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    The press created Russiagate and now they must deal with the consequences

    The press created Russiagate and now they must deal with the consequences

    Why did the press think the day of reckoning would never come for them?

    https://twitter.com/brithume/status/1110155591954194432

    Yesterday it was all about the Mueller report and the Barr letter.

    Today the news and commentary seems to be focusing more on the press itself: will the MSM ever own up to the magnitude of their mistake/lies (I very much doubt it)? How much has their coverage of Russiagate damaged their reputation, and with whom? And do they even recognize how much this has damaged their reputation? What will their next move be?
    And on and on and on—for a few examples, see this, this, this, this, and this from Matt Taibbi (who is most definitely not a Trump-supporter in any way). And the MSM tries gamely but ridiculously to defend itself here, here, and in what is perhaps my favorite headline of all: “Trump Is Bullying the Media Into Falsely Exonerating Him of Russia Corruption.”

    But the question I want to tackle right now is why did they do it? Why the nonstop incessant seemingly-interminable beating of the “Trump is guilty of collusion and there is evidence” drum? Why did the media stick their collective necks out on such shaky-to-nonexistent evidence, knowing how tenuous it was, and that the day of reckoning might indeed come?

    I offer the following reasons, not mutually exclusive (although some are):

    (1) They truly thought Mueller would find collusion, either because they really believed Trump colluded with Russia, or because they thought Mueller was partisan enough to find collusion where none existed.

    (2) It was a kind of political tulip mania, a contagion that spread throughout their ranks, a wishful thinking squared and then cubed.

    (3) They didn’t think of the future at all. There was only the eternal-seeming present, in which this story fed their own Trump-hatred and drove ratings. Their audience craved it, and so did they.

    (4) They figured that if the day of reckoning and Trump’s exoneration ever came, they could spin it to their advantage (or at least deflect it), as they had done so many times before with so many other stories.

    (5) They thought Trump would make many many more missteps, and one of those missteps might intervene to cause his downfall independently of this. And meanwhile, they had a great and ongoing story to keep them going.

    (6) They were gearing this to Congress, and thought that a combination of all the Democrats and a significant number of Republicans would believe the story and impeach Trump or even impeach and convict him, even before Mueller was finished.

    (7) I actually think this last one is the most important: Watergate.

    Watergate turns out to have been the worst thing that ever happened to the press in my lifetime, although they probably think it was the best and the high point. It gave them not just delusions of grandeur but an actual example of their power to bring down the mighty with their metaphorical pens instead of swords.

    Watergate was many things, but one of them was a triumph for the press. The press hated Nixon prior to Watergate, and in Watergate several elements came together: an actual wrongdoing with actual evidence of related wrongdoings by the president, an FBI informant with his own agenda, a GOP willing to take the high road and convince its own president to resign or be thrown out, and a public unjaded by all that’s happened since.

    The press also became heroes, not only in their own eyes but generally. A movie was made in which Woodward was played by Robert Redford in his handsome prime, and Bernstein was played by the less-comely but still very popular Dustin Hoffman. Who could ask for anything more?

    Only a few of today’s journalists were around back then (except as little children), but you better believe that Watergate was not lost on them nor was it lost on their professors at journalism school or school in general. The narrative was so compelling that I’m virtually certain that one of the main things that drove them in Russiagate was the desire for a repeat. They believed they had the ingredients, or at least the most important ingredients to them: a Republican president they hated, informants in the FBI and elsewhere, tales of secret machinations by the administration, and Republicans in Congress who they thought could be rather easily persuaded to turn on that president.

    The fact that Russiagate was actually the un-Watergate probably did not even cross their minds. This was the reverse Watergate, the Watergate in which the president was not the perp, and the instruments of intelligence and justice were weaponized against him rather than that he made a blocked attempt to enlist them against his enemies. In the un-Watergate, the press – instead of being able to successfully cast itself as the bold uncoverer of the terrible truth about the president – has been revealed to have been mainly in the business of amplifying lies about the president.

    [Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]

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    Comments



     
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    ConradCA | March 26, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Didn’t the summary state that there was evidence of collusion?

      ConradCA: Didn’t the summary state that there was evidence of collusion?

      Barr quoted the report as saying “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” That doesn’t say whether there is or isn’t evidence, only that the evidence is not sufficient to establish conspiracy or coordination. That’s why people want to see the actual report.


         
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        Valerie in reply to Zachriel. | March 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm

        And, when a person wins in a criminal trial, the lawyers write that the person was found “not guilty.” Normal people can and do call that “exhonerated.”

        Both the Mueller Report and the Barr Letter are written in lawyer dialect, not ordinary parlance. Trying to exploit this difference is predictably a losing game.

          Valerie: And, when a person wins in a criminal trial, the lawyers write that the person was found “not guilty.” Normal people can and do call that “exhonerated.”

          That Mueller reportedly did not establish conspiracy or coordination is certainly significant. But we don’t know the facts of the case either. If Trump were being blackmailed by Russia, for instance, he wouldn’t be charged with a crime, but it would certainly be of public interest. If he were trying to work a deal to build Trump Tower Moscow, which would require Putin’s approval, while running for president and claiming he didn’t have business with Russia, that would certainly be of public interest.

          Similarly, Clinton was “exonerated” of having committed a crime during the email imbroglio, but her behavior was certainly of public interest.

          Valerie: Both the Mueller Report and the Barr Letter are written in lawyer dialect, not ordinary parlance.

          Oh, you’ve read the Mueller report then? In any case, Mueller reportedly did not exonerate the president on obstruction.


             
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            Gremlin1974 in reply to Zachriel. | March 27, 2019 at 3:09 pm

            Obstruction of what exactly? If there is no crime there can not be obstruction.

            Also, in the United States you only have to be “exonerated” if you are actually charged with a crime, otherwise not being charged is exoneration. You know that Innocent until PROVEN Guilty thing. Delusional accusations, bias suspicion, and politically motivated innuendo do not require exoneration. In the US you are either Charged or you are innocent, period.

            Mueller’s unprofessional and unethical political innuendo be damned. Either there was evidence of obstruction, which should have been indicted or there was not. Since the investigation ended without indictment and has been reviewed for weeks by the DOJ, including Rod Reinstein who agreed there was no basis for charging obstruction that is all the “exoneration” needed in a free society.

            Gremlin: Obstruction of what exactly? If there is no crime there can not be obstruction.

            The government doesn’t have to prove an underlying crime to charge obstruction. That’s rather the point.

            Gremlin: You know that Innocent until PROVEN Guilty thing.

            Just because the president is not charged doesn’t mean there is not a public interest in any wrongdoing.

            Mueller specifically indicated his report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction. That suggests there is evidence he impeded the investigation. While it may not constitute a crime, it may still constitute wrongdoing. Until the report is released, there is no way to know.


     
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    Valerie | March 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Addition to the list of hacks, just for research purposes!

    https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/27/61-hacks-peddled-russian-collusion-never-trusted/


     
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    Gremlin1974 | March 27, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    @Zachriel

    “The government doesn’t have to prove an underlying crime to charge obstruction. That’s rather the point.”

    No the point is that the government didn’t charge obstruction. Your “whataboutism” arguments aside. (Which btw, are really beneath you from knowing you here.)

    “Just because the president is not charged doesn’t mean there is not a public interest in any wrongdoing.”

    Uhhh, yes it does, because indictment is the way we charge with wrongdoing.

    “Mueller specifically indicated his report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction.”

    First of all Mueller’s statement was unprofessional, unethical, and should be investigated by the bar, because it was bluntly and purely political. Also, a Special Council doesn’t have the authority to exonerate or convict, they recommend and indict, period. Mueller’s “no decision” on Obstruction was a political stunt to throw a bone to the rabid psycho’s.

    “That suggests there is evidence he impeded the investigation.”

    Actually, it would suggest just the opposite.

    “While it may not constitute a crime”

    Then it is irrelevant, otherwise the Special Council should have sought an indictment, since they did not, end of story.

    “Until the report is released, there is no way to know.”

    Actually yes there is a way to know…was there in indictment? Answer: Nope! Case closed. Your side lost deal with it and move on.

      Gremlin1974: No the point is that the government didn’t charge obstruction.

      That’s not what you said. You said, “Obstruction of what exactly? If there is no crime there can not be obstruction.” You can obstruct even if there is no crime, such as if you wrongly think that your business partner committed a crime, then lied or hid evidence to impede the investigation. Even if they exonerate your partner, you can be charged with obstruction.

      Gremlin1974: Uhhh, yes it does, because indictment is the way we charge with wrongdoing.

      That’s not correct. There are administrative punishments, and in the case of officers of the United States, impeachment. For instance, Clinton wasn’t charged in the email imbroglio because the government couldn’t show the elements of scienter and bad faith which, according to the Supreme Court, must be present. But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be subject to administrative punishment, up to and including being fired. And because she was a public official, that’s a public matter.

      Gremlin1974: First of all Mueller’s statement was unprofessional, unethical, and should be investigated by the bar, because it was bluntly and purely political.

      That would be Barr, you mean. Mueller’s report has not been released, and that information is certainly something that must be provided to the Attorney General, and presumably to the House of Representatives which acts as prosecutor in impeachment proceedings.

      Gremlin1974: Actually, it would suggest just the opposite.

      Barr’s letter referred to “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions. That indicates there is evidence of obstruction.

      Gremlin1974: Then it is irrelevant, otherwise the Special Council should have sought an indictment, since they did not, end of story.

      That is incorrect. The Justice Department policy is to not indict the president. That responsibility falls to the House of Representatives which acts as prosecutor in impeachment proceedings.


         
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        Gremlin1974 in reply to Zachriel. | March 28, 2019 at 11:01 am

        “That would be Barr, you mean.”

        No, Mueller, because there is no reason to believe, other than delusional conspiracy theory, that AG Barr is or would misreporting or lying.

        Also, rarely are these reports released in whole and has already been stated repeatedly there are actually laws that forbid release of certain parts of the report. The AG has already promised to release as much a possible. Only delusional conspiracy theorist actually believe something is being hidden.

        As far as Hillary not being charged, your assertions are ignorant at best, since anyone who actually listened to Comey’s speech that he gave heard him lay out a pretty much open and shut case against her, and then say…..”well but we aren’t gonna do anything about it.

        “That indicates there is evidence of obstruction.”

        Nope, it indicates that there are “difficult issues of law and fact. It in no way indicates evidence of obstruction other than in delusional fevered dreams of leftist.

        “The Justice Department policy is to not indict the president.”

        Also, not true, there could have been a sealed indictment to activate after Trump’s time in office.

        What this comes down to is simple speculation and wishful thinking my people of questionable mental stability, that is not backed up by anything close to a fact.

          Gremlin: No, Mueller, because there is no reason to believe, other than delusional conspiracy theory, that AG Barr is or would misreporting or lying.

          It’s Barr who put the information in the public domain. Internally, it is entirely appropriate to discuss the evidence for and against an obstruction charge.

          Gremlin: Also, rarely are these reports released in whole and has already been stated repeatedly there are actually laws that forbid release of certain parts of the report.

          Some information will have to be redacted, however, the Congress has a right to the information so that they can make an informed decision, if necessary, about impeachment.

          Gremlin: anyone who actually listened to Comey’s speech that he gave heard him lay out a pretty much open and shut case against her

          The law requires the government show bad faith and scienter, which was lacking in this case.

          Gremlin: Nope, it indicates that there are “difficult issues of law and fact. It in no way indicates evidence of obstruction

          What part of “fact” don’t you understand? If there were no evidence of obstruction, then there would be no “difficult issues”.

          Gremlin: Also, not true, there could have been a sealed indictment to activate after Trump’s time in office.

          Current Department of Justice policy is that a sitting president can’t be indicted, sealed or otherwise. In any case, we’ll have to wait for the report to find out the specifics.


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