The Deep State Goes Shallow: A Reality-TV Coup d’etat in Prime Time

by Edward Curtin

In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affirm; he creates a positive object but it has no being other than its nothingness.” Jean-Paul Sartre

It is well known that the United States is infamous for engineering coups against democratically elected governments worldwide. Voters’ preferences are considered beside the point. Iran and Mosaddegh in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia and Sukarno in 1965-7, Allende in Chile in 1973, to name a few from the relatively distant past. Recently the Obama administration worked their handiwork in Honduras and Ukraine. It would not be hyperbolic to say that overthrowing democratic governments is as American as apple pie. It’s our “democratic” tradition – like waging war.

What is less well known is that elements within the U.S. ruling power elites have also overthrown democratically elected governments in the United States. One U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated because he had turned toward peace and opposed the forces of war within his own government. He is the lone example of a president who therefore was opposed by all the forces of imperial conquest within the ruling elites.

Others, despite their backing for the elite deep state’s imperial wars, were taken out for various reasons by competing factions within the shadow government. Nixon waged the war against Vietnam for so long on behalf of the military-industrial complex, but he was still taken down by the CIA, contrary to popular mythology about Watergate. Jimmy Carter was front man for the Tri-Lateral Commission’s deep-state faction, but was removed by the group represented by George H. Bush, William Casey, and Reagan through their traitorous actions involving the Iran hostages. The emcee for the neo-liberal agenda, Bill Clinton, was rendered politically impotent via the Lewinsky affair, a matter never fully investigated by any media.

Obama, CIA groomed, was smoothly moved into power by the faction that felt Bush needed to be succeeded by a slick smiling assassin who symbolized “diversity,” could speak well, and played hoops. Hit them with the right hand; hit them with the left. Same coin: Take your pick – heads or tails. Hillary Clinton was expected to complete the trinity.

But surprises happen, and now we have Trump, who is suffering the same fate – albeit at an exponentially faster rate – as his predecessors that failed to follow the complete script. The day after his surprise election, the interlocking circles of power that run the show in sun and shadows – what C. Wright Mills long ago termed the Power Elite – met to overthrow him, or at least to render him more controllable. These efforts, run out of interconnected power centers, including the liberal corporate legal boardrooms that were the backers of Obama and Hillary Clinton, had no compunction in planning the overthrow of a legally elected president. Soon they were joined by their conservative conspirators in doing the necessary work of “democracy” – making certain that only one of their hand-picked and anointed henchmen was at the helm of state. Of course, the intelligence agencies coordinated their efforts and their media scribes wrote the cover stories. The pink Pussyhats took to the streets. The deep state was working overtime.

Trump, probably never having expected to win and as shocked as most people when he did, made some crucial mistakes before the election and before taking office. Some of those mistakes have continued since his inauguration.

Not his derogatory remarks about minorities, immigrants, or women. Not his promise to cut corporate taxes, support energy companies, oppose strict environmental standards. Not his slogan to “make America great again.” Not his promise to build a “wall” along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. Not his vow to deport immigrants. Not his anti-Muslim pledges. Not his insistence that NATO countries contribute more to NATO’s “defense” of their own countries. Not even his crude rantings and Tweets and his hypersensitive defensiveness. Not his reality-TV celebrity status, his eponymous golden tower and palatial hotels and sundry real estate holdings. Not his orange hair and often comical and disturbing demeanor, accentuated by his off the cuff speaking style.

Surely not his massive wealth.

While much of this was viewed with dismay, it was generally acceptable to the power elites who transcend party lines and run the country. Offensive to hysterical liberal Democrats and traditional Republicans, all this about Trump could be tolerated, if only he would cooperate on the key issue.

Trump’s fatal mistake was saying that he wanted to get along with Russia, that Putin was a good leader, and that he wanted to end the war against Syria and pull the U.S. back from foreign wars.

This was verboten. And when he said nuclear war was absurd and would only result in nuclear conflagration, he had crossed the Rubicon. That sealed his fate.

Misogyny, racism, support for Republican conservative positions on a host of issues – all fine. Opposing foreign wars, especially with Russia – not fine.

Now we have a reality-TV president and a reality-TV coup d’etat in prime time. Hidden in plain sight, the deep-state has gone shallow. What was once covert is now overt. Once it was necessary to blame a coup on a secretive “crazy lone assassin,” Lee Harvey Oswald. But in this “post-modern” society of the spectacle, the manifest is latent; the obvious, non-obvious; what you see you don’t see. Everyone knows those reality-TV shows aren’t real, right?

It may seem like it is a coup against Trump in plain sight, but these shows are tricky, aren’t they? He’s the TV guy. He runs the show. He’s the sorcerer’s apprentice. He wants you to believe in the illusion of the obvious. He’s the master media manipulator. You see it but don’t believe it because you are so astute, while he is so blatant. He’s brought it upon himself. He’s bringing himself down. Everyone who knows, knows that.

I am reminded of being in a movie theatre in 1998, watching The Truman Show, about a guy who slowly “discovers” that he has been living in the bubble of a television show his whole life. At the end of the film he makes his “escape” through a door in the constructed dome that is the studio set.

The liberal audience in a very liberal town stood up and applauded Truman’s dash to freedom. I was startled since I had never before heard an audience applaud in a movie theatre – and a standing ovation at that. I wondered what they were applauding. I quickly realized they were applauding themselves, their knowingness, their insider astuteness that Truman had finally caught on to what they already thought they knew. Now he would be free like they were. They couldn’t be taken in; now he couldn’t.

Except, of course, they were applauding an illusion, a film about being trapped in a reality-TV world, a world in which they stood in that theatre – their world, their frame. Frames within frames. Truman escapes from one fake frame into another – the movie. The joke was on them. The film had done its magic as its obvious content concealed its deeper truth: the spectator and the spectacle were wed. McLuhan was here right: the medium was the message.

This is what George Trow in 1980 called “the context of no context.”

Candor as concealment, truth as lies, knowingness as stupidity. Making reality unreal in the service of an agenda that is so obvious it isn’t, even as the cognoscenti applaud themselves for being so smart and in the know.

The more we hear about “the deep state” and begin to grasp its definition, the more we will have descended down the rabbit hole. Soon this “deep state” will be offering courses on what it is, how it operates, and why it must stay hidden while it “exposes” itself.
Right-wing pundit Bill Kristol tweets:

Liberal CIA critic and JFK assassination researcher, Jefferson Morley, after defining the deep state, writes:

With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most – perhaps the only – credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump’s “wrecking ball presidency.”

These are men who ostensibly share different ideologies, yet agree, and state it publically, that the “deep state” should take out Trump. Both believe, without evidence, that the Russians intervened to try to get Trump elected. Therefore, both no doubt feel justified in openly espousing a coup d’etat. They match Trump’s blatancy with their own. Nothing deep about this.

Liberals and conservatives are now publically allied in demonizing Putin and Russia, and supporting a very dangerous military confrontation initiated by Obama and championed by the defeated Hillary Clinton. In the past these opposed political factions accepted that they would rotate their titular leaders into and out of the White House, and whenever the need arose to depose one or the other, that business would be left to deep state forces to effect in secret and everyone would play dumb.

Now the game has changed. It’s all “obvious.” The deep state has seemingly gone shallow. Its supporters say so. All the smart people can see what’s happening. Even when what’s happening isn’t really happening.

“Only the shallow know themselves,” said Oscar Wilde.

can you spare $1.00 a month to support independent media

OffGuardian does not accept advertising or sponsored content. We have no large financial backers. We are not funded by any government or NGO. Donations from our readers is our only means of income. Even the smallest amount of support is hugely appreciated.

Our Bitcoin JTR code is: 1JR1whUa3G24wXpDyqMKpieckMGGW2u2VX

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Slightly off piste (sorry!) but not sure where else to post this:

Greg Bacon

If one needed any more proof that 9/11 was a False Flag and all the ‘al CIA Duh’ ISIS, DAESH, al Nusra attacks so prominently featured in the MSM are staged, then the MSM obsession with Russia is the key.
Last Summer, there was a virtual non-stop litany of ‘al CIA Duh’ attacks with around-the-clock reporting, now they’ve disappeared and we get 24/7 Russia bashing, so we’ll now hate the new designated Bad Man and support endless wars for Wall Street and Israel.


History and facts matter. We disagree.


*This will be my second time attempting the post. This time, I’m going through a WordPress reader that I see whenever I enter into my blog. This is what I couldn’t post directly to OG:
I disagree with Edward Curtin about JFK turning to peace. Check out this video (https://youtu.be/sBJuFaEL1JQ) in which Seymour Hersh talks about JFK’s contribution to the destruction of Vietnam. Johnson increased troops in Vietnam beyond the number JFK increased the troops there, but that was a natural progression stemming from the fact that the war hadn’t yet been won (and wouldn’t be). As well, JFK’s increase to 17,000 from 200 was only one factor. JFK’s increase of American involvement in Vietnam was qualitative as well as quanitative. And JFK’s focus was on inflicting terror on the Vietnamese.
All that JFK did, he did with a view to how it would impact on his re-election bid. And he had no hesitation, ever, about sacrificing humans for his own gain.
Mulling over the myth of Camelot, as strong today as ever, I believe that it’s what it appears to be. It’s marketing. You take the most handsome president, who happened to be over-sexed (and venereal disease-ridden, which he didn’t care about), who was handsome, young and sexy and attach him to the idea of American exceptionalism, in which America is the city on the hill (from the Bible where Jesus tells his followers that they are a city on the hill and a light to others etc), the epitomacy of democracy, etc.. and feed it to people. Part of the goal of Camelot propaganda – which ingeniously enlists those duped as additional purveyors of the myth – is to convince people, mainly Americans, that no matter how much crap they see in politics and no matter how many corrupt politicians get exposed, the system ‘can’ work. It may not always work, but it can. Afterall, It produced Saint Kennedy! So don’t worry too much about the system. Just try to help those who (claim they) are trying to make it work.
Someone in the audience in the bookstor (Politics & Prose) where Hersh was talking about his book asked him why he was singling out JFK for corruption. Hersh faultered here (and talking about why would be worthwhile). The reason he singled out JFK was that the establishment had already done so with their creation of the myth of Camelot. Fair is fair.

Edward Curtin

Seymour Hersh is wrong. See James Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters and James K. Galbraith, among many others, whose research since Hersh’s very poor book refutes your point. The system did work, to flip you words, Kennedy was assassinated by a CIA led plot that resulted in a coup d’etat. One of the key reasons for his murder was his commitment to pull the US out of Vietnam.


Agreed @Edward: Sy Hersh – or as Doug Valentine calls him – ‘CIA-mour’ Hersh – is a limited hangout stooge covering for his masters, IMO.

Edward Curtin

Even if Hersh is wrong, I haven’t delved into this in detail so I have no opinion on that matter, but let’s say he got it wrong. Could that be because he’s human and humans are not perfect?
It irks me when keyboard “analysts” dismiss journalists as “CIA stooges” simply because they drew a different conclusion than the esteemed keyboard jockey did. How much research did you do? How many contacts do you have? Maybe YOU are wrong, ever consider that?
Come back down to earth and give your head a shake.


So you have zero information on Hersh, and zero information on me, but you just had to express an opinion anyway – based on?
Of course I may be wrong, but at least I base my opinion on reading Hersh, and other authors such as Valentine and Douglass.
Call it informed opinion, as opposed to uninformed hot air.


Obama could speak very well? Really? He could just about read from the teleprompter. Even his infamous Jonas Brothers ‘joke’ was scripted and read from the teleprompter. He did manage to capture George Bush’s cynical smirk though.


It appears the author has an expectation of fair, responsible representation of the populations wishes, by leaders with integrity via an ideology termed democracy. When has this ever happened in large states within the last 500 years? As for the ‘deep state’ such an attribute conceals the breadth of manipulation, confining corruption to assumed parties. Was it the deep state that ensured the creation of the corporation called the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? The basis of our lack of freedom goes far beyond that of mere political actors utilising well worn techniques. The present condition has been nurtured for centuries.


The Deep State Goes Shallow while the MSM goes High Church in its newly found crusade to defend democracy and freedom of speech. Wait a minute while I pick myself up off the floor…
In order to do this they think they need to:
1. Silence independent news outlets , other peoples thoughts, ideas and arguments
2. Call on Google and other search engines and platforms to filter out this noise
3. Advertise the claim that only the established (establishment’s) MSM can be trusted with the facts
4. To be trusted to talk truth to power
They are in a mess though as the MSM are now held in as much contempt as politicians for the lies they have enabled and helped to deliver. Lets take a quick run through.
Promoting such sources as PropOrNot, Bellingcat, The Syrian Observatory, The infamous White Helmets, dear little Bana and many more front persona’s and shell organisations. It is precisely by sourcing from fake sources and fabricating false narratives that so many people have deserted the MSM and gone in search of information in the alternative media.
And within all this the MSM are pretty well hoisted by their own petard, as Mark Twain observed:
‘Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.’
Within all this the MSM are stuck with the possibilities they have helped to construct and need therefore to endlessly repeat them. As he also noted:
‘If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.’
But I think we can agree on the adage MT also authored which the MSM holds most dear:
‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’
Your version of the facts might be sacred but the truth nah…


Facebook and Google are going to start monitoring ‘fake news’ (i.e., opinions they don’t agree with). How long before sites like this one are made inaccessible?

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig

Use a search engine that does not filter content, such as DuckDuckGo


That’s what I use and I hope my trust isn’t misplaced.


“2. Call on Google and other search engines and platforms to filter out this noise” Indeed. See my latest: “The Globe And Mail Requires Its Readers To Be ‘Right’ Thinking” – http://bit.ly/2mS4UyY


Witnessing events in the US I am struck by the similarities between the ongoing American coup and the Ukrainian events of December 2013 to February 2014. Mass demonstrations in Kiev took place when the then President, Yanukovych suspended the decision to sign the EU Association agreement, for quite legitimate economic reasons. However, this was enough to spur mass demonstrations aimed his removal and that of his government. None of this was spontaneous of course. Both US official representatives – Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt – as well as NGO’s like the National Endowment for Democracy, (NED) which is in fact funded by the US Government, had been working in the background supplying the financial wherewithal ($5 billion according to Nuland) for the what the right-wing think-tank Stratfor described as ‘the most blatant coup in history’.
Bear in mind also that the EU in the shape of Poland and Sweden (the Eastern Partnership) had made all sorts of phony promises about how the Ukraine would be lifted out of backwardness and poverty by signing up for membership. Of course, it was all BS, but it was enough to bring out masses of discontented and disoriented people who thought who believed the hype. Then the neo-Nazi paramilitaries were bussed in from Lviv and Ternipol in the West of the country and the coup was to start in earnest.
Comparisons with Trump are stark. Notwithstanding the fact that he was legitimately elected, mass demos started almost immediately to remove Trump either by hook or by crook. Out came the celebs, film stars, the media, rich people in general and those who considered themselves progressive, hip, and soi-disant defenders of western civilization, such as that disgusting item, Michael Moore. The pink-hat brigade are now backing an unprecedented attempt to circumvent US democracy – in the name of democracy! This is the same play-book coup as happened in Ukraine. Shadowy, sinister forces are manipulating the whole process of ‘resistance’. The status quo must be preserved; this is not revolution, it is counter-revolution. In order to carry this through the populace must be politically prepared through psychologically induced mass hysteria, which is now ongoing and reaching a fever pitch.
But if the putsch succeeds who will take over the reins of government? Will there be another election? Have our SJW enrages thought this far. It really is playing with fire.
The Ukrainian events led to the ultimate takeover of Ukraine by the US and an installation of a lunatic, rabid anti-Russian regime. The economy has collapsed and the regime is comprised of a few oligarchs, including the President (Poroshenko) and the neo-Nazi presence both inside and outside of the Rada.
This is where US-orchestrated coups tend to lead. Only this time the coup is being carried out on American soil against an American President.
Enjoy your colour revolution.


“The pink-hat brigade are now backing an unprecedented attempt to circumvent US democracy – in the name of democracy!” It’s fascinating, and disturbing, the way the Democrats care about democracy only when their team loses. Instead of bemoaning fascist Trump’s win, they should be zeroing in on the undemocratic nature of their electoral system, and their entire system. But that wouldn’t do. Trump won by rules (which include violating rules) that the Democrats embrace. Who do they think they’re fooling?


“Obama, CIA groomed,”
Indeed. It is rarely mentioned. Never in ‘polite’ circles where it is a conspiracy theory.
But there is no doubt.


I’ve recognized a type in today’s western politicians.
Either they are spotted by “talent” scouts and groomed because of their essentially sociopathic character, or they have been specially bred since the Thatcher-Reagan years.
Either way, I know them by sight, and it’s definitely a genetic thing.
Smart, cunning, they do well in CERTAIN school subjects, but nothing that has to do with rational judgement, and especially nothing to do with MORAL judgement of any kind.
Subjects connected with money and mathematical equations, excellence in hair grooming and tie wearing, as well as very strict training in NOT answering questions or grasping analogies – that’s where they get their graduation material.


That seems to be the case. I don’t expect the pseudo Left to talk about it, but I’m not seeing anyone talk about it. Which mystifies me.


Indeed. It’s bizarre.


Even more interesting, there’s evidence that there was at least one other politician being groomed to fit the same slot if BHO’s proJect had failed, somehow; one tip off was the minor “plagiarism” kerfuffle between BHO and his “good friend” Patrick Deval… there’s a reason BHO was caught using chunks from Deval’s speeches, eh? Same team provided the material. And, obviously, the CIA (or whatever power pyramid) would have been foolish to put all its eggs in one Manchurian basket. BHO and Deval were hatched from the same long-range (Brzezinski) egg. A look at Deval’s bio shows interesting bits of overlap with BHO’s.
The thing to remember is that BHO’s political influence doesn’t end with his presidency; if anything, he’s more effective than ever; he is, in a sense, above the fray, now (a la Bill Clinton), so the effort that went into his creation pays off many times over. I wouldn’t consider it absurd to suggest that BHO was “in the pipeline” from childhood.


(erratum: I should have written “scheme” instead of using the word “egg” a second time)


Spot on. I would not be surprised if at some point in the next two or three years the Atlanticist deep state seriously begins a clampdown on liberties and freedoms that we, for the time being, still take for granted. Like shutting down the channels open to dissenting opinions (such as this one) and openly pursuing people who are on a “national security” watchlist for publicising their views and facts that are embarrassing or potentially detrimental to the “elite”. The PATRIOT Act and its equivalents in Canada, the EU and other liberal “democracies” are basically DIY police state kits that can be unfolded and enforced in an instant. So far it has mainly been used to target and entrap mostly innocent Muslims but that can quickly change.
If this happens you can be sure there will be plenty of people who will buy the propaganda that will flood the media to sell it to the masses. I can hear it already… “Democracy must be protected from violent racists who threaten our diverse and vibrant culture. There is no place here for bigots who have been compromised by the Russian FSB and whose goal is nothing less than the destruction of our hard won freedom and liberty. If you are a decent, moral person with nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. But understand…if you are a seditious agent of a foreign power hostile to our free and open society we WILL find you and we WILL bring you to justice. God bless America.”
The point of no return is behind us and there is no going back to how it was. There are plenty of people who do not buy what the deep state is selling but they are largely passive and disunited. There are also fence sitters who are privately appalled by what is happening but fear what change might bring. If the economy bottoms out again or something else happens that kicks them a few rungs down the comfort ladder they might not be so passive anymore.
It’s easy to ignore unpleasant reality when you have to a relatively private enclosed space that you can seal off from the outside world knowing it can’t easily be taken from you. When that is threatened or gone it is a different story (and one I am personally living as I type.) When you face a bleak and soul destroying future in neoliberal hell it puts the corrupt and artificial nature of civil society into sharp perspective. But I digress.
A massive problem we face is what can realistically replace the current system if it collapses? Trump is not a revolutionary man of the people. He is a rather sleazy businessman who, for various reasons, is the only person with access to the mass media who is speaking truth to power at the moment. His role as bulwark against the neoliberal globalists is accidental. And as we are seeing he is more talk than action and his most attractive policy proposal from an international perspective – peace with Russia – is looking less and less likely as the deep state turns up the pressure. Trump us not going to martyr himself for any greater good. Besides, the rot does not only affect the US and places like Canada, the U.K., Australia etc. will have to deal with the fallout on their own. Still OT…but it’s a reality that will have to be faced sooner or later.

marley engvall

And now we really have a “Moral Institution” to judge Trump”
“Bush: How Could He Dare?!”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/bush-how-could-he-dare-wie-kann-er-es-wagen/