfect" about a US attack on a Russian ally, just days after being given hints from US officials that Washington would be abandoning its regime change policy for Syria, is unclear. Just as unclear is what Russia stands to gain from having its ally bombed, notwithstanding the presence of advanced Russian air defense systems in the country.
Social media users made sure to remind him of that fact.
MSNBC's YouTube video featuring O'Donnell's commentary quickly filled up with comments. Loyalists of the anti-Trump network faced up against opponents, who cracked jokes that O'Donnell had lost his mind, that he made famous right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones "look sane" by comparison, and that he was making the US mainstream liberal media out to be a bunch of "unhinged wackos." One user stressed that "this is the most asinine and farfetched BS [he'd] ever heard in [his] life," adding that such conspiracy-mongering helped to explain the Democratic Party's decline.
Others took to Twitter, and also suggested that Mr. O'Donnell seems to have gone off his rocker.
MSNBC's Trump / Russian conspiracy theories are getting even crazier. Host Lawrence O'Donnell today: pic.twitter.com/50JigyTpcr— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) 8 апреля 2017 г.
Lawrence O'Donnell is Perfectly INSANE! MSNBC's CRAZIEST TRUMP CONSPIRACY THEORY YET !!! https://t.co/uP5T6YoYqF— Warren C Wainscott (@warrenwarmachi1) 9 апреля 2017 г.
MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell: What if the voices in my head really are from Neptune? https://t.co/4mzyFchQ7S— Andrew Klavan (@andrewklavan) 9 апреля 2017 г.
MSNBC's O'Donnell: Maybe Putin Masterminded Chemical Attack So Trump Could Look Good by Striking Syria - Ok this one says it all UNHINGED— OHIO4TRUMP (@Mjhall412) 8 апреля 2017 г.
The Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald also left a comment, suggesting that MSNBC was being extremely hypocritical for peddling such nonsense after coming down so hard on so-called 'Fake News':
You can announce on MSNBC that Putin may have ordered Trump's attack on Assad & then scoff at Fox & Fake News https://t.co/DpOjCNOXms— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) 9 апреля 2017 г.
Ultimately, it will be up to O'Donnell to backtrack from his claims, and join the rest of his network in applauding Trump's decision, which may lead to an escalation of what is already a long and bloody war. Perhaps the scariest aspect is that in spite of all the (completely justified) criticism, there are still those who continue to follow the mainstream narrative that Russia hacked the US elections, or that Trump is really a 'Russian agent', notwithstanding last week's horrific events.